And as I also discussed, there's little point in even pretending to try to pass one to score political points, unless we've got some great strategy for making it work to our advantage. Doing something just to do something is worse than doing nothing at all. And that's generally the case in life, as you shouldn't do anything unless you know why you're doing it.
And as could be expected, a leftwing critic of Obama left a comment which ignored everything I wrote and pretended as if Obama has lots of great options he's choosing to ignore. Here's the entire comment, and please note the lack of any clue as to what Obama should do:
Hell, you may even be right. But it doesn't matter. Unemployment is 9.1%, the economy is stagnating, the stimulus that he was able to get was underfunded and insufficient (though, of course, it was better than nothing) -- we have desperate need for more jobs, better infrastructure, a better energy policy and vast amount of public investment.
We have none of it.
I'm sure the strategy to ignore this and not upset the most-easily upset people in the world is savvy and utterly correct. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't change the fact that he is a President that is presiding over a terrible economy, economic uncertainty and he keeps talking about the importance of getting the deficit under control.
Sure the Republicans are gargoyles, but the Democrats in Congress and in the White House are also doing jack shit and Americans are still suffering and no one really seems to care.Ok, yes. That's a good recap of the problem. But where's the solution? The problem is obvious. The solution doesn't exist. Yet the best this guy can do is to continue to blame Obama for not being able to pull miracles out of his butt.
Apparently, this guy lives in a fantasy world in which every problem has a solution. Well sorry, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, you're just screwed. And if this guy has the secret solution, I would imagine he'd have explained it, rather than restating the same damn problems that everyone already knows about. It's as if we're to imagine that we can solve problems merely by stating them.
And if I sound a bit disgruntled about that, it's because I am. I understand why Republicans attack Obama, because he scares the shit out of them. It's when liberals attack him that I'm left scratching my head and wondering about the sanity of people who agree with Obama on almost every issue.
How a Real Liberal Sounds
See if these remarks sound familiar:
The fact is, we understand what it takes to build a stronger economy. We know it’s going to require investing in research and technology that will lead to new ideas and new industries. We know it means building the infrastructure, the roads and bridges, and manufacturing the new products here in the United States of America that create good jobs. Above all, it requires training and educating our citizens to out-compete workers from other countries.If you guessed that I was quoting the president, you'd have guessed correctly. That was from a speech he gave at a Community College in North Virginia three days ago.
Needing jobs, infrastructure, and investment, huh. Where, oh where might I have heard someone else say we needed the same things? Oh yeah, from my liberal commenter who insisted that Obama is ignoring these issues. Oooh, that president! Stealing this guy's best ideas two days before the guy said it!
Obama went on to say Congress needed to pass the "Workforce Investment Act," though I can't find anything on that; even on the Whitehouse website. I get the impression that's something they're still working on.
Investing in a Better America
We saw the same thing when Obama talked to auto workers in Toledo last week to hype the auto bailout which helped prevent an economic disaster and saved thousands of jobs; in accordance with core liberal principles.
And in this one, you can see how someone cherry-picking Obama's speeches might be confused, as he begins with conservative rhetoric. Yet the point is to take those arguments and twist them around to show why we need liberal policies. Yes, he starts by talking about the deficit, but watch how he works it back to our side with full-throated liberalism (emphasis added):
These are tight fiscal times. You guys have all heard about the deficit and the debt, and that demands that we spend wisely, cut everywhere that we can. We’ve got to live within our means. Everybody’s got to do their part. Middle-class workers like you, though, shouldn’t be bearing all the burden. You work too hard for someone to ask you to pay more so that somebody who’s making millions or billions of dollars can pay less. That’s not right. (Applause.)
And even though we’re in tough times, there are still some things that we’ve got to keep on doing if we’re going to win the future. We can’t just sit back and stop. We got business we got to do. We got to make sure that our schools are educating our kids so that they can succeed. I was looking at all the gizmos and gadgets you got in this plant here -- it’s a lot more complicated working on a plant than it used to be. Kids have to know math and science.
We got to have a transportation and communications network that allows our businesses to compete. We used to have the best roads, the best bridges, the best airports. In a lot of places we don’t have that anymore. If you go to China, Beijing, they’ve got a fancier airport. You go to Europe, they got fancier trains, better roads. We can’t let our infrastructure just crumble and fall apart. We’re American. We’ve got to make that investment. (Applause.)
We’ve got to invest in innovation that will pave the way for future prosperity. We invented stuff that the world now uses and the world now makes. We’ve got to keep on inventing stuff and make sure it’s made right here in America. And that requires investments. (Applause.) That requires investments in basic research and basic science.
So these are all things that will help America out-innovate, out-educate, out-compete, out-hustle everybody else in the world. I want America to win the future, and I want our future to be big and optimistic, not small and fearful.Now, show me the liberal who can disagree with this. This sounds like the exact sort of thing liberals should want Obama to say...but better.
Because this is the strategy I mentioned in my last post. Republicans wanted to hit Obama with phony talk of fighting the deficit, believing he'd fight against them and make them look like fiscal heroes battling a Big Spender Liberal.
Instead, he stole their platform and turned it on its head by agreeing that the deficit is a problem, yet still insisting that we need to tax the rich and pump up infrastructure and other needed improvements. And rather than arguing Big Spender v. Fiscal Conservatives, like Republicans wanted; Republicans are forced to explain why they want to cut education and our safety net while the rich get tax cuts. These bozos went back to the playbook of the 80's and 90's, while Obama kept them clueless by using a 21st Century playbook. Did he win? Not yet. But at least he's fighting and has a good chance of coming out ahead.
