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Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama's Defenders Will Tie Themselves in Knots

People need to realize that everyone says something stupid. Sometimes, people say something really stupid. There is an old saying, it isn't the crime but the cover up. Well, sometimes in politics, it isn't the gaffe but the response. I have sat back and watched some folks try and defend these comments, and frankly, they only bury Obama deeper. Some claim that what he said is fairly true. That is just plain ludicrous. Not only is it not true, but it isn't true because you can't really meausre what he said. How do you measure a small town, bitterness, and most of all linking that to being religious and pro 2nd amendment? That is impossible so the statement is absurd on its face. He isn't the only politician to say something stupid and both his opponents have plenty of their own gaffes. For instance, John McCain has proclaimed he doesn't know much about economics. Hillary claimed to be under sniper fire when she was actually meeting with a little girl. Those are just two examples of many gaffes for each. It takes a big person to admit they are wrong and or stupid and that is what Obama should have done, and all his surrogates should have simply proclaimed that he spoke out of turn, which everyone does.

Instead, we now have a stream of defenders trying to defend the indefensible. The latest is Robert Reich.

I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, 61 years ago. My father sold $1.98 cotton blouses to blue-collar women and women whose husbands worked in factories. Years later, I was secretary of labor of the United States, and I tried the best I could – which wasn’t nearly good enough – to help reverse one of the most troublesome trends America has faced: The stagnation of middle-class wages and the expansion of povety. Male hourly wages began to drop in the early 1970s, adjusted for inflation. The average man in his 30s is earning less than his father did thirty years ago. Yet America is far richer. Where did the money go? To the top.

Now, whether or not this is true, there is one important little fact that Reich left out. That is that in the '60's, the federal government went on a major spending spree to alleviate this problem. It was called the Great Society. It seems all of these Americans have been left behind even though the very government programs that liberals today espouse were tried right before Reich claims that poor Americans were left behind. Why, then, does Reich proclaim that Obama's programs will do anymore than anything the Great Societ did and ultimately failed. Which, if you believe Reich, it most certainly did.

Here we have all of this so called poverty expansion for thirty years following a major government program that was supposed to stop exactly what Reich claims happened. Here we have a major government program that was supposed to alleviate poverty and yet for thirty years afterwards, if you believe Reich, poverty expanded and only the really wealthy shared in it. How could that be? Didn't we all spend billions on the Great Society to make sure this didn't happen? Why will Obama's programs be any different?

In fact, intuitively, Reich admits that government can't solve most issues of poverty. Folks in small towns will always have less wealth than folks in big towns. We know this because following a massive government program to bring those folks up, exactly the opposite happened. Yet, Reich then goes on to say that Obama's updated Great Society will be different.

Reich doesn't suggest that we examine why the Great Society failes so miserably. No, here is what Reich wants to examine...

Are Americans who have been left behind frustrated? Of course. And their frustrations, their anger and, yes, sometimes their bitterness, have been used since then -- by demagogues, by nationalists and xenophobes, by radical conservatives, by political nuts and fanatical fruitcakes – to blame immigrants and foreign traders, to blame blacks and the poor, to blame "liberal elites," to blame anyone and anything.

Rather than counter all this, the American media have wallowed in it. Some, like Fox News and talk radio, have given the haters and blamers their very own megaphones. The rest have merely "reported on" it. Instead of focusing on how to get Americans good jobs again; instead of admitting too many of our schools are failing and our kids are falling behind their contemporaries in Europe, Japan, and even China; instead of showing why we need a more progressive tax system to finance better schools and access to health care, and green technologies that might create new manufacturing jobs, our national discussion has been mired in the old politics.

Now, of course, this is the liberal perspective. Those mean and opportunistic conservatives have played on poor folks and tried to scare them against illegal immigrants, minorities, etc. Worse yet, the media doesn't do enough to report on what is liberal mantra. Basically, if you believe Reich, the media hasn't done a good enough job of presenting the liberal perspective for how the world should look. Of course, given Reich's admission that the Great Society failed miserably, it is quite ironic that we should focus more on the liberal way of governing. If the Great Society failed, as Reich proclaimed, then why should we focus on more failed policy.

We should expect more of this twisted logic in defense of Obama.


Anonymous said...

So their mantra is going to be " Obama was right to make fun of the backwards people"? When exactly did these people start going to church and buy guns? Please it is not about the bitterness!

mike volpe said...

Their mantra will be long tortured explanations for why Obama was right, if not insensitive, and why we should try and focus on what he was trying to say, which of course no one knows, because it is unclear exactly what he was trying to say.