Hope and Change hiccup

I like me some Kool-Aid. I like it better when it’s mixed with things that make me even more happy. You mix Hope with Change and I’ll pound them like an Irish Car Bomb on a rainy Saturday night. There comes a time, however, when you have to wake up, evaluate the bruises and see if it was all worth it.

I am an unabashed fan of Barack Obama. Getting him to the White House was, I still believe, one of the most important things I could help do in my lifetime. The changes he has promised to make can be debated on their own merit. Feel free to talk about debt, the environment, abortion, foreign policy, etc. My friends on the right aren’t going to agree with my friends on the left–ever–so I don’t feel like it’s my place to try to bring them together.

No, above all, my hope for the Hope and Change cocktail was that one promise would be fulfilled. I hoped President Obama would make good on working to change the culture in Washington, that he would set aside tired old divisive tactics and set about working to get things done in a way we could all respect. Even when the Washington machine was beating him senseless, I hoped President Obama could rise above the fray and, even in the face of potential failure, act with dignity and respect his promise to work toward change.

Enter an article from Politico. Read it for yourself, because it is fascinating political theater and a good look at how Democratic strategists operate. The Cliff’s Notes version is this: The Democrats realized that with George W. Bush out of office, they no longer had a bogeyman. Without something to fight against, Democrats feared their army would get complacent and the GOP would have an opportunity to re-form under a savvy new leader. It’s a reasonable fear. Democrats aren’t necessarily known for keeping their eye on the ball and the Republicans have shown (hello 1994!) they can rebound quickly after a sound defeat.

But then the Dems discovered something. They noticed Rush Limbaugh’s positive ratings were at an all-time low. People like James Carville and Paul Begala saw an opportunity. If they could paint Limbaugh as the new de facto head of the Grand Old Party, they could further divide an already polarized group of Republicans. What’s more, it started to work. Limbaugh stood up and gave a nationally televised address that made him look even more powerful than he already is. Begala, Carville, et al ratcheted up their rhetoric on cable news. If they could avoid a 2010 Republican revolution, by God, they were going to do it.

That’s all well and good. It’s ugly. It’s not what America wants to see. But it’s how these guys operate. They know how to manipulate minds. They are some of the best at it. It’s Clintonian strategy and it’s worked more than it has not. Begala and Carville are pros.

But as I kept reading, one line from the Politico article hit me in the stomach like a dime bag of wasabi.

A senior White House aide has been tasked with helping to guide the Limbaugh strategy.

It is naive of me to think that there won’t be some communication between Democratic strategists and the White House. The race for 2010 and 2012 began sometime in November 2008. I get it. I understand it. And to a degree, I accept it. But this is not the President Obama I respect. This is not the President Obama I want to see lead our country.

President Obama has spoken at length about doing what is right. I have agreed with him across board. What then is right about using senior White House aides to manipulate the American public and play a game (and it is nothing more than a high stakes game, be assured of that) of political strategy?

I still have hope. I still believe President Obama is the right man to lead our country right now. I also believe he should distance himself from the Carvilles and the Begalas of his party today. If he does not, President Obama will be no more than another Bill Clinton and I will give him the same respect.

President Obama may not have full control or ability to do everything he said he would do while President. He will have Congress, the American people, and the world to convince.

Keeping that in mind, it should be clear that he does have total control over doing what is right at all times. If he thinks the current strategy is evidence of doing the right thing, he is already on the road to failing this one hopeful, naive voter.

When it comes to American political arguments, I do not respect people who support their man even if it’s clear their man is wrong. I do not respect the people who attack their opponent just because he is their opponent. Both, I think, are evidence of small, closed minds. I do not want to be part of that crowd. I will admit when my man has messed up. This is one of those times.

I do not believe President Obama has failed yet, but in this case, he has clearly failed to make good on the one promise I cared about. He is not doing what’s right, and I suspect he knows that. I believe he can recover and be the man and President he promised to be.

