…your post is, Jim. Your analysis of Obama is spot on. You’ve helped clarify my points as well, that perhaps I haven’t made as well as I could. I think Obama needs to fight the Right more, though I think our difference is rhetorical.
I don’t mean that when Ron Paul says we should eliminate the Department of Education, Obama should counter that we eliminate the Department of Defense. Rather, like you, I think he needs to keep on pushing for wise ideas, what he believes in. You say the public confuses open-mindedness with lack of clear direction. That is true, and I think it is also true that he has too often bent too far to the right and abandoned his best ideas. (It is also true that he has gotten through a lot of good ideas; the problem is the press gloms onto the failures, and that becomes the narrative.)
He is stuck in a difficult position; leading where America wants him to lead (i.e. protect social security, Medicare–not raising the age–taxing the wealthy) and appeasing Wall Street enough to get the money needed to run for reelection. It’s an almost impossible balancing act. I saw a good interview with Jimmy Carter a couple days ago and he reminded me that both times he ran, in 1976 and 1980, neither he nor Ford or then Reagan raised a single dollar for their campaigns. All the money they spent was from the little check-off box on your tax return that gave you the option of putting three dollars into the presidential election fund. In just a generation, we’ve gone from that to today, where presidential candidates are talking about raising a billion dollars for their campaigns and regularly hold $30,000 a plate fundraisers–all to blanket TV with ads that can say anything (and the money the candidates spend will pale in comparison to the money spent by outside groups including the US Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers). There is no mystery why it is hard for presidents to keep ordinary Americans–voters–at the forefront of their attention. I do believe Obama wants to, and I think almost no one understands the magnitude of the daily pressures pushing against that.
The Times had it right today in the editorial that started our discussion.
There was also a great editorial today on military contractors. A new report estimates between 31 and 60 billion dollars of waste and fraud out of the 206 billion we have paid with taxpayer borrowing to military contractors in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks for the legacy, Dick Cheney. Of course, this will be virtually ignored in our corporate media, which is far more interested in the manufactured scandal over Solyndra. Did you know that the Bush administration tried to get the loan through before it left office, or that one of the biggest early investors was the Walton family of Walmart fame, who has of course given far far more to Republican candidates than Democratic ones. You didn’t know that if all you watch is Fox News or even Brian Williams. To them, it was purely an Obama scandal.
I was listening to Michael Moore last night, and he was talking about the protests at the White House over the Keystone pipeline where over 1000 protesters have now been arrested. It has received a little, though just a little, coverage on the network news and corporate media. Imagine, Moore said, if 1000 tea partiers had been arrested for, say, protesting against extending unemployment benefits. It would have been the only story on the news 24/7 for a week. And therein lies one of the big problems with our media. It may seem unrelated, and I bring it up because it is intimately related to the difficulties Obama has in getting his message past our media to our voters.