What would Nixon do?

Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, July 15, 2011.

In a speech to the Senate Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), speaking of negotiations to reduce federal spending and to increase the federal borrowing limit by August 2, said,

“After years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable.”

Senator McConnell is absolutely correct.

It is now clear that while President Obama can live with the consequences of failing to raise the debt limit, however dire those consequences turn out to be, he cannot live with anything that might reflect well on Republicans.

While the very future of the nation hangs in the balance, the president engages in the most staggeringly cynical political gamesmanship imaginable.

With everything on the line, President Obama is using the country’s severely deteriorating financial situation as a giant campaign ad.

Every press conference, every speech, every public statement that the president makes regarding debt, deficits, spending or the debt limit contains the same phrases. We hear them daily – “millionaires and billionaires,” “the wealthiest Americans,” “corporate jet owners,” “tax breaks for the rich.”

These phrases have obviously been focus group–tested and are believed to properly evoke the president’s voting base.

Which would be fine if the president were campaigning. But the debate on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction is not a campaign event. It’s real-world governing.

Under our republican form of government (republican with a small “r”), times like these are the very reason the office of president exists.

The president knows, and you can go to any of dozens of websites (example here)  that collate IRS data and discover for yourself, that taxing “the wealthiest Americans” at 100 percent of income will not amount to the rounding error in our nation’s $1.6 trillion deficit. The wealthiest Americans, and those evil “millionaires and billionaires,” while constituting fewer than five percent of the population, are paying nearly 60 percent of federal income taxes. It’s not a revenue problem. It’s a spending problem.

The president knows this but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care because he knows that vilifying the “rich” (read: the most successful Americans) is effective in motivating his far-left base.

Winning reelection is what the president cares about and to do that, he needs his far-left base. He knows, given high unemployment, opposition to Obamacare, anemic growth, a double-dip in home prices and the country’s staggering debt, that independents won’t break for him the way they did in 2008.

So it’s demagoguery over leadership. Pure and simple.

Not every politician is so staggeringly cynical.

It is highly likely that Richard Nixon actually won the 1960 election against John F. Kennedy. His advisors urged him to contest malodorous results from Illinois, Texas and other states. He refused, saying that doing so would trigger a constitutional crisis that would be bad for the country.

Think about this. No recent president has been so thoroughly reviled as Richard Nixon. Yet he conceded an election that he had good reason to believe that he had won, purely for the good of the country.

So there you have it. Even Richard Nixon’s brand of statesmanship exceeds the grasp of this president.

Looking out for the good of the country is what we hire presidents to do. Which is why we need to fire this one.

Mitch McConnell got it so right.