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Bold Advice to President Obama

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen on his call for the President to get bold.

President Barack Obama at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2010. (AP)

Barack Obama was a candidate with a campaign and appeal like no other. He promised – in his words and in his person – a breakthrough age for this country. 

In the White House, President Obama has been a sober, straightforward, determined leader. He’s brought the civility and seriousness that he promised. But soaring? Not exactly. Not yet. 

He’s had a tough road, and searing opposition. But even friends are grumbling. After the midterm “shellacking,” what now? What’s needed?

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest:

Roger Cohen, columnist for the New York Times. See his columns: “Get Bold, Barack,” “American Dreamland,” and “An Unknown Soldier.”

William Galston, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and a blogger for The New Republic. See his piece: “It’s the Ideology, Stupid.”

Further discussion:

For those looking to weigh in on the debate over President George W. Bush’s reemergence on the national stage, click through here to our blog, where we post some audio clips and link to some differing opinions. We decided to focus only on President Obama in this particular show in order to expand that discussion.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Nick from Central Mass

    Roger Cohen : Love your columns !

    Roger is well worth reading whether you are a Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative.

    Thanks for all the great columns. Your columns on Israel and Iran were terrific and so common sense that you wonder why they don’t get it sometimes.

  • Nick from Central Mass

    Closing Segment – Bush back in the news….

    The only news I want to hear about George Bush Jr., is when he is brought to trial for war crimes.

    He and his people put us in the economic mess we are in and ruined our hard fought for reputation in this quickly changing world. While the rest of the world was growing into in the 21st Century, we went backwards or stagnant at best while we became embroiled in two wars – one which was not necessary – and drove us into incredible debt.

    His comments on torture????? Shouldn’t be enough to bring justice on him for war crimes??

  • Beverly


    President Obama is trying to do what’s best for the Country, & has made great strides in that regard.

    It would be nice if he’d stop putting up with Republican nonsense, say everything that’s on his mind, maybe even slap ‘em around a little, but that would be counterproductive. They would just whine about being picked on…the usual rubbish that we have come to expect from them. Besides, then Palin would have to chime, (or should I say “screech”), in, making the situation considerably more annoying. How many of us want to be subjected to that?

  • Flowen

    THE ONLY STRATEGY THAT WILL WORK FOR OBAMA:

    1) Stake out your positions, reach for the stars; make no compromise, hold it strong and fast. Don’t begin with a half position: eg. if you want a 50% marginal tax rate at incomes > $500k, demand 90%.

    2) Let the Republicans have their way in substance, as they will not compromise. They have no solutions, and the trend is and will continue to be bad for most of US; the electorate’s flip-flop tendency in a tough environment is favorable for Democrats in 2012.

    3) Learn the Republicans’ winning ways, be creative, have some fun:
    A) create confusion amongst the electorate about the Republican efforts, positions, and statements;

    B) divide their constituency, steal some Tea Partiers and others
    C) ridicule Republicans at every opportunity.
    D) focus US angst (there will be plenty) against Republicans personally.

    4) Tell the electorate what they want to hear, within the truth (unlike republicans). Americans have been truly victimized; no lie there.

    5) Sweep both houses and the presidency in 2012.

    During these next two years, anything positive Democrats achieve will be credit for the Republicans, and used against Democrats. Let them do the work, take the blame, while Democrats do their homework. A vision is lacking. I and many watch closely, and thinking people see no vision. No one seems to have a clear sense where the US needs to go, except the rich seek to get richer. That seems to be the vision of the past 30 years; it is certainly the path we have taken.

    Separate from the vision, a story, or narrative, is also needed. And get past the seeming incompetency: if you can’t get all Democrats on the same page, at least get them in the same program. Use the story to attract the electorate and belittle Republicans, with consistency, frequency, volume, and numbers. Use all your friends to the max with as much co-ordination as possible. You need to learn the value and use of image, story, and iconography.

    As a black man, Mr. Obama will have difficulty belittling the Great White Way; he will need all the help he can get for this. On the other hand his natural advantage is his color, and this needs to be maximized. He should get virtually the whole of the Rainbow vote.

    Mr. Obama: stake your best positions and don’t compromise. Let the republicans screw it up. I applaud your bi-partisan approach, but it hasn’t worked because you seek common ground amongst the professional politicians. Too many are psychopathic and will not yield, especially with the [hidden from public view] support and PR skills of the moneyed Corporate interests.

    Instead, use your skills to bring the electorate together. They are all true victims, and they are the majority of the electorate. It seems to have escaped notice, but the divisions amongst the population are artificial in fact; most divisions are in idea only. Whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Liberal: at least 2/3 of the population have been victimized by the Republican/Corporate cartel.

    Elections are decided emotionally, with “swing voters” being key. The Story has to hit those groups’ emotional hot buttons. Depending on how the next 1-2 years unfold, the Democrats best chance is to use the republican’s winning tactics against them, starting with confuse and divide. With the Tea Party/Republican situation, divide is a very workable tactic. Their basic interests are diametrically opposed. Other conflicted interests should be identified and exploited.

    Beyond that it is mostly political theatre to provide good gut entertainment: ridicule, blame, and bash. Especially in a deteriorating environment; it is what wins. I wish it wasn’t so.

    Then, close the deal by telling the electorate what they want to hear.

    For most people, YOU CANNOT USE TRUTH TO “WAKE THEM UP!” Most people need their dreams, their stories. The American Dream has held it all together up to now despite all primary evidence to the contrary.

    What’s exciting, but frustrating and scary now is that The American Dream has cracked/turned nightmare for many (a golden goose for a few: the Republican patrons), and we have reason to hope for something better to emerge.

    While Republicans know this cold, Democrats and environmentalists mistakenly think that once people know the truth (“if people would just ‘wake up’”), they will behave rationally. THIS BELIEF IS ILLUSORY. For lots of reasons, people will deny what they experience with their own senses. People believe what they want to believe, often distorted by traumatic experiences of all sorts.

    That’s why the population is so gullible…and dangerous. Truth will not counter this, it often enrages them, reinforcing denial and encouraging “acting-out.” ONLY A BETTER STORY THAT THEY WANT TO BELIEVE WILL AFFECT BEHAVIOR. Easy if you’re willing to say anything, but in the current mess, it’s tough to come up with a story that’s not filled with lies. Republicans don’t recognize this handicap. They get away with it as lies are woven into their story. Democrats have “right” on their side, so lies should not be necessary; but it needs to be more than the truth.

    Call it what you will, but an “American Dream v.21″ is essential. The population needs a story. You, we, US go nowhere without a story.

    Another tactic: propose “outside the box” solutions to keep your opponents off balance.
    Eg, If Single Payer is not acceptable, and we have to have Corporate money managers running healthcare gateways, then require health insurance be provided to “natural persons” only. Eliminate the corporate-to-corporate group health insurance deals, subsidized by taxpayers, which creates a healthcare environment with no rules, no competition, no predictability, and no customer protection.

    After all, are they providing healthcare insurance for people?…or corporations?

    Get small business people out from under this burden. Let the health insurance companies do their own work; they get paid plenty. One of the reasons I don’t hire employees is the burden of healthcare provision; I’m sure I’m not alone.

    While we’re at it, eliminate Citizen’s United, and push the pendulum all the way to campaign funding by natural persons only, unlimited with complete transparency, and without tax deductibility. Also, mis-representation of facts in campaigning should be punishable by $1 Million per offense. Let’s Get Real.

    Finally, off-topic: let’s have a tax credit for jobs that do not involve commuting or travel.

  • Flowen

    Please limit your discussion of “W” to 30 seconds or less, please.

    Boner’s cry was fake; no sob, no gasp. Practiced, in front of the mirror, and repeated as needed.

    You sir, are no Hilary Clinton.

  • William

    Please discuss the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 signed by President Clinton and approved by the House and Senate and how that led us into war in Iraq. Also, why has President Obama not closed Gitmo and removed all troops from Iraq? And now he is talking about staying in Iraq longer.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Advice to Obama: listen to the left. Lead the way to the left. Love the left. The conservatives will never think you’re anything but a socialist, so you might as well give them what they (and we) want and try sprinkling a few socialist ingredients into the stew. Congress will oppose you, but then that’s the point: they will oppose you no matter what you do, you will fail no matter how you try, so you might as well fail spectacularly rather than “succeed” miserably. You do that, and the reinvigorated left will come out of our rabbitholes in droves for you in 2012. Then maybe something can get done in the next term. But if you tack to the right, then I’m afraid, Mister Obama, that you will neither win nor deserve to win in 2012.

    About Bush: what else is new? Forget about prosecuting him; it’ll never happen. Remember what Noam Chomsky once said: if the standards of Nuremburg were to be honestly applied to the behavior of the U.S., every president from WW2 to today would have to be hanged. We never had a real chance to impeach Bush when it would have mattered, and now he’s “free” … “free” to be the same sorry excuse for a human being he always was, “free” to be the worst president in history.

  • jeffe

    Obama is pretty much an appeaser. He’s going to give in on the Bush tax cuts. Not a good move.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/10/white-house-gives-in-on-bush-tax-cuts_n_781992.html

    The Presidents bipartisan commission on reducing the national debt , I’ll repeat, the “Presidents” bipartisan commission on reducing the national debt made these recommendations that take more from the middle-classes than the wealthy, they want to lower the taxes on the top earners! From the NY times:

    the plan has many elements with the potential to draw intense political fire. It lays out options for overhauling the tax code that include limiting or eliminating the mortgage interest deduction, the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. It envisions cutting Pentagon weapons programs and paring back almost all domestic programs.

    Panel Seeks Social Security Cuts and Tax Increases
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/us/politics/11fiscal.html?_r=1&hp

    What Robert Reich thinks on the subject:

    http://robertreich.org/post/1536768165

    Boston, MA

  • yar

    Why do government programs have a bad name? Guess what, the military is a government program. The left or right wants to decide by themselves what is good and what is bad. We can’t go forward if we continue to argue over the past.

    We need to get more people working. This is especially true of our youth. They need a positive work experience. The plan I envision is a revived version of the CCC where all youth between ages 18-24 spend two years in public service. That is a huge workforce, it gives work experience to the next generation of worker, it involves physical activity, further bending the curve on future health costs. Productive work is never a drain on the taxpayer, building our country is a net gain. Things the CCC can do. Help in k-12 schools leading sports programs, tutoring and educational assistance, cleaning the facilities and preparing meals for students. The CCC can do service in the community monitoring drug rehabilitation programs, drug testing and medicine distribution. We send the same age group to war, surely we can prepare them to fight the war on drugs here at home. I would supervise these CCC workers with returning veterans. The military can recruit from a trained CCC workforce. I would train CCC workers in proper use of firearms. In my mind it is civics in action in essence turning the country over to the next generation by providing the skills to keep it going.
    I don’t know if this is a liberal or conservative approach, in my mind it is a rational solution to unemployment, education, and health. That is my recommendation. I wish for bipartisan support.

  • Zeno

    Mr. Obama will not take any issues to the people. Not even in the form of political theater. The people of the United States are invisible to him. When he needs legislation to pass he runs to his corporate masters and the GOP, and in this way he is identical to GWB. Mr. Obama makes the same grand and noble speeches to South Korea as he does to the American people, casting the US voter as standing on equal footing?

    Words are NOT enough. If he wants another term he must get out of the beltway and campaign for his ideas and explain WHY. He probably believes he is needed more there than he is in America, when the opposite is true. The war of ideas maybe fought within the beltway, but they are won in the country.

    GWB is peddling a book that someone wrote for him. Neither he nor even his wife who likely can read, will have read the book…so why should anyone else. Its all about the money, and will be one of two books in the center of his presidential “library” next to the other book he never read…his bible.

  • Blaise

    Tom – I listen to your show in Ann Arbor on Michigan Radio. I do agree with Roger Cohen in that President Obama has to recapture and reinvigorate the narrative that should define his presidency and ultimately his campaign to secure a second term. It is crushing as a veteran on Veterans Day to realize I’ve been looking for a job for over a year now (my position was eliminated) and the administration hasn’t been BOLD ENOUGH to put forth an effort to create more jobs say for example in rebuilding our infrastructure.

  • Diane

    For William, the Iraq Liberation Act got us into Iraq? Now THAT, sir, is a real spin! I’m not that old that I can’t think back to 2002 when the entire Bush administration was clamoring for a war in Iraq and making up the justification for it. I don’t remember this act being on of those justifications. They’d completely forgotten Afghanistan.

