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Obama's Speech Potential Game-Changer... But Only if He Follows Through

Posted: 07/26/11 10:50 AM ET

--Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
--Hotspur: Why so can I, or so can any man;/ But, will they come when you do call for them?--Henry IV, Part 1, III,i.

President Obama, finally, did what I had thought he would do on all big issues when I supported and worked for his election: he went over the heads of Congress and the DC-elite and appealed directly for public pressure.

Now, one can only hope that this constitutes a basic change in the president's view of his cherished bipartisanship, viz., that bipartisanship arises not from a series of premature surrenders to prove one's good faith, but rather from using his rhetorical and organizing skills to muster intense public pressure against members of Congress so that they will "enjoy" joining the cause.

But, he must follow through, an unusual action for Democrats who seem to have a perverse tendency to believe that winning the argument is sufficient, and thus tend not to repeat, repeat, repeat, and enlarge, enlarge, enlarge upon their points.

Let us hope that the president will set a new standard for Democrats, and follow through.

Tomorrow, for example, he ought to have a press conference repeating his basic theme, calling again on Americans to bring enormous pressure to bear on Congress, and enlarging his message by stating that government is "you," and that the expenditures it makes are incurred for our safety (defense, food, children's toys, medications, mining standards, clean water and air), and for the common good. That is, he should, finally, make explicit the case for government.

Wednesday he should do the above again, calling again on Americans to bring the pressure of their numbers to bear on Congress, and enlarging the message by observing that Republicans claim that our only problem is spending, whereas Democrats would say that we have BOTH revenue and spending needs. He ought also to say that "all pain is not created equal," and a billionaire paying millions more in taxes is less painful than an elderly woman deciding between keeping her air-conditioning on and taking her medications. That is, the case for revenues should be stronger.

On Thursday, he should do all the above again, and begin to spell out the impacts Republican "cut/cap/balance" would have on the common good and on ordinary Americans.

And so on. The key is to use each of these appearances to pick up the themes of the last, and to call on the American people to bring pressure to bear on their Member of Congress.

Then, either the Republicans will have compromised OR the president will have laid the groundwork of support for him and his position among the American people so that invoking the 14th Amendment and raising the debt-ceiling himself will be popular.

This fight will then take on a much larger significance -- one hopes. If the president enjoys the success that this strategy will bring, he can then employ the same strategy for a robust job creation program. For that, he has the "army of the unemployed", plus unions, plus the American people as a whole, strongly in his camp, who will self-organize once this president is bold in his prescription and sounds the call for support.

He just needs to flex and coordinate that muscle.

 

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