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What’s on Obama’s Next Page?

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Posted on Sep 1, 2010
White House / Pete Souza

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

By insisting Tuesday evening that “it’s time to turn the page,” President Obama was talking about more than the Iraq War, and doing much more than reviving one of his most effective slogans from the 2008 campaign.

He was also trying to turn the page on a period in which he has found himself on the defensive, his party in a perilous position for November’s elections, and his reputation for political mastery in doubt.

Obama’s Oval Office speech was resolutely nonpolitical in form but profoundly political in its implications. To rescue his party, Obama had to begin rebuilding his own popularity, offer hope in a time of economic despair, and restore confidence in the course on which he has set the nation.

It was an almost impossibly difficult combination of goals, and he chose to achieve them in just 18 minutes. He spoke about war and foreign policy to a country exhausted by combat abroad and focused intensely on economic problems at home. Obama had to present himself as a commander in chief, not as the leader of the Democratic Party, yet the speech could only be heard in the context of an election that is just two months away.

The result was a series of balancing acts that, while a bit ungainly, held the promise of lifting Obama’s standing with middle-of-the road voters who may have begun to lose faith.

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His treatment of former President George W. Bush was emblematic. His words were exceptionally gracious. While noting that he and his predecessor “disagreed about the war from its outset,” Obama added that “no one can doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.”

For those who see the Iraq War as a catastrophic mistake—and their ranks include many of Obama’s earliest supporters—this was more praise than Bush deserved given the magnitude of the error he made. Meanwhile, some of the war’s staunchest backers immediately assailed Obama for not crediting the positive effects of Bush’s troop surge.

Less-partisan voters, however, may simply have seen an Obama behaving like a president, being as generous as he had to be, acknowledging the valor of our troops but refusing to concede that a war so many of them wish we hadn’t fought was a good idea.

In fact, the central players in Obama’s story were not politicians at all but the men and women of “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known.”

By constantly returning to their sacrifices, Obama sought to reassure those who fought and the families of those who died that their exertions and losses had accomplished great things for the nation, even in a war that the current commander in chief regards as mistaken. Here, too, he spoke for many conflicted Americans who now doubt the wisdom of the war and yet still hope it might yield something other than bitter fruit.

And then, well more than halfway through, Obama offered what Democrats had been waiting for: a turn homeward and a brutal accounting of the costs of the conflict.

“We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas,” Obama declared. “This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform.”

Members of the president’s party, struggling for political traction, were quick to highlight his call to face our “challenges at home.” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who has the unenviable task of leading the Democrats’ effort to hold the House of Representatives, said in an interview shortly after Obama concluded: “The overall theme of the speech was that it’s time to turn to nation-building at home rather than nation-building abroad.”

For Van Hollen and other Democrats, the real test of whether Obama succeeded will not be the reception of this single address but whether it becomes the prelude to an invigorated presidency that uses the end of combat operations in Iraq to rekindle the aspirations for change that won him power in the first place.

As a successful author, Obama knows that turning a page is not the same as writing the next chapter. Now, he must produce a narrative compelling enough to alter a story line that, on its current trajectory, does not end well for him. 

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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By ssg13565, September 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

cruxpuppy,

Di you read Paul Krugman’s OpEd piece in The New York Times today?

He compared 1938 to 2010.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/opinion/06krugman.html?_r=1

The following excerpt gives you a hint:

“Here’s the situation: The U.S. economy has been crippled by a financial crisis. The president’s policies have limited the damage, but they were too cautious, and unemployment remains disastrously high. More action is clearly needed. Yet the public has soured on government activism, and seems poised to deal Democrats a severe defeat in the midterm elections.

“The president in question is Franklin Delano Roosevelt; the year is 1938.”

Stop pining for a history that never was.

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By Inherit The Wind, September 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

“Die Hard!” Wannabe:

Where do you get this crap? Do you actually believe it? Do you actually believe anyone outside your circle of fanatics does?

Just keep makin’ up shit and dumpin’ it out! Sooner or later some dumb schmuck is gonna believe it.  If not, maybe it’ll be good fertilizer, ‘cuz it’s pure manure.

