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Monday, September 3, 2012

David Brooks, "The Elevator Speech": How About Something Other Than the "Big Lie"?

“Innocence, Once Lost, Can Never Be Regained. Darkness, Once Gazed Upon, Can Never Be Lost.”
― John Milton

Do you remember how Obama was once expected to raise the level of national discourse and put an end to rancorous partisanship? Like "Hope" and "Change," this dream has crashed and burned.

In his latest New York Times op-ed, "The Elevator Speech" (, David Brooks tells us that in 2009, Obama's "mission was to avert the worst of the financial crisis," and that in 2010, "it was to expand health insurance coverage;" however, following his first two years in office, Obama has lost his sense of purpose:

"During this time, you knew what Barack Obama was about, where his priorities lay. But, since 2010, that has not been the case. Since then, Representative Paul Ryan has been driving the Washington policy debate with his plan to cut spending and restructure entitlements. President Obama, meanwhile, has produced a string of budgets so inconsequential that members of his own party have not even noticed them."

Brooks is correct, and given that Ryan has been driving the policy debate, Democrats are now preoccupied with demonizing the Republican vice presidential candidate, even to the point of ignoring Romney.

Paul ("The Conscience of a Liberal") Krugman is describing claims that "a Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare" as "Ryan’s big lie — and, yes, it deserves that designation" (

And California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention, has just gone one step further and compared Ryan with Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany. As reported by the SF Gate blog (

"'They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie… Joseph Goebbels – it’s the big lie, you keep repeating it,' Burton said Monday before the Blake Hotel breakfast. He said Ryan told 'a bold-faced lie and he doesn’t care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie.'"

Yes, Obama and the Democrats have turned dangerously negative.

In his opinion piece today, Brooks goes on to say that Obama, at the Democratic convention, could "double down on green energy and green technology," address "broken capitalism," and embrace "Bowles-Simpson," before acknowledging his readiness to accept significantly less from the president:

"But, mostly, I wish he’d be for something. I wish he’d rise above the petty tactical considerations that have shrunk him over the past two years. I wish he’d finally define what he stands for. A liberal populist? A Clintonian moderate? At some point, you have to choose.

Four years ago, Obama said we could no longer postpone tackling the big problems. But now he seems driven by a fear of defeat. His proposals seem bite-size. If Obama can’t tell us the big policy thing he wants to do, he doesn’t deserve a second term."

Sorry, David, but don't be expecting too much from a campaign that will say anything to keep its candidate in power. You "wish he’d be for something"? Well, Obama is for . . . Obama.

Me? I'd be happy if Obama would rein in his troops, including Joe ("put y'all back in chains") Biden, and explain that overheated language can be just as dangerous as a handgun. But don't be expecting too much out of Charlotte. "Hope" has fallen by the wayside.

1 comment:

  1. "Well, Obama is for . . . Obama."
    Of course. I didn't vote for "Hope, unity, change." Most certainly I am not going to vote ... nothing. "Hope, unity, change" was of course nothing too.
    And, frankly, Ryan is for Ryan. Ideologically so. "Objectivism" is barbaric.
    The real problem is, frankly, somewhere else.
    There are profound systemic problems and it looks like it's too late to fix. Not a single country is able to survive the barbarity of concentrated wealth in the hand of so few and an impoverishment of so many.
    We'll see a tragic end of Calvinist "the rich are rich because they deserve to be rich." A failed experiment. Roosevelt (Franklin, or actually both) was really smart.
    But look ... Obama has been posturing as ... Reagan (when not as Lincoln ... well...). And yes, like Reagan he might be a teflon president. Give the crowd a big smile ...
    Obviously, I don't see any reason to be optimistic.