    Besides, whatever is in the above act was generated by a Republican Congress. The Congress creates legislation; the president merely signs. By 1998 the Republicans had Clinton so on the ropes with the Lewinsky “scandal”that he was slap happy. Not an excuse for a president, but I can see it happening to this one, too. Sadly, though his man is squeaky clean on that bogus “family values” slat of the Republican platform, he’s a black and has to be careful how he deals with ‘white folks”. Look how they racted to his preacher not groveling in front of the man!

  • cory

    Relative to the office he held for eight years, George W. Bush seems so damn dumb. That we elected him twice to lead the free world makes us all look so damn dumb.

    As far as our current president… I would suggest that his legacy would be best served by “dancin’ with the one who brung ya”. Be true to yourself and your constituency and let the chips fall where they may. Please be remembered for taking and making a principled stand against conservative idiocy, Mr. President.

    Leftfield, Wisconsin

  • Al Dorman

    (Boston, MA)
    Seems to me that we either bring up the torturers and war profiteers on trial or live with it for good. When we let Reagan get away with “not recalling” details of his state terrorism, we enabled Cheney and Rumsfeld to resurface later and cause even more pain. But Obama takes all of that off the table? Well I’ll vote third party until he reconsiders.

  • Geri

    Thank God that America is a center right country. In this past election we partially returned to sanity. In 2012 we will take back the White House and the Senate. God Bless America!!!!!

  • wavre

    Compromise still?

    The definition of insanity isn’t it doing the same things over and over and hoping for a different outcome???

    Who said that again?…Oh yeah, Obama did.

    Mr. President, You should take your own advice, and please listen to replays of your own speeches (mostly before the elections) and you will understand why we are disappointed and think that you are a fraud.

    I can speak for a lot of people; you barely even try to “change” the system. You look so scared; you’re probably not really in charge, are you? now that corporations have become the government.

    You sir are no FDR…

  • Alex

    Too late now. He should have used the public outrage at the Wall Street and the casino-style free market when he first took office. He should have been more like Roosevelt with his New Deal. These kinds of windows of opportunity do not come up often. Seems like he missed his chance.

  • Larry

    Obama is:

    1. weak, scared and naive
    2. a corporatist in disguise

    Take your pick.

    I pick corporatist in disguise.

  • T. Jefferson, Grave, USA

    “In the 19th century, socialists openly ridiculed the notion of a night-watchman state — a government limited to protecting the rights and safety of citizens. The night-watchman state has long since been junk-heaped, replaced by governments zealous to re-engineer society, control the economy, and save persons from themselves. Unfortunately, rather than a triumph of idealism, we now have highway-robber states — governments in which no asset, no contract, no domain is safe from the fleeting whim of a bevy of politicians. Public policy today is a vast maze of payoffs and kickbacks, tangling everything that the state touches in political intrigue and bureaucratic dependence. Modern societies are increasingly dominated by political money laundering — by politicians commandeering scores of billions of dollars from one group to foist on another group, from one generation to another, or from the general populace to specific occupational groups (such as farmers). And when government defaults on its promises to the citizenry, it is not robbery, but merely sovereign immunity.”

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1195

    How on earth, do statist Democrats take what the electorate said as a mandate for a MORE centrally planned, government-interventionist, debt-financed stance???

    The populace appears to be a quite moderate, pragmatic, group that wants jobs, and appreciates the concepts of some sense of social fairness, and the value of individual liberty.

    Given that Obama was apparently a Rorschach test for most people in 08′, seeing what they wanted in him, concluding instead that Americans voted wholeheartedly for a European Democratic Socialism model (which even Europe is abandoning) seems asinine, and politically suicidal.

  • wavre

    Larry,

    2 is my pick as well.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    From William Galston’s piece linked up top in the New Republic: “The ideological composition of the electorate shifted dramatically. In 2006, those who voted were 32 percent conservative, 47 percent moderate, and 20 percent liberal. In 2010, by contrast, conservatives had risen to 41 percent of the total and moderates declined to 39 percent, while liberals remained constant at 20 percent. And because, in today’s polarized politics, liberals vote almost exclusively for Democrats and conservatives for Republicans, the ideological shift matters a lot.”
    (I think I blocked out the wrong segment; I’ll try again. I wanted to show the shift in the swinging independent voters — or nonvoters.)
    The shift “of the electorate.” So those who voted?
    Meanwhile, apparently of all independents, voters and nonvoters alike, 8 percent more are “conservative,” and 6 percent fewer are “moderate.”
    So this begs the question: What do we mean nowadays by “conservative”? And also, if an anti-conservative (“don’t just say no”) wants to vote, was there a clear and meaningful choice at most ballot boxes?

  • John

    He let a crisis go to waste.

  • T. Jefferson, Grave, USA

    Socialist or Corporatist?

    Doesn” really matter, they both act with the collsuion of a powerful State, and impose their desires for our behaviors on us.

    Reduce the State, as a check on both of their tendencies, which are of course unfortunately based in human nature, be it Utopian hopes or Malicious conspiracy.

    Our founders were not morons, they were world-weary realists.

    Can we at least agree on this? And then figure out what laws we want to lay down to both prevent abuse by powerful interests while maintaining our liberty?

  • Mark

    If I were Obama, I’d just simply give back all the problems this country has associated with corrupt capitalism!! He INHERITED!!

  • nlpnt

    FINALLY someone says this!

    I don’t know how many self-admitted moderates have said to me “I don’t know if this guy stands for anything”.

    Draw some lines in the sand. Show what you believe in and stick up for it. It’ll win you the respect of the center and reenergize the base.

    Otherwise you’re just handing the country over to the corporatists-disguised-as-Constitutionalists.

  • Kay

    President Obama is a black man who’s made major changes in order to help poor people. The right is using that to scare the country. It’s just the same old thing – prejudice.

  • g

    Give guy a break!!! And a Slurpee!

  • JT

    I think that where this president can go is the same place any president goes when he meets resistance and disappointment in his terms: Forward. People are so quick to forget that like any man, Obama’s feet are made of clay. He is going to make mistakes; he will have successes and disappointments. The key is not to let the administration get caught up in what has happened and deal with what is happening. Yesterday’s defeats and victories are yesterdays. Today is a new chance to change how we deal with bipartisan politics, international politics and our own commitment to America.

  • Carlo Danese

    Obama needs not just to ‘defend’ his program but attack the Republicans. Perhaps a ‘teaching moment’. Talk about the tax cut for small business, the revamped college aid program, the health care, the expanded care for veterans… Attack them for the most blatant lying campaign ever… They are willing to let everything grind to a halt for 2 years in order to win the next election and they are so insulated from the misery… Worse, big business, pulling the strings of people like Mitch McConnell and other pawns is sitting on capital, not because of ‘uncertainty’ but merely to wait it out until a resumption of the gilded age began under Bush…

  • Carlo Danese

    Ithaca, New York

    Obama needs not just to ‘defend’ his program but attack the Republicans. Perhaps a ‘teaching moment’. Talk about the tax cut for small business, the revamped college aid program, the health care, the expanded care for veterans… Attack them for the most blatant lying campaign ever… They are willing to let everything grind to a halt for 2 years in order to win the next election and they are so insulated from the misery… Worse, big business, pulling the strings of people like Mitch McConnell and other pawns is sitting on capital, not because of ‘uncertainty’ but merely to wait it out until a resumption of the gilded age began under Bush…

  • Ellen Dibble in Northampton, MA

    If we are sliding toward the Republican approach because Obama’s approach is not bringing us jobs, I think he needs to become a leader, in the style of FDR. He needs to bring us away from a fearful and greedy posture to national optimism and determination. Think of Winston Churchill. He saw the enemy and was going to mobilize, by gosh. Hold on tight; we’re going to crash up against the enemy.
    Well, we have enemies, of sorts, and Obama seems to be schmoozing with the enemy. Has he converted them to helpful? Nope. How about he comes out and starts to lead us the voters, versus them the campaign financers, the lobbyists and bankers. I don’t want to name names, but I was glad he learned to talk their talk. Now how about talking my talk for a while?

  • Pauline Dyson

    Buffalo, New York

    Which of two critical influences affect Barack Obama more- the politician out of raw Chicago streets or the Harvard of Cambridge? Clearly it is the latter- the educated, fair-minded, cooperative intellectual when what is needed is hard-nosed politician out of the Harry Truman playbook…i.e. give the Tea Party, conservative Republican’s HELL!..The President should have learned one big lesson by now. That is, you can’t do business with those who refuse to compromise or concede – be they domestic intransigent types or foreign leaders in Israeli, Iranian, Pakistan, Afganistan.

  • Amy Greer

    I was wondering why no one is comparing Obama’s presidency to Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Could Obama learn some things from the the mistakes and the good things that Jimmy Carter did?

    Providence, RI

  • Dorian

    South Kingstown, RI, listening on WRNI

    Sadly, racism rules

    The vocal opposition to President Obama is due to thinly veiled racism, and that is the driving force behind the Tea Party movement, whether they wish to recognize it or not. Racism is alive and well in this country, but it is no longer legal or acceptable to discriminate; the election of a person of color has mobilized people in a way that defies logic, many are working off a deep seated negative gut reaction to a black president in power.

    I say give the man a break, he walked into an economy in crisis thru forces the he did not have control over, and is making great strides towards keeping us out of economic free fall. Despite staunch opposition from Republicans, great and historic legislation has been passed, and the country is moving in the right direction, slowly but surely.

  • Webb Nichols

    Apart from the fact that President Obama abandoned the issue of fairness and gave away the ship to Wall Street, apart from the fact that he was seduced by elite special interests whose bottom line was their own survival, President Obama would be forgiven all if he exhibited a sense of humor, self-deprecation and confidence instead of being so strident,morose and ponderous.

    City- Watertown, State- Massachusetts

    Respectfully,

    Webb Nichols

  • Dave E

    Come on! Even as an Obama supporter I knew he wouldn’t be able to solve every problem magically. But now as an American I have a president I can be proud of. Have Americans listened closely to all the president has done in his first two years? Pretty remarkable. Many are still behind you president Obama! No party Teabaggers or not could solve these issues overnight despite the rhetoric. Dave from Rutland, Vermont

  • Pat Nelson

    I wonder if part of the President’s problem has been that he has avoided ‘calling out’ the Blue-dog Dems who would not compromise or help him get his campaign promises through Congress?
    He could empathize with people’s complaints but couldn’t say “well, I tried but these guys would not budge, so I was compromising with my own party!”

  • Janet Deutsch

    My husband and I and many others are extremely PROUD of our President. He has worked for effective, sustainable change of policies that had weakened our country from within and had diminished our standing in the world community. There are signs of economic recovery and, when traveling overseas, we are no longer questioned about the sanity of Americans in things like war and the policies of GWB. More could have been done if McConnell and DeMint and the like had not made their GOAL to defeat everything Obama attempted in order to make heim a “one-term” president and regain power for themselves. Let him do his job!! Praying in Alabama.

  • ann, Barrington, Rhode Island

    Does the President think that his communications thru The White House Website ARE his MAJOR forum for speaking with and hearing from the American public?

    His he just more “modern”, if this is the case, than almost all of us?

    **************

    I do think he subscribes to Studying, Assessing, and Doing – within a context of Never Explain, Never Complain.

    Because of television, this country will NOT stand for that. We must be entertained.

  • Marie

    He never said “Yes, I can” – he said “Yes, we can”.

  • JP

    Tom asked his Guest, “Are you saying this is as good as it gets?” regarding what President Obama has been able to do with the mess he inherited.

    The guest replied “No, that’s not what I’m saying…”

    Well, I’ll say it :

    “YES, this is as good as anyone could have done with the mess left by Bush and 12 years of Republican flubbery!”

    All jobs created under Bush… The ones that had entirely disappeared by the end of Bush’s second term… All those jobs were paid for by illusionary wealth generated by debt, a ridiculously inflated stock market (far too many stocks trading at absurd earnings multiples), and as we now know, absurd increases in home prices.

    When the illusions evaporated at the end of the Bush presidency, so evaporated all of that wealth which had barely kept generated enough jobs to keep up with population growth.

    Now no matter what Obama has done, the one thing he could not do, AND SHOULD INDEED NEVER DO, is to somehow bring back all of the policies that created all the illuusionary wealth that had once generated jobs.

    THAT is why we can’t generate enough jobs anymore to catch back up to the population… Bush and the Republicans were content that all job growth for a decade was based on illusion, rather than having ever talken steps to create REAL productivity in America that could now be sustaining us.

  • Patrick Pearse

    So let me get this straight…

    Obama inherits the worst economy in decades, PLUS two wars, and so far:

    He stops the economy from sliding into depression.

    He gets the largest reform of health care in the last 100 years passed.

    He gets the largest reform of the financial sector in the last 80 years passed.

    He winds down one war to the point that it hardly makes the nightly news anymore.

