One of the things I think I wish Obama would do differently is explain issues to the American people, and then sometimes I wish he’d stop. People are always talking about the ‘bully pulpit’ as if anyone knows what that expression really means, or even if there is such a thing. But they like to point out that the president has a lot of power to set the agenda, though most of the time he doesn’t. “It’s the economy, stupid,” is a good quote, but the important word in the quote is ‘stupid.’ We are.
Obama is out there now trying to get the focus back on the economy, and how is that going? Well, when he DOESN’T go out and give the Big Speech, people say he’s ‘disengaged,’ ‘adrift,’ and therefore to blame. If he stays at his desk and works on an agenda, he’s not ‘working with Congress,’ and nothing will get passed, and he’s to blame. If he tries working with Congress, he’s ‘dangerously naïve,’ because Congress obviously isn’t going to pass anything, so he’s to blame.
So out he goes to give the Big Speech. And no sooner does he open his mouth than Mike Allen in his morning Playbook says “That approach risks his embodying the Republican caricature of him as a rhetoric addict who schedules a speech anytime he can’t think of anything better to do.” So there you have it. And then later in the same post Allen goes ahead and reports that Karl Rove said on Fox News after the speech, “This guy can’t do anything except go give a speech, blame somebody else and talk about political posturing while he is spending over an hour politically posturing …” and confirms his own hypothesis. Obama is to blame.
What can be done about the economy? The main issues at this point are two: Stimulus and fairness. Stimulus vs. austerity has been the donkey and elephant in the room since Obama took office, and still is. Little left to be said about that. Fairness is the thing we should be talking about more now. Minimum wage and universal pre-K would be a good place to start. And wealth disparity? Everyone says there’s nothing you can do about that, forgetting, of course, the old saying, “If you want less of something, tax it.” Hmmm, taxing wealth disparity. We used to!