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Three Little Words

“I screwed up.”


Sounds like a simple, ordinary, and harmless little thing to admit, unless of course you’re the President of the United States. We haven’t heard the likes of this in at least eight years. No wonder everybody in the media is almost literally erupting about it. They can’t believe their ears. Seems THAT is a little misplaced, too. By about eight years and a whole lot of Texas Two-Steppin’ around the truth, both inconvenient and uncomfortable.

In just a few days in office, President Obama has made it stunningly clear that the infantile, cowardly, deceitful, and recklessly incompetent (almost to the point of pride) Bush/Republican Way of doing things is OVER. With those three little words, “I screwed up,” he’s already provided us a new template of what a REAL president, a REAL man, a REAL adult, does when something goes wrong on his or her watch. As one TV commentator put it, “he manned up.” The last time I got to thinking about this, I wondered what I myself was going to do now that the changes had happened. Seems everyone’s grappling with that, now. We’re just not used to this.

The “loyal opposition” certainly doesn’t know what to do – they’re even more in the dark than I am. In a previous column, I ruminated about not being sure, anymore, how to behave in this new political climate. President Obama had set a new tone for political ops, one of reaching out, blissful and productive bipartisanship, open hands versus clenched fists. The GOP, in seems, only gets part of this – the part with the clenched fists.

Obama sure showed ‘em. He extended that open hand alright. Stretched all the way out to Republican-ville. Met with a generous variety of groups of them – pols and pundits alike. Invited them for drinks. Invited them to watch the Super Bowl with him in the sumptuous comfort of The White House. Listened with both ears to all their complaints and “big ideas” about fixing the economy – their way, of course. Took many – TOO many - of their suggestions. Abandoned many – TOO many – of his own. Gave them several seats at the table and as of this writing, not one, nor two, but THREE Cabinet posts. Offered them everything short of moving out of the Oval Office so John McCain could have it. Never mind that Obama did all this for the LOSERS – who clearly haven’t recognized this new status of theirs (nor would they ever consider similar response if the Democrats had gotten their heads handed to them in the last election.

Never mind that he elevated their same old, stale, unworkable, short-sighted, cheap-skate, politics of selfishness to a seriously undeserved parity. They LOST. Because their ideas and policies suck, and as a nation we’ve had at least eight years of laboratory time to see that assertion conclusively proven.

They took President Obama’s open hand and promptly spit in it.

They’ve thus made it undeniable that they deserve little more than the back of his hand from now on. They’ll probably misinterpret even his “I screwed up” to be a blanket indictment of anything that comes from the Oval Office now. Just watch. They’ll make this silk purse into a sow’s ear in no time at all.

He’s probably not going to give them what they deserve.

But I certainly can.

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I tried an experiment the other day, A) to register my opinion about the stimulus package that the GOP House MINORITY completely rejected in spite of all the concessions they extracted from President Obama; and B) to test how many of my toll free Capitol Hill switchboard numbers still worked (check the end of this column). I wound up reconfirming three numbers, in three calls to select Republicans. I called two Congressmen. One was a Californian (Darrell Issa, the pathetic crying clown behind the recall of then-Governor Gray Davis who’d sunk millions of his own money into that campaign in hopes of snatching the governor’s job for himself, only to have Arnold the Terminator yank it away from him).

The other was a Congressman - a media hog (the sanctimonious, prematurely white-haired self-admitted cherisher of the voice of Rush Limbaugh, Mike Pence, who has built a thriving side business plastering his face across every TV and cable screen in the Western World). My third call was to Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, who’s probably little better than the walking dead since he’s already announced he’s outta there in 2010, and the Dems appear poised to turn another red Senate seat blue.

In the interest of acknowledging what’s left of their dignity – in a strictly bipartisan fashion, of course – I will not identify whose staffers said what, except to point out that the folks in two out of three of these offices seem to be inhabiting a reality all their own. In short, they learned NOTHING from the instructions given by an unmistakable, unspinnable majority of voters last fall. Not an “I screwed up” in the bunch.

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When I referred to the “throw the Republican bums out” message the electorate sent, one representative’s young adjutant noted that yessirree, they’d gotten that message, alright. “Yes, the Congressman was reelected…” Never mind how many more of his friends in the Incredible Shrinking Political Party were sent to the unemployment line, I reminded him. In another office, the youthful voice on the other end of the line insisted the hosing of the GOP last November occurred because they simply weren’t conservative enough. Never mind how the “more of the same” Bush-agenda sales job that was jammed down our throats was resoundingly rejected.

Funny, this bunch has had eight years to wrap their minds and their tongues around those three little words that President Obama was honest enough, and man enough, to utter within days of taking office. With all the mistakes and blunders and missteps on their watch, none of them got within a light year of admitting they’d screwed up on anything.

Sadly, these poor souls not only don’t get it, they’re evidently determined not to get it. The earnestness with which they’re falling all over themselves to force their discredited “ideas” back again onto an America that said a decisive “NO” to four more years of The Republican Way of Doing Things is amazing to see. And it’s unsettling. What do you make of people who insist that the kind of policies and mindsets and overriding economic and military philosophies that got us into the present mess – should be continued? Just how bad would they like to see our situation become? And how long will it be before some of these greedy, arrogant cads come back down to earth, open up a can of humble, and say “I screwed up”?

I wound up arguing on the phone with the two different Congressional office staffers who relentlessly refused to see the forest OR the trees. I challenged them on all their assertions and wouldn’t back down. Sometimes we wound up talking over each other. We didn’t get anywhere, of course. Nor was there any meeting of the minds. So be it. But capitulating to them wouldn’t have brought any peace, satisfaction, OR realistic solutions, either – as we are now seeing. Did all that conceding points to the GOP yield us any votes in the House of Reps when that stimulus package came up for an actual vote? How many times do we have to be trampled on and kicked around by these people before we learn?

Mr. President, PLEASE. NO MORE CONCESSIONS to the Republicans. Until AND unless you see them come back to you without their clenched fists and their myopic already-tried-tested-and-failed “ideas,” and most important of all, WITH their own honest admission - “I screwed up.”


Mary’s Updated List of Toll Free Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers:
(800) 828 – 0498, (866) 338 – 1015, (866) 220 - 0044

Mary Lyon