The fighting spirit shown by President Obama in recent days suggests to me, and is confirmed by White House sources, that a defining moment has arrived for the Obama presidency. Great!
If the president campaigns in the tradition of Truman in 1948, and Democrats campaign with the ferocity that Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) showed when he pulverized Sharron Angle in 2010, an epic campaign has begun that will turn a national spotlight on a Republican Party of know-nothings who promote an ideology that gravely damages the nation and do-nothings who blockade progress with an uncontrollable lust for power.
Listening to Republican leaders and watching Republican debates makes the GOP today appear to be a party run amok. It denies science, reason, facts and even, at times, the president's birth. They attack and abuse core interests of a majority of voters. Their tactics are often alien to the basic notions of civility, moderation, fair compromise and respect that constitute the American idea.
The president asks the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, who live in luxury at a time of widespread hardship, to make a tiny sacrifice -- and Republicans accuse him of class warfare?
Democrats in Congress offer bills to create jobs for two years, and Senate Republicans oppose with more obstructionism than was ever shown by the most racist senators from the segregated South, who didn't filibuster every bill that would put Americans to work.
House Republicans would destroy Medicare and turn this revered government program into a subsidy for insurers while they attack a long list of programs vital to women. A leading Republican presidential candidate calls Social Security a criminal enterprise and writes that it is un-American. A previous GOP front-runner sought the presidency by attacking the president's birth certificate. Should laid-off workers without health insurance die because of some weird notion of responsibility? Stay tuned.
What kind of people do they think we are? The "Blame Americans First" Republicans act as though our problems are caused by overpaid police, greedy teachers, the Firefighters Local 23, fence-climbing Hispanics with contorted faces pictured in GOP ads or lazy, jobless bums who some Republicans say prefer to be jobless while they wait in long lines at job fairs with their prayers and pain.
What kind of a nation do they think we are? The "Hope America Fails" Republicans seem to rejoice with every new layoff, exploiting human pain to achieve political power while they oppose jobs bills.
It is incredible that many Republicans oppose new energy sources that would make America independent and create jobs while the Chinese pour money into them because they seek to dominate the future that the "Blame Americans First" Republicans would surrender to them.
These Republicans act like the equivalent of taxpayer-paid lobbyists for the government of China, opposing American firms, American jobs, American independence and America's economic future.
For Obama and Democrats it is time for Truman. While it is a difficult hour for Obama, his poll numbers make him look like Mount Rushmore compared to those of House Republicans, who are so unpopular they could be swept aside in a landslide. Doesn't Mitt Romney resemble Tom Dewey? Doesn't Rick Perry sometimes resemble Strom Thurmond in 1948?
In November 1947, Clark Clifford wrote a famous memo to Harry Truman about how to win in 1948. The president and Democratic leaders read the entire memo, which you can read here.
Clifford wrote to Truman that the winning campaign includes a fighting spirit that unites progressives and independents.
The idealism of JFK, the reformism of Ross Perot, the toughness of Harry Reid and the fighting spirit of Truman will make today's headlines look like ancient history long before ballots are cast in 2012.
This column was originally published at The Hill.
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