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.