Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 1, 2010

'WE PLAY FOR FIRST PLACE'.... It wasn't one of the four scheduled "Moving America Forward" rallies the White House has scheduled, but President Obama spoke at a Gen44 event last night in D.C., as part of a DNC effort to target Democrats under the age of 40. Andrew Sullivan saw the speech and said it "knocked my socks off," so I checked it out.

I've been watching the president's rhetoric quite a bit, especially over the last few weeks, and last night's speech wasn't too much different from the one he delivered at the Madison rally earlier this week. There was one part that was new, though.

Obama focused a fair amount of attention on the House GOP's "Pledge to America" -- is it me, or did the Republicans stop talking about this all of a sudden? -- which the president noted was "actually written with the help of a former lobbyist for AIG and Exxon-Mobil, so that gives you a sense of how much change they intend."

He explained that the GOP's main economic policy is $700 billion for tax cuts for the rich. When pressed on how to pay for it, Republicans talk up a $100 billion cut in discretionary spending, which as I've tried to explain, would generate drastic and painful reductions that undermine the middle class.

But Obama put this in practical terms: "When you ask them, 'Well, where are you going to get this $700 billion? Do you have some magic beans somewhere? I mean, how is this going to come about?' They don't have an answer.

"Now, they will say, 'Well, we're going to cut spending. ' So you say, 'Okay, what are you going to cut?' And then what they say is, 'Well, we'll cut education by 20 percent. We'll eliminate 200,000 children from early childhood education programs like Head Start. We'll cut financial aid for 8 million college students.

"At a time when the education of our country's citizens is probably the best predictor of that country's economic success, they think it's more important to give another tax break to folks who are on the Forbes 400 list.

"Now, I want to ask my Republican friends: Do you think China is cutting back on education? Do you think South Korea is making it harder for its citizens to get a college education? These countries aren't playing for second place. And guess what. The United States doesn't play for second place. We play for first place."

The more the White House can fit speeches like these into the president's schedule, the better off Democrats will be on Nov. 2.

Steve Benen 2:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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EVERY Democrat should be hammering that message home.

What are they going to cut to pay for those tax cuts for millionaires? VA benefits, Medicaid for nursing home patients, your child's education?

If it would be such a disaster to let just those cuts expire, then why did they write the law that way?

Where are the jobs those cuts were supposed to produce over the last 8 years?

If the taxes paid in the 90's were so oppressive, then why did we create 25 million jobs in the 90's?

Whenever the Republicans are certain that we are creating economic disaster, then you know we are on the right track!

Posted by: atlliberal on October 1, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, more of this and less hippie punching.

Posted by: puravida on October 1, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Know what? I couldn't listen to him during the campaign, I was unmoved by the inaugural speech, and I can't listen to him now. I support him 100%, I hope for his and our success ... but I can't listen to him. Funny, huh?

Posted by: Clem Yeobright on October 1, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone know if, and what time MSNBC will be showing the rally, I would have liked to go but am not able to.

Posted by: joan on October 1, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking to the wind.

How many Congressional Democrats will take up this rhetoric? How many will continue to run AGAINST Obama? How much of this speech will be seen by the general public? Was any of it carried on any of the 24 hour cable 'news' channels?

Obama can give a great stump speech. He can slam republicans a good one. He can inspire the people in front of him. But it doesn't mean all that much if nobody outside of those us already voting Dem don't hear any of it.

Posted by: thorin-1 on October 1, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

thorin-1 said ". . . Dems don't hear any of it".

Does the so-called responsible media hear it and help push "what is right"?

No. No wonder Obama doesn't get any traction.

Posted by: PowerOfx on October 1, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Talking about Progressive policies is better than the alternative that BHO has been exhibiting for 18 months. but--like Eliza in My Fair Lady-- as a progressive dem, "Don't talk of love, show me". call the House and Senate back in special section. Break the filibuster.. now, while the dems have 59 vote (50 are needed).. Pass a real & effective jobs/stimulus package. Add to health care reform (or make an open effort to do so), etc, etc. Try playing/using as a role model FDR,WC, HST (or even GWB)-- rather than Neville Chamberlain, Jimmy Carter, or Millard Fillmore (Does no good to type their initials because no one recognizes them in their section of the dustbin pof Histoty)

Posted by: gdb on October 1, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, Obama's persuasive argument against the tax cuts for the wealthy also applies to tax cuts for the unwealthy.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on October 1, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Obama did use that education discussion in his historically important Madison speech (hopefully a turning point in the campaign)and I think it is a great idea. When the deomcrats talked about cutting medicare expenses, Sarah Palin started talking about death panels. When the Republicans start talking about downsizing government democrats should start talking about popular programs that are sure to be cut if they are really serious. One thing that I would add is that the NEW generation of republicans is even MORE serious about cutting government. That means more even more cuts in popular programs. That makes it especially important to vote for democratic senators this fall.

