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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Smell what Obama is cookin’?

Last October, Saturday Night Live presented “”The Rock Obama,”” an eerily foreshadowing sketch, which depicts Barack Obama undergoing an Incredible Hulk-like transformation. Urged by Rahm Emanuel to “”get angry,”” Obama’s ass-kicking alter ego retorts against the claims of GOP lawmakers by tossing them out of the Oval Office. While no one got thrown out of a window, Obama’s exchange with GOP lawmakers showed that he’s not afraid to throw down some rhetorical fisticuffs.

The GOP invited Obama, thinking that it would be a one-sided exchange. They were right, but Obama scored most of the points.

Without needing his lauded teleprompter, the president quickly shed his calm, reserved demeanor and began addressing GOP’s part in creating a highly divided, politically partisan atmosphere.

The candid and luckily televised exchange was a critical chance for Obama to take the offensive against insidious claims and conspiracy theories leveled by GOP lawmakers. The assertiveness and precision with which he spoke in exposing GOP’s hypocrisy are qualities on which Obama must rely for the rest of his presidency­— whether addressing Republicans, Democrats or the general public.

Obama admonished GOP lawmakers for the harsh rhetoric used to oppose his legislative agenda. “”You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, ‘this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America,'”” said Obama, according to the New York Daily News. As his opponents repeatedly characterize his agenda as socialist, political dialogue becomes entrenched in partisan talking points instead of substantive issues.

Obama’s sharp tone has earned him the label “”combative”” — and rightfully so. His continued efforts at bipartisanship have become barriers to the change he touted during his candidacy. Obama’s calculated, lukewarm version of bipartisanship has left malcontents on both sides of the political spectrum, especially regarding health care legislation. 

The plethora of lawmakers who criticize Obama daily maintain an impressive network of media connections to air their grievances through written statements, sound bites and television appearances. The dialogue removed the buffering presence of press secretaries and carefully worded statements, forcing GOP lawmakers to confront their past rhetorical inventions.

One of the most poignant jabs Obama threw was the two-faced reception of stimulus projects by many GOP lawmakers, as reported by the New York Daily News. “”A lot of you have gone to appear at ribbon-cuttings for the same projects that you voted against,”” Obama sparred. While some news outlets have reported on the stunning hypocrisy of certain members of Congress, that they were called out by the president of the U.S. shows a level of political dialogue that is honest, less polished and much more significant than most political discourse today.

Obama’s authoritative tone finally resembles that of a president whose party controls both houses of Congress. While he and the Democratic congress still need to work together with Republicans, Obama must continually remind the GOP who is in power.

As an isolated incident, the verbal bout between Obama and the GOP has little impact. GOP senators will not “”see the light”” and change their votes on the health care bill, but voters might. If lawmakers can publicly attack Obama ad nauseum, forcing them to do it in an open exchange is the best way to hold them publicly accountable for spurious and outright false claims.

Obama quickly recognized the benefit of such candid dialogue, hinting at future attempts to engage in open discussion. “”I hope that the conversation we begin here doesn’t end here,”” said Obama, according to CNN.

Making this type of exchange more frequent — on a smaller or larger scale­­ — can mitigate the spread of deceptive rhetoric and expose Americans to genuine political discourse. A speaker as talented as Obama should revel in the chance to debate members of the GOP openly and debunk conspiracy theories as often as possible.

— Dan Sotelo is a political science senior. He can be reached at  letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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