Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are we the people we've been waiting for

President Obama was on the Daily Show last night and took a "profound disagreement" to one of John Stewart's questions.  Leaning forward in his chair to make his point bold, he told Stewart:
"This notion that healthcare was timid..."
But that's not the timid Stewart was talking about, at least I don't think it was, since I understood the question posed to Obama in the context of what, I too, think has been a problem with Obama's use of the bully pulpit.

Stewart said:
"You said great leaders lead in a time of opportunity...we're the ones we are looking for.  Yet legislatively it has felt timid at times.  I'm not sure at times what you wanted out of the health care bill...."
In other words, what we needed from you, then, and now, is boldness.  Rhetoric is just that, however, it does have the power to restore or sustain momentum.  Behind the scenes, the deals, the compromise, the politics...that's the sausage being made.  What we need from the leader is - this will be the best tasting, healthy, good for you sausage you could ever dream of.

Obama tried to play the give and take model, because that's actually how things get done in a democracy, or for that matter, in any situation where you have over 250 million people living under one roof.  Where Obama failed, and the Democrats as well, is that they did not counter the opposition's rhetoric with there own.

Obama was caught off guard with how difficult Republicans were going to make the job of leading.  Under a "normal" give and take political atmosphere, his model would have worked quite well.  But the desire to obtain control back from the Democrats has taken precedence over governing.  This is not something new,

And what this desire has unleashed is a monster that does not care who gets hurt in its path towards dominance. What Obama, the Democrats, and the bulk of us did not realize is how many people would welcome it into our lives.

No politician can win - legally - without someone voting for them.  Those votes need to be gained through whatever means necessary.  So if fear works, make people fearful.  If negative works, sling mud.  The Tea Party unleashed the beast, bought into how necessary it was for it to destroy this new "audacity of hope."

The monster did not come out on its own, it came when there was no concerted effort to keep it at bay.  Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought my fellow Americans were as stupid, ignorant, and as self-serving as I have come to see them as now.  And I too, have been timid in my recourse.

The Teas Party rhetoric was not countered which emboldened the Republican politicians looking for a way to get back into power.  What they adopted was a simple strategy of "No" to everything.  No compromise, no quid pro quo, no politicking...just "No" to everything.  Failure means disgust, disgust leads to wanting a change.  The Tea Party momentum emboldened them.

And because Obama and the bulk of us did not see the monster that they were willing to let lose, we did nothing to stop its release.  So now we have a President who needs 60% to get something passed.  Not a majority, but 60%.

And we the people see nothing wrong with that?  No, we the people fall into one of three camps:

  • Failure is good for us.  President is bad.
  • Congress can't get anything done.  Throw the bums out.
  • Let the process work.  Compromise and vote.

Unfortunately there are few of us who see bullet three as an option.  Republicans want the first, and the bulk of the people have no idea of the super majority "requirement" and instead adopt the "it's broke" attitude of number two.  That's where Obama has missed his opportunity to redirect the mindset.

So that's what I think Stewart meant by Obama being timid.  Not the legislation itself, but the lack of boldness from the audacity of hope leader to stand up quickly to the we-want-you-to-fail beast.  The only way to counter a message is with one of your own.  Why did we ever let "socialism" become a normal word to describe what most of us voted for?

So take the gloves off Mr. President.  Everything you say must be bold, that audacity thing has to ring from every word and action.  If they want to see you fail make sure that message is out there loud and clear.  Then, when no one is looking get on with the making of sausage.  The best damn sausage you and Congress can possibly make.

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