The banner above is from the White House website. I’ve got to ask, where was this political activism this time last year when Republicans were poised to eviscerate the Democratic majority? Because Obama wasn’t on the ballot it was nowhere to be found. So, as much as I applaud the sentiment that is behind what’s happening today, Pres. Obama now deciding to crib from Occupy Wall Street while invoking Teddy Roosevelt sounds like another political pitch that’s all about him to me.
In Osawatomie, Kansas, Pres. Obama will attempt to take his message to Republicans, who no longer represent the party they once were, while reaching the 99%. With language intended to conjure up Teddy Roosevelt’s 1910 “square deal” speech, using ““a fair shot and a fair shake,” Pres. Obama is once again making the pitch he made at the Democratic convention in 2004: there is not a blue America or a red America, etc. The non-partisan politician people once loved and voted into 1600 Pennsylvania once again on stage.
The patter is “Obama channels Teddy Roosevelt,” but that’s not quite right. What Pres. Obama is doing is channeling Occupy Wall Street and all the Occupy movements across the country, hoping to blast your message wide while simultaneously attaching himself to it, but without you getting credit for it.
It’s as clever as it is dishonest, a political master stroke by Obama reelect that is so cynical it could only come from one of the two big corporate, Wall Street parties.
As for Teddy Roosevelt, he gave his big speech after he left his party. It’s also nothing new for Barack Obama to mimic Republican presidents, with Teddy Roosevelt reportedly the latest Obama will cite.
Last year when the Democratic majority was a stake there was no effort at all from the White House to get out and make the Democratic economic message, which before Pres. Obama has always boiled down to “a fair shot and a fair shake,” a “square deal.” The result was a historic shift in state legislatures, as well as an opening made for the austerity club to take hold of Congress. When Pres. Obama decided to side with insurance companies on health care, adopt Republican economics, as well as extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, while squandering his initial Democratic majority to do something far more economically geared to the middle class that would push back on the austerity club, the Democratic branding built up over decades disappeared.
After you watch or read about the speech, let me know what you think.
A teaser from yesterday from the Washington Post:
Obama’s address in Osawatomie aims to “put into broader perspective the kind of debates we’ve been having to build an economic future in this country,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
“It’s abundantly clear, and was clear even prior to this most recent economic crisis,” Carney added, “that the middle class in this country has been squeezed for a long time, and most especially in the last decade. . . prior to this president coming into office.”
Roosevelt gave his New Nationalism speech after finishing two terms in office. Frustrated with the stout conservatism of his hand-picked replacement, William Howard Taft, Roosevelt sought to press a more progressive agenda that would regulate corporations and the railroad industry, extend food and drug protections and provide federal assistance to the poor and middle-class, said Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of American History at American University.
“It was a crystallizing speech that did what Obama wants to do, which is throw down the gauntlet,” Lichtman said. Having identified with Abraham Lincoln during his inauguration and now with Roosevelt, Lichtman added, Obama is “trying to show how far the Republican Party has strayed, trying to draw a contrast between a narrow, cramped, corporate Republican party and the party of Lincoln and Roosevelt that sought liberty and represented ordinary people.”
… Roosevelt “was criticized by members of his party,” said one administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to lay out White House strategy. “That’s why he ultimately left his party and gave the speech. . .We’re at a crossroads here.”