    His approval rating, in spite of all that, is almost 50 per cent, better than Regan, Bush, and Clinton at this point in their terms.

    Yet, not even two years into his presidency, pundits are ALREADY writing him off as a failure? Give me a break. People need to get a grip, we have become so accustomed to the “quick fix”, that if a problem isn’t solved in two weeks, we go crazy.

    People expected Obama to walk on water, now they’re moaning because they found out that he’s just a really good swimmer.

  • Justin

    Could we have enough of looking for people that listen to their guts!? We had 8 years of someone that looked at nothing but his gut, and it got us nowhere. Lets have a group of rational thinkers that look at facts and adjust their strategies as new information is revealed.

  • Brian L

    I think the President is doing a fantastic job under the circumstances. This is the most difficult economic conditions since the 1930′s and its conditions were created over the course of 8 years by his predecessor and the Republican party. People didn’t give up on FDR after two years. No one gets credit for the dog that didn’t bark, but we would be in much worse shape but for his leadership.

  • G. Hoffman

    I don’t hear the media acknowledging that fact that the people who voted for him and other Democrats WANTED him to pursue health care reform. The media acts like Obama just decided to do this against over half of America’s citizens’ wishes! We needed it. We wanted it!

    We are greatly surprised and disappointed in the Republicans and their agenda of NO and right wing hate and campaign of lies.

  • Holly C.

    I agree with Dave from Rutland!!! Oh PLEASE Roger Cohen, your critique doesn’t give enough weight to the incredible obstructionism of the Republicans and the right. Not to mention the weight of racism.

    President Obama has NOT crossed over my line!!! I have great hope for him and his agenda, INCLUDING the health care reform.

    Holly from Potsdam NY

  • Ann, Barrington, Rhode Island

    Boy, do I agree with Bill who just called in (10;30)!!! Bill spoke about how the Tea Party began campaigning with a hidden agenda of hate and outer agenda to lower the deficit, etc. I agree with everything Bill said!

  • http://wbur Gary Gilbert

    It is the Democratic Party that is mostly at fault. They do not “counter” the “counterspin” that the Republicans have put out there. They never should have allowed the term “government takeover of healthcare” to live more than a second. Nazi stormtroopers did not go into corporate medical offices and “take over”. He simply passed legislation/controls.
    Further, the goal was never to dish out free medical to the poor. The goal always was to eventually bring down the costs of health care.
    At the begining, what can any government do? Spend money, pass regulations. He spent money on the economy and was immediately attacked by the right.
    Bad counterspin here by the Democratic Party. True however that Obama speaks the best of the bunch and should be pushing back in addition.

  • Alexander Haag

    I think Barack Obama would benefit from connecting with the Millenial generation. We are of a similar size to the Baby Boomer generation, and when excited, we mobilize like no other group. Get us on board, and he moves forward!
    Alex
    North Providence, RI

  • Les from Vermont

    Obama has left the left in the lurch. Champion single pay healthcare and clean energy. Hold Fox “news” up to the liable laws. Bring back honesty in the news.

  • Aefman

    This is all pure analytical BS-fiction – You can’t talk as if things politically in the U.S. are solely the result of Obama’s actions. The entire narrative in the country has been hijacked by right wing corporate money. Obama’s only mistake is trying to unify people in the country who have no interest in his leadership and have sworn an oath to sabotage everything he attempts to do.

  • Joyce Newland

    Agree he had a plate full. His intelligence will come through and remedy his mistakes. (I believe this.) He is not Clinton, as much as I admired him. And certainly W had much less experience, although he did have the political moxie or at least his handlers did, plus the support of well listened and heeded talk radio. I live in Alabama. I don’t care how you slice it and how the news tries to avoid it, what is missing…is that many, even a majority, are using the red herrings of the problems to keep from stating they don’t care for him because he is still considered a black. (I consider him half and half, just like my coffee,) but the e-mails I get, the underlying comments and the snide remarks are race based. I fear the rising sentiments this engenders.
    joyce newland
    Opelika, Alabama

  • David in Wellesley, Mass.

    I thought I was voting for JFK, but I got Michael Dukakis.

  • G. Hoffman

    One more thing. There is no “middle” in America. We are a polarized country. Left and Right. That is the real reason Obama can’t win. He has chosen the MIDDLE and there is NO ONE THERE!!!

  • peter nelson

    I read Cohen’s piece and frankly I’m not sure what his point was! The article was a mish-mash of stuff – the internal contradictions of the Tea Party, Boehner’s tearful embrace of our national mythos and the demand that “To win back the independents who deserted him in droves, [Obama] must now deliver jobs. Period.”

    Cohen needs to wake up from dreamland and realize that if the President had the ability to do that he would have done so already.

    Obama is in no position to be bold anymore. Gestural attempts to do so will inevitably fail and reveal his weakness and political impotence even more starkly, guaranteeing his 2012 loss.

    Cohen, like many educated east-coast liberals, is fascinated by the internal contradictions of the Tea Party. As I said yesterday, US liberals seem to think that politics is some sort of power point presentation of academic research paper where you score points based on facts and logic.

    But the Tea Party is not about facts and logic, and as I explained yesterday, neither is politics. Politics is theater, storytelling, iconography, themes and symbolism. It’s drama.

  • yar

    I have a picture of the first family on my fridge. I think he has done a great job. We are not a center right nation, the center is where it is and if you think you are center right, you are correct, you are to the right of center, try moving toward the center and work together. I am willing to move some as well, but don’t tell me the nation is not centered. It is being polarized by that type of rhetoric.

  • Larry

    Who is this guy calling Obama a Socialist?

    Are you kidding me?!!!!!

    Come on. We are not the FOX news Right who swallows the propaganda poured over them everyday.

    We have watched the working of the last two years on CSPAN and know that OBama is as far from a Socialist as you can get.

    His huge “socialist” bills are cave ins and give-a-way to criminal Wall Street and the blood-sucking health insurance companies.

    We aren’t falling for your propaganda that he is too far to the LEFT.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Would the independents who have swung going back to 2008 instead vote for McCain/Palin? I really doubt it.
    Who would run against Obama with a more persuasive idea for Americans to buy into: international prestige, prosperity…
    Obama seems to have improved on Bush II in terms of foreign policy. I still run for the remote when Bush II appears or sounds.
    I don’t “count” terrorists as enemies in the style of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. Mobilizing against them war-style seems ALL WRONG. And hopefully we get that. Don’t demonize! The Evil Empire? I think not. There exists huge danger even without an enemy of that sort. This is more like glorified piracy we are dealing with, and Bush and the Republicans seemed to want that to dominate foreign policy.
    What Republicans will offer in 2012? More demonizing?

  • http://www.mikeyantachka.com Mike Yantachka

    President Obama is a rational person in a polarized environment. The hateful lies and misrepresentations propagandized by Fox “News” and the right-wing talk shows are difficult to counteract in a rational manner. Reason can’t reach the followers of this type of media.
    Obama made a mistake in thinking he could reasonably get the Republicans to compromise when they came out right in the beginning saying their only goal was to “make Obama fail.” He should have pressed harder on his Democratic bloc via the “bully pulpit” right from the start.
    Yes, more periodic press conferences would have helped, too.

  • Tom T.

    He promised us change and gave us the status quo of a sinking ship.

    He is too culturally bound in his overprivileged, private school world to care what happens to us. We are acceptable losses to his arrogant, neoliberal vision. Which means he’s thrown the working middle class under a bus, as they did to the poor and the working class before them.

    We need living wage jobs and protection from bankers, but he’s more concerned with ‘clearing the backlog out’ of forecloseable homes. Never mind doing nothing blow smoke up our butts about jobs.

    I don’t know what community he did his ‘organizing’ in, but judging by his policies, I’d say Scarsdale or Greenwich. We voted for the Democrats and they turned into Republicans. And they even went deeper into wars.

  • Margaret

    We the people have degraded the president. We the people must acknowledge he is our first black president (history will remember and so must we).
    He accomplished more then any President in his first two years. The deficit is down as reported today.
    Bill Clinton was why Hillary lost my vote in S&N Carolina. I did not want to re-elect him and he was not letting Hillary have her own stage. Hillary has been magnificent Secretary of State.

  • Bill Healey

    Does anyone honestly think this conversation would be any different if Hilary had been elected?
    The right would have reacted exactly the same, probably worse.
    We were on the brink of disaster, it can still occur.Our economy will not be fixed in two years, it is going to take a lot longer.

    Bill from Sutton,VT

  • Tom T.

    typo correction – Second to last paragraph should have read:

    “We need living wage jobs and protection from bankers, but he’s more concerned with ‘clearing the backlog out’ of forecloseable homes, never mind doing nothing but blow smoke up our butts about jobs.”

  • Eric Adler

    Roger Cohen’s advice to Obama is nonsense.
    Bush was friendly to business, presided over deregulation and we had a housing bubble and an economic meltdown.
    Cohen claims that Obama was not friendly to business and that is why the economy is not going to recover. Explain what this means. The Stock Market has gained, bank profits are up, and businesses are creating jobs while job losses in local government are dragging the economy down. All of the economic gains in recent years have gone to the wealthy business class. There is no end to the greed that many display and many still want more.
    Cohen would have Obama give business more than it has been getting. They have gotten a lot and it hasn’t trickled down to the middle class. Why should Obama continue to give business even more? Is this politically smart/ Is this a way to help the American lower class and middle class?
    Business will expand when the market is there. They don’t need their hand held.

  • Mark

    Take back the Whitehouse! Yes!! From Walltreet!!!!

  • PW in TX

    Both Galston and Cohen are really interesting and helpful in many ways. But both are looking at the situation through their own prisms: Galston with the prism of the Clinton experience, Cohen with the prism of being taken in (as many were) by Obama the campaigner.

    That’s understandable. But we’re leaving out several key factors: the right’s megaphone. Millions of Americans have no idea what’s really going on. They/we are guided by the megaphone. Obama is up against an opposition which was bad enough in Clinton’s day but which has even more money, is even better organized and even less ethical than it was then.

    Fifteen years from now, we’ll see probably Obama much more clearly than we do now in the same way that we understand the Clinton phenomenon better than we did in ’96.

    We may even understand the extent to which we’re living in a goldfish bowl, trapped in corporate-provided water. We’ll absorb the fact that virtually no actor in government (including within the judicial branch) is wholly free from corporate influence. As I keep saying (angrily!), we are all responsible for allowing that to continue as long as we buy (literally and figuratively) what the goods, the information, the political biases, and the “life style” that corporations are selling.

  • Stephen Elliott

    This discussion about whether Obama emotes or not seems very odd to me. I find his appeal is in fact the cool, rational, and intellectual approach to problems. In contrast, the obviously emotional emotive politicians (not to mention TV commentators) that are so common strike me as immature, unconvincing, and intellectually light-weight.

    As Bill Galston says, “it is very rare for mature adults to get character transplants”. We elected this admirable man; let him do the job.

    Perhaps he needs to be more effective at twisting arms in private and striking political deals, but I don’t in any way feel the need for simplistic, canned public histrionics with equally canned applause. There is far too much of that already.

  • Laird Christensen, Poultney, VT

    Your guests are off base today. As disappointed a many of us are wth specific decisions Obama has made, the majority that elected him in 2008 will rally around him again. This is not a center-right country, and once his campaign figures out how best to highlight his considerable achievements in 2012, he will cruise to victory.

  • w bradford

    I blame the media for much of this. Where are the presidents defenders ? We listen to Murdoch’s Fox news, this whole machine just attacking him daily. And what we hear are a constant carping about every little thing about Obama… nothing at solving any of this countries problems.. so many of these people just one sheet short of two eye holes cut in a pillowcase..
    All of them just being paid to attack him constantly.. the media just going along.. and an electorate not smart enough to find truth in much of anything any more.

  • Janet Moran

    Regarding the comment of the President failing with the bipartisanship, that goes both ways. Someone needs to go to Washington and tell all of them, Democrats and Republicans alike, to get off their butts, stop acting like children, and move our great Country forward!

  • John

    Obama even got off to a poor start by having that bigot Rick Warren speak at the Inauguration.

  • http://www.candokitchen.com Audrey

    I think that this line of criticism boils down to a much more fundamental tendency that Americans have to put their leaders on a pedestal and expect superhuman accomplishments from them. We see this time and time again, and I think its important to remember that however brilliant, captivating, or charming a candidate or president seems, they are still only human — and a human operating within a very complicated system and set of circumstances, as President Obama certainly has and is at present.

