Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Professor Wonk

David Michael Green, a political science professor, writes a most acerbic column (from the Left) about Obama. Don't think I agree with it, but it is powerful.

What Obama should have done is simple, and therefore all the more
astonishing that they missed it. First off, he should have formulated a
serious plan (perhaps in faux negotiations with certain key congressional
leaders, to make them feel powerful and included, perhaps not), and stuck with
it. At the very least, he should have articulated three or four
non-negotiable key principles that he demanded from any healthcare
legislation. These should have revolved around ideas that are simple to
grasp and clearly beneficial to non-elite Americans. He should have sold that
plan at big staged events, such as televised addresses to both houses of
Congress – rather than these pathetic press conferences he keeps giving, where
the press can ask any question they want, and where an unscripted Professor Wonk
rambles out ten minute answers, chock full of pauses and clauses, guaranteed to
anesthetize his audience or divert their attention entirely, to another subject
altogether (can you say “Henry Lewis Gates”?).

He should have named enemies, right from the beginning. He should have
warned Americans about what these people would do in the ensuing weeks and
months. And he should have called them out on it, angrily and by name,
when they in fact did it. When they started lying and frightening senior
citizens in order to protect their legalized scams from reform, he should
have slugged them so hard they were knocked on their fat corporate asses, never
to rise again. He should’ve called them greedy, selfish, treasonous
traitors who are willing to lie and steal to further enrich their bloated
selves, while tens of thousands of Americans die every year from lack of medical

Above all, what Obama should have done was shown some passion.
The unflappable conciliatory professor act has got to go. Here’s a newsflash
(evidently) for the Obama White House: If the president has any desire to
sell his policies, he’s got to sell his policies. If he wants to lead, he
has to lead. And if he wants our support, he’s got to tell us why this is
important. With juice. Mr. Folksy isn’t getting it – not by a long

Finally, Obama should’ve jammed his plan down the throats of Congress,
where – though you’d never know it – his party commands massive and
filibuster-proof majorities. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t
think the nineteenth century model of the presidency is particularly appropriate
here in the twenty-first. We got Social Security and the rest of the New
Deal programs because Franklin Roosevelt twisted arms on Capitol Hill. We
got Medicare and Medicaid and civil rights because Lyndon Johnson nearly pulled
those arms out of their sockets, jamming his bills through a reluctant Congress
by means of big carrots, bigger sticks, and razor-sharp strategy.

No comments:

Post a Comment