Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Obama, Just So Negative

When Barack Obama starts to affix blame, he pulls back and dilutes his message. It's part of being even-handed,refusing to vilify enemies of the nation or to back his supporters, all the more to fashion a compromise or at least some deal which doesn't offend his opponents. Barack Obama does not hate.

In his extraordinary piece in Sunday's New York Times, Drew Westin drew (pun intended) a contrast between Obama 44 and Ronald Reagan hero Franklin Roosevelt, who thundered "never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me- and I welcome their hatred." The President, Westin noted, differs dramatically from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, though Obama is fond of paraphrasing Dr. King's incomparable metaphor "the arc of the moral universe." Instead,

when faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it. He never explained that decision to the public — a failure in storytelling as extraordinary as the failure in judgment behind it. Had the president chosen to bend the arc of history, he would have told the public the story of the destruction wrought by the dismantling of the New Deal regulations that had protected them for more than half a century. He would have offered them a counternarrative of how to fix the problem other than the politics of appeasement, one that emphasized creating economic demand and consumer confidence by putting consumers back to work. He would have had to stare down those who had wrecked the economy, and he would have had to tolerate their hatred if not welcome it. But the arc of his temperament just didn’t bend that far.

More than an observation, Westin describes what is clear to all who have been watching. That wouldn't, however, stop Rush Limbaugh, who on Tuesday ranted

Hate the insurance companies, hate the oil companies, hate coal companies, hate corporate jet owners, hate corporate jet manufacturers, hate yacht companies, hate yacht owners, hate credit card companies, hate student loan companies, hate mortgage companies, hate millionaires, hate billionaires, hate anybody who earns $200,000 a year, hate McDonald's, hate Fox, hate me, hate the Koch brothers. How many people even know who the Koch brothers are? Hate the Supreme Court, hate Bibi Netanyahu, hate the state of Arizona, hate the state of Texas, and on and on. Have you noticed Obama is at war with an endless list of enemies? He is at war with all aspects of our country, and particularly with the aspects of our country that generate wealth and success.

Confronted by a President who, as Frank Rich observes, "falls hard for the best and brightest white guys," he sees someone who is loathes "all aspects of our country,and particularly the aspects of our country that generate wealth and success." Some of these very interests "gamed the economy to near devastation" (as Rich terms it) and are let off the hook by Obama and venerated by Limbaugh, who pretends the former is "at war" with all that is pure and good.

Fortunately, Rush Limbaugh, who has referred to the leader of the Free World as "this little boy, this little man-child President," is no hater. Well, except for on his program and on the cover of August's "The Limbaugh Letter":

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