Four years after Barack Obama campaigned on a promise of "hope and change," he now is admitting that a president isn't able to change Washington "from the inside" -- an admission that rival Mitt Romney promptly blasted as "the white flag of surrender."
That was the first paragraph of Fox News coverage of President Obama's recent speech to an audience hosted by Univision, a Spanish language television outlet. The point, of course, has been a consistent theme in Obama's public career. Real change is not initiated by politicians as much as it is imposed on politicians by involved citizens.
The "admission" was indeed the subject of a Romney attack, an attack that was the focus of the Republican campaign for an hour or so. The half-life of Romney campaign themes seems to be getting steadily shorter, tracking roughly in proportion to the shrinking hours of daylight as November approaches.
There used to be some consistent set of ideas common to conservatism. The ideas varied with the beholder. "Cultural" conservatives were once active against integration and voting rights. Eventually it became opposition just to voting rights. Ideological conservatives were opposed to big government. Eventually that got to be an inconsistent mishmash of don't-get-government-into-Medicare type protests, government for me but not for those people. In the old days, there were occasional conservative clashes. William F. Buckley famously defeated the John Birch Society. But even the looniest strain had some sort of consistent set of ideas.
In the current Republican campaign, conservatism seems to have been reduced below mere ideas to a daily misrepresentation of anything Obama has said since he entered the Illinois State Senate. The Obama campaign had a good time breitbarting Mitt Romney in return, sending out a humorous stringing together of little snippets of Romney talk, illustrating the definition of context.
I have to confess that occasional struggles by national conservatives to put forth some reasonable sounding Romney representation kind of make me smile. Well... it's a sort of confession. Mea minima culpa: it is momentary diversion from the serious side of life.
Each week a self-assigned duty involves getting advance notice of what scripture will be read at Sunday service. Some of our liturgists are elderly and need help. I print the reading in large font, and translate some hard-to-pronounce words to their phonetic equivalents. Sometime during the week, I try to make it to the church and put the hard copy on the alter. When I can't get there on a weekday, I attend early worship, the traditional service. I arrive ahead of time with the scripture.
This week I made it to the church Wednesday evening, so yesterday I got to attend the contemporary service. I enjoy the more modern songs, less bound to obscure Elizabethan English. It seems less like ritual, more like something real, something that is a genuine expression of spirituality. It seems more like Jesus is there with us.
Contemporary worship begins a half hour after the traditional service ends, so I was able to catch bits and pieces of NBC's Meet the Press while I got ready. I don't much care for host David Gregory. That's because he doesn't much care for fact checking. "People can fact-check Meet the Press every week on their own terms." He lets folks get away with huge whoppers while catching them on minutia. It's a lazy approach that seems to infect most of modern journalism, but it does have the advantage of saving him the hard work of preparatory research.
This week had Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) as a guest. Naturally, she was asked about Governor Romney's diatribe against the 47% of Americans who believe everything should be handed to them and who refuse to accept any personal responsibility for their own lives. She rambled delightfully. At one point, she protested that it was President Obama, not Governor Romney, who was divisive, putting Americans against each other. The example I caught was the President's change-from-the-outside remark. I smiled at the idea that criticizing politicians was divisive.
If there is one thing that unites Americans, it is a contempt for politicians. Always has been. "Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” That was Mark Twain. The unity of Americans has gotten to new heights of late. The current popularity of Congress parallels that of toothache.
Three facts contribute to President Obama not being blamed for a retched economy. He inherited the gawdawful mess. He has been blocked at every turn by an oppose-everything Congress. Things are improving anyway. So Americans have memories. Americans have minds. And Americans have eyes.
The panel discussion part of Meet the Press was especially enlightening, at least the parts I caught.
Joe Scarborough brought the best news Republicans have heard all week. The election is not until November. HA! There is still time for Mitt Romney to get it right. HA! As we know about Morning Joe is that right means far right. Mitt will win if he stops trying to be a moderate and presents a strong, strong conservative case. Instead of dumping on those who are hurting in today's economy, Mitt should point out that the Republican program will help them. And he should get passionate about it. HA!
Well, I thought, it worked for George Bush.
David Brooks was next at bat. He pointed out that Mitt was not a naturally passionate guy. He's a technocrat, a problem solver, a power point candidate. He should conduct a power point campaign. Here are the 4 ways I'll save American. And you don't have to like me.
I shaved and couldn't nod without stopping. Not liking Mitt would be something most voters seemed to agree on. His not being liked had gotten to the 50% mark, making him the most unlikable candidate since polling on the question had begun.
Bay Buchanan was there to represent the Romney campaign, which meant that her mind already had to have gone into a pretzel shape. She insisted the 47% remark had been taken out of context. So what was the context? "This is a man who has spent a life in serving others." It was a dirty trick. I almost swallowed my mouthwash.
I did miss some of what she was saying. It may have been quite cogent. On the other hand, Mitt Romney's missing two minutes, the time the hidden cell phone was off, would have the same chance of explaining everything he said in a way that would not be repulsive. One website has sponsored an essay contest. What would be the best content of that missing two minutes? What would it take to make the Romney judgment of the other half less severely conservative?
But her attempts to make her own piece with the man who has spent a life in serving those layabouts who refuse to take responsibility failed to win much support from other guests.
At one point she protested that the discussion was becoming a four to one contest, as other conservatives declined to join her fantasies. Joe Scarborough became indignant that he was being grouped with the rest. Well, that's the Joe pretense, isn't it? Standing apart, seeing the truth that leaves others blind.
Driving to worship, I thought about the isolation Bay Buchanan seemed to feel. It occurs to me her lonely defense of Mitt Romney's compassion for the poor, for the middle class, for those not sharing in a life of wealth, was not the unfair four to one contest that frustrated her. It's more like five to one.
Mitt Romney is on the other side.
Trackback address for this post
Yes, there is a lot of context that needs to be added, but this is a teachable moment that Romney is missing. Yes, there are plenty of those 47% that are retirees etc. that are receiving their social security and Medicare payments, just as they should. There are also a huge percentage that are receiving enough money from the government that it doesn’t make sense for them to find a job and go back to work.
My fear is that Obama is indeed going to win again because we have become a nation of dependent whiners. If Obama is re-elected, America will indeed go into death-throes because when a plurality, if not quite a majority, of Americans first response to any problem is to ask what the government is going to do to help them solve their issues, we are indeed no longer America. I fear that we have now reached that point, and may God help.
How large is this group? What sort of people make up this group? How much money do they get from the government? Why do they get that money from the government? For how long can they avoid working?
Leave a comment
|« Laughing at Poverty Is Inelegant||Obama Campaign Breitbarts Romney »|