Posted by: Mark Lowry on October 1, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

This is more like it. As he rightfully skewers Republicans, he must be willing to put pressure on Blue Dogs, too, or to strengthen progressive forces in their districts to give them cover to act like Democrats. In many of those "Red" places, specific Republican policies are unpopular as they are in the bluest of regions.

We cannot let either Blue Dogs' sensitivities or even their self-perceived prospects continue to hold the party hostage and preventing it from making its best case to the American people. Only the President has the platform to be heard, so he must make that case.

It would be nice, though, if the official national organizations -- DNC, DSSC, DCCC -- could for once come up with an effective umbrella advertising campaign that would help Democrats locally as well. The communications incompetence on our side is simply stunning.

Posted by: urban legend on October 1, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Now, I want to ask my Republican friends: Do you think China is cutting back on habeas corpus? Do you think South Korea is making it harder for its citizens to get habeas corpus? These countries aren't playing for second place. And guess what. The United States doesn't play for second place. We play for first place."

(Thats why we don't apply it either, we're in first place!)

Posted by: Trollop on October 1, 2010 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, my enthusiasm gap is showing, better cross my legs..

Posted by: Trollop on October 1, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

He's right. There had better not be an enthusiasm gap. And independents need to pay attention to whom they are supporting. Its the same Rs from the past who have not bothered to get a driver's license in the two years they've been in the desert.

Posted by: alki on October 1, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Trollop, I assume you're the kind of person who would have voted for Nader in 2000. You got 9/11, you got the Iraq War, you got Abu Graib, you got Gitmo, but you felt pure and said "not my fault."

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on October 1, 2010 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Trollop, I assume you're the kind of person who would have voted for Nader in 2000. You got 9/11, you got the Iraq War, you got Abu Graib, you got Gitmo, but you felt pure and said "not my fault." "

And they'd be right. That's the part that keeps confusing you. Gore chose a warmongering wannabe neocon asshole for a running mate. Also remember that this was long before Gore dedicated himself to raising environmental awareness. His big selling points as of 2000 was being a vice president and having a wife who's a vapid bitch.

Gore openly said he would have invaded Afghanistan after 9/11. And with Joe "I hate brown people and all women" Lieberman as his second it's a damn good bet we'd have invaded Iraq too.

So yeah, you voted for the lesser evil and want to get self righteous towards those that refused to support either evil. You stupidly demand that we all support your lesser shithead rather than even consider changing your vote.

And that's why you're a douche-bag.

Posted by: Tlaloc on October 1, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

As for Obama-
the man has absolutely nothing to say I give a damn about. His words to date have been lies almost entirely. The only way he wins back any respect would be through actions- and since his presidency to date has been a series of outright evil actions that means he'd have to repudiate almost everything he's done so far.

Admitting he doesn't have a right to murder american citizens at will might be a good place to start from.

I'll not hold my breath, nor will I shed any tears if the republicans capture one or both houses of congress and begins a series of investigations/witch hunts. He's earned them with his callousness towards not just his base but all human life.

Posted by: Tlaloc on October 1, 2010 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, Tlaloc - why the hell should "Democrats" - and the rest of us - pay for the specific wrongs of Obama, even if he's as surprisingly bad as you claim? I think he's disappointed, but your shtick is just overworked, damaging, and unhinged.

"... but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning. ...He is known for having demanded child sacrifices."

Posted by: neil b. on October 1, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Uh, Tlaloc - why the hell should "Democrats" - and the rest of us - pay for the specific wrongs of Obama, even if he's as surprisingly bad as you claim?"

Oh, sorry, I forgot Obama is head of the republican party...my bad. No, wait a minute...

Seriously you have to ask why the people supporting and enabling a fuckhead who has manged to surpass George Bush in sheer number of human rights abuses in a mere 2 years should be punished? Really? That's a hard one for you to understand?

