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Robert Kuttner -- The speech Obama should make to change the tone

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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:54 PM
Original message
Robert Kuttner -- The speech Obama should make to change the tone
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 12:55 PM by Armstead
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-kuttner/changing-t...
Robert Kuttner
Changing The Tone
EXCERPT

"My fellow Americans. I ran for president to do two things -- to change the tone of bitter partisanship in Washington, and to accomplish constructive economic change so that more Americans can share the blessings of prosperity. I need to speak candidly to you tonight. Despite my best efforts, I find that I cannot do both things. You see, it takes two to compromise....

Those of you who voted for the opposition had every right to do so. But the vast majority of Americans did not vote to slash public spending on children, university students, the elderly, the disabled, the sick, and people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. You did not vote to blame the recession on nurses, teachers, police and fire-fighters or to punish them for the sins of Wall Street.

The budget debate that has dominated the headlines has emphasized numbers -- mind numbing numbers. Will Congress cut $70 billion dollars, or $50 billion dollars, or $100 billion dollars? But let me tell you, this budget debate is not just about numbers. It's about whether kids who are eligible for Head Start are denied places in the classroom. Whether community health centers shut down. Whether students who want a chance to go to college are denied Pell Grants. Whether our families have safe drinking water and pure food. Whether Americans who are unemployed through no fault of their own lose their health insurance. And whether the most affluent Americans get still more tax cuts.

We have done our best to find a middle ground. But the opposition party keeps moving the goal posts on us. No sooner do we come to terms over a compromise to keep the government open than the price goes up. The price of keeping the government, it turns out, is to cripple the government and the services that it provides. Deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are next.

Well, not while I'm president. I am here to say tonight that we are not going to balance the budget on the backs of kids, or elderly Americans, or sick people, or working families...... So I will continue my efforts to change the tone in Washington. But sometimes that requires firmness in the face of reckless destruction...."

This is the leader I thought I was voting for. Judging by his performance so far, I was wrong.....

END EXCERPT....MORE at link
-----------
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jaxx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
1. When did Kuttner throw his hat into the ring?
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. That is a cop out -- Kuttner works hard to promote change...
The implication that anyone not running for President has no right to criticize the President is BS.
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jaxx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. They can criticize all day long.
But they can't write what they want him to say and pass it off as reality. Everytime the President gives a speech we are inundated with bloggers writing their idea of the perfect speech. Ho hum.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. yeah, focus on style not substance
personally, i think it is a fine way to present a critique is to offer an alternative for consideration. He is not passing it off as "reality"

You find that stupid? Fine. But how about addressing the actual content if you want to toss another progressive under the bus.
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jaxx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:38 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. I don't write the Presidents speeches, or pretend to.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 02:12 PM
Response to Reply #13
21. Oh your're just defelecting...How ablout at least criticizing the substance?
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 02:40 PM by Armstead
What exactly in the overall point of that column do you object to and disagree with?

If you think it is BS because you don't think Obama should be so blunt or something, fine. An honest difference of opinion. But your offhand jabs about whether or not he should have put in the form of a speech he'd like to hear is just silly nitpicking.
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jaxx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #21
25. There was no substance. It was a rant disguised as a speech.
I can't give credibility where none is due.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. Do you disagree that Obama could address exactly what....
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 06:05 PM by Armstead
....the GOP agenda is in direct terms, instead of trying so hard to placate them and call a spade a spade?

Did you read the article or just the excerpt?

Here's another excerpt.....

Obama's tactics could be one way for him to win re-election. He puts himself above party, hangs progressive Democrats out to dry, and lets Republican recalcitrance move the political center further and further to the right. When he eventually gets a budget deal, it doesn't matter to him that it is mostly on Republican terms. He wins points for keeping the government open....


There is another way for Obama to win, by showing some toughness, standing up for principle, and exposing the sheer extremism of the Tea Party capture of the Republicans.

Can he work up the nerve? It would certainly change the tone in Washington.
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jaxx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. PBO is plenty tough.
Him ripping the teabaggers would make them happy, why would he do that? Really going down to their level isn't productive.

