Finally President Obama has seen the light. On "Face The Nation" today he named the abiding, central, and fatal flaw in his administration.
Failure to publicize his achievements.
He has one of the best records of any president of all time. But he and his White House have failed a central duty of the presidency, i.e. to tell the American public what their president is achieving in their name and for their benefit.
Instead he has allowed the Republicans and their unscrupulous friends to fill the void with all kinds of lies, groundless fears, and just plain hate. At a time when America should be rejoicing that we - beyond all other industrialized nations - have recovered from the worst economic cataclysm since the Great Depression, people are being encouraged to whine about America "being off track."
I could go on and on about Obama's little-recognized achievements, but it's not my job to publicize Obama's record. I did that job and did it well for decades in politics for other political figures, thereby not only advancing the status of worthy politicians (and there are some) but advancing the public knowledge of good causes that needed the public's support.
Tell it to them loud and clear. Then tell them again. Then tell them again. And again. And again. The message repeated is the one that sinks in. The GOP knows that and did it well. The Democrats - including the Congressional party - sat around virtually silent. The public therefore believed the GOP garbage. The Democrats were so disheartened that they flat out REFUSED rides to the polls or other help, something that has never happened. Only 38% of all voters went to the polls, probably the worst performance ever.
To the talker goes the spoils.
Similarly, where was a rapid "take charge" response from Obama and Democratic leaders when things went bad?
A scandal like the one at the VA - in which our veterans had DIED from needless delays! - should have had an enormous and immediate response. Obama could have called a primetime television address to the nation within 24 hours of the news breaking. And he could have announced that the head of the VA was under suspension while the truth of the story was being determined. He could also have said that any veteran now waiting for a doctor appointment at the VA could see a private doctor at government expense if the scheduled wait was unreasonably long. Further, that those responsible for the delays and for the cover-up would be fired. Not just be "held responsible". FIRED! He could have been visibly angry and mentioned his grandfather, a WWII veteran, and said how he wouldn't have stood for his grandfather being treated that way and nobody should stand for this mistreatment of the men and women who have suffered for us and our country.
Or something like this. Something dramatic and effective. Not just in order to help himself but because the situation did in fact require immediate and dramatic action.
He also should have identified the GOP role, if any, in cutting funding for sufficient number of VA doctors. I have heard or read that this was a factor. Was it? If so, why in hell haven't the administration and the Congressional Democrats made a big noise about it? Not just for political reasons but because our veterans deserve representation that is loud and clear.
It's old news now. Its time has passed. But its ghost lingers. So do the shadows of the CIA shenanigans and ineptitude, the bobbling around about Ebola, the messed up Health Care web site. None of these things were, of course, Obama's fault. But they were someone's fault, someone who works for him. The buck stops at his desk. He perhaps can't fire civil servants but he could and should have done other things to show he was a manager who would stand for no nonsense.
It seems that "no drama Obama" means that you can (almost) get away with murder at the White House. At least you can walk in the front door with a knife or shoot bullets into the White House walls and nobody does anything. These were the unkindest cuts of all (no pun intended). They truly made Obama look weak. The leader who is this nearly threatened and does nothing looks very weak indeed. In the olden days the heads of attackers would have been impaled on the spikes of the White House fence to advertise that it's a bad idea to mess with The Boss. He isn't just The Boss, he's our elected leader. Who attacks him attacks us. Doesn't the White House get this? He is so symbolically important that he can't afford to be cool about personal danger.
Does it all matter anymore? Isn't he just a lame duck now? Yes and no. Certainly there's more work to be done. He has more judicial appointments to make, and they will have to get through a Republican Senate. After waiting for congressional action on immigration, he is going ahead on his own. There may also be more environmental protections announced as executive orders. Further he has a tricky road to walk in the Arab world and the Middle East, plus the unending dance with Putin, who at one moment is poking Ukraine and in the next moment is offering help to get nuclear materials away from the Iranians.
But there will likely be zero legislation enacted in cooperation with Congress. I predict that half of the time the GOP in Congress will engage in internecine warfare (Sen.Ted Cruz v. the rest of the GOP) and the other half in passing legislation that Obama must veto. In all likelihood it's a lame duck Congress.
The lamest ducks of all are, of course, the vast number of Democratic voters who stayed home last Tuesday.
People get the government they deserve, Churchill said. But, as my friend Judith McVittie of Chicago says, "Why do the rest of us have to suffer?"