President Barack Obama in the White House Green Room, October 2010
Push and pull once made for good politics and lively campaigns. And achievement used to count. Take Strom Thurmond; despite his horrific rhetoric on civil rights, his defense of segregation, (full disclosure: I’m African-American), I voted for him. When I was unemployed but actively seeking work, a phone call to his office and a 70 minute walk (saving bus fare), and I was a GS-10 in less than 72 hours. And after he invoked cloture on Jesse Helms’ filibuster of the King Holiday Bill, and delivered sewer, paved and lighted streets, and safety grants to SC’s small predominantly black towns, I voted by the deed rather than the word.
Now, the first African-American President and his party face the opposite problem. They have been matchless in acting for progress, but can’t get the message out. They have delivered, but have weak defenses and little attack. Quick: what is Chris Coon’s position on social security?
Democrats can’t actually find anyone to blame because they are too busy being blamed. “Job killing” is a mantra stickier and more frustrating than crazy glue. Yet, Politifact says that Pelosi’s statement is true that there were more private-sector jobs created in the first eight months of 2010 than in the entire eight years of the Bush administration which showed a net loss after two terms. Want smaller government? Federal & state government jobs increased by 1.7 million in 8 years under Bush, but have fallen by 357 thousand since President Obama took office. The Democrats increased private sector jobs and shrunk the government’s playroll.
Extracting a point of fallen and bruised truth, shredded by spin: austerity doesn’t bring prosperity; tax cuts will not stimulate demand or create jobs. Despite this obvious truth, a South Carolina commenter replied to me last week in a local paper that “the rich will buy a lot more groceries with a tax cut.”
Question: Fed Ex announced 45,000 temporary openings for the holidays, corporations are sitting on close to $2 trillion in cash, and Bank of America earned $2.78 billion in profit in the July quarter. Has outsourcing, cash hoarding, and profit expansion inhibited and blocked job growth? Especially since, Republican job one is to defeat the President?
The President Addressing the Joint Session of Congress, 2010
Could it be that the new source of wealth and prosperity is sourced in the permanent lose of jobs (Republicans want to dismantle the safety net, shifting even more wealth to corporations)? Might this new truth be hidden by the political spin of its own complaint?
That complaint, that Democrats have overspent, stimulated fear, and not messaged well, has partial truth. But it does not equal the massive truth of the Republican lies and distortions and wackiness. DeMint, Boehner, McConnell, Cantor and the others are no Strom Thurmond. Thurmond didn’t neglect the message to his base or service to his constituents, and did both aggressively, delivering the goods by word and deed, even when they were at odds and while getting his fair share, never uttered blame.
Mississippi sharecropping family, 1937. Dorothea Lange Photograph.