    I lived overseas during much of the Clinton administration, and the foreigners that I spoke with about U.S. politics were always surprised at how much we expected from our leaders — morally, personally, and as a exemplary statesman. We expect someone who can move mountains in a very complex governmental system, while simultaneously upholding a pristine moral character and making us feel warm and fuzzy. I don’t think that citizens of other countries expect the same from their leaders, and that we set every one of our presidents up for failure by making a worship figure out of them.

    A side effect of this is that once a president leaves office, we often put them back up on the pedestal and look back on their tenure fondly — as in the example of Bill Clinton.

    I think George W. Bush did a great job of setting the bar low, so there wasn’t a lot of room for disappointment. Which is a sad way to have to operate, really.

    It doesn’t seem fair to criticize the so-called “leader of the free world” for not living up to outrageous expectations of political and personal miracles.

  • Richard Levins

    President Obama held back on the brink of greatness to become merely our most ellocuent and intelligent politician, beholden to the same corporations, Pentagon, National Security establishment and their academic Nomenclatura, willing to sacrifice the rule of law, national and international, to a geo-political “pragmatism” that ends up as cynicism. He aspired to be a Lincoln, but has no Frederick Douglass.

  • Margaret

    Nebraska:
    We the people have degraded the president. We the people must acknowledge he is our first black president (history will remember and so must we).
    He accomplished more then any President in his first two years. The deficit is down as reported today.
    Bill Clinton was why Hillary lost my vote in S&N Carolina. I did not want to re-elect him and he was not letting Hillary have her own stage. Hillary has been magnificent Secretary of State.

  • Audrey in Boston

    I think that this line of criticism boils down to a much more fundamental tendency that Americans have to put their leaders on a pedestal and expect superhuman accomplishments from them. We see this time and time again, and I think its important to remember that however brilliant, captivating, or charming a candidate or president seems, they are still only human — and a human operating within a very complicated system and set of circumstances, as President Obama certainly has and is at present.

    I lived overseas during much of the Clinton administration, and the foreigners that I spoke with about U.S. politics were always surprised at how much we expected from our leaders — morally, personally, and as a exemplary statesman. We expect someone who can move mountains in a very complex governmental system, while simultaneously upholding a pristine moral character and making us feel warm and fuzzy. I don’t think that citizens of other countries expect the same from their leaders, and that we set every one of our presidents up for failure by making a worship figure out of them.

    A side effect of this is that once a president leaves office, we often put them back up on the pedestal and look back on their tenure fondly — as in the example of Bill Clinton.

    I think George W. Bush did a great job of setting the bar low, so there wasn’t a lot of room for disappointment. Which is a sad way to have to operate, really.

    It doesn’t seem fair to criticize the so-called “leader of the free world” for not living up to outrageous expectations of political and personal miracles.

  • Larry

    Criminal Wall Street stole our Treasury.

    We are not letting them cut SS and Medicare while stealing our money.

    We are going to fight the class war that the rich are waging on us.

  • William Maher

    So, the Marxist-Socialist O’Bama utopia isn’t working out as planned. I tell you, I’m schocked! The reality of hyper-Socialism(as opposed to Mr. Bush’s slightly lesser hyper-Socialism-lite)is now settling in for all to ponder. If you think the economy is in shambles now, wait until the healthcare monstronsity begins to materialize. (Don’t worry, the NPR lefties will think deeply and blame it on Cheney/Halliburton) But hey, then again, all we need is another trillion-dollar stimulus scam to get the economy humming, right! And, oh yeah, President B.O., thanks for bailing out the staggeringly incompetent GM(etc.) with billions of OUR money so that you could extort the 17 electoral votes of Michigan. That was well spent money. Thanks! If a private company attempted to employ a business model remotely equivalent to Social Security, that private company would be taken to court(Bernie Madoff, anyone) and put in jail. It is so wonderful to see the hoax of socialism bring people to their reality-phobic knees(Greece anyone?). Actually, the deplorable public schools are the greatest example of the socialist hoax. People ask me how many U.S. high schoolers can find China on a map. I respond with the question, “How many public school teachers can find China on a map?” Are you starting to get the big picture on socialism? The once most viscerally anti-socialist country in the world emerges to dominate the world in every knowable metric–but no! let’s go in the opposite direction and become a Third-world country(FDR’s New Deal is perfectly apace at this point).

  • Les from Vermont

    Hey, standing up to Isreal. There’s an idea the left has been demaninding for a long time.

  • peter nelson

    Boner’s cry was fake; no sob, no gasp. Practiced, in front of the mirror, and repeated as needed.

    Who cares? Politics is theater and people bought it.

    The liberal blogosphere is trying to beat the drum that it was fake but no one else is buying that. Crying in public has a long tradition among conservatives – Jimmy Swaggart, Glen Beck, even Dubya did it! It’s part of the ritual and it has symbolic meaning.

    As I said yesterday, the liberals don’t get it: politics is drama but the liberals keep trying to win on points. They get hung up on whether the crying was factual; they think, somehow, that if they can prove that it wasn’t a fact they’re one-up over the conservatives. But to the rest of the country that just seems like nitpicking

  • John

    On Point has the wrong NY Times columnist on today. If Obama had listened to Paul Krugman and passed a sufficient stimulus the economy would have recovered significantly enough to have prevented the loss of so many Democratic seats in Congress.

  • Bgonia

    I think the so-called pundits are a big part of the problem of this country. What superficial commentary! This country wants a TV personality president, but we need to grow up…What is this nonsense about the “choice” agenda and the “necessity” agenda—sounds nice, but it is nonsense. Are there no pundits with basic economic understanding–the healthcare reform was ABOUT the economy in the LONG TERM…pundits just think SHORT term and offer no insights to your listeners. This is a sad reflection on the state of politics here that we have such poor commentary on one of the best radio programs around. Too bad

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc

    Tom:

    The attacks on the President since the election have not let up. They are beyond the pale. I happen to be a Republican supporter of the President who lives in South Carolina and am daily faced with folks attacking the President on his faith, his birth place, that he is unAmerican or a socialist.

    Not even just the President. Look at the Senate hearings on Justice Kagan this past summer…attacks on Thurgood Marshall and then Senator-elect Paul and my US Senator Jim DeMint questioning the Civil Rights Act. It is a frightening attempt to turn back the clock and speak what would have been unspeakable in polite company.

    The President has a tough job just being President-even keeled and all. Now the gloves must come off-in a serious manner- and take them on. He has got to see that this new GOP will not work with him in any manner.

    Let the American people see some of the consequences of GOP policies-no unemployment insurance, no social security, no medicare, no civil rights protections-these are all in the GOP playbook. I wish more folks had paid attention to what was said in Mein Kampf before it became too late.

    It is a time for boldness Mr. President. If you are going down, go down swinging!

  • Bill Womack

    Great discussion.

    Obama has had so much resistance ever since he was elected that how can any single person overcome it all? Republicans are hell-bent on dragging us backward and cannot allow Obama to succeed.

    Amazing how much Obama HAS done in only two difficult years. I do wish he’d concentrated on jobs first and healthcare later… a massive public-works/infrastructure initiative would be welcome, focusing on trains, hardened broadband/electric grid and green technologies would put millions to work. And of course repairing bridges.

    But still… I’m a fan of single-payer, but have to be grateful for the health care improvements.

  • Ann

    For the sake of getting elected, Obama made promises that were clearly unrealistic and could not be upheld. Those with huge idealistic eyes believed him.

    Obama’s arrogance is off-putting in the least. His presidency has been nothing but divisive; driving a deeper wedge between the red and the blue, between allies, between friendly nations, and between people.

    Obama’s foreign policy is contrary to the direction where American’s want to go.

    At a time when America desperately needed an AMERICAN leader to revive American values and ideals, he has instead turned his sites on being a leader of the whole world – which in essence has been one-sided – the love, support and ushering in of a new age for Islam, which is a hostile element to the whole entire world. In the process he has polarized all allies and friends and ignored the real needs of Americans.

    Obama is a weak, self-involved, and self-indulgent president who is clearly NOT concerned about America, but instead prefers to be some kind of world leader.

    By ushering in a new age of Islam he is bringing down America. He is NOT an American president.

    America desperately needs an AMERICAN president. We got a fool.

  • peter nelson

    We are not a center right nation

    Compared to almost all the other major democracies in the world we certainly are center-right. Compare the US Democratic party and and positions and relations with big business to the major parties in the UK and Europe, and the Dem’s would be a conservative party.

    Look at the UK’s Conservative party’s support for the NHS and ask yourself if the Democrats would DARE support a system like that!

  • Zaker

    Brilliant insight, William Galston! A subtle and crucial point of view. I’m with you one hundred percent. Seems the president needs to get bold with himself, become constitutionally confident with his own unique vocation

  • margaret

    Nebraska:
    I agree with Bgonia. The pundits careers have been built this last two years on superficial commentary.
    My great disappointment the last two years not in the President but in the stagnation and regression of the Republican Congress. Lets face it the TeaParty stole the American Dialogue

  • Fred Goldstein

    Galston’s advice is to pretend it’s 1994, that Saint Ronnie has made “liberal” a dirty word, and that the electorate is in the “middle”. This worked in 1994 for Clinton, who was a great politician and could sell anything, but it’s not 1994.

    There is no center. There’s a deep hole where it used to be, with the electorate polarized. Galston’s DLC advice would be to jump in, never to be seen again. This would of course put Republicans back in charge, and continue the country’s path downward.

  • Paul

    Can you summarize this discussion by saying “We want everything yesterday” and Obama certainly can not and will not perform miracles.
    We simply expect too much. The path that we are on did not start yesterday, it has taking a few years for us to get here.
    I agree with what your last caller just said!!!

  • Eric

    This conversation highlights a fundamental problem in our democracy. To me the criticism of mainstream Americans and your guests is his perceived inability to coddle the electorate (Reagan, Clinton and Bush Jr.) I can forgive him for having different priorities.

  • Brandstad

    Did anyone notice that when Obama took the presidency the media called it a mandate for his policies,even though he didn’t run on any policies, just the brainless mantra of “Hope & Change”.

    Now that the Republicans have made the biggest power swing to the right since the 1930′s or 1940′s there is no talk in the media about the fact that the people have spoken and the Obama/Pelosi version of change is not the change the population wanted.

  • steve

    They arent the historical Tea party they are the “Whiskey rebellion” that washinton put down.

    steve from lexington mass

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    You know, “We the people” rings quite loudly of socialism, and the Tea Partiers love that. Perhaps socialism ain’t so bad, and what they are actually afraid of are the oligarchic or dictatorial totalitarian regimes that have deceptively called themselves socialist in the past. I also believe that totalitarianism is very bad, and that “We the people” is very good. At the end of the day, perhaps the Tea Party is alright, and might just be the medicine this country needs. They should probably expand their vocabulary a bit, so they don’t stand out like sore thumbs too much in the company of all the other “polite society” politicians. Or, maybe they do need to stand out, to contrast how stuffy everything else has gotten.

    It was pretty evident that the Republicans had interests in framing the new guys on the scene to take the blame for their own malintent. I wonder how much of their controversial message they actually intend to promote, versus how much the picture was painted of them by the establishment media giving undue attention to the extremes. Hunter S. Thompson’s book “Hell’s Angel” comes to mind.

    As for Obama, I’m ready for him to start saying something new. His cadence sounds too much like Bush too me. I was expecting more change, and was not expecting him to take half of Bush’s cabinet on board. I just wonder how much of it all has just degraded to the level of bread and circus, and how much they are actually trying to fix it.

  • http://googleWBUR lucille magnus

    Not everyone of his supporters is disappointed in Obama.

    I am proud of him and proud we elected him even if he is being “buried” already. Everyone seems to forget that the strident and powerful voice of right wing America and the corporate interests have one goal: defeat everything he proposes and get him out. Did they give in on ONE thing?

    I would like to see a visual chart of how the tax cuts for the wealthy really look …the percentage of this country’s wealth they hold. Old story: Keep the status quo — keep the underclass; we shall have oligarchy and already do. The American people are too easily manipulated by the loudest voice and simplest rhetoric. We won’t see Obama’s like for a long, long time.
    If the Republicans continue their wins and win the White House again, perhaps America will then really see and understand how bad it can really get and where the Republicans’ hearts really abide: with corporate/military/oil wealth.

    “Follow the money” — my father always used to say. And the middle class doesn’t have it!!

    Lucille Magnus

  • D. Smith

    News conferences and policy speeches are essential if President Obama is to cut through the din that makes governing extremely difficult. President Obama’s finest public hours, so far, were during his meetings with Republicans at their retreat, and at the health care summit. He was able to confront and embarrass them, and gain respect in the process. Confronting and debunking the misinformation, and strongly advocating his policies are only possible in a news conference format, it seems to me.