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By call me roy, September 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

I think the next page will be: Barry Hussein will be coming out. It is easy to see now that Barry Hussein calls himself a Socialist but he really wants to be Saul Alinsky reborn. Barack Obama’s Radical Left connections and his relation to the Cloward Piven strategy are inexorably linked and shows that Obama is related to too many radical individuals and organizations.
Barry Barack is at the epicenter of an incestuous stew of American radical leftism. Not only are his connections significant, they practically define who he is. Taken together, they constitute a who’s who of the American radical left, and guiding all is the Cloward-Piven strategy. Obama’s associates are all radicals, firmly bedded in the anti-American, communist, socialist, radical leftist mesh. Obama is associated with black separatist liberation ideologues, domestic terrorists, Palestinian radicals, Kenyan mass murderers of Christians, and both Maoist and Marxist communist radicals. Although Obama now tries to distance himself from them, now that he is running for president, they were all his mentors, allies, friends, contributors, associates and supporters. They befriended him… and he befriended and socialized with them back.
Socially he’s a far-left Progessive who listened to the anti-American & anti-white “sermons” of Jereamih Wright for 20 years while assoiciating with countercultural fanatics, such as Williamm Ayers and with Chicago gangsters & thugs within the framework of the Chicago Democrat political machine.
Politically he’s an adolescent faculty club Marxist with ambition but has never run any kind of business (like most of his Administration). Obama, for example, practiced socialism with General Motors. Last year, he directed the government to take 60 percent ownership of GM. Congress had not enacted legislation authorizing him to do this. He simply took money out of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which had been appropriated to buy assets from financial institutions (not manufacturers), and bought the federal government an auto company. Obama’s greatest socialist act so far, however, is the national health care system he signed into law last month. As a leftist to his core, Barack Obama has been salivating over socialized medicine for years, It’s the perfect policy vehicle for socialists who want to ensure that government’s tentacles will spread into all aspects of our society. They have been trying for decades to impose it on this liberty-loving nation. It is the socialists’ dream, a solution that has all the attributes of Trojan-horse liberalism: It appears perfectly compassionate on the drawing board, while operating as a freedom vacuum once put into practice.” This, again, is the plain truth. Under Obamacare, the government will start out subsidizing the health insurance of Americans making up to 400 percent of the poverty level. In return for this redistribution of wealth, those who go on the health care dole will give up a significant measure of freedom. Obamacare gives government the power to control which health insurance plans they can buy and what benefits those plans will—or will not—provide. In its role as primary paymaster and regulator of the health care system, the government will have decisive leverage over some of the most morally consequential decisions individuals ever make. And that is before the system evolves into a single-payer system, which it inevitably will, as insurance companies discover they cannot deliver the benefits the government demands at the price the government will pay, and as individuals who make too much to qualify for a government subsidy discover they earn too little to buy the plan the government insists they must. What we need is less government and a vigorous reintroduction of market forces into the medical industry.

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By gerard, September 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

cruxpuppy:  My comments were and are not written as “self-flagellation.”  I think history bears me out more than a little bit. We have been willingly giving up “the power of the people” for a long time.
  However, there is certainly room for difference of opinion, and some of what you say, I agree with. I’m as disappointed as you are—but on the other hand, I think it took Obama’s failure to lead to show us just how completely the government has been infiltrated by big money interests and how tremendous those pressures on him—or any president—are.  At least we can now see clearly that the office itself has been bought and paid for, though of course it didn’t happen suddenly.  The continuous warring was a strong signal and that’s been going on for decades.
  Media deterioration is another factor we’ve been seeing for decades, and done nothing but tuning in more or less for laughs.
  “The public” has also been experiencing a loss of access to government agencies for a long time, also. Though not Obama’s direct fault, he could have seen it and the party could have jumped on the opportunity after the election and kept the forces they had going for them, alive and progressive.  They failed, too.
  However, the idea of voting Republican to “get even” is, I think, ignorant nonsense.

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By ssg13565, September 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

cruxpuppy,

I agree with most of your history.  Although I thought that the first Roosevelt’s third party was a failure.

While you wait around for someone to form a third party, I’ll try to prevent the Repubs from taking control in November.


About 4 years ago I retired. I cannot afford another economic crash at the beginning of retirement while I am trying to stretch my nest egg till I am gone.

I love it when people say things like “I’m saying that a third party is the only way out.”

Perhaps the only one you can imagine, but certainly not the only one.  As you said the second Roosevelt did it without a third party.  Do you remember if the second Roosevelt did his turn around in two years?  The second Roosevelt did not start out to remake the country.  He did it as he learned it was necessary.

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By cruxpuppy, September 5, 2010 at 7:52 am Link to this comment

ssg, the US is a middle class country from its inception that has been co-opted by an oligarchic minority that distorts the rhetoric of individual freedom to con the people. When this first happened during the time of the “robber barons”, something called “the Progressive Era” developed when a rich guy named Roosevelt put a third party in motion to curb the power of the oligarchs and reassert the prerogatives of the middle class.

It happened again in the 30’s when another rich guy, also named Roosevelt, took over the Democratic Party, for the same purpose.

It has happened once again following the success of Reagan. These people are far more sophisticated today. Their dirty tricks involve stealing elections by subverting the high court and criminal subversion of the electoral process: vote fraud on a massive scale.

The Democratic Party doesn’t work and it can’t work unless it changes its spots. I’m saying that a third party is the only way out. Hartmann says the DP needs to be re-energized from the inside. There are enough independent, disillusioned voters to create a strong third party effort that can bully the weak-kneed DP. But it will take leadership of the kind Obama doesn’t have.

The DP’s failure to confront the Repub right with strong statements of principle, its policy of appeasement, will have predictable consequences in November. It will not be a matter o supporting this policy of appeasement, it will be a matter of rejecting it loudly with a strong third party revolt.

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By ssg13565, September 4, 2010 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment

cruxpuppy,

You said, “The Republicans are just as capable of stimulus spending as the Democrats when the survival of the current system is at stake. Republican opposition to Democratic programs is not principled, it is pure expediency. The continued slide of the economy will inspire them to betray the constituency of their own budget hawks and vote stimulus, too.”

I think the situation is much worse than you expect.  The continued slide of the economy for the have nots is no longer of concern to the Republicans unless the have nots finally rise up and stop voting for them.

Now that there are millions of people in countries like China, India, and Brazil that are able to buy the products the rich selling, they are not so dependent on Americans being able to buy those products.  That is why the rich no longer care if Americans are fully employed or earn a decent wage.

You are going to be sadly disappointed if you wait around for the Republicans vote stimulus, too.  Even if they find it expedient to vote for stimulus, they vote for sham stimulus.  They vote to cut taxes of the rich more than the not rich.  They vote for Ponzi scheme bubbles so the not rich are fooled into thinking their homes are appreciating in value.

They won’t vote for schools so that the not rich can get an education.  They will vote to shrink the government’s power in relation to the corporations so that the people (represented by their government) will have no power to stop the corporations doing what they will.

Remember that TARP is the kind of stimulus Republicans like.  Boosting education, training the work force, keeping jobs in this country, lowering our health care bills, and stopping the decline of income distribution equity are not on their agenda.

Obama and the progressive Democrats are for the type of stimulus that the Republicans do not favor.  Counting all of the Democrats, there are not enough of them to prevent Republican obstructionism. If we reduce the Democratic side to include only the most progressive, we won’t even have a majority, let alone two thirds of the Senate.

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By ssg13565, September 4, 2010 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment

Cruxpuppy,

If you believe that “We have to change the Democratic Party from the inside by getting active, getting involved, just as we have to agitate and create pressure on Obama to give us what we want.” then I assume you are not one of the people calling for progressives to sit out the coming election.

You ask why the the Democratic Party & Obama aren’t speaking out loudly for a progressive agenda?  E. J. Dione Jr.‘s previous column mentioned that Obama has switched from campaign mode to governing mode and does not think it right to continue politicking.  What Obama fails to realize is that explaining the agenda almost continuously is an essential part of governing.  The other side is relentlessly trying to convince the public that the President is wrong.  If he doesn’t continue to explain what he is trying to do, people soon fall victim to the relentless babble of the opposition and lose sight of why the President is trying to do what he promised to do.

You say it is a “a con to say we have to force Obama to do it.”  You won’t hear me say we have to force Obama to do it.  What we need to do is to show Obama that if he tries to do it, we will give him the support we need to overcome the fears of some of the Democrats in Congress.  Thiose Democrats who are afraid their constituents will throw them out of office if they do what Obama wants need to be convinced that their constituents will support them if they do what Obama wants.  The constant threat to abandon Obama and the Democrats does not buck up their courage.  It just convinces them that maybe they do have to kow tow to the only voices they hear.

Apparently you believe in the silent majority of progressives.  Sorry to tell you that there is no such thing.  The majority is just as likely (as evidenced by polls) to believe what the Republicans are telling them.  If they then look and see that even progressives don’t support Obama, they figure the Repubs must be right and they vote that way.

Obama is leading us more in the direction the country has to go than the Republicans will.

Why do you have to impute eveil motives to President Obama?  Do you even consider the possibility that he may disagree with you mostly on tactics?  Is it possible that a man who managed to get himself elected President by more than just his rhetoric may know more about tactics than you do?

Do you ever stop to consider why Obama does what he does without first having it firmly fixed in your mind that he is a shill for the upper class?  Do the words, having an open mind mean anything to you?

Has your practicing the tactics of your choice managed to move this country in the direction of your choosing?

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By cruxpuppy, September 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

I had to bite my tongue after criticizing Thom Hartmann, ssg, because I love Thom Hartmann’s deeply felt progressivism. We have to change the Democratic Party from the inside by getting active, getting involved, just as we have to agitate and create pressure on Obama to give us what we want. Why? Why isn’t the Democratic Party & Obama speaking out loudly for a progressive agenda? Only at election time does it sound a tad progressive.

It’s a trap to suck up the energies of true progressives in futility.

Let’s see what he does with those tax cuts for the wealthy, let’s see if he stands up and criticizes the investor class as FDR did. His rhetoric about the middle class is just that.

The stability of society is at stake, just as it was in the 30’s. Ben Bernanke has been dictating the direction of the political economy. It is not a question of Democrat or Republican, but of the form of capitalism now prevailing, the corporate militarist financialist structure we have, which owns both parties and corrupts every ideal and principle. Obama could have fought the health insurers and led a populist revolt, but he took single payer off the table. HE did it. He framed the issue, and he chose not to confront the powers that be because he lacks courage.

It’s not a matter of patience, the politics of the possible, or political immaturity which cries out I want it and I want it right now or I’m not going to play! That’s another “con” to use a Hartmann term, just like it’s a con to say we have to force Obama to do it. On the contrary, it is maturity that allows one to recognize when the game is rigged and make the decision to change the game. But Obama pre-empted even this with his “change you can believe in” rhetoric.

No matter who gets into office, the survival of the status quo is the issue, not stem cell research or the bogus war on terror. Deflation is the issue and Bernanke is well aware of it. There is only one way to combat deflation, and it is not budget cutting. The Republicans are just as capable of stimulus spending as the Democrats when the survival of the current system is at stake. Republican opposition to Democratic programs is not principled, it is pure expediency. The continued slide of the economy will inspire them to betray the constituency of their own budget hawks and vote stimulus, too.

Obama is leading us nowhere this country needs to go and the two party structure is the reason. Third parties have been the only engine of substantial change this country has. Our system doesn’t work. We have to devise some means of proportional representation. We need non-aligned leadership to bring together the disaffected masses of independent voters who are sick and tired of having their energy sucked away by the Demopublicans.

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By ssg13565, September 4, 2010 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

It is odd to complain about no return to progressive taxation when Obama wants to replace the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy with a more effective stimulus program while leaving in place the tax cuts to the middle and lower classes.  If we allow Republicans to regain control, you can say good-bye to these steps toward progressive taxation.

A 1,000 mile journey apparently does not start with the first step.  If you don’t leap 1,000 miles instantly you might as well turn back.

Obama has made no changes to anything except for the ones you want to ignore by calling them trivial. 

That’s like the typical company quarterly report by companies who say we have made a profit except for some unusual items we can ignore because they say we didn’t make a profit.

This bank is profitable if we ignore the loan losses which say we are not profitable.

We made a lot of money with the rising value of our home if we ignore the bubble and the fact that our home isn’t really worth nearly that much.

What would the world be without the dreamers?

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By cruxpuppy, September 4, 2010 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

We have one party. There is no fundamental distinction in terms of policy. Obama is head of the Corporatist Finance Party. There has been no turning from war, no restoration of progressive taxation, no renewed respect for the Bill of Rights, no curb on the financialization of the economy.

Obama’s “change” is trivial. The extremism of Republicans is designed to create a contrast that doesn’t exist. Stem cell research is trivial, anti-Muslim extremism is trivial. The fundamentals don’t change. Obama observes these core principles, same as any Republican, in spite of staged managed differences.

Thom Hartmann is wrong in his support of he Democratic Party. It cannot be changed.

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By ssg13565, September 4, 2010 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

You know how to solve your disappointment with Obama.  Put the Republicans back in office.

They will repeal the health reform act as they have promised.  There won’t be any more stimulus packages from Republicans.  We know they prefer bank bailouts.  The TARP was Bush’s answer to the financial crisis.

Tax cuts for the middle class, sure after they give some more tax cuts for the wealthy.

Repairing crumbling bridges and roads, naw, that would hinder private enterprise.

Research using embryonic stem cells,  no way.  We’d rather throw away those frozen embryos than discover a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Increase the number of bank examiners and go after fraudulent bank executives.  What a waste of money.  We know how successful Reagan was in preventing the S&L disaster by refusing to let examiners examine the insolvent S&Ls;.  He cut the examiners budgets and refused to pay them decently or give them computers.  Now that’s the way a Republican carries out his executive responsibilities.

If you don’t like the intelligence reports that say Saddam Hussein didn’t have WMDs, then form your own defense intelligence agency to tell you what you already know for sure is the real truth.

While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the Arab speaking intelligence officers.  They might be able to understand what the terrorists are saying, but we can’t have gay people in the military.  It ruins unit cohesion.

These are all policies your friendly Republicans have brought to you.  They will be glad to bring them back.

But wait, there is even more.  This time it will be the Republican Tea Party.  If you thought the old Republicans were extreme, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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By de profundis clamavi, September 3, 2010 at 11:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here are two facts that may appear to have nothing to do with each other but which I believe are just opposite sides of the same coin. First, the Iraq war has cost $1 trillion. Second, the City of Pittsburgh, for lack of an estimated $75 million needed for refurbishment, last year closed Schenley High School, a Pittsburgh landmark since 1916 with 1,100 students, and the alma mater of many famous persons including Andy Warhol and George Benson. At $75 million each, the money wasted in Iraq could have funded the construction or refurbishment of 13,333 high schools like Schenley. Hold in your hand and examine closely this wretched coin, which is good for trillions of dollars for harebrained foreign military adventures on one side, but provides nothing whatsoever for badly neglected schools and other essential infrastructure and services on the other, and reflect on the sad fact that this worthless coin is the only significant “change” we can expect to see from this pathetic Obama presidency and a Congress controlled by “moderate” Democrats who might as well be Republicans. So what if the Republicans take back the House and the Senate in November? This country is already in an irreversible process of collapse. At least if Republicans are in charge when the whole structure crashes to the ground, there is some possibility that maybe some of the millions of brainwashed Ayn Rand believers out there will finally wake up and realise that they do, after all, depend on a society that takes care of all its people, not just the richest 1%.

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By cruxpuppy, September 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment

“Discouraged as I am about what Obama has not done, I still have to say that we, the American people who voted for him, must take our share of the responsibility.”

gerard, this self-flagellation is self-defeating. FDR did not undertake his progressive agenda because the people forced him too. He had courage and vision that were the foundation of his leadership. Obama has neither courage nor vision. What he has is rhetoric, a gift for oratory, and a confidant strut. FDR couldn’t walk, but his vision saved capitalism and created the middle class as we know it.

It may be painful to admit, but Obama is a calculated fraud, a stalking horse packaged by his handlers to short circuit a genuine populist uprising. He’s a token black man, like that curmudgeon justice elder Bush put on the court and that spineless, lying, former chairman of the military cabal. His color is the only historic thing about his presidency, and that color is there to deceive the left.

Obama’s election is a masterful coup by that shadowy element that controls the political life of this country.

Just notice that there has been no change in the agenda, no relief from unconstitutional policies,, no fundamental reform of any kind. Health care costs are going up and soon we will be forced to do business with the insurance companies whether we want to or not. Obama is making easy the path of BP so that it may escape its responsibilities, and we will soon come to realize, cooperating in a mini-genocide in the Gulf region.

Obama is a disappointment to those who elected him, but a compliant puppet for those who financed him and gave him his chance to strut on the stage.

And this is the fault of the people? No! Obama is no leader. He’s a seducer and a fraud.

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By AlanSmithee, September 3, 2010 at 11:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Screw your whiny lesser-evil bullshit and screw your corporate owned party.  I was quit with the democrats before.  I’m twice as quit now.

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By ssg13565, September 3, 2010 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

Let’s really show Obama a thing or two by getting more Republicans into office.

What if I can’t breathe through my missing nose? Who cares, at least I will have my revenge on Obama.

