You missed him, didn’t you?
It was so nice to have Barack Obama around the house for Christmas 2008, remember? He loved to talk and talk and talk about everyone working together to make the world a better place. He wanted to end war and get everyone the health care they needed and put more kids in college if they couldn’t afford it.
But mostly, he wanted folks in Washington to cooperate. He had quite the wish list! He went on and on and on, but you loved his endless optimism. Remember?
Well good news, Independents, Obama came home again this Christmas! He missed you too. I think he became particularly homesick for you in November, and as the Season fell upon us, he wanted to share his hopes and dreams with you again, lest you forget. Christmas brings that out in people sometimes.
Hey, of all the dreams he shared with you in ‘08, which one really stands out? I still vividly remember going to sleep that Christmas Eve thinking about the one where he supplies an antidote to the partisan poison that was infecting seriously needed policy advancement in Washington and shaming our country. Remember that one? John McCain used to talk about that dream, too. Just not as entertainingly, I guess.
As much as you probably missed Obama in 2009, I’m sure your hopes of seeing him this Christmas were all but dashed, considering the above-average acerbic rancor leading up to the mid-term elections in November. There was only his echoing: “When the ballots are cast and the voting is done, we need to put this kind of partisanship aside — win, lose or draw." Still, it was only a faint refrain from a favorite dream. Then came the actual election results.
If you’ll permit me an aside, you’re kind of quirky in your non-quirkiness, Independents. But it’s hard to deny the Christmas spirit of people who simply cannot understand where’s the rocket science behind taking good points from one political platform and good points from another political platform and combining them to achieve moderation for everyone.
Well, this is a special Christmas for you then! Obama got a win on the proposal he created in cooperation (there’s that word again) with his Republican opponents to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits to the millions of people that are suffering and aren’t suffering during this Christmas season. Just in the Nick of time, I like to say!
He also wanted to announce that if these extensions don’t seem to please all the people all the time, we’ll have the next two years to decide whether or not to repeal them. Not too long. Not too short. Just right...right?
Imagine having the opportunity to bring so many people so much relief at Christmastime, and just a month after your pledged political party took such a lambasting in the elections. But isn’t that the Independent dream of bipartisanship come true? It sounds like it!
For some reason, though, Obama’s friends from his own party are 1.) pretending not to like the agreement at all that he made with Republicans, even though 2.) secretly deep down they know they had to vote for it. You know, “hate” it right up ‘til the last minute, then vote for it. Why do that? Well, because it:
• Keeps them appearing faithful to their original Democratic constituency.
• Allows them to say to the general voting public during the next election that they did in fact vote for it should it work.
• Allows them to blame Obama should it fail.
• Effects that duplicitous moderation I mentioned earlier that most of you crave (but don’t like to admit for some reason).
Anyway, Obama’s home for Christmas! And he’s workin’ on a dream! At a press conference earlier in December to announce the agreement, almost the very first thing he said was, “I'm focused on making sure that tens of millions of hardworking Americans are not seeing their paychecks shrink on January 1st just because the folks here in Washington are busy trying to score political points.”
Right out of the gate! He’s even starting to talk about it in new and enhanced ways. For example, someone from The Washington Post, where people really liked Obama too, asked him:
“Some on the left have looked at this deal and questioned what your core values are, what specifically you will go to the mat on…what’s going to be different in 2012, when all these tax cuts again are up for expiration?”
This was the last question of the press conference after Obama had already fielded several questions that were almost identical to this one, so his initial reaction was (for about the third time from what I can tell) to explain it again, but the reporter cut him off and asked:
“Where is your line in the sand?”
I think this made Obama angry, and that’s when he began to talk passionately about his dream again in no uncertain terms, terms that would send a shiver up any Independent’s leg. His Christmas spirit was back! He said:
“Well, look, I’ve got a whole bunch of lines in the sand. Not making the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, that was a line in the sand. Making sure that the things that most impact middle-class families and low-income families, that those were preserved, that was a line in the sand.”
The guy from the Post must have looked like he still wasn’t getting it, so Obama then said:
“So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again…because there was a provision in there that they (Democrats) didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow was a sign of weakness and compromise.
Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then, let’s face it, we will never get anything done.”
I don’t know about you, Independents, but I kind of like that Obama has actual experiences with which to talk about his dreams now. I think it lends so much more to the telling. What do you think?
Well, the guy from the Post must have shrugged his shoulders or something, because then Obama said, even a little more angrily:
“People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.”
“That can’t be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat.”
How do you like that?! And possibly best of all? No teleprompter! He really meant it!
A lot of people are probably going to say that for Obama to attack Democratic critics like this could be hurtful should he need their vote now, or any other Christmastime. Most of those people are, themselves, Democrats. What they don’t get or wish they didn’t get is that Obama’s scolding them, especially now, is going to be incredibly popular with a faction of America that’s even more important than they are. Yep, you! (Look at what you did in November. Whoa.)
That’s why this was such an important press conference. It gave Obama a chance to talk about his dream of bipartisanship again, the one you love the most, even if it was just because the guy from the Post turned out to be the guy that finally pissed him off enough to tell it again so passionately, at Christmas.
If you saw it, I bet it reminded you of that glorious 2008 Season past. Only this time he wasn’t just dreaming it. He was doing it! This press conference highlighted the oratory gifts he has so entranced you with before, and married them with the tangible change you were so desperately seeking via bipartisanship.
Now, I know that viewing a Democrat's extension of a previous Republican President’s tax cuts as “change” could be kind of difficult, but the passing of time is a major bitch. And, anyway, isn’t that the very definition of bipartisan? Isn’t that why you liked having him around so much before?
Well, set a place for him at the table again this Christmas, Independents! You never know when you’ll see him next...
Joe Redden Tigan’s first novel does not have enough commas. It says so right there in the Foreword magazine review. Despite that, Waggle was bumped to iUniverse's Star Book program and is currently being considered for an Independent Publisher’s Book Award.
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1.31.11 @ 3:51p
Not sure how many David Axelrod fans there are out there, but apparently he was as moved by this press conference as I was. Pun ablaze with intention.