With the dust settling, it becomes apparent why Obama hasn’t spent much time defending what’s in the stimulus package. (He’s spent a lot of time talking about how urgent it is, but that’s a different matter.) The reason he hasn’t is that so much of it is indefensible.
This is how I figure things went down. Obama sent a decent bill to Congress, majoring in stuff that would actually, you know, stimulate the economy. Congress then added a planeload of crap to it. At this point, Obama could have said, “Hey, a-holes, what part of stimulus didn’t you understand?” But he didn’t. If he had, who knows, he might have carried the day — and then again, he might not have. He calculated that it was better to get something through than get into an argument. I think he was wrong, because I think the American people would have backed him. Inexperienced as he is, we trust him a hell of a lot more than we trust Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. But he was timid about counting on that. Too timid.
Too bad. Now all we can do is pray that the bill the House and Senate hammered out today will do something. Kind of like being a passenger on that U.S. Airways plane that landed in the Hudson. That worked out. Maybe this will, too. Keep your head down and your arms crossed in front of your chest.
Unlikely as it seems (especially to me), I think I might be smarter than President Obama. Because I know exactly what he should be saying and doing now, and he doesn’t.
One of the thousands of reasons I voted for him was that I recognized that something had to be done, and quickly, to save the economy. So I hoped he would send a stimulus plan to Congress very soon after being inaugurated. This, he has done.
When the Republicans, disappointingly but predictably, opposed the bill, my natural, default assumption was that they were being obstructionist jerks. When they sputtered, “Why, this is nothing but a wish list of Democratic pork!,” I waited for Obama to tell me why that was not true. I knew that he would not urge passage of a bill that was nothing but a wish list of Democratic pork; he would send a bill to Congress only if it would actually stimulate the economy. So it would be a simple matter for Obama to refute the accusation, and go down the items in his bill, explaining to me (and America) why the Republicans were wrong about them.
This, he has not done.
And in not doing it, he is raising the possibility in people’s minds that the Republicans may actually be right.
Instead of defending the bill because of what is in it, he is simply repeating over and over again how we “must” pass it or catastrophe awaits. That is an argument for why we must do something. It is not an argument for why we must do this thing.
It would be terrible if the reason he is not making a case for the contents of the bill is that there is no case to be made for the contents of the bill. But that is the conclusion that becomes more unavoidable with each day that he simply insists on telling us that the bill is crucial to our survival without defending what it contains.
So when you go on the road this coming week to sell your bill, Mr. President, don’t just tell me that the Republicans are wrong; tell me why they are wrong. Don’t just repeat that the bill will create millions of new jobs, defend how it will do that. Explain it to me. I want you to, and I know you can. I know you wouldn’t stake your presidency on a bill that is only what the obstructionist Republicans say it is.
My consciousness was raised just last week (the day before the press conference) about the importance of adopting dogs from shelters rather than buying them from breeders, since there are so many waiting for adoption.
The issue, however, now seems poised to bring down the Obama presidency before it starts. I think that’s taking it a little far.
I’m all for doing the right thing, canine-wise. Right now, however, the extinction of the United States of America is a more pressing issue, and I’d like Obama to be able to address that (and, if possible, head it off) without being hounded by dog lovers. Heel.