  • Zaker

    @Fred Goldstien, 10:55AM

    I interpreted the point not in terms of “political center” but in terms of “personal center.”

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    On the Rorshach comment. I think it is true in this respect. Each of us sees him as he is to us. That is what a Rorshach does. That is not a fault of his, it is the reality. It ties in directly with Obama’s point that “He can’t do this alone, this isn’t about him, it is about us” {parphrased somewhat}.

    I apologize for commenting before reading what has already been written. I have to go to work for once. I look forward to reading your comments later.

  • peter nelson

    This discussion about whether Obama emotes or not seems very odd to me. I find his appeal is in fact the cool, rational, and intellectual approach to problems.

    It’s not about you. Or me. I was always one of those skinny, high-IQ slide-rule-carrying geeks in high school and college (in college I got a pocket calculator). So I like people who are “cool rational and intellectual”.

    But my rational, intellectual high-IQ mind is smart enough to see that politics has nothing to with that stuff! And the hick, redneck, pickup-truck-driving crowd from places like Wasilla is obviously smarter than the pointy-headed intellectuals in liberal colleges because they get it, too.

  • Ann, Barrington, Rhode Island

    Obama IS modeling a different way of acting.

    But, America is GREEDY for p o l i t i c i a n s and their typical behavior!!!

    Then the media comes in and “labels” his behavior. To me, he seems to be STUDYING issues, as opposed to just seeing how they fit into his Party’s Box, “Republic” style. Is THAT kind of behavior really “cool”, “aloof”? Or, is it that some of his rebuffs for direct meetings or interviews are REALLY due to the fact that HE NEEDS TIME TO REALLY STUDY ALL THAT IS IN FRONT OF HIM? Can ANY of us IMAGINE what it is like to have THAT RANGE AND SCOPE OF THINGS TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR???!!!

    Does America just really LOVE TO pick on GEEKS WHO STUDY???

    All that said, I AM really upset that he did NOT ADVOCATE FOR single payer; that he doesn’t SPEAK UP against a lot of the Republican ideas (the bailouts started under the Republicans & there was an economic reason to support them: he BARELY makes those two different points. Therefore, when bailouts are an even hotter idea with unemployment so disastrous for so much longer now, he NEEDS TO EXPLAIN WHAT HE ADVOCATES, WHAT HE CHOOSES BETWEEN, TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, even tho, as I said, above, he seems to believe in Never Complain, Never Explain!!.

    I also believe that there are political operatives who use his race to provoke the disrespect we hear from way too many bigots. We hear their bigotry louder and more often than we hear HIS advocacy for HIS programs, let alone his advocacy for the programs his SUPPORTERS wanted him to support (single payer). Again, we seldom hear him REBUT bad ideas or “mis-blamed” (could we coin that word?!!) programs.

    I DO think he ABSOLUTELY NEEDS A NEW PRESS SECRETARY!!!

    Yes, to the caller who said, (paraphrasing:) in a way, what do we expect when he is getting so little co-operation from the Republicans? …… Hey, just now (by one of the guests on the show), HE is being blamed for not reaching out to the other side? Really??!!

    One more thought, there is a great email going around about all the things that he HAS accomplished. Tying it all up, as a caller said, he doesn’t blow his own horn: well, he NEEDS to. AND, he NEEDS TO REBUT THE ERRONEOUS MATERIALS AND FALSE IDEAS THAT THE REPUBLICANS AND TEA PARTYERS COME UP WITH. Or ……. he needs a MORE EFFECTIVE PRESS SECRETARY WHO WILL EITHER DO A LOT OF THAT LEG WORK, OR SET THE PRESIDENT UP ENOUGH SO THAT WHEN THE PRESIDENT DOES SPEAK OUT MORE, HE DOESN’T HAVE TO SPEND MUCH TIME DOING IT, BECAUSE THE STAGE HAS BEEN SET.

    That’s it!!! A more effective press secretary!!!

  • Mark

    Take back the Whitehouse! Yes! Take back our country! Yes! From Wallstreet!!! Could not agree more!!!

  • peter nelson

    At a time when America desperately needed an AMERICAN leader to revive American values and ideals, he has instead turned his sites on being a leader of the whole world – which in essence has been one-sided – the love, support and ushering in of a new age for Islam, which is a hostile element to the whole entire world.

    What’s more American that religious freedom?

    What’s LESS American than your bigotry?

  • mary elizabeth

    Obama may have disappointed a lot of us. but could any president have done better? Much of his soaring campaign call to change was before being handed a perilous world economy. With this in his sight would he have offered up the hope that he did?
    Are we right to expect that he could move the car “out of the ditch” while at the same time enacting major change? And with his base withdrawing support six months into his Presidency? And with a virulent
    Republican party determined to destroy his Presidency?

    William Galston speaks of President Obama being in first stage of Kubler-Ross’ stages of grieving, but is it not,we, his starry eyed followers who are there also?
    Obama may very well be a one term President, but whoever follows will benefit from his strides, however meager in some eyes, unlike being left the mess that Obama was.

  • Les from Vermont

    William Maher,
    Who are you Joe Mcarthy? I don’t know how any could call the past 30 years of easing tax on the rich and deregulation of big business socialism. Stripping environmental protection to open the way for capitalist is not socialism. Socialism is protecting the environment and there for everyone’s well being.

    As for kids not finding China, if schools where less busy endoctrinating them with the tennets of capitalism; maybe they could.

    As for the Bernie Madoff, isn’t the whole capitalist economy a ponzie scheme? That is way it requires perpetual growth.

    Are you opposed to libraries and fire departments? Or are those good capitalist organizations?

  • thomas terrill

    Interesting show about the President. Thoughtful commentators. But Mr. Cohen used a poor analogy: FDR and Dr. Win the War. The New Deal stalled in 1937-38 for several reasons: packing the court, a severe recession (1937-38), tightening money by policies of FDR, the Fed, and Congress, and start of withholding for Social Security. WWII came FDR a second life politically or he would have left office in 1940. Mr. Galston compares Clinton and 1994 with Obama and now without noting the very different circumstances of the two presidencies.

  • Laurie

    Maybe you should have a show about what it would be like had the Republicans won in 2008?

  • thomas terrill

    Columbia, SC

  • Ray Johnson

    Buyers Remorse! That is what some supporters are feeling. In my opinion Obama didn’t have enough experience to be elected in 2008. He is a great speaker and campaigner but lacks the experience that is needed to be a leader. Obama had never ran a business or been head of a government, at the local or state level. One and a half years as a Senator does not give a person the knowledge to lead this country.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    Lucille Magnas @1059
    Bernie Sanders said this last night during an interview on Rachel I think.

    80% of the increase in income over the last five years (I think it was five years) has gone to the top 1% of wage earners. It is a frightening statistic, it should be criminal, it is disheartening to know that nothing will be done about it. Many of us recognize just how wrong it is, how it has been this way for far to long, and how there seems to be very little we can do about it.

    I am trying to regain my optimism….

  • ThresherK

    Whenever mediafolk throw around ideas of “unpopularity” and don’t really bring up numbers, my alarm goes off.

    Gotta love the internalized NPR concern trolling for a popular president. Remember “Karl Rove’s math”? NPR didn’t seem to fret over the least popoular, worst president in a century after George W. Bush’s 2006 midterm debacle.

    I didn’t hear the whole program today. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to see how little the microscopic interest the GOP has in actual governance was a topic on today’s show.

  • Joan Davidson,Ph.d

    After listening carefully to the “experts” and then scrolling through the many comments I wish to remind you ALL that President Obama has been in office less than two years.
    He has accomplished much, though perhaps not pleasing the lefties, and for sure displeasing the racist elements of our nation and those who hope to continue to be ever-wealthier.

    W’s auto-biography has been classified in the CRIME section of bookstores in England. That is where it belongs!
    Obama still has a bit more than two years to mop up the messes Bush and cronies made of this country and the world in his 8-year spree as “decider.”I remain hopeful.

    Meanwhile feckless fools rant on against our president, and began doing so even before he took office.What galls is that the “media” give them more than equal time, treating them like respected intelligent celebrities instead of the mindless self-absorbed money-grubbers that they ARE.

  • Ellen Dibble in Northampton, MA

    Reporters went around in Indonesia interviewing his teachers and friends from childhood. Did anyone else hear? The teacher I heard started telling how he hung out with the mischievous group, and he was the most mischievous. She didn’t say “bad,” and I’m not sure the word she used was mischievous. But the picture of the little monkey Barry came through, chubby and with curly eyelashes. She would neither agree nor disagree when the reporter asked, “So he was a troublemaker?” She clammed up. Another Indonesian, male, spoke of giving him piggyback rides, and how he didn’t like it when people touched his curly hair, though that was a novelty there. And here is the restaurant where that guy’s mom had cooked up the peanut stew that Obama loved.
    I’m setting that picture up against all the elitist education that seems to put him out of touch, and hoping he rediscovers his inner monkey.

  • Timothy C Smith

    Did you remember to mention that today is Veteran’s Day? I hope so.

  • seth

    Isn’t it possible that Obama is and always has been what he presents today, lazy, mediocre and clueless, and what he did to get elected was a good media show?

  • marc

    Bold advice? Thanks for asking.

    Get us out of these stupid wars – including the contractors who cost more than the troops.
    Push for single payer. The current 2000 page health care bill is a disaster. You can successfully argue that you let them do it their way and they (dems and repubs) made a mess of it.
    Reduce the number of lawyers and wall street advisors. You need some, but you’ve got too many crooks working for you.
    Stop whining. The government on both sides created a mess. Few expected you to fix it quickly, but we also didn’t expect you to make it so much worse so quickly. Start showing you’re a grown up (like you did recently) and take responsibility for your actions.

    Oh and can we stop claiming that Obama saved us from a depression. By that logic, we should thank Bush for saving us from nuclear attack. So easy to claim credit for something that didn’t happen.

  • peter nelson

    I don’t know how any could call the past 30 years of easing tax on the rich and deregulation of big business socialism.

    I know I sound like a broken record, but really, this all makes sense if you recognize that politics is theater.

    Say you were putting on a play involving an evil banker trying to wrest the mortgage away from innocent young Nell, the rancher’s widow. No one would be surprised in the evil banker was dressed in black, wore a top hat, had a curlicue moustache which he twirled with his fingers while shifting his beady eyes and laughing evilly. Nell probably gets tied to train tracks at some point.

    Does it matter that real bankers don’t do that or look like that? NO! He’s a symbol drawn in an iconographic language people can recognize! Ditto with “socialist” – it’s just a word used to symbolize something in the Republican’s story. They’re telling a story; they’re putting on a play; they’re reciting an epic poem. They get to choose the symbols and icons and themes, and obviously the voters liked it better than what they got from the Democrats.

    You’re never going to win the argument by scoring points based on dictionary definitions any more than you can critique a poem because the poet took liberties with a word, or try to claim that “Gone With The Wind” was a bad movie because of some lack of historical accuracy.

  • Anny

    Aren’t we asking the impossible from President Obama? Sure, the president has an important role in communicating the agenda, convincing the public and mustering support. Admittedly, he may have not done the best job in this regard.

    But what about the agenda? Presidents cannot build it on their own. They need institutional support, from their party; from organized civil society. The Democratic Party has been unable to generate a coherent agenda for CHANGE (which seem to have been the buzzword that brought Obama to the presidency). Civil society is disorganized and fragmented: where are the unions, activists and community builders? Have their diverse demands and hopes have been weaved in some coherent agenda? Definitely not.

    Now take the opposition –the Republican party. For an agenda of change to go forward, we need a PARTY SYSTEM, that is, at least two political agents who are devoted and willing to engage in discussing issues for the sake of governing for the public good. Since the late seventies, the Republican party has been veering away from this form of politics, focusing on “cultural-identity” politics that has left a series of “hot buttons” that they press at will (patriotism, individual freedom, anti-state sentiments, personal responsibility, sexual politics, etc). The results? Emotional, fragmented responses that do not allow for a rational discussion of issues (the core of POLITICS). No wonder “bi-partisanship” has been an elusive goal!

    The Tea Party has filled the vacuum left by the Republicans in the center-conservative politics. Their radical agenda has focused on reducing the role of the state to the protection of civil liberties (life, property, liberty.. and the pursuit of happiness ??) but denying any intervention of politics in the DISTRIBUTION of resources (which is a key aspect of politics) On light of this agenda, there is little to discuss in Congress and a progressive agenda is dead from the start. Why do Republican politicians respond to the Tea Party? Simple: they are the most organized grassroots movement in America, able to mobilize votes and public opinion (see Theda Skocpol on this matter)

    In short: politics has changed fundamentally in America. Obama cannot “fix” this. He has tried to return rationality to the task of governing, but has faced lack of institutional support and a fragmented, emotional, changing electorate (a result also of the transformations in the party system). In this environment, no wonder that the practical routes to get something done (back-room negotiations which reluctant and self-interested political actors) have resulted in half-baked policies that do not satisfy anyone. Moreover, it has eroded his leadership appeal (one of the few assets he could rely on).

