By Bill Press
Tribune Media Services
For a while, after they got trounced in the last election, it was hard to figure out what the Republican Party stood for. They were floundering around without direction. But no longer.
Today, the Republican agenda is clear. If it’s good for America, they’re against it. If it’s bad for America, they’re for it. You think I’m kidding? Just check out their recent record.
It started last winter, when economists, liberal and conservative, warned that only massive government intervention could save our economy from a second Great Depression. Obama stepped up to the plate with a $787 billion recovery package to create new jobs in construction, education, and green technology, and to save existing jobs in state and local governments.
Not one Republican in the House, and only three Republicans in the Senate, voted for it. Fast forward: On Oct. 13, the National Association of Business Economists announced that, thanks to Obama’s recovery package, the recession is over and the economy is on the rebound. No thanks to Republicans. The stimulus was good for America. They voted against it.
Last July, in a similar move to goose economic recovery, the Obama administration offered its “cash for clunkers” program, offering consumers a $3,500 to $4,500 rebate for trading in older cars with lousy gas mileage. The program was such a phenomenal success it revived moribund dealerships and sparked 625,000 new car sales. But it also ran out of money within a month, and Congress was asked to extend the program. Once again, the anti-America crowd stepped in. The cash for clunkers program was good for America. Republican leaders in the House and Senate campaigned, unsuccessfully, against it.
We saw the same reaction when Chicago made the final cut for the 2016 Summer Olympics. As we had previously learned in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City, hosting the Olympic Games anywhere in the United States brings prestige, jobs and tourist dollars to the entire country. Surely, this was one time when all Americans would set politics aside and cheer on the American team.
Fat chance. When President Obama went to Copenhagen to make a personal pitch for Chicago — over Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro — Republicans actually accused him of shirking his duties as president. The Olympics would have been good for America. But Republicans were against them. Some openly rooted for Brazil, instead.
And imagine Barack Obama’s surprise when he was awakened by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday, Oct. 9, and informed that he’d won the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama himself was the first to admit he didn’t deserve the award for his accomplishments, but only as a “call to action” for progress in efforts he’d already begun to revive the peace process in the Middle East, fight global warming, and rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Deserved or not, the honor was as much a tribute to the American people as it was to the president, and a recognition of the new, positive standing America enjoys around the world as a result of the election of Barack Obama. The Nobel Peace Prize was good for America. But leaders of the Republican Party, starting with Chairman Michael Steele and House Minority Leader John Boehner, not only condemned it, they said Obama should refuse to accept it.
Same with health-care reform. Today’s health-care delivery system is so expensive, so inefficient, and so unfairly distributed, that fixing it by making sure every American enjoys basic, quality, affordable health insurance would be good for America. Yes, and that’s why Republicans are against it.
Is there nothing Obama-related that Republicans are willing to embrace? Apparently not. Not even good news on Wall Street. On Oct. 14, seven months after bottoming out at a 12-year low, the Dow Jones Industrial average soared to more than 10,000.
Now, there’s good news all Americans could celebrate. Right? Wrong! House Republican leader John Boehner pooh-poohed the significance of the market rebound, insisting, “The American people aren’t looking at the stock market in terms of putting food on the table.” Of course, this is the same John Boehner who blamed Obama when the market hit its 12-year low back in March. But, once again, Dow 10,000 was good for America. So, Republicans were against it.
There’s only one thing left: to rename the party for what it really stands for. It’s no longer the Republican Party; it’s the Hate America Party.
© 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.