FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2013
CHARLIE BROWN AND BARACK OBAMA
BY BOB FRANKEN
You know the Peanuts comic strip; it’s appeared in some form for more than 60 years: Lucy puts down the football and promises that this time she’ll actually let Charlie Brown kick it. Each time, as he races to boot it, she pulls it away at the last second, and he crashes to the turf. Once again, the trusting soul is done in. Poor Charlie Brown.
Poor Barack Obama. Once again, he’s come out with a compromise budget proposal in the belief that the Republicans also are willing to compromise. And once again, they have pulled the political football away. In his opening proffer, the president already gives in deeply on entitlement cuts in the naive expectation that the other side will respond in kind and show flexibility allowing tax increases for wealthy individuals and powerful corporations. Instead, Republicans responded by digging in their heels.
After all, they made some piddly tax concessions earlier this year, so now Speaker John Boehner is saying “no way” because: “The president got his tax hikes in January. We don’t need to be raising taxes on the American people.” What he means is rich people, and what he's saying is that this time around he and his GOP buddies are digging in their heels. Actually, given how their single strategy from the get-go has been to block almost anything that Obama suggests, his continuing attempts at being reasonable means he is their willing sucker.
While compromise is a wonderful concept, in Washington it has been turned into CONpromise. Give-and-take demands are deceptions from those who are really saying “You give, we’ll take.” Even the highly publicized Senate deal on gun control, where those who favor broad restrictions surrendered a lot to those who are against them, ended up playing into the hands of the opponents. Despite heart-rending appeals from the families of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, all they could come up with was a bargain that provided for watered-down background checks. The polls show nine out of 10 Americans favor expanding them, But so what, the NRA is against. They’d already pretty much doomed prohibitions on assault weapons and defanged other items that lacked teeth. Giving all that up only attracted enough votes to get past an initial filibuster. Now the Senate will deal with amendments some of them odious , which almost certainly will turn what’s left into mush or even worse than where they began. Even if it does pass, it must go through the House of Representatives shredder. What’s left of new gun control will be nothing of the sort. The same thing is going on with immigration, where a so-called Dream Act will end up largely fulfilling the dreams of the moneyed interests.
As far as the president’s budget submission is concerned, it not only met with a hostile reaction from the other party, it also managed to antagonize a large chunk of his fellow Democrats. They’re grousing about his willingness to negotiate cuts in Social Security and Medicaid. They’re using words like “sellout” and openly talking about rebellion.
It should be noted that all the budgets floating around are just preliminary documents that provide the bargaining parameters for both sides. So, the question about what the White House plopped into the mix is really tactical. If the Republicans mean what they say and truly don’t intend to meet the president halfway, does he do what he’s done before which is to effectively cave.
Right now he’s involved in a sweet-talking campaign, inviting GOP senators to dinner and schmoozing his heart out. So he obviously believes that some sort of rational impulse will overtake his adversaries and that this time they’ll really hold the metaphorical football in place. Chances are he’ll end up again just as Charlie Brown does — flat on his back.
© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate