by Joe Shea
August 17, 2011
WHAT CAN OBAMA DO?
BRADENTON, Fla., Aug. 17, 2011 -- I am a believer in dreams, and when I had a waking dream a few days after the S&P downgrade of our national debt of President Obama packing his bags and leaving the White House, I was saddened for him and for my country.
But the great thing about dreams, if they are truly predictive, is that they give you time to change the future, and I'm going to try doing that with this advice.
First of all, Mr. President, I want you to know how glad I am that this country not only elected a person of color for the first time in its history, but elected a man of high intelligence, boundless energy, true leadership ability and an unusually even temperament.
The latter meant, for instance, that when that Texas governor who so recently called for the secession of Texas from the United States at a Tea Party rally last year called you someone whose loyalty he was unsure of, your response was to "cut him some slack," you said, because he's "only been in the race two or three days." I would not have had that degree of self-control, frankly, and I had to admire yours.
As you know, though, it is for what we do and fail to do when opportunities to act present themselves that we are remembered on Election Day. All the speeches and last hurrahs go out the window at the polls, and voters realistically ask themselves, as a Republican media spinner once so craftily phrased it, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
My fellow Americans are not any better off than we were in the last throes of the Bush Administration, but we are not any worse off, either. Change has come very slowly. There may be a few jobs, home values may have risen a couple of thousand dollars, but overall, we're in the same shape we were when Mr. Bush departed.
There's no blame for that, and no criticism, because all of us know deep down that Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. and AIG all went down on the former President's watch, leaving a catastrophic economic decline squarely in your lap.
The Republicans, whom very few people actually believe, blamed you for all of it - for saving GM, for keeping the major banks afloat, for sending out checks to every American household, for making money available for mortgages, businesses, roads and more.
We didn't improve any for all that, but had you not done what you've done, we would have economic and social anarchy and blood in the streets today. Your even temper kept things on an even keel, and as much as they insulted and jeered the embodiment of our national identity, even at the State of the Union, you never lost your temper or lashed out.
The Fox-and-Murdoch-inspired elected officials who insulted you and their nation will get their just rewards. God bless you for your patience, because with the refusal of the worst of the Republicans to participate in the hard corners of democracy, we didn't need a long-running battle of insults.
In short, regardless of what the polls say, you are really doing fine, with one exception: You are perceived as someone who will not fight for what he believes. We felt that when the health insurance exchanges went south during the health care debate, and when the $4 trillion-dollar cuts you said you'd make didn't materialize in the final bill during the debt-ceiling confrontation.
I think that inherently you ask people to understand that in American politics there is no such thing as getting everything you want. We saw the entire Republican field raise their hands at the Fox News Iowa presidential debate on the eve of the straw poll last week when asked by Chris Wallace to say if they would support a debt plan that cut $10 for every $1 of tax reform. They all said no, and that means the billionaires, millionaires and oil and gas companies enjoy their tax breaks and subsidies and won't be asked to help pay our bills.
Even the dumbest gambler in Las Vegas would take that 10-1 payoff, so we knew at once those folks are out of touch with reality, don't know what compromise means to politics, and care more about their image among the hard-core right than they do about this country.
As I mentioned, when Gov. Perry, who actually told a Tea Party rally it might be time for Texas to secede from the Union, called Ben Bernanke "almost treasonous" he must not have realized that his call for secession was the very essence of treason, suggesting as it does that our country might be better off if Texas didn't exist.
But Perry is cut from the same cloth - and backed by the same money - as President George W. Bush, who nearly succeeded in bankrupting the United States and fractured its backbone by permitting the unregulated trade in bad securities that all went bust in 2008, costing millions their homes and jobs and credit.
As the New York Times reported today, Perry gave at least half of his biggest donors huge contracts, high-profile posts and other perks - his biggest donor got a second low-level radioactive waste disposal site for Texas, for instance - and more of the same is what we can expect if he replaces you in the White House.
It is extremely important, Mr. President, that you fight tooth and nail for re-election. It may seem, deep down, like a lost cause due to the S&P downgrade, and my dream says it is, yet I believe there are at least a few things you can do. Here are a few:
If you can take advantage of these ideas, you will not be forced to pack your bags, Mr. President. I am sure your advisors have other ideas, and I can assure you they won't work.
Please, Mr. President: Don't let my dreams come true.