, Newburyport, MA

February 1, 2014

For Obama, one last tilt at the windmill

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Big Freddy, well padded against the morning cold, stomped his feet inside the door and heaved his way to our booth while I slid out of my side to give him room.

“Peal off a couple of layers or we’re going to have to use two booths,” I said.

“And a good morning to you, too,” he said as he piled his ancient calf length coat beside him and disengaged his woolen scarf as the waitress arrived to ask what he would like.

“A January thaw,” he said.

“Coffee large?” She asked.

“And a foot warmer,” he said as she left.

“I would have thought Obama’s State of the Union speech last night would have provided all the heat you’d need for a week,” I said.

“Well it didn’t,” Freddy said. “He put just the right edge on the recovery show-and-tell to take with him on his roundabout warmup to help Democrats take back as much of the House and hold on to their Senate seats come November.”

“From what I read, the results will be less than they want it to be,” I said.

“Be that as it may, he has to do what he has to do,” Freddy said.

“Democrats will gain in the House, but Republicans are expected to hold onto most of their lead there.

“There’s going to be some shift in the Senate, but chances are the Democrats will hang on to their majority.

“That adds up to no change,” I said.

“Obama knows that, so he makes the case that he wants to work with Congress but won’t be able to if there’s no change in the status quo, so he’ll do what he’ll have to do and use his Presidential powers.”

“For what?” I asked.

“Helping the middle class that’s been taking major hits in the economy for the post half dozen years,” Freddy said.

“With a divided Congress, good luck to that,” I said. “Congress is at political loggerheads over everything.”

“Not now over the need to do something constructive for the middle class,” Freddy said.

“He’s got at least one thing right. The public’s fed up with partisan lockjaw. So, if he has to, he’ll use what he can of his presidential authority.

“He’s done that more than a hundred and fifty times.”

“And he may have to do it again unless the House Speaker and both minority and majority leaders in the Senate turn things around, and good luck for that in an election year,” I said.

“That’s the binder issue,” Freddy said. Both parties are not only aware of it, they know they’ve got to find common ground where they can. The hitch is not every voter out there is either a rock solid Republican or Democrat, and there are enough people hurting in the middle to make a difference.

“Add to that Obama’s presidency is in the pits, and he’s going to do what he does best - take his show and tell and hit the road to accentuate the positives, eliminate the negatives, and do what he can to get the swing votes of the in betweens.”

“He’s not running for President this time around,” I said.

“Oh yes he is,” Freddy said. “He’s running for his presidency - what the history of his presidency is going to be about. Right now it’s in the pits because of the bruhawhaw over Obama Care and too many out there worried about this and that.

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist for The Daily News.