Look if you got taken in by the high sounding rhetoric during the dem primary despite the big warning signs about Obama, then you were naive. Learn from it, try for god's sake not to ake the same mistake again and move on.

But if you still at this point, after everything he's done, actually support Obama- then you can go to hell. You're an active supporter of evil, as much as the authoritarian cultists on the right that stood by bush as he willfully made torture acceptable and commonplace.

Obama has supported torture and rendition.
He's obstructed justice through his ever expanding use of state secrets.
He's turned his back on human rights, the environment, the poor, and the sick, in favor of coddling the banks, insurance companies, telecoms, and pretty much every other industry that should really be burned to the ground.

He's as much a war criminal as Bush, Yoo, and Cheney, and it's made worse by two facts-
-as the leader of the other party his support of torture means we now have no real political resistance to torture as official US policy. He's basically single handedly destroyed the chance we had to undo the madness of Bush's reign.
-as someone who was elected specifically to undo that madness his actions are a betrayal as well as evil.

It really doesn't get any clearer- He has no moral authority to be president, it's a shame we have to wait 2 more years to be rid of him. And it will be a tragedy of epic proportions if we are not.

Posted by: Tlaloc on October 1, 2010 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

If a tree falls in the woods...

Posted by: Craig on October 1, 2010 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

I said, why should the rest of us have to pay for it ... even if FTSOA we assume you're right otherwise.

Posted by: neil b on October 1, 2010 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Correction: Right now we are playing for somewhere around 10th place on the educational hit parade. We don't have the highest percent of college graduates anymore. Our high school and grade school students test out way below most developed countries. Other countries are developing higher education centers and research centers faster than we are, and graduate students are no longer coming to the US in numbers sufficient to maintain graduate departments. We've got the Texas State Board of Education wannabees in practically every little hamlet in the country. You thought Dover, PA, was some sort of aberration?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on October 1, 2010 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

But that's the problem isn't it? People think that Obama should be superman by himself and "save" the Democrats and everyone else for that matter and it just can't be done. He is only one person. This speech, good as it is, did not get any play in the mainstream media as far as I know. Obama has been talking about the tax cuts for weeks now, and as soon as the Dems have a chance to do something about it and use it as a talking point for election season, they tuck their tails between their legs and skimper off without voting on it.

This happens time and again. Obama has been using the "car in a ditch" metaphor for quite some time now, and it consistently plays well with audiences. Have any of the other Democrats at least tried to co-opt it and make it their own when appealing to their constituents?

Obama has been talking about healthcare and how it is going to help middle class families right now...how many Dems are running away from healthcare and trying to pretend their votes don't exist? This is the problem. It's not enough that the Dems are dysfunctional and whiny. They refuse to take a stand and try to at least persuade people that their actions are the right ones. Voters aren't stupid. If the Dems can't get in front of an audience and articulately defend their positions with things like facts, sound reasoning, and logic, then why should people have confidence in them?

The truth of the matter is, they are shooting their own selves in the foot, and as much as the President has tried, and keeps trying to put the pro-Dem message out there, if it's just him by himself (and with a lonely few others), it's not going to do much good.

Posted by: TW on October 1, 2010 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

"I said, why should the rest of us have to pay for it ... even if FTSOA we assume you're right otherwise."

And I answered you- if you're a "democrat" meaning you still support the dem party even when it countenances evil then you absolutely deserve to pay for your lack of morals.

If you are a oprogressive, i.e. someone who doesn't support torture and rendtion regardless of which party is doing it, then we're cool.

And if you're a republican then you still owe a hell of a lot of karma for the Bush years.

Posted by: Tlaloc on October 1, 2010 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

"...you still support the dem party even when it countenances evil then you absolutely deserve to pay for your lack of morals." Tlaloc @ 10:02 PM.

How DO you put up with the rest of us? Our lack of political purity. Our inability to recognize the true facts on any subject. Still, it's the LEAST you can do for us mere mortals.
And I DO mean least...

Posted by: Doug on October 1, 2010 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

I am always glad to hear his speeches and when I do I feel like a corner has been turned. Then I realize I am in the minority, or so it seems. Many people seem to just tune him out, which is really unfair. I hope the GOP doesn't take the house next month. A Tea Party/ GOP led government would be horrible for the people. No more social security, no more public education, privatize police and fire departments. Not too mention their wild plans for strict anti-immigration measures at the state level. Hopefully we can rally. Good article.

Posted by: David Brooks on October 5, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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