Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Standing Up to Presidential Bullying

Barack Obama has perfected the art of bullying Republicans into submission. Unfortunately, Republicans have perfected the art of submission.  

As long as Republicans do not seem to know how to stand up to the bully, no one will care what they believe in. Their message is being drowned out by their willingness to submit.

Most Republicans believed that they had done the right thing by nominating the most "electable" Republican. They discovered that when push came to shove, Mitt Romney did not know how to fight back. And they have recently seen their most fearless warrior, Governor Chris Christie shrink from confrontations with President Obama.

As long as the Republican Party acts as though it is Mitt Romney's party, it will not be able to lead. 

Republicans might have had a good political reason to give in on immigration, but their retreat looked desperate and unseemly. They thought that they were acting like statesmen in the fiscal cliff negotiations, but they got beaten into submission. In the Senate, Republicans put up something of a fight against Chuck Hagel, but, in the end they lost. Obama got his man and they went home to lick their wounds.

Being submissive in the face of bullying does not qualify you for leadership. The world does not respect people who do not act as thought they respect themselves. 

In the current sequestration brawl, the gods of politics have provided Republicans with yet another opportunity to show some backbone. For now, they have stood firm. Thus far, they have not paid a price. But will they continue to stand up to the bully when they see the political price rising?

Jonathan Tobin states the issue clearly:

But Republicans are right not to allow themselves to be bullied into submission only weeks after being bludgeoned into voting for tax increases with the idea that future deals would be about budget cuts, not more revenue being fed to the federal leviathan. Since President Obama has no credibility when it comes to promises about the entitlement reform that the country so desperately needs, or about making tough choices to reduce expenditures, GOP resistance to his pressure is justified.

There comes a time when you have to confront a bully. There comes a time when you figure out that conciliating a bully is a way to surrender. If you refuse to submit, you might get bloodied in the process, but at least you will walk away with your pride. For now, first things first: Republicans need to regain their pride. Until they do no one will care about what they think. No one cares what you stand for when you cannot stand up for yourself.


Lastango said...

True. But (IMO) most of them are versions of Mitt Romney; they simply haven't got it in them to fight. That's why we are watching the spitting image of Romney's conciliatory debate performance being writ large in the GOP.

Sam L. said...


n.n said...

It is worthwhile to recognize that good intentions are too often exploited to provide cover to bad actions and actors.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link n.n. Let's see what Obama has done:

Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things: Teasing, Name-calling, Inappropriate sexual comments. Taunting, Threatening to cause harm

Social bullying involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships: Leaving someone out on purpose, Telling other children not to be friends with someone, Spreading rumors about someone, Embarrassing someone in public

Political bullying: Trying to build majority coalitions to get things done against the feelings of political opposition who know they are right.

AH, there's you go! Now we know Obama's crime - having power while being wrong!

Stuart Schneiderman said...

It isn't that difficult to understand bullying. When you diminish, demean, degrade and disrespect another person because you want that person to submit to your will... then you are a bully.

Not being a bully means respect opposing points of view and working to negotiate compromise and find a middle ground.

If you think that the Obama presidency has been about find a middle ground with Reps and negotiating a compromise, you have not been paying attention.

One might note that since famed reporter Bob Woodward dared to say something that the Obama White House disapproved of he was told by a very senior official-- "you will regret this."

That's bullying. It tells the press that they will be punished for deviating from the WH party line.

n.n said...

Stuart Schneiderman:

Fortunately, the federal government is running an anti-bully campaign, which means its agents receive a waiver for their bullying.

The "schizophrenic" character of our government makes it difficult to negotiate and classify equivalence. This duality is not limited to the government, but is exploited in a variety of actions and by a diverse set of actors.

While may be well-intentioned (expressing an easily exploitable emotional appeal), it also serves to establish plausible deniability (effectively a "get out of jail free card"). This is where other well-intentioned actions and actors went wrong, when they exploit emotions for personal gratification and thereby sponsor corruption.