Saturday, February 28, 2009

President Obama's Weekly Youtube Address

From Al Giordano over at The Field about the importance of this weeks Youtube Address:

Here's the money quote:

"I realize that passing this budget won't be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won't like the idea that they'll have to bid competitively to continue offer ing Medicare coverage, but that's how we'll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won't like the idea that we're ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that's how we'll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:

"'So am I.'

"The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t. I work for the American people. I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November."

Okay, here's what I think just happened: The President has reframed the narrative from the stale dysfunction of Democrats demonizing Republicans and Republicans demonizing Democrats and stepped over that puddle of slime to create a more authentic narrative: The American people vs. the special interests (and note that the ones he mentions are universally from the corporate sector).

And let's keep in mind that the interests he mentions - "the insurance industry... the banks and big student lenders... the oil and gas companies..." - have their hooks and donations just as deeply into Congressional Democrats as they do for Congressional Republicans. They've all just been put on notice: oppose the reforms he's pushing and be portrayed as siding with those corporate interests against the American people.

This is is quite huge. It hasn't been done by a president since FDR. And the populist campaign rhetoric by Edwards, Clinton and even Obama in 2008 aside did not rise to this level of clarity by a longshot. Really, it hasn't been done this way by any Democratic presidential candidate since Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris ran in 1976.

This is the real "us against them" fight to be waged, far more important than the eternal and often childish skirmishes between Democrats and Republicans. He's just pulled the curtain to reveal those who are the real obstructionists behind the puppets. This is exactly to what I had referred to back on February 7 when I noted that bipartisanship is not all carrots, but is also a big stick to be wielded on Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike.

Tread carefully, oh members of Congress.


Miriam said...

Okay! Change is finally coming.

redante said...

Wow! I never thought I'd see the day we actually have a sitting President who is a Populist and who isn't afraid to show it. Obama's address is light years beyond anything I ever expected from a mainstream Democrat politician in terms of framing the issues and solutions in terms of the interests of the majority of working Americans versus powerful, entrenched interests. And he is not making it ambiguous or shying away from explicitly saying whose side he is on!

Anonymous said...

Lib, like you I find it refreshing to see a President actually carrying out a POPULIST agenda. For the most part, his address made his intentions perfectly known. This dude is the real deal.


...I'm still a little concerned with the hyperbole used in the medical costs/bankrupcy discussion. While there is definitely a causal relationship between ridiculously high medical expenses and bankruptcy, personal financial decisions (like consuming above ones means) is also a key contributor. It's pretty likely that many of the same people who list "medical reasons" as the cause of their debt are also not factoring in other negative aspects of their own financial history which could have equally played a role in their plights. Simply put, certain choices with money could have been the start of their financial woes, giving health costs the chance to provide the knockout blow.

Instead of using this as another talking point, I think Obama should push harder for allowing U.S. citizens access to foreign medicine. Legalizing drug purchases in Canada, for instance, would globalize the market of medicine, causing American business to rethink how they price their products. Anything short of opening the borders for medicine will continuously allow the U.S. the corner the American market for medicine.

rikyrah said...

Obama's budget gives it to U.S. straight

rikyrah said...

Santelli is a fake. It was all staged.

Brian said...

What was staged? Please explain.

I just woke from my coma... and I have to go to the plantation in a few minutes.

rikyrah said...

Santelli's ' 'sponateneous rant' on CNBC - all fake. All staged. All planned.

redante said...

It was Playboy magazine which broke the story about Santelli's CNBC rant. They say that the "rant" was a carefully staged event that is part of a sustained PR campaign against Obama to derail his economic reforms.

What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.

A commenter at the TPM Cafe lays out why this is a problem:

If Santelli was using his position as a journalist to further a carefully laid plan by the top .05% to manufacture a fake grassroots movement against the President's policies, it would be a very, very, very serious breach of journalist ethics. If the MSM, and NBC in particular, refuse to acknowledge that they were played because this whole fake tea party thing is so much better a story if they ignore the fake grass, that's a very serious thing too.

I would like to see a second and third reliable source for this story if there is one to see if it has any legs.

rikyrah said...

From the Financial Times

The budget reveals the liberal Obama

Money quote:

For the moment, though, this budget reveals Mr Obama with new clarity. He is no Tony Blair, ideologically rootless, as I had previously suspected. He is a conviction politician: a bold progressive liberal. Yet his outreach to Republicans is no sham; his civility, I think, is not a front. He respects people who disagree with him, is capable of liking them, and is always willing to listen – but then stays true to his beliefs. This is a rare and devastating combination.

For years in the US, the Democratic left, despite a surfeit of brilliant minds, has neutered itself with its own rage. The fixed expression of progressive liberalism has been anger and contempt – with perplexity at its lack of political success mixed in for comic effect. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Amid an economic crisis, with capitalism under fire and the country looking to government for answers, the liberal left finally has a leader with brains, who shares its convictions, yet is as friendly and as likeable to the politically uncommitted as anyone could wish – so appealing, in fact, that the party almost chose somebody else to lead it.

Whether Mr Obama will be good for the country remains to be seen. We can already be sure that he is conservatism’s worst nightmare.