    Bottom line: the problem is American politics, not the President. No wonder by Obama’s performance in foreign policy (which is quite independent from domestic politics) is remarkably better!

    Belmont, Massachusetts

  • Istvan Kiraly

    Here is my BOLD advice .
    Get rid of the government.There will be no more taxes.But as result,sorry.no more
    army either.
    You could still send all the “rugged individuals”(usually as rugged inside as
    outside) to Afghanistan to squander their own money there.
    Send Mr.Roger Cohen the English man with them.
    Attach England to the USA : the Yanks are getting as silly and oligarchical as their
    cousins.We’ll give you Sarkozy,l’Americain,and you give us Obama. A deal ?
    And we’ll have a happy Europe ever after.
    Cheers.

  • Zeno

    “I know I sound like a broken record, but really, this all makes sense if you recognize that politics is theater.” – Posted by peter nelson

    I agree. But, orver the past 12 years I think it is completely divorced from reality. Theater at least tries to grasp with reality by telling a story.

    IMO Politics is more akin to religion with magic, Divine morals, acolytes, Messiahs, disciples, parables, hypocrisy, violence etc. The drama is tied to the old emotional hooks with the rhetorical obfuscation as in most holy books.

  • Tom

    Tom,

    Barack Obama’s current woes are a result of our corporatocracy. We elected him with hope –not realizing how much the campaign contributors want payback –which that does not often match what the public wants. Example: Banks want to charge usurious rates to their credit cardholders. The credit cardholders want reasonable rates, they even prevented Elizabeth Warren from running a consumer credit bureau. Who is left in government to protect the average person?

  • Zeno

    …speaking of spineless obsequious behavior -
    Obama Is Open to Extension of Bush Tax Cuts for All, Axelrod Says : http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/11/11/obama-will-accept-extension-of-bush-tax-cuts-to-all-axelrod-say/

    Nuff said.

  • http://noneatthemoment walter

    Lewiston, NY
    Subject. “Presidency of the United States of America – vis-a-vis Barack Obama”.
    Issue. At the end of 2010, his 2018 promises remain unfulfilled. Therefore :
    As is on the horizon. “Hand it ALL back to the ‘buffoons’ who during 8 disastrous years” WILLFULLY (‘patriotically’) contrived amassing the country’s chaos – any-way !
    Method . Obama to become bolder – INTERNATIONALLY and nationally ! To convince ALL that he’s a tough guy.
    Alternative Method. Obama to sob loudly every time he speaks publicly. To convince ALL that he’s sincere in ALL that he’s doing.
    Results. The first – effected by what-ever measure of aggressiveness allowable – is being tried…. and IS seen to be failing – miserably too.
    The alternative (tongue in cheek) will be tried – by the soon to be new Leader of the House of Representatives. Who can tell whether that will succeed. Some say, “Of course NOT”.

    Here are walter’s suggestions (obviously idiotic)
    1. Remove the words “partisan” and “bi-partisan” from our political dictionary (vive Josip Broz)
    2. Replace the 2nd with the word ‘compromise’ and ponder on it’s meaning whenever used as well as act on the outcome, flexibly
    3. Correct the prevalent near 45/45/10
    (Democrat/Republican/’independent’) political ratio (that is clear evidence of promoting selfish obstructionism) by gradually (boldly) setting up a serious ratio of 30/30/30/10 where ‘ruling’ will be possible only by “COMPROMISING”.
    4. Admission. “The ‘sheep’ now not being ‘too sheepish’ and the shepherd function now not being successful by remaining over-centralized”.
    As such(in today’s expanding awareness of the immense human potential of common-sense being more and more recognized to be seriously obstructed by existing propagandist coercions) for us ALL not to be ashamed of reaching above the prevalent ingrained slavish conservatisms – of numerous ‘shady’ shades.
    5. Our current presidential system – of ‘governing’ 50 so -called (sovereign) states – being recognized as worth continuing to be tried……
    future Presidents to be given ONLY ONE term of office (let us say of 6 years) with NO consecutive 2nd – lame duck – term permitted. And, during his one and only term, the President being required to resign from the political party he subscribes to, so as to be seen as the President of ALL – without exclusion.
    Your comments will be applauded

  • millard_fillmore

    “I know I sound like a broken record, but really, this all makes sense if you recognize that politics is theater.”

    Exactly!! And it’s not as if the Democrats/liberals don’t indulge in their own theatrics and instead, strictly rely on principles, data and facts.

    If the latter were the case, then we wouldn’t have someone who voted for the Iraq war, competing with Obama for the nomination, nearly winning it, and then ending up as the current Secretary of State. If principles, data and facts were relevant, then Cindy Sheehan would have been in the Congress today, instead of being left on the wayside after her heroics were used to galvanize the population against Bush and Iraq war.

    If it weren’t for political theater, we wouldn’t have McCain – who till 2007 was considered a Maverick and embraced by the Democrats/liberals – made into the most despised Republican with hatchet-jobs by Rolling Stone and other magazines/editorials.

    I think the Democrats/liberals are in denial when they take the holier-than-thou attitude and try to paint only the Republicans as the bad guys. Using the same yardstick, one can find the same behavior – with varying degrees – on both sides of the political spectrum and in both corrupt parties.

  • Steve V

    President Obama needs to speak both to me and for me (the Middle Class). So far he has done neither.

  • TomK

    It’s very sad that Obama turned into Oromney, a timid centrist. His compromising has stupefied and paralyzed the voters who swept him into office, without getting a single vote or iota of support from the right.

    Most recently, the class warfare proposed by the deficit commission would normally be a godsend to the dems and suicide for the GoP. However, Oromney appointed the “conservadems” and rightys who launched the usual attacks on SS and medicare, so now he has a stake in it and he has insulated the GoP from the usual dire consequences.

    Oromney’s doomed attempts at compromise with fanatics are damaging the dems and rescuing the GoP. He has become the worst politician I have ever seen!

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy

    Ventura, California

    …Boehner’s tearful embrace of our national mythos…
    Posted by peter nelson, on November 11th

    Good job … I had the phrase, “national ethos,” in mind when I read your clever usus loquendi. The problem here, as I see it, is one of ethics – a very broad term, I understand, but give me a moment.

    When one loves money more than anything else in the world, there’s a problem. The Christian Bible tries to teach this lesson, but obviously hasn’t been succeeding as it should have (easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. . .yada-yada-yada). But the problem is money, and while “conservatism” to some might evoke the caricature of Ebeneezer Scrooge, in reality the parallel is closer to that of Auric Goldfinger from the famed Ian Fleming blockbuster of the same name – or the “Gold Bug,” if you don’t mind my spreading the metaphors around, this one from the great instrumental rendition by APP, the Alan Parsons Project.

    As I see it, you can’t become an ethical adult if you weren’t raised as an ethical child. Because children are taught from a very young age that what you can’t buy with love, you can surely buy with money – including love itself, if necessary. This is what can happen, especially in homes where children are just barely “making it” in single-parent households. They’re what I call “self-parented,” or worse still, “peer-parented.”

    Gangs. . .drugs. . .endless violent TV and video games. Our society is cracking. The American Dream is indeed our grand ”national mythos.” Great job, peter.

  • Matty Park

    Ventura, CA. I’m surprised there has been no mention of the relentless attacks and misinformation spouted on FOX “News” 24 hrs/day. The Republican party has a constant 24 hr platform, not constrained by facts, while the President – who now has to govern the country – has no such mouthpiece. How many times has he made his point only to have it be a one-day blip in the news, while the lies being spread about him are repeated in a constant drumbeat by Republicans and pundits endlessly repeated on Fox and then repeated in the rest of the media?

  • Dave Tillett

    Perhaps your guests could comment on the role of the media in Barack Obama’s presidency. It is clear Obama has made mistakes in letting issues be framed by the right wing media and republican leadership, however there is very little conversation about actual facts by the media. Even now NPR routinely presents both political sides of an issue and gives conservatives a great deal of leniency regarding the facts. Perhaps the reason the american public is so misinformed about policies and politicians is because the media isn’t doing a very good job of informing them and letting propaganda outlets like FOX news drive the national conversation.

  • Rick O’Neal

    GUEST IS AN ARMCHAIR COMMENTATOR

    Mr Cohen does not seem adequately conscious of the centralized right-wing talk machinery hurling daily messages of obstructionism, negativism and lies.

    Of course that’s compounded by the Democratic party’s own lack of a coordinated, consistent unified message, consistently giving the Republicans the rhetorical upper hand.

    I did not hear how Obama was supposed to beat back the right-wing talk machine, put out economic fires, initiate new reform, and build an effective Democratic message network, singlehandedly all within two years. What leader did Mr Cohen have in mind?

    I also did not hear anything about the Republican strategy of obstructing progress then having the Democrats looking like the scapegoats. It’s clever and effective, but what should Obama’s plan have been to stem this off? I did not hear that addressed, although it does seem the Democrats have had plenty of time to think about it.

  • peter nelson

    IMO Politics is more akin to religion with magic, Divine morals, acolytes, Messiahs, disciples, parables, hypocrisy, violence etc. The drama is tied to the old emotional hooks with the rhetorical obfuscation as in most holy books.

    Theater and religion have a lot in common. I’ve also suggested storytelling and epic poetry as apt metaphors. But whatever you call it, people who want to change things first have to get some power. Which means they must learn how to play the game!

    I come from a science and engineering background and many of my liberal friends come from highly educated or academic backgrounds, so it goes against our nature to discard facts and data in favor of drama or storytelling. In our heart-of-hearts we still think that having the right FACTS are what matter. But in politics that simply isn’t what counts, and that’s a fact.

  • jon

    listen, you guys who are all talking about tone and tenor- these same arguments were made about obama during the campaign. despite being frustrated with his unwillingness to “fight,” the american people overhwelmingly elected him. he has not changed in tone or style, and substantively he has compromised where he needed. the left and the media are not standing up for his real accomplishments. he’s lost the trust of the business community? what the hell does that even mean?

  • peter nelson

    Perhaps the reason the american public is so misinformed about policies and politicians is because the media isn’t doing a very good job of informing them and letting propaganda outlets like FOX news drive the national conversation.

    “The media” (which is a plural, remember), is a marketplace. People are free to seek news and information anyplace they want. If “being informed” is really what people wanted the major networks, etc, would provide it to meet market demand. CNN’s market share has been falling WRT Fox. Ted Turner’s not stupid – if there was some great unmet demand to “be informed” CNN would rush in to fill it. Or someone else would.

    But I suspect people would rather hear a good story than learn a bunch of facts. And people who DO like facts, e.g., me, don’t watch TV, nor do I subscribe to a daily newspaper. I read the online edition of the Guardian; I read the Economist and Businessweek, and I read individual news stories from news aggregators from multiple sources. And when I want economic data – inflation, job numbers, trade and fiscal data, etc, I just go to the source: OECD, BLS, Treasury, etc.

    So my point is that if anyone cares, it’s easy to be well-informed but I don’t think that’s what most people care about.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Where does hate-mongering and fear-mongering stop, and actual sedition begin? Responsibility in the press should extend to holding accountable our radical “mullah’s” — meaning certain right-wing sorts who preside by stirring up passion, inflaming, provoking actions that might seem condoned by the hieratic priests of the almighty Cable TV and Fox.
    I don’t listen to Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin, so I’m not qualified to say where the line should be drawn. But Keith Olbermann drew the attention of those focused on the changing ethics of journalism when he was fired for contributing to campaigns his leftward views would certainly tend toward. So is there a double standard for journalism? One for those who take a stand and defend it; another for those who must remain neutral? How would the press deal with the rise of Hitler’s party? Giving equal time? More time? Fearing it? Blasting it?
    Should it be up to the president to do that? Or the Supreme Court? Is it enough for citizens to just be wishful about the Republicans becoming fiscal reformers and letting go of their spendthrift ways, the way their platform supposedly states?
    Apparently not. The elephant has become a true freak, and some haven’t noticed, including some of the leaders, pretending they are the Grand Old Party still.

