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Obama Fights Back …Finally!

African American news from Pasadena - Turner's Two Cents on ObamaAfter months of having metaphorical sand kicked in his face by conservatives bent on ruining his presidency, Barack Obama has finally put his boxing gloves on. With his state of the union address last Wednesday and his town hall with Republican House members on Friday, President Obama did what he should have done months ago – push back against the stubborn partisanship and mischaracterizations of his policies by Republicans on Capitol Hill.  Now Mr. Obama is poised to reverse the political momentum that threatened to bog down his plans for the nation.

The President was stellar in his state of the union speech when he put GOP lawmakers on blast for their obstructionist ways. "If the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town -- a supermajority -- then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership."

(Ooooh! Get 'em, Barack!)

My pride soared when Mr. Obama made that long-overdue and completely accurate statement. This was the strong, visionary Barack Obama that we voted for back in November of '08! My pride deepened as the President followed his verbal body-slam with a call for unity that would put the interests of the American people ahead of politics. "We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions," Mr. Obama declared. "So let's show the American people that we can do it together."

President Obama maintained his take-no-mess tone during Friday's historic town hall meeting with GOP House members. Implicitly reminding them of their nonsensical comparisons of his healthcare reform plan to the old Soviet Union, Mr. Obama chided the Republican lawmakers saying, "You'd think this was some Bolshevik plot. That's how some of you guys presented this." The President also told his Republican opponents that their intractable opposition to just about every proposal made by the White House or Democrats in Congress has made it impossible to reach bipartisan consensus on major issues. The President put the truth in the Republicans' faces by stating boldly, "What happens is that you guys don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me...because what you've been telling your constituents is, 'This guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America."

The President should have taken this firm stance a long time ago. But now that he's finally digging his heels into the ground he has a real chance to jump start his agenda, re-energize Democrats on the Hill and re-inspire the liberals who are the voting base of his party.

Unfortunately, because Mr. Obama allowed the Republicans to keep him on the ropes for the last several months, some of his priorities have suffered irreparable damage. Meaningful healthcare reform is pretty much dead, in large part because Mr. Obama never fought for it vigorously. He sat idly by last August while conservatives bandied about all manner of inaccurate, dishonest, fear-inducing nonsense about his healthcare plan – particularly the idea of a government-run health insurance option. When he finally took the spotlight before a joint session of Congress last September, the President caved to the Republicans by essentially telling lawmakers that they could scuttle the public option if they wanted, as long as they offered some kind of alternative, such as an insurance exchange. We'll get some kind of healthcare reform law eventually, but it will be a hollowed-out shell of the original that won't do nearly enough for financially-struggling Americans.

Hopefully, the strong posture President Obama took in the state of the union speech and at the Republican town hall meeting will become his modus operandi from this point forward. It has been clear since early in 2009 that the Republican Party's strategy is to obstruct the President's agenda with the goal of weakening him politically. Mr. Obama seems to realize now that his conciliatory approach has yielded nothing and that it's time to come out swinging. Let's hope so.

Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.


[Read more "Turner's Two Cents" on www.EURweb.com, and www.PasadenaJournal.com. In Los Angeles, watch Cameron Turner on "The Filter with Fred Roggin," Tuesdays at 11:30 AM KNBC Channel 4.]


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