Hallelujah! President Obama finally did what everyone with an eye and an ear has been screaming at him to do for the past year. And that's hit back, and hit back hard against the GOP. No more mister nice guy, no more courtly gestures, no more personal and political diplomacy, no more pointless camp meetings with and toward the GOP. Millions cheered Mr. President when you called out the powerful interests that dominate the agenda in Washington at the Labor Day rally in Milwaukee and then slammed them for talking about you like a dog. They've done more than talk, though.
The GOP has shown that it can play the race card, whip up a populist revolt to a fever pitch, and hog the airwaves with some of the most outrageous slurs, lies and slanders against Obama's political agenda and him. The attacks have worked and for much of the time they've forced Obama to walk a tight tightrope on health care, and financial reform, and follow the war hawks screech to dump billions more on what's fast shaping up to be another hopeless no win quagmire in Afghanistan, and wage a slander campaign against by a hack talk show host and a blogger that panicked the White House into canning political appointee Van Jones, and nearly canning Shirley Sherrod.
There was not a peep of a public call-out from the White House of South Carolina congressman, Joe Wilson, who shouted that "you lie" during Obama's seminal congressional speech last January, or the GOP congressman who walked out during Obama's speech, or the GOP congresspersons and senators who sat on their hands and glared at Obama in icy silence during his congressional speeches. The agony and frustration at Obama's silence grew when there was not a peep of indignation from the White House at the legion of conservative web sites and bloggers that have virtually turned vilifying, pillorying and even making flat-out death threats against him into a fun-and-game sport.
There was not a hint of an outburst from the White House at Glenn Beck and the legion of Beck types who totally dominate the talk radio airwaves. They have turned slurring Obama into a lucrative growth industry. The growth industry grew even bigger with Beck's grotesque mock and dishonor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement at his Lincoln Mall rally. There was not a murmur of outrage from Obama at the throngs who carried the packs of borderline and openly racist hate placards, signs, Confederate flags, and Texas state flags at the Taxpayer protest march. Instead, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs last September gently told reporters that Obama did not see any racial motives in the taxpayer protests.
Obama's long awaited, and long overdue hit back at the GOP in his Milwaukee speech whet the appetite for more tough talk against his sworn enemies. That means tearing another page out of the playbook of FDR and Harry Truman, two Democrats who knew a little something about how to get down and dirty with the opposition. FDR knew he was in a political life and death, take no prisoners war with his political enemies -- the GOP, ultra conservative Democrats, Wall Street, the big bankers and big manufacturers. He repeatedly lambasted them as obstructionists and economic royalists.
When the GOP and the press wrote the epitaph for FDR midway through his second term in 1938 and a decade later wrote the same epitaph for Truman both came out swinging. FDR again took to the airwaves and blasted the economic royalists. Truman did much the same in 1948. He tooled through the nation with his famed whistle stop train campaign and hammered the GOP dominated Congress for obstructing his program of reform. Truman fired up the Democrat's traditional base-- labor, minorities, farmers, and urban blue collar workers. He inspired millions of Americans and in the process he kept the presidency. FDR and Truman were in a war to the political death with the GOP, and they knew it.
Obama is in the same dirty war, and with the same high stakes. The GOP has made absolutely no effort to mask its loathe of his policies and presidency, and have made it clear they will stop at nothing to bounce him from office. They'll be even more bellicose, intransigent and war like against him and his agenda if they score big in the mid-term elections.
The time for making nice with the GOP is long past. Obama showed that in his Milwaukee speech when he hit back hard at it. Now Mr. President, keep hitting back hard at it.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
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