Former Boston Mayor Kevin White is quoted as saying, “Don’t compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

Did you people think Obama was almighty when you elected him?  If you did so, whose fault is that?

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By berniem, September 3, 2010 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

Me thinks our dear POTUS is too quick to turn pages and not study the content of each. Trying so hard to speed read to the end of the book without fully comprehending how and why it was written severly clouds one’s ability to comprehend what may be included in future volumes. As a Progressive who voted for and supported Obama financially I find all of this “looking forward, not back” and page turning nothing more than either complicity with what has gone before or cowardice in confronting immorality and criminality. Either way, I shan’t be voting for this breaker of promises again!

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By areukidding, September 3, 2010 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Are you kidding?  There’s nothing on his page or his plate.  He is simply an employee that says and does what his employer (whoever that is, the PTB) orders him to.  He’s our charade, fake president.

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By ssg13565, September 3, 2010 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

Senator Patrick Leahy was trying to start a truth commission in April of 2009.

More than a year later, is it still worth it to sign the petition?

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By ofersince72, September 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment

Senator Patrick Leahy is trying to start a truth
commission…

Please visit his website and sign the petition or go to

bushtruthcommission.com

please lend your name
it is what we have been looking for
many good things could happen

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By wanked, September 2, 2010 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would say more advertisements…....

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By gerard, September 2, 2010 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment

Discouraged as I am about what Obama has not done, I still have to say that we, the American people who voted for him, must take our share of the responsibility.  We have not been playing our role as active citizens for a long time.  We grew too comfortable and fearful of losing our goodies. We permitted Bush to let the Pentagon take over ahd attack Iraq even though more than half of the intelligent world was out in the streets portesting it. From then on, for years, it has been business as usual.
  When Obama was elected, in his very first speech he said something like:  “I have made promises.  I can’t keep them without your help.  I want you to make me do it.”  (The “make me do it” I remember as his exact words.)
  I blame the Democratic Party for not taking this as a sign of the importance of maintaining the active participation of the millions of people who elected him.  The party organization turned away and went into their business as usual, for they had not been paying attention to the people either—not for a very long time.
  It is one thing to blame Obama for the many mistakes he has made.  But ... it is unfair to lay it all on him.  Corporate domination of the American government has been taking over since World War II, and we have, if not contributed to it by negligence, at least allowed it to happen without awareness and objection. It’s been years since we knew that Wall Street was “too big to fail.” Let’s not pretend.
  We have looked away from the environment for years, too.  And all kinds of social injustice. And the growing gap between the rich and the poor. Our lack of participation now comes home to roost in the form of confusion and blame of him and of ourselves and of others who disagree with us.

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By cruxpuppy, September 2, 2010 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

This political analysis is nonsense. The next page of Obama’s script will be the same as the previous page. It tells the story of a guy so confounded by the lies he tells himself and others that he can’t actually lead. He will do whatever is necessary to keep himself in power. That is his guiding principle. Leadership requires courage, and this sorry individual has none.

You E J Dionne seem to think there is a there there. You keep hoping that after he has appeased the fascist militarists and given the troops a reason not to commit suicide, he will morph back into the progressive he seemed to be before he took office.

But guess what? He likes being commander-in-chief and this whole “nation-building” agenda is a real turn-on. The only thing that prevents him from telling the truth is himself, not political calculations about how to implement his secret progressive agenda and save the middle class.

The only person he really wants to save is himself and his own. He & Michelle are having a hot time, making beautiful memories.

This man can make a speech, but there’s no leadership there.

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By lolwut, September 2, 2010 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“EJ, can you really be that dense?”

Haha, he really *is* just that dense. Obama is good at
delivering speeches. Nothing more.

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By April Campbell, September 2, 2010 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama is toast. He forgot the little people. But why should he care? He’s worth millions, now. No doubt one of his daughters will marry a hedge fund operator, too.

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By Alejandro, September 2, 2010 at 8:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sad to say, but I feel betrayed and thrown under the bus by President Obama. He forgot very quickly, the old adadge(You Dance With The One Who Brung Ya).

In his zeal to be seen as a compromiser, he compromised our efforts to change the direction of our Country; away to the Right and Far-Right’s extremist views. And the Corprate bought Senators and Congressmen and Women are laughing all the way to the Bank. What a Cad he turned out to be…

The Hollowed out victories in Health-Care and Wall-Street reform are bones thrown to the masses to keep them at-bay. How sad.