His liberal critics, on the other hand, demand that he refight all the old battles, walk into all the old traps, and are so clueless as to what his strategy is that they imagine he doesn't have one; as if Obama's some fool just guessing his way through life and lucking into winning situations. Republicans have shown again and again how their rhetoric beats what these liberals want Obama to use, but insist that he can't possibly have a strategy because he's not using the playbook that FDR crafted in the 30's and was already looking haggard by the time LBJ used it in the 60's.
And even when I EXPLAIN the strategy to them, they insist that there is no strategy and Obama is ignoring our problems. Why? Because he's not using a strategy that the Republican playbook was specifically designed to destroy. Oh, no! Obama's not running into a buzzsaw! What a traitor! Meanwhile, Obama remains the most popular politician in America while staying true to liberalism, and his Republican foes see their political prospects dimming all the time.
And hey, maybe I'm wrong and maybe Obama's strategy is a blunder; but you at least have to explain why. And if the best you can do is to insist that Obama doesn't have a strategy, then you obviously don't know what you're talking about. And again, trying to pass legislation solely for the sake of passing legislation is worse than doing nothing at all; so if that's your advice to Obama, save it.
My Challenge to Leftwing Obama Critics
And what I quoted before wasn't just a one-time thing intended to impress a liberal audience. He's saying this stuff to auto workers in Ohio, and community colleges in Virginia, and the British Parliament, and a Women's Leadership group in DC, and at a DNC Fundraiser. And he used consecutive Weekly Addresses in April and May to talk about Oil Market Fraud, Ending Oil Subsidies, Clean Energy, and Responsible Oil Production. He consistently uses liberal rhetoric to support liberal policies in almost every speech he gives. Whoever claims he's not using the Bully Pulpit to promote liberalism just isn't paying attention.
Please, find me the speech where Obama isn't talking about this stuff. Find me the speech where Obama says that everything's ok and budget cuts are more important than infrastructure. Because I'm reading through all his material and I'm not seeing it. As I've highlighted before, you read his speeches and he sounds like a liberal. Not just on a superficial level, but on the most fundamental deepdown level, Obama explains his liberal policies using liberal rhetoric; both in his prepared remarks and his impromptu answers.
Naturally, people can believe what they want, but anyone who believes that Obama uses rightwing rhetoric or is ignoring our problems simply don't know what they're talking about. And again, I expect that from Republicans, as they've been delusional for a long time and Obama is really driving them bonkers. But I fail to understand how a liberal could possibly hear an Obama speech and conclude that he's not saying the right things.
More likely than not, they're not even reading his speeches at all, and simply imagine he's not making them. Why? Because the progressives complaining about him only cherry-pick the negative stuff and never quote his speeches.
Actions Speak Louder
And so that just leaves us with his deeds, yet there's no credible evidence to suggest that Obama could have done much better than he did. I'm sorry, but the president isn't omnipotent and even Bush's supposed success at strong-arming congress was vastly exaggerated; as he got almost nothing unpopular through Republican Congresses and his entire second-term was a lame-duck as Democrats continually stuffed him.
By comparison with Bush, Obama was a legislation machine in his first two years. But of course, Obama's legislative accomplishments rival that of any modern president.
Could Obama have gotten us more? Yeah, maybe. I'm not about to suggest that his record was perfect. But whose is? Are we really to fault the man for being less than perfect? But anyone using the premise that Obama definitely could have gotten more is full of shit; if only because life doesn't involve certainties like that. And any respectable review of the facts shows that Obama's biggest "betrayals" of liberalism were forced upon him by Congress; in accordance with our system of government.
Obama didn't give up on the public option, Congress did. Obama doesn't want Gitmo open. Congress does. And you can call those excuses if you want, but it happens to be the truth. Our system of government doesn't give Obama unlimited powers and that's generally considered a good thing. Like it or not, if you want a president who strong-arms Congress into rubber-stamping his agenda against their will, that's a dictatorship. And if you don't like that word, then you shouldn't try to force us into one.
Because no, a President Kucinich or President Grayson wouldn't have gotten a damn thing through the 2009-2010 Senate unless they cajoled a few moderate Republicans to support it; and that wouldn't have happened with insults and angry speeches. And had they pushed for a trial against Bush and Cheney for torture or war crimes, the country would have blown up on them and they definitely wouldn't have gotten anything through Congress. And they most definitely couldn't get a jobs bill through the current Congress. That's simply impossible until after 2012.
The Reality of Politics
As I've said before, politics are real and if you believe that a president can pass legislation while ignoring the political implications of his actions, then you don't know what you're talking about. Boldness is rarely rewarded in politics and if you don't play your cards right, you get what Clinton got in 1993, when he was not only under siege by Republicans, but by his own party.
Skittish Democrats are always looking for a chance to push against a Democratic President (eg, Clinton & Carter) and if you push them too hard, you'll lose them completely. History shows that again and again, and there are no examples showing the contrary. Republican Congressmen follow orders and Democratic Congressmen look for excuses to buck authority; and that's just the way it is. And if your strategy is to break Republican obedience while strong-arming Democrats into obeying the president, then you haven't been paying attention.
Yeah, yeah. I know. That's not what you've heard from Obama's critics. But those people don't know what they're talking about. Sorry to say, but there are no heroes in the world, unicorns don't grow on trees, and the president isn't omnipotent. We live in reality, and that means we take our liberal presidents as they come; not as we wish them to be. And by that standard, Obama is a fantastic liberal president.
And as your reward for reading to the end (and yeah, I know you did), here's what an intelligent liberal president sounds like. Enjoy!