The President hasn't hung Democrats out to dry, but some of them have done their damnedest to bring him down.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 06:19 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. I'll disagree, but thank you for an answer on the substance
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Bake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #13
32. I just realized what your graphic is **really** saying.
Obama has turned his back on his base. Hell, he's turned his back on the middle class.

Debate it, pooh pooh it if you wish. But that's what it says to a LOT of us.

Bake
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sudopod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 05:28 PM
Response to Reply #1
26. Christ on a cracker, can't people have an opinion? nt
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:03 PM
Response to Original message
2. The President's
speech was much better.

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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:06 PM
Response to Original message
3. Kuttner either knows...
...better, or should. The evidence has been clear for almost a decade.

Such a speech wouldn't move the landscape much, if at all. Didn't for Reagan, didn't for Clinton....wouldn't for Obama.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. That is defeastist
In overall terms Reagan accomplished exactly what he set out to do. he may have bargained and compromised along the way, but in the broad sense, he stood on a set of principals (wrongheaded as they were) and made a fundamental shift in American political culture and the framework of issues to the right.
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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Reagan followed, not led...
...or we'd have invaded Nicaragua -- we didn't. Same thing with Clinton -- or we'd have health insurance reform half a generation ago.

Reagan's successes were all convincing Americans to accept things they wanted anyways -- lower taxes and increased government spending aren't all that tough to sell.

Read the book -- it's an eye-opener.
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ThatPoetGuy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. You haven't read it, have you.
I have.

Read George Lakoff. Learn a thing or two.
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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Own a well-thumbed copy, n/t
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:30 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. I will check the book out but....
(I won't get into Nicaragua....That was a real mess.)

You are correct that Reagan's success was in convincing Americans to accept things they wanted anyways. But that is the point.

The "liberal agenda" or progressive populism or whatever you want to call it also includes many things Americans already want. The problem is that the Democratic Party stopped trying to sell that long ago, and instead basically reinforced GOP talking points. Part of the reason was corruption and part of it was timidity or short-sightedness.

Clinton lost health care for a combination of reasons. Part of it was too many Congressional Democrats were against his plan. But as big part is that it was a bad plan to begin with. It was convoluted, confusing and -- worst of all -- it was designed to placate Big Healthcare.

My basic point is that for far too long the Democratic message has been muddy and mixed, while the GOP has a clear (although awful) ideological agenda. The problem is that the lack of clarity from our own party leaders make it more likely that more voters will turn to the GOP
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ThatPoetGuy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. I thought you were joking when I saw your examples...
Reagan and Clinton both changed the way Americans think about issues, and they did it through their rhetoric.

But then you posted a link to Edwards' _On Morons' Ears_ -- sorry, _On Deaf Ears_, one of the least intelligent books that's ever been written.

Here's a quick example.

Reagan used his "bully pulpit" to condemn "welfare queens," repeatedly. It changed the way Americans talked about welfare, the way Americans thought about welfare. Reagan's discussion of "welfare queens" led to steady, systematic welfare cuts, and a near-total dismantling of the welfare system under Clinton.

But to George C. the Moron Edwards, THAT DIDN'T COUNT... because the legislative changes didn't take place until after Reagan left office.

Presidential rhetoric, the bully pulpit, has the power to affect the way people think about issues, for generations. George Edwards ignored anything that didn't fit into his tight, stupid box -- immediate legislative accomplishments, which can be overturned in months.

Kuttner is on target. No matter how conciliatory Obama is, a bunch of Americans will blame him for failing to work with the Republicans. It's long past time for Obama to use the bully pulpit.
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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:39 PM
Response to Reply #7
14. Reagan's 'welfare queen' attack...
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 01:39 PM by Davis_X_Machina
...was already twenty years old when he made it. One of the things one takes away from Perlstein's Nixonland is how old these things were by the time Reagan came along, and how many Nixon retreads were in the Reagan operation.

Reagan reaped what he did not sow.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. And that is the opportunioty Obama has now
The ground is currently very fertile for seeds of discontent among liberals and progressives -- and the less identified discontents of the American people with the oligarchic status quo.

