Thursday, April 16, 2020

Inspiring Rhetoric Signifying Nothing


Former president Barack H. Obama formally endorsed Joe Biden for President on Tuesday.  It's easy to get caught up in the hopeful, sometimes soaring rhetoric upon hearing a speech from Barack Obama, who after all is "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. " However, two things stand out in the transcript.

There are approximately 20 paragraphs, the exact number depending upon how the particular transcript is prepared. In none of those paragraphs will you see or hear the word "Trump." That stands in sharp contrast to the endorsement by Bernie Sanders, who vowed "We've got to make [Donald] Trump a one-term president and we need you in the White House so I will do all that I can to see that that happens."

Sanders also described Trump as "the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country." But the always conflict-averse Barack Obama couldn't manage the word "Trump."

Obama did praise his own stewardship of the country which, given that Biden served under him, only made sense.  He also referred to "the incredible progress that we made together during my presidency," which should- but won't- raise the question: why doe he think it wasn't credible? The ex-president added

but if I were running today, I wouldn’t run the same race or have the same platform as I did in 2008. The world is different; there’s too much unfinished business for us to just look backwards. We have to look to the future. Bernie understands that, and Joe understands that.

It is one of the reasons that Joe already has what is the most progressive platform of any major-party nominee in history. Because even before the pandemic turned the world upside down, it was already clear that we needed real structural change. The vast inequalities created by the new economy are easier to see now, but they existed long before this pandemic hit. Health professionals, teachers, delivery drivers, grocery clerks, cleaners, the people who truly make our economy run — they have always been essential, and for years too many of the people who do the essential work of this country have been underpaid, financially stressed and given too little support, and that applies to the next generation of Americans, young people graduating into unprecedented unemployment. They are going to need economic policies that give them faith in the future and give them relief from crushing student loan debt.

The vast inequalities created by the new economy are easier to see now, but they existed long before this pandemic hit. That is not a criticism of President Trump, but of the presidents- and especially of the president- who preceded him.

The "people who truly make our economy run," Obama concedes, "have always been essential," yet "have been underpaid, financially stressed and given too little support."

If one doesn't stop to think, one might not ask "who was the President and chief executive officer of the USA then?" It was, if memory serves, Barack Obama.

Remarkably- or "incredibly," as he would have put it-  the President whose eight years were characterized by tinkering around the edges added "So we need to do more than just tinker around the edges with tax credits or underfunded programs."

The number of people who gained health insurance increased with the Affordable Care Act. However, at the end of Obama's second term, 26.7million Americans were uninsured, which exceeded the increase in coverage brought about since passage of the ACA. Four years out of office, Obama now believes a president should "provide everyone with a public option." Too little, too late.

But Barack Obama has his excuse for arguing that Joe Biden ought to be the progressive president that he himself chose not to be. It has nothing to do with Obama himself; rather that the world has changed. He maintained

You know, I could not be prouder of the incredible progress that we made together during my presidency, but if I were running today, I wouldn’t run the same race or have the same platform as I did in 2008. The world is different; there’s too much unfinished business for us to just look backwards. We have to look to the future. Bernie understands that, and Joe understands that.





The world has indeed changed. Republicans resisted progress during the Obama years; they are worse today. They are more negative and partisan now in part because President Obama showed Republicans that they could push back on a Democratic president, get away with it, and even prosper.

If that weren't enough to rouse Barack Obama, the last Democratic president and most popular Democratic pol alive, from his slumber, the constant attacks upon his record by President Trump should be sufficient.  Most recently

For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied,  its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further.....

Among the constants of this Administration are these: (1) Donald Trump will continually, falsely, blame President Obama; and (2) worried that Republicans will fight back and sully his legacy, Barack Obama will go to great lengths, to the detriment of his party, to avoid controversy.



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