  • Catherine Yoshimura

    Why do we feel as if the responsiblity of the success of this country’s function fall on the shoulders of just thae person sitting in the Oval Office? If the fact is that President Obama has stopped the fall of this country into a Second Depression, then, how dare we say that he hasn’t shown great leadership. Where is it written that our leader has to “act” according to a formula of success that they feel makes him appealing. This man’s honesty, his intent to be working to the middle is so different from leaders of the past. I believe that we all as individuals need to search in ourselves where we need to find what our reponsiblity is in the success of the country. Greed and hatred are rising up from both sides, but I thank this President for not being immaturely reactionary and ‘playing’ to the sentiments of either right or left.
    Thanks,
    Catherine Yoshimura

  • peter nelson

    (- this is my second attempt to post this. The first one didn’t go, I suspect because I had a link to the Daily Show. So I’m reposting sans-link – you can google it -)

    listen, you guys who are all talking about tone and tenor- these same arguments were made about obama during the campaign. despite being frustrated with his unwillingness to “fight,” the american people overhwelmingly elected him. he has not changed in tone or style,

    Au contraire mon ami!!

    He’s changed a LOT! Did you see him on the Daily show just before the election?! It was all about facts and figures and reasoned explanations. It was right out of a Powerpoint presentation. . . all calm, rational, and factual – and BOORRing!!

    Watch that interview and the compare it with the election acceptance speech he gave at Grant Park in ’08. (available all over the web). Like night and day. He won 2008 because his whole campaign was a dramatic story and he used his oratorial skills brilliantly. 2008 turnout was a record high because people were excited. Now it’s the Tea Party who are excited.

  • jeffe

    I think Obama is smart, capable man who as President who seems to not be able to control his staff, and the people he has hired.

    David Axelrod Had To Get Fiscal Commission Report Off Internet

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/11/axelrod-had-to-get-fiscal_n_782228.html

    Are they kidding? The President hired these people.

    If this was LBJ heads wold be rolling right now.

  • jeffe

    would be rolling…. sorry typo.

    I’ll also add to the thought that Obama is not in control.
    His staff does not seem to know what’s going on. He get’s side swiped by the Republicans and instead of coming out fighting and making his case he retreats. People keep mentioning FDR, I think LBJ is a better model to some extent. My only hope is he does not end up like Johnson, not seeking reelection due to the war in Afghanistan.

  • TomK

    Obama is rapidly becoming the worst politician I have ever seen, and a disaster for the Dems.

    There has always been a clear distinction between the Dems and the class warrior GoPs when it came to protecting the middle class. Time and time again, the GoP has gotten hurt by attacking SS and medicare.

    By appointing this commission in a naive hope for bipartisanship, Obama has blurred the distinction. He now owns, in part, the latest attack on SS and Medicare, and the GoPs are now partly insulated from the consequences. This is a body blow to the Dems, a mistake on a cosmic scale.

    The only way out for the Dems is for Obama to return to the 2008 Obama, or for a real progressive to challenge him and win in 2012.

  • michael

    ohhh,

    “Mad Hatter Tea Party” The democrats and the left should use such more often and hammer at the tea party by using such reference.

    Simple and easy to remember for the vast public.

  • JP

    Tom asked his Guest, “Are you saying this is as good as it gets?” regarding what President Obama has been able to do with the mess he inherited.
    The guest replied “No, that’s not what I’m saying…”
    Well, I’ll say it :
    “YES, this is as good as anyone could have done with the mess left by Bush and 12 years of Republican flubbery!”
    All jobs created under Bush… The ones that had entirely disappeared by the end of Bush’s second term… All those jobs were paid for by illusionary wealth generated by debt, a ridiculously inflated stock market (far too many stocks trading at absurd earnings multiples), and as we now know, absurd increases in home prices.
    When the illusions evaporated before the end of the Bush presidency, so evaporated all of the wealth which had generated just enough jobs to barely keep up with population growth.
    Now, no matter what policies President Obama implemented, the one thing he could not do, AND SHOULD INDEED NEVER DO, is to somehow return America to the policies that depended on illusionary wealth to generate jobs… that was Bush’s and the Republican’s lie, NOT Obama’s.
    THAT is why we can’t generate enough jobs anymore to catch back up to the population… Bush and the Republicans were content that all job growth for a decade be based on illusion, rather than having ever talken steps to create REAL productivity in America that could now be sustaining us. Instead of policies encouraging the growth of industry, Bush was happy that nearly all jobs be retail and service sector, supported by the illusionary balloon money.
    The money that was once in nearly every pocket in America is GONE, and NO ONE, including President Obama, can snap their fingers and bring back retail and service sector jobs when people don’t have money to throw around. All those “fake” jobs supported a so-called “healthy” economy for ten years, but they were bound eventually to evaporate into the ether from which they came, and now we’re stuck with the legacy of Bush’s and the Republican’s short-sightedness that America needed effective policies to encourage a more substantial employmnent base for Americans.

    Be stupid… blame Obama… no one could have done better in the less than two years since Obama took office.

  • JP

    Tom asked his Guest, “Are you saying this is as good as it gets?” regarding what President Obama has been able to do with the mess he inherited.

    The guest replied “No, that’s not what I’m saying…”

    Well, I’ll say it :

    “YES, this is as good as anyone could have done with the mess left by Bush and 12 years of Republican flubbery!”

    All jobs created under Bush… The ones that had entirely disappeared by the end of Bush’s second term… All those jobs were paid for by illusionary wealth generated by debt, a ridiculously inflated stock market (far too many stocks trading at absurd earnings multiples), and as we now know, absurd increases in home prices.

    When the illusions evaporated before the end of the Bush presidency, so evaporated all of the wealth which had generated just enough jobs to barely keep up with population growth.

    Now, no matter what policies President Obama implemented, the one thing he could not do, AND SHOULD INDEED NEVER DO, is to somehow return America to the policies that depended on illusionary wealth to generate jobs… that was Bush’s and the Republican’s lie, NOT Obama’s.

    THAT is why we can’t generate enough jobs anymore to catch back up to the population… Bush and the Republicans were content that all job growth for a decade be based on illusion, rather than having ever talken steps to create REAL productivity in America that could now be sustaining us. Instead of policies encouraging the growth of industry, Bush was happy that nearly all jobs be retail and service sector, supported by the illusionary balloon money.

    The money that was once in nearly every pocket in America is GONE, and NO ONE, including President Obama, can snap their fingers and bring back retail and service sector jobs when people don’t have money to throw around.

    All those “fake” jobs supported a so-called “healthy” economy for ten years, but they were bound eventually to evaporate into the ether from which they came, and now we’re stuck with the legacy of Bush’s and the Republican’s short-sightedness when THEY were in charge during the years America needed effective policies to encourage a more substantial employmnent base for Americans.

    Be stupid… blame Obama… no one could have done better in the less than two years since Obama took office.

  • Rob (in NY)

    Jeffe,
    Do you believe Lyndon Johnson is a valid comparison for President Obama? I do not believe for one second that President Obama has Lyndon Johhnson’s political instincts as a leader (nor did he have his legislative experience). I guess President Obama stikes me more as an idealist, whereas LBJ was far more practical

    Putting aside my personal center/right politics on economic issues for a moment, I admire LBJ’s political instincts and especially his commitment to civil rights. LBJ was at the center of every major civil rights bill in the 1950s (as Senate Majority Leader) and as President from 1963-1968. He was cognizant of political reality and willing to compromise to move the agenda on civil rights forward as far as possible at any given moment in time. He demonstrated skill in both playing political hardball with southern Democratic Senators and building political coalitions with leaders in both parties, as demonstrated through his personal friendship with GOP leaders, such as Everett Dirksen. Johnson actually was able to get a greater percentage of GOP Senators to vote for much of his landmark civil rights and voting rights legislation of 1964-5.

    In my opinion, President Obama more resembles John Kennedy with both his lofty rhetoric and lack of substance as a leader. Civil rights is perfect example. Civil rights is a perfect example. John Kennedy gave great speeches on civil rights to supportive audiences but did not really push this agenda, whereas LBJ used his political skill to pass transformative legislation.

  • peter nelson

    The only way out for the Dems is for Obama to return to the 2008 Obama, or for a real progressive to challenge him and win in 2012.

    I don’t think a real progressive can win in this country. But if Obama cannot conjure up the Obama and the excitement of 2008 he should step aside for someone who can.

  • T. Jefferson, Grave, USA

    In Praise of Tea, Lawrence Lessig, congretional reform advocate.

    Gee whiz, a CRITICAL, supporter…..as opposed to knee-jerk rejector.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-lessig/in-praise-of-tea_b_782217.html

  • Potter

    Re the “agenda of choice” and the “agenda of necessity” I believe Obama saw health care reform as being about both ( and it was ); it was not one agenda in opposition to the other. The problem was that he conceded so much i that we wound up with something that is unsatisfactory.

    There is no middle ground that will be satisfactory. Therefore a leader must push for what he knows is right and take the consequences – and then only compromising after a ( damn) good fight. It’s a battle that Obama refuses to engage in.

    As a consequence of not pushing his vision, Obama now is on the defensive from critics on both sides ( probably feeling misunderstood and unappreciated).

    I hope that his response is not to move more to the center to please as many are saying he now needs to do. He’s moved enough. He needs to lead, not to compromise, he needs backbone- even if it means political death. He needs to find ( again) strong convictions and go with them. This is what gave people hope for change. But I am with Roger Cohen– skeptical.

  • William

    Obama is not going to move to the center or even try to get along with the majority in this country. He will now work on getting a second term and the “forgotten man” will continue to pay the bills.

  • JP

    “he needs backbone- even if it means political death.”

    Agreed Mr. Potter… but I’ll go one further – his lack of “backbone” with regard to the health care and other fights is, in itself, what is leading to his “political death.”

  • David

    I actually think Barrack Obama has been a quite good center-left president, especially in this highly polarized political environment. I think his greatest sin so far was simply running a presidential election campaign that encouraged everyone to expect the stars, and then hewing to only what was actually politically possible post-election.


    A Republican in Atlanta, Georgia

  • david

    Our ship of state is headed for an even worse iceberg than the one we hit a couple of years ago. US national debt is at 13.7 TRILLION and climbing. I heard oil hit $87 a barrel today. Watch oil, if it starts climbing you better head for the life boats. Oil was a trigger for the last economic crash. Remember folks, we are a consumption driven economy, if prices rise, which they are doing right now, more hard times are coming. Get out of debt, stay out of debt and save as much of our devalued dollars as you can.

  • Ben Bernanke, Keynesville, Earth

    “Get out of debt, stay out of debt and save as much of our devalued dollars as you can.”

    What me worry?

    Have printing press, will use.

  • Dave
  • Matthew Smith

    Obama:

    We want a leader, not a legislator.

  • Joseph

    I think that much of what the two guests on the program had to say was very correct. It is clear that from the moment Obama took office the Republicans were not interested in working with him at all, but instead were out to thwart and destroy his presidency in every way possible. Top Republican leaders such as McConnell and Boehner were very open about that from the get go. If Obama wanted to be post-partisan, and his behavior in office has illustrated how high a priority he placed on this, he had to become a great communicator to the American people over the heads of the politicians. The way FDR was and the way Ronald Reagan was, though politically these two were such polar opposites. Instead Obama pursued a policy of closed door attempts at negotiation that left supporters disappointed, and allowed the opposition to create the narrative.

    I wish that Obama could now succeed, and recover the Democratic loses going forward to 2012, by becoming bolder about pushing the progressive principles he espoused in his election campaign. The plain fact is that this is sure to fail. America really is divided between two opposing views of what the country is, what it should mean to be an American. One side of the divide are those that think we are a community and we want to be. The other side believes we are a nation of individuals in competition. Neither has any great ascendency, though the second is slightly larger. That is, to name them favorably the rugged individualists, and unfavorably the “I’ve got mine, screw everyone else” crowd. This explains how such radical swings can occur in elections just two years apart.

    Now I will reveal my pessimistic side. The top 20% economically in America will do just fine going forward no matter what. This especially is true of the top 10% that has seen income and wealth rise at a phenomenal rate over the last 30 years or so. It the rest of us Americans that have little hope. What ever side we are on in the great philosophical divide cited above we are going to be fighting over a steadily shrinking pie. The post-WWII prosperity that saw a steady increase of standard of living for all is never coming back.

    Joseph
    Park Falls Wisconsin.

  • Cassie

    Galston misreads the meaning of Obama’s likening of himself to a Rorschach test–the idea is not that Obama himself is constantly metamorphosing, but that the public projects its desires onto him. Impressions about Obama are as varied as the subjectivities of the American people, and this is not because Obama is a shape-shifter, but that we interpret him as we wish.

    And so I think the comments about people’s unconscious racism are particularly apt.

    Cassie
    New York City

  • Flowen

    Hello All

    Just got back from an author’s signing with Ari Berman for his book “Herding Donkeys” about the ’06 and ’08 Democratic campaigns, along with Dr. Howard Dean, who was the DNC Chairman through that period.