I hope Dennis Kucinich challenges President Obama for the nomination in 2012. I am an Independent and will stay home this year thanks to this cowardly President.

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By balkas, September 2, 2010 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Ignore the glib tongue and verbal brilliance and only look-see. Even one bad eye would do to see what’s going on and on basis of what one sees, expect ever greater chasm in power [control of cia-fbi-police-amy echelons]between roughly speaking 90% of the population and the remainder.

And, of course, more, much more crimes against ‘alien’ civilians! We all who are not with uncle are now indians. And indian wars must go on.
For tiny and impoverished israel and large, but also impoverished, US. Also spricht bozhidarevski!tnx

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By Hammond Eggs, September 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm Link to this comment

” . . . and his reputation for political mastery in doubt.”

If Obama is a political master, then so was George Worthless Bush.  And if Bush was, and remains, a failure (as well as a criminal), then so does Obama.

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By FRTothus, September 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

EJ, can you really be that dense?  Most people do not see the war as an “error” or a “mistake”, catastrophic or otherwise (just as they do not view Vietnam as a “mistake”), but as fundamentally wrong, immoral and illegal, and they are correct.  And there are quite a few of us who absolutely DO “doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.”  Indeed, Obama’s “treatment” of the war criminal Bush the Lessor and his thugs is quite emblematic of this Administration’s failure to perform its primary task of executing the law and adhering to the US Constitution. 

“The finest fighting force that the world has ever known”?  Are both you and Obama referring to the poverty-draft soldiers who regularly kill unarmed civilians?  Or maybe the ones who tortured people in order to extract false confessions?  Or maybe the chicken-shit video-game soldiers who send cruise missiles into family homes and hospitals sewage treatment plants and wedding parties?  There is nothing honorable about the way the empire’s uniformed goons and hired mercenaries kill and destroy, nothing at all “fine” about them.  They bring shame to us, and should be brought up on war crimes charges themselves.

Many in this country and around the world were not and are not at all “conflicted” and have long not only “doubted” but rejected out-of-hand any alleged “wisdom” of a war of imperial aggression, no matter what the latest excuse has been trotted out by US officials and dutifully repeated by the likes of Dionne and others, like the good little press agents for whoever is in power they are.

There is no mystery as to why it is “difficult” to “restore confidence in the course on which [Obama] has set the nation.”  The corporate appeaser’s own track record is why he has so little credibility.  Obama has, at every turn, betrayed the progressive cause, and has shown himself to be as venal as his predecessor, and as obtuse.

“And in the general hardening of outlook that set in ... practices which had been long abandoned - imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions ... and the deportation of whole populations - not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive.”
(George Orwell, 1984)

“The problem the United States faces is that almost all of its invasions violate international law, and sometimes, as in the case of Iraq, in a blatant manner. So how do the political elite and the news media reconcile this contradiction? Simple: They ignore it. It is virtually unthinkable for a mainstream U.S. reporter to even pursue this issue.”
(John Nichols and Robert McChesney)

“You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else’s life. They’re plenty loud and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and legislatures and congress. That’s their business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vain. Our noble dead.”
(Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun)

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By gerard, September 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Dionne:  I believe you are over-optimistic. The speech seemed vague to me, where specifics of what will actually be done were almost non-existent.The economy was mentioned, as was education, need to create jobs, cut dependence on foreign oil; then some vague lip service to innovation, ideas, new products, and then what will be done for returning vets. (Actually most of the speech seemed to be an attempt to justify Iraq, and by extention, Afghanistan.)
  People are starving for specific information about just exactly what this enormous government that can spend (waste?) a trillion on wars will do for them when they can’t pay their mortgages, can’t buy enough food for the kids (not to mention education), can’t pay for dental work, can’t ever afford a concert or a trip to the shore or the mountains, or fill their gas tank.
  It is disappointing to see—and feel—the gaps widening between the American people and their (theoretically speaking) government in Washington.
  Where are the specifics?  If Washington can’t come up with some real program, the people must, and will—eventually.

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By Steve E, September 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

Yup, Barry is turning the page to the subject of, how to gut Social Security. I now
find any of his speeches to be a a lead up to a great con job on the horizon.

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Peetawonkus's avatar

By Peetawonkus, September 1, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Dionne’s critique of Obama’s speech delivers the effective case that Obama is a brilliant appeaser.

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