Beam: Calling Obama winner is stretch

By By Jim Beam / American Press

Saying that President Obama won the

government shutdown war is about as far from reality as a political

writer can get. But

that is exactly what Eugene Robinson, the liberal political

columnist, said on this page Friday. He deliberately let his personal

admiration for the president discredit his commentary.

Robinson said Obama’s “victory this week was as complete and devastating as Sherman’s march through the South.”

Hyperbole is the only word that accurately describes what Robinson said, which also means he exaggerated, overstated, magnified

and embellished the situation.

For those who may have forgotten some

of their American history, Robinson was talking about Union Gen. William

T. Sherman.

It was during the Civil War in 1864 that Sherman led some 60,000

soldiers on a 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Ga.

The soldiers stole food and livestock and burned the houses and

barns of people who tried to fight back. Sherman said he wanted

to “make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hand of war.”

If you don’t think Robinson was way off base, consider how others viewed the outcome where Obama is concerned.

National Journal, a respected political

magazine in the nation’s capital, called the president one of the

losers in the shutdown.

Matthew Cooper said Obama is facing another round of budget

negotiations, which will hamper his agenda on issues like immigration


Cooper said, “... What’s more, the president said that he wouldn’t negotiate — and a negotiated cease fire is what we ended

up with.”

Obama, like Robinson, overstated his case after the shutdown ended.

The president said, “... But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility to the world. ... It’s encouraged

our enemies. It’s emboldened our competitors. And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.”

The Associated Press interviewed experts who had a different take. They said the world still runs on U.S. dollars, investors

didn’t panic, the country isn’t any less of an attractive market for foreign companies and the United States is still held

in high esteem in countries around the world.

Simon Anholt, a British consultant who conducts global surveys, said, “America is the most-admired country on the planet by

a very wide margin.” He added that foreigners “like American culture. They like American products.”

Our politics may be puzzling for outsiders, but for Obama to say the nation has been irreparably damaged is simply untrue.

Some say the president is trying to blame others for an economy that he can’t improve.

National Journal said shutdown winners

were U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, presidential contender Hillary

Clinton, U.S. Sens.

Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Republican

governors. It said Cruz has become a conservative leader. Clinton

stayed above the fight, which the magazine called a smart move.

Reid and McConnell brokered the compromise that ended the

shutdown. And GOP governors enhanced their presidential standing.

The losers, in addition to the

president, were U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Vice President

Joe Biden, the Republican

members of Congress like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who tried to

get a longer compromise, and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary

of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The magazine

said Boehner couldn’t control his party, Biden was a no-show,

the GOP caucus took a backseat to Reid and McConnell and Sebelius

is responsible for the disastrous debut of Obamacare.

Looking at the shutdown closer to home,

Louisiana voters will get to judge their own congressmen. Their votes

on the compromise

were split. Voting for it were Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Cedric

Richmond, both New Orleans Democrats, and Rep. Charles Boustany,

R-Lafayette, who also represents this corner of the state. Against

were Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, and Reps. Steve Scalise,

R-Metairie, John Fleming, R-Minden, and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton


Boustany told The Times-Picayune that “Americans have had enough of the short-term political squabbling.”

“I refuse to jeopardize the nation’s

economy over political disagreements on Capitol Hill,” Boustany said.

“Some in Washington

deny their responsibility to govern. Members of both parties must

come together to work out their differences while achieving

goals on important policy areas like tax reform, long-term

government spending and energy security.”

Fleming said, “... The battle unified

Republicans in repeated efforts to keep government open while shutting

down Obamacare.

The sequester caps, so hated by Democrats, remain intact.

Obamacare’s problematic rollout has been highlighted. And the


move to take the nation to the brink of default will not achieve

his political goal of taking back the House.”

The views of each side have merit.

Boustany will be criticized by the far right for his vote, but he comes

across as the statesman

in the delegation. The others followed their party line to the

end. Smart and sensible people know when to cut their losses.

Ending the shutdown was the responsible way to preserve this

country’s standing in the world, and that is exactly what it


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Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or