Dismissing the notion that he is a lame duck president,Barack Obama,invoking Mark Twain,has asserted that he still has the juice to get his legislative agenda through a politically divided US Congress.
Already 100 days into his second term at the White House,Obama faced a volley of questions about the stalled pieces of his legislative programme at yesterday’s press conference.
When asked by a reporter whether he still had the juice to get the rest of your agenda through, Obama paraphrased Mark Twain’s response to a report that he was near death.
I think it’s a little — as Mark Twain said,rumours of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point, 51-year-old Obama said,sarcastically dismissing the question.
He was asked about unrest in Syria,the September attack on American officials in Libya,the bombing in Boston,troubles implementing his health-care law and difficulty closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Obama had called for the closure of Guantanamo as his first presidential order in 2009,but Congress blocked him by refusing to transport those detainees back to the United States. With little hope of transfer or release,more than half the detainees are now on a hunger strike.
Obama also tried to reassure Americans about the looming impacts of his healthcare reform plan and warned that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government — if verified to his satisfaction — would trigger a US response from within a range of options.
When the reporter pointed out that Obama’s gun-control legislation collapsed,that his attempts to undo the sequester cuts have been ignored and that 92 House Democrats defied his veto threat on a cybersecurity bill,Obama said: If you put it that way,Jonathan — maybe I should just pack up and go home. Golly.
Obama said he was looking for potential allies in Congress who care about fighting terrorism but also care about who we are as a people.
We understand that we’re in a divided government right now. The Republicans control the House of Representatives. In the Senate,this habit of requiring 60 votes for even the most modest piece of legislation has gummed up the works there. And I think it comes as no surprise not even to the American people,but even members of Congress themselves that right now things are pretty dysfunctional up on Capitol Hill, he said.
The idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried — that is contrary to who we are,it is contrary to our interests,and it needs to stop, Obama said.
It’s never a good sign for a president when he feels compelled to assure the public he still has a pulse, the Washington Post commented on Obama’s comments during the 47-minute press confernece.
Back in 1995,Bill Clinton assured Americans that he was still relevant; this may be the first time a president asserted that he was still alive, it added.