AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!! Driving home today I was listening to a local talk show (Think Out Loud) on our NPR affiliate, Oregon Public Broadcasting. In the news roundtable segment the host asked three guests (journalists) what the top story of the week was for each of them. One of the two men said that his top story was wondering why President Obama is reportedly going to "poison the well" in Congress by acting on immigration reform through Executive Order.
WHAT? First of all, why is a journalist using the Republican playbook term of the month? Almost immediately following his reelection to the Senate, Mitch McConnell used the term "poison the well" in his acceptance speech: "In an ambitious speech hours after his party gained control of both houses of Congress, McConnell warned Obama not to “poison the well” by pushing forward with unilateral action on immigration reform...." (source).
Two days later House Speaker John Boehner warned that "the president will "poison the well" for the new Congress if he takes executive action to address the deportation of undocumented immigrants" (source). The floodgates were open, and every news outlet repeated the term "poison the well" over, and over, and over ad nauseum.
And so, once again, the popular media are following the playbook of a political party by parroting a catchy phrase designed to stick in the heads of the public and sway their opinion. Some consultant to the Republican Party earned her or his pay for that one.
But there is another, even more important aspect to this discussion; the assertion is false! For the past 6 years the publicly stated goal of the Republican Party has been to thwart every effort by Barak Obama to get things accomplished. McConnell and Boehner each are on record with this message. The Congress during Obama's term will go down as one of the most do-nothing Congresses in the history of the United States, to date. If anyone has poisoned the political well, it is the Republican Party.
And let us not forget the liberal Democrats who have very loudly criticized Obama for not getting tough, going toe-to-toe with the obstructionist Republicans in Congress. What a wimp! What a dish rag! What a disappointment! As if President Obama is the reason the Republicans have stymied every effort by the administration and the Democrats to move things forward.
The Republican Party is The Poison in the well that all Americans drink from. Name any social issue in this country, and the Republicans are on the front lines to stop any progress. I salute President Obama for his patience and his persistence. He has accomplished a mountain of important things, and yet, for some strange reason, the American public and the popular media allow the Republican Party to write the script and coin the phrases.
I truly hope our President uses his executive authorities to make long-overdue and much needed changes to immigration policies, environmental policies, energy policies, and many more. And truly, if there is poison in the well, we can only hope that the Republicans in Congress drink from it soon!
P. Fishman - November 14, 2014