The President, Congress, and Political Schizophrenia

RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., September 24, 2013 –  Political schizophrenia is an egotistical disorder that makes it hard to tell the difference between what is real and what is not real, and President Obama and Congress are poster children of the syndrome. They collectively demonstrate the classic symptoms of partisan paranoia coupled with delusional and disorganized thinking. We need to stop pretending that they’re normal, so they can recognize their need to seek help.

Congress has grown dysfunctional because of the disorder. Too many members of the House and Senate, on both sides of the aisle, have been reduced to little more than delivery mechanisms for their respective Parties’ bullet points. Keep in mind: These bullet points are scripted by unelected individuals who are only focused on maintaining or expanding their particular Party’s power. For the most part, they couldn’t care less about “forming a more perfect Union.”

As a result, we see an autonomic function of the two Chambers; involuntarily responding to their dominant Party’s position without the need for forethought. Their Members cast aspersions much better than they cast votes.

The current battleground is the Affordable Care Act (i.e., “Obamacare”). While the formal name has proven to be somewhat of a misnomer, the colloquial name has brought personalities into the argument.

The Republican Party is committed to disfavoring “all things Obama,” so the name itself leads to a vigorous attack from the more zealous elements of the Conservative movement.

Conversely, the Democratic Party has a messianic view of anything even remotely associated with the President much less a bill named after him. They seem to have a difficult time recognizing that the President himself has been forced to circumvent the law on several occasions through the use of Executive Orders and granted exemptions because apparently it was passed before anyone read it.

While both sides of the aisle posture to blame the other for the looming potential shutdown of the Government, one has to wonder how long it would take us to notice that the Government had, in fact, shut down. Given the fact that we are at least a third consecutive term into legislative mismanagement by an irrationally impaired Congress, we would be hard-pressed to recognize its absence were it not for the collateral damage that would be experienced relative to the necessary programs some of our Departments and Agencies administer.

Let’s use the Republican-led House’s recent vote to reduce spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; i.e., food stamps) by $39 billion dollars over the next ten years as an example.

First, it should be noted that this bill was passed by only seven votes without a single Democrat casting a vote in its favor. The absence of any bipartisan support demonstrates how partisan this action was and how flagrantly it disregarded any balanced representation of the will of the People.

This same Republican-led Chamber has tried to repeal Obamacare over 40 times since 2010 and, most recently, took the tactical initiative to try to defund it by tying it to a bill that would otherwise prevent a Government shutdown.

Of course, Obamacare itself was only passed by seven votes without a single Republican casting a vote in its favor. The absence of any bipartisan support demonstrates how partisan this action was and how flagrantly it disregarded any balanced representation of the will of the People.

Are you beginning to recognize the problem?

Meanwhile, our Nation’s food stamp program does suffer from a measurable level of fraud. Did the House address that in an effective manner by structuring a contingent funding-mechanism that was tied to resolving that issue directly? No. Could this be done? Yes. Would it be a more responsible way to address the issue? You decide … preferably in November of 2014.

Of course, the Democrat-led Senate will ignore the fraud, kill (or modify) the bill, and blame the shameless Republicans in the House rather than addressing the issue. Will this resolve the issue of fraud? No. Could this be done? Yes. Would it be a more responsible way to address the issue? You decide … preferably in November of 2014.

Instead of solving the problem, you will hear Democratic Senators claim that Republicans hate poor people and just want to fund a tax cut for the rich. Then, you’ll witness prominent Democrats boarding planes for political junkets to foreign lands that have nothing to do with their jobs or boarding their private jet for yet another exotic vacation funded by tax-payer money that could otherwise be used to feed a lot of hungry people.

Speaking of the President, it would be nice to introduce him to a young Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. That political prodigy offered “hope and change” to the country rather than the “choke and blame” approach that is favored by the President.

As the keynote speaker at the Congressional Black Caucus’ 43rd Annual Legislative Conference on September 21, 2013, President Obama’s rhetoric once again grabbed Republicans by the throat and condemned them for their profligate ways. In criticizing the Republicans’ agenda, he said:

“Now, I think — this is an interesting thing to ponder, that your top agenda is making sure 20 million people don’t have health insurance. And you’d be willing to shut down the government and potentially default for the first time in United States history because it bothers you so much that we’re actually going to make sure that everybody has affordable health care.”

Conversely, on March 16, 2006, Senator Barack Obama spoke eloquently on the subject of our Nation’s debt when the Bush Administration was petitioning to have the ceiling raised from $9 trillion. The good Senator said:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is ‘trillion’ with a ‘T.’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.”

Senator Obama seemed to understand as he continued:

“… the cost of our debt is one of the fastest-growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on.”

While our massive debt continues to inflict the same damage, President Obama appears to have changed his position on that form of “robbery” and chosen to ignore the counsel of that young Senator; a Senator who also advised us in that same speech that:

“Our debt also matters internationally. My friend, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, likes to remind us that it took 42 Presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just 5 years … (and) the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours.”

Senator Obama was right again (no pun intended). Then, he concluded by saying:

“Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘’the buck stops here.’’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

It’s too bad that President Obama wasn’t paying attention at the time. Perhaps someone else wrote the speech for him and he was simply reading it as he does today. Then again, maybe he was being literal when he said, “The buck stops here.” That would explain his reluctance to ever take any personal responsibility for the economic decisions that have transpired since that date.

Needless to say, the foreign debt incurred by the Obama Administration makes the Bush Administration appear to have been resistant to borrowing (with the current Administration having amassed nearly double the foreign debt attributable to our all prior Presidents combined, including our fiscally irresponsible 43rd one). One has to wonder how Senator Obama would have assailed our 44th President’s fiscal leadership given that our Nation’s real debt includes about another $70 trillion in unfunded liabilities (and yes, Mr. President, “that is ‘trillion’ with a ‘T’”).

For those who would like to examine a more extensive list of the President’s symptoms, please read the text of his speech as a Senator on March 18, 2008. In that speech, he described our Nation’s challenges and the need for unity to overcome them. He spoke with hope for change:

“We have a choice … We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism … (or) we can come together and say, ‘Not this time.’”

It’s too bad that Senator Obama never became President. Perhaps we would already be living in a political environment characterized by the transparency, bipartisan accord, and fiscal responsibility that is necessary to “secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Instead, we are trapped in a paradigm driven by political schizophrenia in which we have to live in the real world while our elected officials get to live in an alternate universe unencumbered by responsible behavior.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.

This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A Civil Assessment, in the Communities section of The Washington Times.