Are GOP leaders going too far with their criticism of Obama?

The president certainly has been getting it from GOP leaders the past few days. But the real question regarding Obama, the Republicans say, is: 'Is he getting it?'

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Ky., delivers his remarks on the elections and policy agenda for moving forward, on Nov. 4, at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

Yes, they were the big winners in Tuesday’s elections. But are GOP leaders going too far in wagging their fingers in President Obama’s face?

After all, presumptive House Speaker-to-be John Boehner said “there seems to be some denial on the part of the president ... about the message that was sent by the American people,” in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC News.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has been even tougher. He’s called for the party to focus on defeating Mr. Obama in two years – a statement some have found “indelicate,” he said Thursday.

“But the fact is ... it would be foolish to expect that Republicans will be able to completely reverse the damage Democrats have done as long as a Democrat holds the veto pen,” said Senator McConnell in a speech to the Heritage Foundation.


First of all, Republicans have just scored a big comeback after getting pounded in 2006. So a little end-zone celebration perhaps is not out of line. And end-zone celebrations can be over the top – Representative Boehner, in the same interview, called the 2010 vote “the most historic election in 60 to 70 years.”

(It might be among the most historic midterm elections – but what about those other ones, where they pick some person for that building on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol?)

Second, Boehner might have a point. Obama has been defensive in the sense that he avoids the question of whether Americans have rejected his policies. Asked for an upcoming “60 Minutes” program whether he’s lost his mojo, Obama replies in essence that he’s been so busy passing legislation that he forgot to sell the administration’s accomplishments to the voters.

“It’s a matter of persuading people ... we haven’t always been successful at that,” Obama told “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft.

So that’s why Republicans just picked up some 60 seats in the House!

Third, it might be a little blunt to talk openly about hoping to oust Obama, but what else should the Republicans' top political priority be? The executive branch remains a driving force, if not the driving force, in the US government. Of course the GOP wants to win the White House in 2012.

The fact is, the Republicans can work with Obama while also targeting him for defeat, said Senator McConnell in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. That’s politics.

“To assume that just because I would like to elect a Republican president in 2012, or because he would like to have a second term beginning in 2012, we aren’t going to do anything together between now and then just isn’t correct,” McConnell said.

The White House, for its part, is ignoring the opposition’s pointed words. Or at least not commenting upon them in public.

Asked whether Obama could work with someone who’s called for him to be kicked out of his job, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs sidestepped the question on Thursday, saying that the message of Tuesday's vote was that the American people wanted the parties to work together.

“There will be time for another political campaign, but we just finished one,” said Mr. Gibbs.

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