It wasn’t all that long ago when they fawned over him.
But now, three congressional Democrats from Arizona are twisting in the wind, as their beloved party leader President Barack Obama continues to punish their cash-strapped state with a costly and unpopular law suit to prevent the implementation of Arizona’s new illegal immigration law. It’s Obama versus the people – with congressional Democrats caught in the middle.
But things were different on February 17, 2009.
The delegation standing on the tarmac was electrified with excitement, as Air Force One taxied to a stop at Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor Airport. The man who was the embodiment of all their dreams – the man who would give everyone a job, apologize to the world for President Bush, punish the “rich people” who “earned too much” over the previous eight years, give everyone in the U.S.” free” healthcare, make the world love America again, and ensure a Democrat majority in the Congress for years to come - President Barack Obama was visiting their state, and this was their very special moment in time.
And there was the congenial, grand-fatherly-looking Harry Mitchell, giddy with excitement as he stood with a camera strap draped over his neck, snapping photos by the second as the President stepped down from the aircraft. It was cute to see an older gentleman so caught-up in the victorious moment of a much younger man, like a dad on the sidelines at his son’s big game.
But Harry Mitchell is an elected member of the United States Congress. He represents hundreds of thousands of people in the House of Representatives, and those people expect more from him than mere cheerleading, more than merely being an adoring father-figure.
And today, Congressman Harry Mitchell appears to be on a path to electoral defeat, because of eighteen months of cheerleading and adoration of a President with a very self-serving agenda. Things have become so bad for Congressman Mitchell that he had to publicly chastise the “Dear Leader,” and suggest that President Obama might spend tax payers in some more productive fashion than suing Arizona. Worse still, Mr. Mitchell has had to – gasp!- publicly call for securing the U.S. / Mexico border , an idea that has been championed by Arizona Republicans for decades, and by Tea Partiers and Minutemen enthusiasts for at least the past six years.
In the southern Arizona city of Tucson, Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords is in a similar struggle. For her part, Giffords learned much earlier than Mitchell that her constituents were not as infatuated with President Obama as she was. After voting in favor of the President’s $800 billion so-called “economic stimulus bill,” Giffords was met with outcries of “government waste” and quickly issued press statements assuring constituents that she was in Washington to serve them, and not merely to “rubber stamp” the President’s agenda.
Yet Giffords is still being damaged by the President’s thrashing of Arizona, as well as the behavior of her fellow Southern Arizona Democrat, Congressman Raul Grijalva. While Giffords’ appears very vulnerable in her re-election bid, Grijalva’s seat is believed to be “safe,” so Grijalva has been encouraging the President to sue Arizona, while he encourages businesses around the world to boycott (note the caliber of congressional leadership that has emerged in the era of Obama – we’re talking here about a sitting U.S. Congressman who is openly encouraging people to economically damage his community).
In Central Arizona, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is also paying the price for playing “follow the leader.” Hopelessly enamored with President Obama’s every thought, Ms. Kirkpatrick was the first member of Congress to issue press releases claiming that she personally wanted to enroll in the proposed “Obamacare health plan,” rather than continue with the exclusive, more lavish health plan granted to members of Congress.
But today it’s a different, as Kirkpatrick has joined Mitchell and Giffords in chastising their community-organizer-in-chief. She has also adopted the long-standing cry of Republicans to “secure the border first,” telling the President that “the time for talk is over, and the time for action is here.”
So, what happened? What has changed in the past eighteen months to force these Obama partisans to now disagree with him? And how could these elected members of the United States Congress have so horribly miscalculated the true sentiments of their constituents?
Their biggest problem is that they – along with the majority of the Congress itself – made the horrible mistake of finding their hopes and aspirations in the embodiment of one man, one personality, one persona. As constitutionally and historically illiterate as many members of Congress may be, there are still millions of us who understand that the United States is a nation resting on the foundation of specific principles and ideals, and not on the whims and charm of any individual personality.
Congressional Democrats are now in the painful process of discovering that Barack Obama’s agenda was never about them, never about “the party,” and never about the United States. They have been slavishly empowering a man who is committed to his own raw pursuit of power, and they are now finding themselves to be victims of his agenda.