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Chutzpah! Obama's Black Caucus Speech

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President Barack Obama told blacks on Saturday to quit crying and complaining and "put on your marching shoes" to follow him into battle for jobs and opportunity. AP

Follow him? If the President wants anyone to follow him, he had better start leading -- something he has consistently failed to do since his inauguration. He did not lead while the health reform debate devolved into a national joke and coughed up a bill that Americans still do not understand. He did not lead the march for job creation when the economy proved to be in much worse shape than his economic advisors had forecast. As a matter of fact, he did the opposite: he publicly made the Republican case for job-killing austerity measures while trumpeting his willingness to weaken entitlements on which the middle class depend.

The President said that "blacks need to have faith in the future and understand that the fight won't be won if they don't rally to his side." Suddenly, there is a "fight" in the President's mind.

Since the election, the Obama administration's working theory has been that the first-best outcome is striking a deal with Speaker John Boehner and, if that fails, the second-best outcome is showing that they genuinely, honestly wanted to strike a deal with Speaker John Boehner. - Washington Post

Some fight -- compromise your principles or desperately try to compromise them. Now, suddenly, it's election season, and he's magically switched from conciliating to fighting. Unfortunately, this is not the fight for the longevity of the American dream; it is not a fight for a restoration of a vibrant middle class. It's more craven than that. It is a fight for his own job. That is the only cause for which this President has displayed a "fire in the belly." Come election time, he is all feisty speeches, ultimatums and "bring it on," bluster. The day after the election, he is the Cave Man -- the one who caves to the slightest right wing pressure to sacrifice the promises he made during his election phase, like the promise he made to defend Social Security, like the promise he made to reform the Patriot act and to robustly defend labor rights.

As if chiding his black audience for laziness, he told them to "take off your bedroom slippers. Shake it off. Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'. We are going to press on. We have work to do."

His audience applauded. How desperate are we to see a black face in high office that we applaud insults. We're supposed to stop complaining that Obama has consistently ignored the economic advice that turned out to be correct -- and continues to employ the economic advisors who have been wrong about everything -- who have helped craft the policies that have done nothing to heal an economy with tens of millions of Americans unemployed, underemployed, frightened, and desperate.

As if to preening before a mirror in his shiny suit of self-righteousness, Obama has tested a theory of governance that bespoke naivete to the point of dilettantism. Washington Post again:

...That was the thinking that led the White House to reward the GOP's debt-ceiling brinksmanship by offering Boehner a "grand bargain" that cut Social Security, raised the Medicare age, and included less new revenue than even the bipartisan Gang of Six had called for. It was also a theory that happened to fit Obama's brand as a postpartisan uniter and his personal preferences for campaigning on achievements rather than against his opponents. But though it came close to happening, the "grand bargain" ultimately fell apart. Twice.

The collapse of that deal taught them two things: Boehner doesn't have the internal support in his caucus to strike a grand bargain with them, and the American people don't give points for effort.

What American does not know that his/her countrymen value results over intent when it comes to politics? What American does not know that his countrymen admire strength and hold weakness in contempt? Barack Obama and his advisers did not know. Or were they so blinded by the bright, shiny image of themselves as Messianic post-partisans that they ignored the facts repeatedly slapping them about the face?

Obama has no right to demand that anyone follow him. He hasn't led us anywhere worth going. He hasn't even tried. He's been too busy polishing his mirror image as a post-partisan "better than that" non-politician, despite running as a bona fide progressive promising a bold, progressive agenda.

How many Americans' jobs and savings and houses and children's educations has he sacrificed to his preferred self image? Until he publicly acknowledges that he was wrong to do so, how can we trust him or follow him -- or vote for him again?

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