Many are crediting TV comedian Jon Stewart with shaming Republicans in Congress to stop blocking passage of the 9/11 first-responders health bill. It didn’t have to be that way. Why did we need Jon Stewart at all? Isn’t it obvious to anyone – even those of you who don’t work in PR, and have nothing to do with politics – that blocking health benefits to the people who put their lives on the line on 9/11 just might be a political loser.
I’m glad that Jon Stewart invited the first responders to his show, and apparently the public pressure forced the GOP to relent, but why didn’t the President invite the first responders to the White House? He was willing to have a beer summit with an irrelevant cop, why not invite the heroes of 9/11 too?
Because it would be mean.
It would be mean to embarrass the Republicans when they’re busy holding you hostage. That’s the thinking of the President, I’ll bet you. The same reason he was unwilling to call the GOP out for holding up health benefits, and raises, for the troops by killing the defense bill, he was just as reticent about blaming the Republicans for holding heroes of September 11 hostage.
Mind you, the President was fine mentioning the hostages, generically. But specifically? Too crass, for him. But not too crass for Jon Stewart. So now the hostages are free, Stewart gets the credit, and the President doesn’t. And no, this isn’t just about getting credit. It’s about convincing the bad guys that you’re serious, and you’re willing to punch them in the face – take some hostages of your own – the next time they act up. Now the Rs know that Jon Stewart will take them on. But it’s still not entirely clear that Barack Obama will as well.
These kind of moves are easy, and obvious. They’re exactly the kind of thing we’re talking about when Joe, Chris and I, and other commentators, complain about the President not doing all he can to pass legislation.
There are only so many tax cuts you can give away to get your hostages back before that well runs dry.