This Ted Cruz-enabled government shutdown has produced many a maddening moment. There was the useless theater of Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus presenting a check yesterday to keep the World War II Memorial open. There was the fauxtroversy over whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said “Why would we want to do that?” in relation to funding cancer clinical trials for children. Abby Ohlheiser at The Atlantic speaks for me on this manufactured foolishness.
But the person who wins the award for unmitigated gall — so far — is Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.). In an interview with the Washington Examiner about the funding fight, the former Indiana state senator elected to the House in a 2010 special election said, “We’re not going to be disrespected….We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” Leave aside Stutzman’s inability to articulate what ransom he would require to reopen the government or lift the nation’s legal borrowing limit. His aggrieved notion of disrespect is what curled my hair.
Stutzman ought to ask President Obama about disrespect. Ask him about being heckled with “You lie!” at a joint session of Congress in 2009. Ask him about how his phone calls to Speaker John Boehner during the debt ceiling mess in July 2011 went unreturned. Ask him about Boehner’s unprecedented rejection of the president’s desired date for a joint-session speech about jobs two months later. Ask him about the unwillingness of the speaker and other Republican “leaders” to snuff out false and offensive birther lie that continues to question the legitimacy of his presidency. Ask him about all the political and policy concessions he’s made to the great consternation of his Democratic Party base that are never acknowledged by and never seem to be enough for Republicans. Ask him about all the other slights, big and small, that he and his administration have had to endure since he walked into the Oval Office on Jan. 20, 2009.
I leave you with that laundry list of bad manners not to make excuses for Obama or to cast pity on him. I bring them up to reiterate a larger point. In Obama, we have a president more grounded and comfortable in his own skin than many of the people he has to work with to govern this country. Stutzman’s disrespect comment just reinforces how true this is.
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