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These Republicans are determined not to give Obama credit for anything

Jonathan P Hicks | 11/28/2013, 6 a.m.
Jonathan P. Hicks

Let’s face it: If President Barack Obama found the cure for cancer in the same week he solved the mystery of how to prevent the spread of the common cold, he would continue to be vilified by his Republican colleagues in government. No matter what the president achieves, what accomplishment he lands, he is confronted by a landscape of Republican elected officials and far-right political pundits who would never even consider the prospect of giving him credit for anything.

A vivid example of this is the recent agreement that the Obama administration brokered with Iran that will, in all likelihood, prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

This is a diplomatic breakthrough that has now averted the national conversation from just a few months ago about the very real possibility of going to war with Iran. Rather than celebrating the diplomatic achievement as a welcomed development that could well avoid another war and save countless American and Iranian lives, the right-wing zealotry instead labeled the agreement as an Obama move to detract attention from the difficulties with the Affordable Care Act’s rollout. These are some cynical folks.

The announcement of the deal with Iran was barely minutes old when Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, sent out a tweet saying: “It’s amazing what the White House will do to district attention from Obamacare.”

Sean Hannity, the Fox News darling of the far right, offered his special take on the matter. “There is absolutely no question now that this was politically timed all to turn your attention away from Obamacare,” he said.

Other reviews were equally mindless. One, from defeated former Rep. Allen West, said: “America just had a modern-day Neville Chamberlain moment,” a reference to the onetime British prime minister who made concessions to Adolph Hitler.

These Republican cynics fail to understand that if the president were truly interested in diverting attention away from the troubles related to the Affordable Care Act’s computer glitches, he might have instead plunged the country into war with Iraq. [[ED: NOT IRAN? INTENTIONAL?]] That certainly would have done the trick.

What these right-wing zealots don’t seem to understand is something that is clearly at the forefront of the president’s thinking. As president of the most powerful nation on earth, Obama has learned a lesson that many of his predecessors failed to master. The weight the United States carries can be used even more valuably to bring nations to the negotiating table as it can be used on waging war.

Moreover, American involvement in recent wars has taken a disproportionate toll on the nation’s African-American and Latino communities. As young Black and Brown men and women seek refuge from disheartening job prospects in urban areas, they often turn to military service with its promise of job security and prospects for long-term stability. But they are also first in line to serve in armed conflicts around the globe, often returning home to their families in coffins.

These are particularly significant considerations in the administration’s decision to stop talking about military action against Iran and turning to the painstaking work of talks with Iran and a number of governments to craft a deal that reduces the risk of Tehran gaining nuclear weapons. Also, it is important to remember that the deal negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry is an interim agreement, meaning that there is a six-month timetable after which the entire matter may well be revisited.

To have a president who is deeply cognizant of the toll that war takes and who is willing to invest his very reputation by turning to diplomatic solutions is something that should be commended in all sectors of the nation.