If Obama and the Democratic leadership fail to recognize that, and fail to cultivate it with some straight talk and smart [politics, then we will blow the chance to set the pendulum swinging back in our direction,
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ThatPoetGuy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #14
20. Johnny Appleseed didn't create the appleseed, you know.
He just sowed them widely.

Your "Reagan didn't invent the 'welfare queen' attack" is a non-sequitur.

According to Susan Douglas, it was with Reagan's 1976 campaign, when he used the term "welfare queen" to describe a Chicago woman, Linda Taylor, that the term entered the national discourse.

Reagan described Taylor over and over as the "Cadillac-driving welfare queen," despite the fact that she went to prison for stealing a total of $8,000 over a period of years. His sowing of this seed led to the changing tides of welfare reform under Clinton.

_On Deaf Ears_ doesn't count that sort of thing. It falls outside the author's limited view -- his blindness and stupidity. He ONLY measures use of the bully pulpit vs. immediate legislative accomplishments, which is an incredibly stupid way to view the use of the bully pulpit.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. It's amazing how prophetic Barry Goldwater was
He got skunked because he seemed far too extreme, and he described himself as extreme.

But the ideas he had took hold and bore fruit with Reagan.

Now Goldwater would be considered a moderate.
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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. Anything *except* legislation....
...is cheerleading.

The point of governing is to govern.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. His cheerleading eventually led to legislation
Although he got the snot kicked out of himself in the election, her did open the door for more successful right wingers who knocked down the door, like Reagan.

Governing (and campaigning) is a mix of hard politics but mixed with cheer-leading and educating to pave the way for that.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:44 PM
Response to Original message
15. "Those of you who voted for the opposition had every right to do so." Krugman:
Oh, and for all those older Americans who voted GOP last year because those nasty Democrats were going to cut Medicare, I have just one word: suckers!

link


Much better! (Though I don't expect the President to say this).

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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. That's much better -- But he can say the same thing in more polite terms
Which is what Kuttner did. Not as blunt as Krugman but more clear than Obama's complete avoidance of the fact that the GOP agenda is a con job.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. " Which is what Kuttner did." Which is why
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 01:55 PM by ProSense
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. This seemsd to me to be clear but not insulting (to anyone but the hard core Teabaggers)
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 01:59 PM by Armstead
"Those of you who voted for the opposition had every right to do so. But the vast majority of Americans did not vote to slash public spending on children, university students, the elderly, the disabled, the sick, and people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. You did not vote to blame the recession on nurses, teachers, police and fire-fighters or to punish them for the sins of Wall Street.

The budget debate that has dominated the headlines has emphasized numbers -- mind numbing numbers. Will Congress cut $70 billion dollars, or $50 billion dollars, or $100 billion dollars? But let me tell you, this budget debate is not just about numbers.

It's about whether kids who are eligible for Head Start are denied places in the classroom. Whether community health centers shut down. Whether students who want a chance to go to college are denied Pell Grants. Whether our families have safe drinking water and pure food. Whether Americans who are unemployed through no fault of their own lose their health insurance. And whether the most affluent Americans get still more tax cuts.

Although the Republican Party is increasingly captured by the Tea Party, I just don't believe most Americans voted for these slash and burn cuts that will only harm our economy.

We have done our best to find a middle ground. But the opposition party keeps moving the goal posts on us....."
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okieinpain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 11:14 AM
Response to Original message
30. I don't mind the critiquing, just show me where it works. I feel
strongly about a lot of things but it doesn't mean it will fly in the real world. personally I think president obama has done a great job, I know others here feel he hasn't. that's fine with me but when you criticize please show me where it has worked in the real world, not just where you feel it would.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 11:23 AM
Response to Reply #30
31. It's never given a chance in the "real world"
Edited on Tue Apr-05-11 11:27 AM by Armstead
Democratic leaders (not all Democrats, but the "centrist" ones) always avoid really engaging on the basis of how destructive the GOP Conservative agenda is, and how liberalism is a necessary counterweight to that.

The article was not suggesting the Obama do anything rash or radical. Simply suggesting that Obama does not spell out the real stakes in the battle with the GOP and their philosophy -- and he should be more direct about it.

The article is suggesting that Obama make it clear what the GOP is doing in strong direct terms, instead of giving legitimacy to the GOP and their goals.

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