Members of the far-right tea party caucus are now accusing President Barack Obama of being too mean to them in his statements to the media and unwillingness to budge on his signature domestic policy issue. The MaddowBlog reported that even Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) — who famously shouted “You lie!” at Obama during the 2009 State of the Union Speech — and other tea partiers are now saying that the president has been unfair to them and mischaracterized their role in shutting down the federal government.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), who was the president of the freshman tea party House class in 2011, said that Obama is worse than other U.S. presidents because he has been too hard on the opposition.
“The difference is, I don’t think his predecessors have antagonized the other side,” complained Scott to the National Journal. “Bill Clinton did not intentionally antagonize Republicans. 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.”
Wilson chimed in that he thinks Obama has gotten too personal with Republicans, saying, “Whether it’s personal or not, it’s not good for the country.”
Steve Benen at MaddowBlog.com wrote, “Love him or hate him, Obama’s outreach to his rivals has no contemporary parallel. This Democratic president has brought Republicans into his cabinet and administration; he’s incorporated Republican ideas into his agenda; and he’s tried schmoozing Republicans outside of their official duties. He’s adopted policy measures his Democratic base hates, but which he’ll nevertheless tolerate in the hopes of bipartisan cooperation. He’s tried meeting Republicans more than half-way on everything from health care to immigration, deficit reduction to energy.”
Much of the current animus toward Obama among the shutdown caucus seems to stem from remarks he made on Tuesday in which he said, “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. We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy.”
Scott told the Journal that it’s not so much that Obama has singled any of them out personally. It’s his tone.
“It’s obvious any time he goes on TV,” carped Scott. “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.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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