Sunday, January 24, 2010
Assertiveness vs. aggressiveness; melting pot vs. competing pots; Obama needs to be like Rhee
Frank Rich, one of the New York Times' more partisan Democratic columnists, wrote a piece urging President Obama to man up, so to speak, in the wake of Scott Brown gaining "Ted Kennedy's seat" in the Senate. It was more critical of the Democratic side than is Rich's wont usually. I wrote this comment, which the NYTimes' censors deleted.
Feel free to see why:
I wonder if the President hasn't conflated assertiveness with aggressiveness. That is, you don't have to be angry to be forceful. And if, after trying to reach compromise, you find the other side waging total political war against you, you have to go to Plan B.
--Particularly if the other party owns a TV network and hundreds of AM radio stations through various proxies, so that their propaganda issues from a thousand megaphones 24x7. I've watched Fox's supposedly straight news shows--as opposed to O'Reilly/Hannity/Huckabee et al--and even the "straight" news shows should be retitled "What the traitor in the White House did wrong today."
"No drama Obama" can't rise totally above this pitchforks-and-torches frenzy. It just makes him look like an out of touch academic.
And the President can fight back without doing things his daughters would be ashamed to know he did 20 years from now.
And he has to bear in mind that the people will opt for a compelling, emotionally satisfying narrative over the truth. I don't want him to lie but he has to put out his own narrative--not just complain about Republican spin. Do something they'll complain about. Put them on their back foot. That's what's needed. Study FDR and Teddy R. They knew how to do this.
The Prez needs to peel off independents from the Republican Leadership's awkward embrace. He can do this by hammering on the ways in which the Republican leadership continually betrays Republican voters (including all those self-described Independents who nonetheless mainly vote Republican).
Of course in doing so he'll make Boehner and Mitchell and Limbaugh and Hannity angry at him. But so what? They already do everything short of burning crosses on the White House lawn.
The average Republican I know--and I know a lot of them--is honest, trustworthy, loyal, and charitable. The average Republican leader is none of the above. Yet conservative Americans follow them because the GOP leaders manage to talk and look like them--at least in public--and because the average Democratic leader tends to look like he's pandering to government employee unions and socioethnic special interests at the expense of what is still, for a while, the Anglo majority.
So many Democratic initiatives aimed at improving social justice have wound up becoming little more than gravy trains for self-appointed ethnic leaders, or moves that symbolize the abandonment of the melting pot ideal of our immigrant-derived country in favor of a hundred pots, all competing for taxpayer-funded handouts.
Multilingual ballots, amnesty for illegal immigrants, affirmative action, school integration--all these came from noble motives, then devolved into something less.
An acquaintance of mine just came back from serving a mission in Mississippi, mainly among local blacks. He was dismayed by the culture of dependence he found there, where far too many girls' highest goal in life (he said) was to have exactly four children by the age of 16 (yes, 16--that's not a typo), in order to ensure maximum government benefits.
And if any whites complain about any of this they're instantly branded as racists and told they're guilty of "hate speech" which is grounds for dismissal in a fair number of colleges.
Most whites don't want special favors for whites. They’d vote against such a measure if it were to appear on a ballot. They want justice blind to accidents of birth. They want to see all Americans given the same opportunities, instead of seeing the son of a millionaire black doctor given preference at a college over the son of a white sharecropper. They profoundly resent being told they must sacrifice for someone else because their great-great-great-great grandfather exploited that someone else's equally remote ancestor.
Every attempt at reparations--by whatever name--for historical injustice creates a present injustice. The Democratic Party has not acknowledged this simple fact.
So the President needs call the GOP leadership the betrayers of their own constituents that they are, while at the same time pounding on his own party's leadership to embrace the little guy regardless of race, creed or national background. Affirmative action based on pure economic background would be embraced by many, for example.
And the Prez has to do the public employee unions exactly what Michelle Rhee is doing to the teachers’ unions in Washington DC's schools, on behalf of stude. Now there's a cheerfully ruthless leader to emulate. She never frowns—and she never backs down.