Once upon a time, there was a candidate for President of the Untied States of America who knew how to give a hell of a speech. It was pointed out at the time by his opponent that giving great speeches might not be enough, but despite those warnings, this candidate became the President of the Untied States of America. When he accepted his party’s nomination, the candidate said the following and gave the lot of us goosebumps:
Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land – enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.”
These were not the most powerful words the candidate ever spoke. But it may have been one of the most powerful rhetorical devices he had ever employed. This “ENOUGH!” rang through the air, defiant and righteous, a powerful FU to the status quo of bufoonery that had wrecked this country. Barack Obama could have put his fist in the air and bowed his head, it would have been just as much as powerful a gesture.
And then he took office. And that guy went away.
They brought him out last week to give a powerful speech, a speech where he essentially laid waste to the failed, shitty notion of voodoo economics. The speech was awesome in that it delivered that one basic purpose, to actually say out loud in front of people and stuff that the ideas that are generally espoused by the Republigoat party and the ball-suckers—sorry, I meant to say “tea baggers,” same thing essentially—are terrible ideas. He said out loud that giving away the store to the richest Americans wasn’t a good idea, that the Bush tax cuts are not a good idea, and that turning your back on investing in American infrastructure is not a good idea.
But it is the first time in my memory of this presidency that he has explicitly said these things. What he’s said more often than not has been, “Okay, Republigoats. You want X? Tell you what. Let’s make a deal. I’ll give you X + Y, and I’ll throw in a little Z and we’ll call it even, k?” To which the Republigoats have usually retorted, “No deal, you butthole, we want Q and W, too.”
In other words, to steal from one of my favorite political writers, Obama’s usual response regarding domestic issues has been something along the lines of “I’m not not licking Republicans!”
I am well aware of what the purpose of Obama’s budget speech this week was. It was the Democratic candidate’s first volley in his campaign for President 2012. For the first time in a long time, this guy has decided that it’s important to speak to his base again. He and his staff have ignored his base and in fact have insulted them and taken them wholly for granted throughout this administration, and now, when it’s time to go into campaign mode again, they’ve decided to talk to us. Well, I can tell you what about that.
I am likely to go vote for this candidate again in November 2012. I am not likely, though, to reach for my wallet again for him nor to knock on doors for him as I did previously. I suspect that Obama will find that the wave of enthusiasm and of peoples’ willingness to contribute time and money will not be what it was in 2008. I think that labor is not likely to turn out in droves for him either, especially considering that organized labor is under systematic, brutal attack these days and he’s not done a thing to address it.
This candidate had resources in 2008 that were unparalleled in American national politics. I predict that, due to the lackluster performance of this presidency on behalf of his base, his campaign will have to tighten its belt a bit now. Thank goodness for incumbency; it may be Obama’s greatest tactical advantage.