Tea Partiers Say Obama’s Too Mean

Demonstrators with the Tea Party protest the Internal Revenue Service targeting of the Tea Party and similar groups during a rally called 'Audit the IRS' outside the Capitol, June 19, 2013.
National Journal
Billy House
Add to Briefcase
Billy House
Oct. 9, 2013, 5:41 p.m.

When tea-party Re­pub­lic­ans ar­rived in Con­gress in 2011, many were en­er­gized and ready to shake up Wash­ing­ton — whatever the cost. But now, some are claim­ing that it is Pres­id­ent Obama who is play­ing too rough.

Amid the gov­ern­ment shut­down and debt-ceil­ing stan­doff — which has raised rhet­or­ic sharply — they say the pres­id­ent has de­mon­ized what they con­sider healthy polit­ic­al op­pos­i­tion.

“The dif­fer­ence is, I don’t think his pre­de­cessors have ant­ag­on­ized the oth­er side,” says Rep. Aus­tin Scott, R-Ga., who was pres­id­ent of the tea-party-packed House Re­pub­lic­an fresh­man class last ses­sion.

“Bill Clin­ton did not in­ten­tion­ally ant­ag­on­ize Re­pub­lic­ans,” Scott said. “And I think that most of those [earli­er] pres­id­ents would have wel­comed the op­por­tun­ity to ne­go­ti­ate. And if they’re right on their points, then cer­tainly they’d want to ne­go­ti­ate.”

Sim­il­ar sen­ti­ment was echoed by sev­er­al of Scott’s fel­low tea parti­ers Wed­nes­day.

“I was tea party be­fore there was a tea party,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ar­iz., who has served in Con­gress since 2003. Obama, he said, “has tried to make some malevol­ent ghost, or evil spir­it, out of the tea party.”

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., a mem­ber of the tea-party caucus who fam­ously yelled “You lie!” to Obama dur­ing a speech be­fore a joint ses­sion of Con­gress, was among those who agreed Wed­nes­day with Scott’s view that the pres­id­ent has been too ant­ag­on­ist­ic.

“Wheth­er it’s per­son­al or not, it’s not good for the coun­try,” said Wilson, who apo­lo­gized after his out­burst on the House floor, made when Obama said the health care re­form law would not cov­er un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants.

The com­ments came a day after Obama’s news con­fer­ence, in which the pres­id­ent did use some rhet­or­ic that House con­ser­vat­ives found dif­fi­cult to swal­low, liken­ing them to ex­tor­tion­ists. “I’m not go­ing to [ne­go­ti­ate] un­til the more ex­treme parts of the Re­pub­lic­an Party stop for­cing John Boehner to is­sue threats about our eco­nomy,” Obama said, re­fer­ring to the Re­pub­lic­an House speak­er. “We can’t make ex­tor­tion routine as part of our demo­cracy.”

Of course, Con­gress in gen­er­al is not a gentle place. Tea-party Re­pub­lic­ans have taken plenty of at­tacks from the le­gis­lat­ive branch as well. Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi has called the House tea-party wing “le­gis­lat­ive ar­son­ists” for their de­mands. Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id has called them “an­arch­ists.”

While some might see irony in a group of firebrand re­formers com­plain­ing that Obama has not been a peace­maker, Scott, who re­mains a tea-party fa­vor­ite, said he does not dis­pute that all pres­id­ents have a right to stand up for what they be­lieve. Yet he also says there’s a sense among his col­leagues that Obama just doesn’t like them.

“It’s ob­vi­ous any time he goes on TV,” Scott said. “I mean, words he uses to de­scribe Con­gress, the tone of his voice, what he says, how he says it.”

“The role of the pres­id­ent is to be the peace­maker. And just by defin­i­tion, an ant­ag­on­ist is not a peace­maker. Really, all of our roles should be to be the peace­maker. It doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for what you be­lieve in. But he has been any­thing but that,” Scott said.

Has the rhet­or­ic got­ten too per­son­al?

“It’s not so much per­son­al with many of us,” Scott said.

“I mean, even when we were fresh­men, the only mem­ber of that ad­min­is­tra­tion that ac­tu­ally met with the fresh­man class was [former Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Timothy] Geithner,” he ad­ded. “Oth­er than that, the ad­min­is­tra­tion just said, “˜They’re anti-Obama, they’re tea-party con­trolled.’ There was no ef­fort, and has been no ef­fort, by that ad­min­is­tra­tion to es­tab­lish any re­la­tion­ships with any­body over here.”

What We're Following See More »
23 MILLION FEWER INSURED IN 2026
Congressional Budget Office Scores House Trumpcare Bill
2 hours ago
BREAKING

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by 2026, while leaving 14 million more Americans uninsured in 2018 than under current law, a number swelling to 23 million by 2026. Further, insurance premiums would balloon 20 percent in 2018 and five percent in 2019 before the waiver provision in the legislation would kick in. The provision allows states to apply for waivers and permit insurers to offer skimpier plans, which would likely entice younger and healthier individuals to buy health insurance while potentially pricing older and less healthy Americans out of insurance plans. House Republicans approved this bill in late April without waiting for the CBO score.

Source:
GOP DISCORD
Graham Rejects Trump’s Budget In Hearing
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that President Donald Trump's budget is little more than recycling bin material. "The budget proposed by the president doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing," Graham said. Graham had previously opposed the budget over its nearly 30 percent cut to the budget of the State Department. The budget slashes spending on domestic priorities while increasing military spending.

Source:
PREFERS “CLEAN” BILL
Mnuchin Looks To Avoid Debt Ceiling Fight
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS
“THAT’S THE GOAL”
McConnell Not Sure How To Get 50 Votes For Health Care
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he doesn't yet know the formula towards gaining passage of an Obamacare replacement in the Senate. "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that's the goal," McConnell said. The House passed an Obamacare replacement bill which has been widely seen as dead on arrival in the Senate, and McConnell has put together a working group of Republican Senators working towards creating health care legislation which could gain the support of at least 50 Senators.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login