Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Leadership on both sides of the road

By Carol Gee

President Barack Obama, according to Charles Mahtesian of, believes that there is a concerted Democratic effort to divide and conquer leaders in the Republican party. His Wednesday article, "Stealth War: Barack Obama sabotages Republicans," is a compelling argument buttressed by Obama's recent nomination of Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) to be the new Secretary of the Army. To quote from the piece:

"Boxing the Republicans into a South-dominated party is very good strategy, because the more you reduce the Republican Party, the more conservative and reactionary it will become, and thus less attractive to moderates," said Tom Schaller, a University of Maryland-Baltimore County professor and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." "The Midwest and the Northeast are the places where there are still remnants of old-line Rockefeller Republicans. And these are the places where the Democrats will build durable majorities."

We Texas Democrats remember Obama's 2008 primary contest, which he narrowly lost to Senator Clinton. More recently we noticed our Republican governor making noises about secession from the Union. And we are reminded once again that we reside in the Republican South, increasingly marginalized as a political region. I can only speak for myself. It is discomfitting. Just as it is uncomfortable to watch what is left of the GOP and their fellow-travelers be such failures in their necessary roles as members of a truly loyal opposition. The nation needs a functional two party system, not a marginal-regional-reactionary-ultra-conservative group of losers dedicated to propping up a dysfunctional corporatocracy.

Watching Transportation Secretary - former Rep. Ray LaHood, Ambassador to-be to China - former governor Jon Huntsman and now Democrat Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania come over to help the Democrats govern is proof positive that that President Obama is very adept at leading from both sides of the political road. Moderate Senate Republicans were key in getting his initial big piece of legislation, the Recovery Act passed. It seems apparent the such leaders want to make a difference for our country, rather that merely oppose from a small right wing Republican minority, stuck in the 80s. They prefer to belong to a change movement that is built on finding the common ground upon which to move forward. Rather than attempting to rewrite the history of the Bush administration or wishing failure on the administration in power, they look for problems to solve.

A bronze statue of former President Ronald Reagan was unveiled today in the Capitol's Statuary Hall. It is beautiful and it was heart-warming to listen to his widow Nancy Reagan speak at the occasion. Just as it was heartwarming to see President Obama be solicitous of the former first lady at Tuesday's Reagan Centennial Bill signing ceremony. If the Republican party is ever to recover it must reach out to bring people into a larger tent. Just as President Obama has reached out to bring Republicans into his larger Democratic tent.

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