Don’t make a fool of me, Mr. President.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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7 Responses

  1. RedxBranch says:

    I agree……but as long as the general public continues to fall for the ‘wag the dog’ stunts then those tactics will continue. That type of political strategy is easier than educating/convincing the general population that your proposals have merit and are worth implementing.

  2. KenP says:

    Well, he wasn’t my dog in the race. Hell, I didn’t even have a pussy cat in that one. But, I do wish the man well. He’s solving our run of overspending/gambling/whatever with massive chunks of same. That does make me nervous but you and everybody else tells me how bright and honest he is; so maybe I’m wrong.

    There is one thing I’m seriously not liking. He opposed earmarks and I thought his attack of the lobbyist might be at least a partial move in that direction. Latest word on his budget is that it now contains over 4000 earmarks. Business as usual I can understand. His silence, I don’t.

    Everybody needs to recognize where we are in this ‘bailout’ and consider their cost. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aZchK__XUF84

  3. CJ says:

    KenP: The White House isn’t silent on those 8000 earmarks in the omnibus spending bill. The spin factory has decided the line (repeated already by Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs) is, “This is last year’s business.” In other words, it’s not in their control. It’s BS, but it’s the best line they got. Democrat Evan Bayh wants Obama to veto the bill, but Obama says he will sign it.

    I remember back when Obama was picking his cabinet and holding his early press conf. that I said to my wife, “Well, maybe this won’t be as bad as I feared.” My wife didn’t appreciate the sentiment, but I thought we had a moderate Democrat here. It’s clear now, however, that we don’t. I worry about him pushing his liberal agenda in an economy this bad. Maybe they’re right… maybe the economic impact of things like cap and trade won’t hit middle class families until after the economy turns around. I sure hope so!!

  4. Jim The Knife says:

    COME ON FOLKS. WAKE UP. The man’s been in office for 10 minutes.
    He’s going to do just fine. Also Otis, that sentence you quoted …
    how do you know it’s true? Because you read it in a report?
    Throwing out those sort of statements is Limbaughism at it’s finest.
    The Elephants are in panic mode. They control nothing and it’s scared the shit out of them. Just relax and let our President fix the problems as best he can.
    It’s important to note that the Reps do NOT have alternative suggestions. Just negative rhetoric.

  5. StB says:

    Sorry Jim but you are wrong. Conservatives do have an alternate suggestion. Read Paul Ryan’s article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123595257066605147.html

  6. Grouse14 says:

    Jim the knife,
    The problem with american politics is people like you. Honestly you will never ever see anything that your adoptive party does as wrong, or misguided even. Otis is right and has every right to be worried about the man he voted for. All you have to go on is the campaigers promises. Otis saw one that he would really like to see him stick to and now people are seeing that the promise was little more than smoke and mirrors. I did not vote for Obama, for other reasons, but if the man I voted for would have won and then did a 180 on his campaign promises you better believe I would have been pissed. you need to get over the fact that no matter which party you support, they are going to do things that are not right, and when they do you should critisize them on it. Weather they have been in office for 2 months or 4 years.


  7. KenP says:

    Thanks for clarifying it, CJ. BTW, it has now topped 9000. When do they start to appear on his watch?

    I saw Bayh comment. He’s a local. Thought it was gutsy. He’s also in permanent run mode for higher office. That he’s making an early break with the program is scary.

    I see the comments are outgrowing the piece. Takes me back to the run itself. During that time there was so much promise that the on-high himself could not have satisfied.

    Many try to remake Washington in their image. That’s a graven image that makes you wonder if the Muslim’s weren’t on to something. In that respect, he might have been better served digging up old Carter troops over the Clinton crowd.

    Obama just had a different face/message for every constituency. I don’t think he breaks his promises as much as he’s breaking the one’s others assigned him without permission.

    He’s starting to look like Carter in how long he can last too. In future polls, he and Jimmy will be near the top for intellect. George won’t be close but he also won’t be blamable a year or so down the road.