Vail Valley Voices: Words to haunt Obama — ‘I won!’ |

Vail Valley Voices: Words to haunt Obama — ‘I won!’

Butch Mazucca
Vail, CO, Colorado

Shortly after his inauguration, the Obama presidency could be likened to the lyrics to the American folk-spiritual “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands.”

The new president had an adoring electorate. Young people were energized by his soaring rhetoric, and many would have walked over hot coals for America’s first black president. Europe and most of the civilized world lionized him, the press was in the midst of its love affair with him, and he had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The president was coming off a historic victory wherein he had crushed his opponent in the Electoral College. Adding to his satisfaction, the voters provided him with a huge majority in the House and a filibuster-proof Senate. To say the wind was at the new president’s back was an understatement.

As a practical matter, President Obama could pretty much do as he pleased, which he did. So why do almost 70 percent of Americans feel the country is on the wrong track?

The true believers insist it’s Bush’s fault. Perhaps. But an argument can also be made that somewhere between 7.5 percent and 9.1 percent unemployment, the duties of the Oval Office gained a measure of the man.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama gathered top congressional leaders from both parties at the White House for a working discussion over the shape and size of the president’s stimulus plan. The meeting was ostensibly designed to promote bipartisanship.

However, according to Democratic and Republican participants at that meeting as reported in the Wall Street Journal, when Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona challenged the president over the balance between the package’s spending and tax cuts, the new president curtly dismissed the Senator with the comment, “I won!”

In the forward to his 2009 book, “40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation,” political consultant James Carville wrote: “When historians or scientists look back over huge cataclysmic events, they generally find some harbinger that went unnoticed at the time. There’s always a warning.

“If you’re a chaos theorist, it’s the flapping of the proverbial butterfly’s wings in New York that caused a tsunami in Hong Kong. A meteorologist might think of it in terms of a category five hurricanes that began as a low-pressure area off the Cape Verde Islands on the African coast. Historians remember the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand as the spark for World War I.”

James Carville was correct about harbingers that go unnoticed, but his conclusion was dead wrong as evinced by the 2010 election results.

More importantly, however, with the words “I won,” President Obama delivered an unambiguous message establishing the tone of his relationship with the Republicans in Congress. That tone would manifest itself repeatedly over the course of time, but it was never more apparent than during the fight over Obamacare.

Perhaps the new president actually believed Carville’s assertion about 40 years of democratic ascendancy. Perhaps he believed that with everything he had going for him bipartisanship wasn’t necessary.

No one knows with certitude because it’s impossible to know what’s in a man’s heart. We can only judge by examining actions.

With unemployment at 9.1 percent, we can point to 14.3 million reasons why the president’s poll numbers are falling. But many believe his sinking popularity goes deeper than that.

There are those who feel that had he been a bit more receptive to Republican ideas during those heady days of 2009, perhaps his poll numbers wouldn’t be in such precipitous freefall today.

If Barack Obama loses his bid for re-election, it’s suggested here that a lot of folks will point to those two little words, “I won,” as the “harbinger that went unnoticed at the time.”

Quote of the Day: “Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.” — Earl Nightingale

Butch Mazucca is an Edwards resident.

Support Local Journalism