As he shook hands on a rope line during his tour of the upper Midwest, Pres. Obama was accosted by a pair of tea partyists, who berated him because they did not like being called “economic terrorists” during the debt ceiling debacle that their representatives in Congress engineered last month.
Rather than confronting them — “We’ll stop calling you economic terrorists when you stop taking the U.S. economy hostage,” he might have said — the president was much more polite, of course. Via David Weigel, here’s a transcript of the exchange:
TEA BAGGER 1: When you’re talking about civility, how is your vice president calling us terrorists…
OBAMA: Sir, sir…
TEA BAGGER 1: I would like to understand that!
OBAMA: Okay, I will explain right now. He did not call you guys terrorists.
TEA BAGGER 1: He said we were acting like terrorists. Hostage-takers.
OBAMA: No. What he said was that for us to be willing to take the economy to the brink was irresponsible. And it was.
This first tea bagger was referring to an exchange between Vice Pres. Joe Biden and Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, while the debt-ceiling negotiations were taking place:
- Republican Party boss Grover Norquist in 2001: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
- Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein on June 30: “So when the GOP’s economic policy team sat down to make the strongest case they could for growth-inducing deficit reduction, they recommended a mix an 85:15 mix, not a 100:0 mix. And then, when the Obama administration agreed to an 83:17 mix, the Republican leadership walked out of the room and demanded that taxes be excluded from the deal altogether. How do you negotiate with that?”
- Right-wing cheerleaders Neil Cavuto and John Stoessel on Fox Business News last week: “I would welcome a downgrade, Cavuto said,”I really would. I think it would be the pain from which we have a gain.” Stoessel agreed, “Maybe that would wake people up.”
- Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. last weekend: “It’s a thought you just don’t want to believe in, because that would be [horrible] … But every day they keep giving us more and more evidence that there’s no choice but to answer the question ‘yes.’ They give us no choice but to come to [the conclusion that Republicans are deliberately sabotaging the economy].”
- Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks in July: “If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern. And they will be right.”
Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat:
This is the reality that liberals need to face: Much of the Republican “intransigence” and “hostage-taking” and “terrorism” that they deplore is a direct consequence of the fact that Republicans assume that Democrats will always, always, cave on taxes. And so long as that assumption keeps getting vindicated by events, there’s no incentive for the G.O.P. to accede to sweeping compromises on deficit reduction. Why would you compromise with a party that won’t actually fight for the revenues required to pay for the programs it claims to want to protect? Why would you sign off on tax increases that your notionally pro-government opposition doesn’t want to sign off on themselves? … In the long run, you can’t have compromise without intransigence.
Source: The Dish