    I must say I was discouraged. Dean and Berman’s take on Obama’s performance is less generous even than my take. Based on their talk and Q&A, I’m back to wondering if Obama isn’t a Corporate Pol in a trojan horse. According to them, they give Marco Rubio and Sarah Palin best odds as ’12 Repub challenger; and 100% that Obama will be the Dem choice.

    They were able to fill in some insider’s details. If anything, the administration seems even less competent than I thought in mis-managing the Congressional Dems, the White House staff, and the ’08 campaign workers after the election.

    I wish I could be more positive, because the idea of another 6 years under the Corporate/Repub boot is nearly intolerable. The hard-core Dem crowd
    was equally unimpressed. The most positive thing was the favorable demographic shift with twenty-somethings being incompatible with Republican designs.

    The one positive thing I will get is some feed-back on the “Obama ’12 Strategy” piece I put up on the top of this thread from Berman, and hopefully from Dean too.

    Nothing changes WRT the US going to social/economic/political hell; so that will force people increasingly to get more real. I still consider the Bowles/Simpson proposal to be a response to the reality of crash and burn.

    Similarly, there apparently is some bi-partisan support to allow homeowners to re-finance their mortgages where none of the loan terms change but the lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment for people who otherwise don’t qualify for a new loan. As we discussed before, and Peter pointed out, they can’t currently do it because the loan originator has long since sold the mortgage. Just another example of insanity; laws and regulations that would be illegal if not crafted by legislating psychopaths, slanting the playing field so that the money just rolls into their Corporate Masters’ greedy hands.

    It’s not enough to trade worthless debt for homeowners’ real money in exchange for a super-inflated home due to a bubble of their own creation, and then foreclose on the family because they don’t qualify for a lower cost loan?!?!?! I wish I was making this stuff up. At least today, they have begun to talk about how it is not the right, white Christian thing to do. Truth of course is that they’re beginning to see the golden goose laying the golden eggs is dying.

    Good luck to all non-Repubs, we’ll need it.

  • Flowen

    Jeffe @ 2:59

    I dunno Jeffe, I’m beginning to think that might be better.

    It’s not a matter of Obama not living up to too high expectations. He seems to be surpassing normal democratic incompetence.

    3 hours of sleep make me tired; maybe I’ll be more optimistic when rested.

  • Tad

    Dear Tom & the entire OnPoint staff,
    Thank you very much for the single most informed, thoughtful and balanced critique of President Obama that I’ve encountered to date.
    Phew.
    1 word: Superb.
    ~
    Best regards from an urban, industrial Midwestern, moderate Democrat.

  • http://OnPoint Ronald Gorman

    President Obama could be Jesus Christ and every Republican would vote against anything that he has or would propose. From Day 1, they made it very clear that they had only one objective and that was to make certain the Obama would not be re-elected. He needs to stick to what he promised us when he was elected. Attempting to negotiate with the Republicans is a loosing proposition.

  • http://OnPoint Ronald Gorman

    St. Louis, MO

  • hilary simon

    I am not disappointed in Obama. I am disappointed in teh country. The tea party is supported, even created by special interests. With non-disclosure we do not know who these puppeteers are. The republicans care ONLY about being reelected even it means getting nothing done for 4 years. The people who believe the lies being told by these parties are the same mobs that get crazy when there is economic stress and become hateful and blame the wrong people. The sick people in this country are using their voices and dragging hte rest us down.

  • hilary s

    st louis, mo

  • Rodney Ellis

    Yes i do believe RACE has a lot to do with the attack. From the moment of his election Obama was the subject of attacks by the Tea Party people, the Republicans and then even some Democrats who were backboneless and afraid of the Tea Party.

    Obama called for byparty cooperation and received absolutely none. Congress showed that it did not have the well being of the American people at heart. Why did not the republicans try to help get what they thought would be a good Health Care Plan instead they just fought all the way. Now the new speaker of the house to be says we must have by-party cooperation. Please give us some credit for seeing through the plan to destroy progress that was made.

    I think the Tea Party and the Republicans are going to sadly disappoint the American People when they attempt to make all these changes. Totaly do away with Health Care, Give me a break. Do away with SS

    Give Obama 8 years and I guarantee we sill not be as bad off as we were with Bush.

  • jeffe

    Rob no I did not meant that at all. What I think we need right now is an LBJ. Someone who knows how to make deals when it’s needed and when to get down into the trenches and fight. LBJ knew how twist arms. Mind you those were different times.

    Obama does not seem that be able to do this.

  • Ahleen Miles

    I think we expect too much from president Barack Obama. Any new president taking over what he did would have a daunting task if not even to say impossible task before him or her to wrangle up and fix it all in two years. I mean who could expect it all to be begun to be fixed in two years with everyone responsible for helping the President, riding the brakes. Now doesn’t it fall a little more into perspective? Almost everyone is far to critical, as if all the answers must come from the President. I mean what the pardon my french, hell , is the cabinet for anyways. It seems they all think their job is to sit around, look busy and not let anything happen at all, and let the president take all the blame. They are certainly good at pointing out what’s wrong, but do they have one good idea as how to fix this mess? The president is counting on them and what is really happening is the Republicans are stopping anything from passing just to wait it out and to try to win the majority in the next election or two. The demarcates have fallen short of lifting a finger to help the president. Which tell me that the Dems. are as bad as the other balkers. It’s just a big fat mess and everyone but the president is only looking out for them self and the special interests that give them money to run for office to do their bidding. I say we can the whole bunch and let the liberal and green party run the country. At least the people who make up most of the country will be taken seriously and we might have a chance at surviving, and not have to revert to cannibalism to save us, or, are we too late? And By the way, in order to run a country you have to spend and you have to tax.

  • Ahleen Miles

    Oh sorry, I meant congress not cabinet.

  • Ishmael

    Obama has good ideas; I don’t care that he doesn’t “emote” well. The US needs someone who is sharp with street smarts, not an “empath-in-chief”, particularly after the disaster of Obama’s predecessor in the Oval Office.

    The teabaggers and their rightwing fellows-in-festering have mainly themselves in mind: their race, religion, their tricornered fantasies. They do not have the good of the country in mind in any long-term manner; in fact from listening to them they have only contempt for the country. This is 2010, not 1776; there has been a lot of water over the dam; the days of the slaveowning “founding fathers” and their sense of entitlement are over.

    It will take a great, great deal of change and optimism to overcome the pessimism and damage done by the rightwing over the last thirty years.

  • http://www.taoofboo.com g. martinez cabrera

    “Why does everyone think that Obama is superman? I know there were a lot of people who thought he walked on water during the election, which is ironic considering that there are a lot of other people who think he’s a Muslim. He is only human, one man. He cannot be blamed for everything that goes wrong in the world–even the political world of this country. Let’s get over our disappointment and help him make our country better.

  • Potter

    “Obama has good ideas; I don’t care that he doesn’t “emote” well. The US needs someone who is sharp with street smarts, not an “empath-in-chief”, particularly after the disaster of Obama’s predecessor in the Oval Office.

    Obama supposedly had sharp street smarts- but we don’t see those when it comes to governing, dealing with the Congress. And we DO need a president that communicates enough to the American people to get them behind him. So either he does not having either or is holding back on USING both qualities ( which I believe he has) for whatever his reasons, produces the present results.

    We can forgive him for all the reasons states- that his plate is full etc- but we also are entitled to look at him and his responses.

    I hear that regarding this “battle” about extending the Bush tax cuts that were irresponsible from day one- Obama is already giving up leverage (threatening to allow the cuts to simply expire) in the bargaining. He comes out with his hands up. It’s infuriating.

    Potter, Central MA

  • tom

    I’ve never heard someone whine so much as Cohen! The president can do only so much! The real solutions must come from the people. Stop whining, roll up your sleeves, and pitch in to help!

  • buddhaclown

    What about the possibility that the Obamanauts of the campaign were, and continue to be, slightly out of touch with reality?

    Maybe their enthusiasm during the campaign was somehow out of sync with reality?

    By the same token, perhaps their current disappointment is equally out of sync with reality?

    Perhaps they no more know or understand Obama today than they did when they voted for him? If they showed such skewed judgment back then, why should we trust their judgment today?

    Why is it that it seems to me Obama is exactly the dude I voted for. **Shrug**

  • zack

    In 2008, voters had a chance to vote for a presidential candidate that would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring the troops home, restore civil liberties, investigate and prosecute Bush era crimes. Instead, they elected Barack Obama, a warmongering corporatist. Maybe the American people will realize that the fraud of the false left-right paradigm being pushed by NPR and the rest of the MSM.

    Ron Paul 2012

  • Beverly


    JON,

    It’s very disheartening, isn’t it?

  • Beverly

    ZACK,

    Are you really insinuating that John McCain would have ended the wars? Republicans LIVE for war. Bush was the KING  of warmongers, who swore he’d start a war in Iraq, even before he was inaugurated. You have just proven that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    President Obama is a passifist, who VOTED AGAINST BUSH’S WAR. Barack Obama is the one who is finally ending the war in Iraq. Bases have been closed. Most troops have already been sent home. Would McCain have done that? McCAIN DOESN’T EVEN SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. He got a D on his Congressional Report Card, for consistantly refusing to give any help to our troops; the ones who are sacrificing everything for us. (IAVAAction.org) IT’S DISCRACEFUL, unpatriotc, & inhumane.

    Give me a break!

    Even though it may be alien to you, try thinking before you give an opinion next time. Your comments have no basis in FACT. Please carry out a fact check before submitting any more comments.

  • Beverly

    ZACK,

    Just noticed what you said about NPR.

    Are you really too ignorant to know that 61% of NPR’s listening audience are Republicans. Only 37% are Democrats.

    Looks like you’d better do some fact checking before you submit another comment.

  • Mordecai Carroll

    Uggh. Roger Cohen is rehashing the same tired old beltway wisdom about Democrats having to move to the center in order to win elections. A load of horse-merde. What Democrats need to do in order to win elections is fight consistently in favor of the middle class and quit kow-towing to big business and Wall St. The American public may not be aware of all the finer points of economic policy, but they know hypocrisy when they see it. In recent years, Dems have talked a good game about the Middle Class and the widening income gap, but they haven’t put their money where their mouth is when it came time to vote. This hasn’t gone unnoticed.

  • Mordecai Carroll

    One more point:

    Cohen argues that Obama needs to win back the confidence of business in order to get the economy going again. If it’s true that business needs to be confident in the President in order to create new jobs, then why were George W. Bush’s job creation numbers so incredibly awful? They could hardly have asked for a more business-friendly president than George W., yet the number of jobs created during his two terms were anemic.

    The logic used by Cohen here is the same flawed logic used by people arguing for a continuation of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of the country. “We can’t tax the wealthiest 2 % – they’re the job creators. They’re the engines of the economy”. This is forgetting of course, that these wealthiest 2% have been enjoying the Bush tax cuts for several years now, but the effect on hiring has been nil. Where are the jobs these tax cuts have helped to make possible? Why should we continue these tax cuts for millionaires when the return is so small?

  • Dan S. from St. Charles, IL

    This was one incredibly disappointing show. “Bold Advice”? What’s “bold” about advising Obama to do more of what cost him the House in the last election? How is it “bold” to give the Republicans (who have openly declared their sole objective to be making him a one-term president, regardless of what it costs the nation) everything they want? When did appeasement and surrender become “bold” tactics?

    And whatever happened to balance? (I’m talking real balance here, not the Faux News variety). Both of your guests gave the same advice: Obama should move to the right. Was it that hard to find a guest who could observe that Obama’s already seen as “Bush Lite” by a substantial portion of the people who supported him in ’08? Perhaps somebody who could mention the polls that show the American people substantially to the left of where Obama currently is (e.g., majorities supporting some form of non-private-insurance-based health care, higher taxes on the rich and corporate, and ending the wars, closing Gitmo, and repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” immediately if not sooner)? As it is, we simply got two representatives of the Corporate Media Echo Chamber. As I said, a major disappointment.

  • Richard Levins

    It is true that Republican obstruction can block Obama’s legislative wishes, but there are things the president can do alone: reject the notion of “too big to jail” and reaffirm the rule of law against political convenience. Argentina has shown the courage to prosecute criminals who held high office.Hew could affirm that violations of the oath of office will not have impunity.
    Abide by international law re torture, rendition, assassination.
    Appoint advisers who knew it all along.
    Stop warrantless surveillance.
    Prevent the FBI from stretching the notion of terrorism to harass all sorts of political activists.
    Prosecute real emigre Cuban terrorists walking free in Miami.
    Free our own political prisoners.
    Have our diplomats join the rest of the world in making climate change a serious priority.

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