The Iran nuclear deal is just the latest in a long string of Obama successes and potential successes that Republicans would like to pretend never happened — much in the same way that the GOP and conservatives would like to pretend that America isn't a melting pot and isn't — and hasn't always been — a nation of immigrants.
The truth is that whether you love or hate the peace-loving, biracial man who leads our country, his impact will be one for the history books — even in the face of relentless congressional obstruction.
Just look at the past eight months.
' In November, we were taken by surprise when President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a landmark climate accord on greenhouse gases designed to allow the world to start dialing down dangerous carbon emissions. Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the "unrealistic" China plan would "ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs." Likewise, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called it another sign the president "intends to double down on his job-crushing policies."
' Also in November, Obama issued the "Dreamers" executive order allowing parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents to continue living in the United States. A legal challenge pushed by Republicans put the order on hold, and Republicans in Congress temporarily held up a Department of Homeland Security funding bill by attaching measures to end other immigration deportation holds known as DACA.
' In December, the president restored the United States' diplomatic relationship with Cuba after a 50-year freeze and negotiated the release the 53 political prisoners held there. This month Republicans are threatening to deny funding for a U.S. embassy there and to block the appointment of any ambassador to lead it. They also say they won't vote to lift the decades-old embargo.
' In April, Obama changed the way doctors are reimbursed under Medicare to reward doctors when their patients have better health outcomes. (Of course this was just the latest accomplishment in health care. We mustn't forget the resounding successes this year in Obamacare when the Affordable Care Act was pronounced soundly constitutional last month and the U.S. Supreme Court blessed the tax credits even for citizens of the largely GOP states that stood in the way of Medicaid expansion. The ACA, by the way, has helped 16.4 million people gain health insurance. And despite Republican predictions that it would be a "job-killer," it has proven to be anything but that: The U.S. economy has added some 240,000 jobs a month since Obamacare went into effect — our biggest job gains since the 1990s. Add to that: Health care inflation is at the lowest rate in nearly 50 years.) While the Medicare change met strange bipartisan approval, we all remember the GOP's 54 votes to repeal or cripple Obamacare.
' In June, President Obama raised the threshold for Americans to qualify for overtime pay from $23,660 to $50,440 — meaning corporations could no longer take advantage of low-level managers. It's a small but significant step to break the middle class out of stagnation. A GOP-backed lawsuit is expected, and the president's call to raise the minimum wage is still smothered beneath the Republican Congress' shrug. But let's also talk about the previous jobs/economy-related gains under Obama's watch: More than 12 million new jobs, a stock market that has more than doubled, deficits that have been cut by two-thirds, and a national manufacturing resurgence. The auto industry is coming back and clean energy production has doubled — bringing more manufacturing jobs.
' Also in June, President Obama's quiet rationalizations about the racial divides in America began to find fuller American understanding after a series of tragedies ending with the massacre of nine black people at a Wednesday night prayer meeting in Charleston, S.C. The deaths, at the hands of a young, self-professed white supremacist, set off domino-effect calls to pull down the Confederate battle flag — a hijacked piece of history now glommed as the symbol of race hate. But on the same day South Carolina cheered the lowering of the flag, Republicans in the House fell into a shouting match and allowed the flag to derail an appropriations bill for the EPA and the Department of Interior.
' This month, Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry (the next Nobel Peace prize winner?) brokered the historic Iran nuclear deal that most of us hope will put Iran's nuclear arms race to sleep for at least a decade.
Yet even with this, the president again seems to have a taller mountain to climb in his own Congress than he faced across the oceans in shaping the Iran accord in the first place. It promises to be the same kind of GOP rock walls he faced with the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, Common Core, same-sex marriage tolerance — virtually everything he has championed.
In response to the Iran nuclear deal, Republicans this week have been falling over themselves with talk of their "attack plan" to dismantle the deal.
We must wonder and ask them — especially our own senators and representatives — if they really want to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal and then have to own the badge of being the party that said to Iran: "Go right on with your nuclear bomb-making."
Remember, Congress — pushed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman — gave themselves a voice in the deal. Under their legislation, they now have two months to review the deal. Two months is the same amount of time nuclear analysts have said it will take Iran engineers to complete their bomb.