Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Prez in the Post

Barack Obama went to bat for the stimulus package in the Post today.

Makes sense. The GOP has been flooding the airwaves with nonsense, and Obama has both the ability and experience to be able to counter this sort of thing directly.

One bit really made me sit up, though. He said, in response to the Republicans, that "I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change."

So, yeah. We just got "I won" in long-form in the Post. I'm sure Republicans will be losing their mind at the thought that the guy they thought was a stealth Republican turned out to be a muscular progressive—for the most part—who isn't willing to put up with their BS, but here we are. And he's deflecting the Republicans' arguments for "bipartisanship" quite well in the piece. Take this bit:
By now, it's clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression. Millions of jobs that Americans relied on just a year ago are gone; millions more of the nest eggs families worked so hard to build have vanished. People everywhere are worried about what tomorrow will bring.

What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.

Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

That's why I feel such a sense of urgency about the recovery plan before Congress. With it, we will create or save more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, provide immediate tax relief to 95 percent of American workers, ignite spending by businesses and consumers alike, and take steps to strengthen our country for years to come.

This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending -- it's a strategy for America's long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, health care and education. And it's a strategy that will be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability, so Americans know where their tax dollars are going and how they are being spent.

He's setting the groundwork for an argument that the Republicans are being obstructive. That helps him keep up the sense of momentum on the plan, and that's the most important job he has: he needs to take those Republicans "standing athwart history saying 'NO'" and just push them aside, like some kind of executive sumo wrestler. That's what the people WANT him to do. That's what he was elected to do. And though Harry Reid is a quivering jello-mold of a leader, that's what he probably wants to do too.

The "nuclear option" looms large here.

Further on:

Every day, our economy gets sicker -- and the time for a remedy that puts Americans back to work, jump-starts our economy and invests in lasting growth is now.

Now is the time to protect health insurance for the more than 8 million Americans at risk of losing their coverage and to computerize the health-care records of every American within five years, saving billions of dollars and countless lives in the process.

Now is the time to save billions by making 2 million homes and 75 percent of federal buildings more energy-efficient, and to double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy within three years.

Now is the time to give our children every advantage they need to compete by upgrading 10,000 schools with state-of-the-art classrooms, libraries and labs; by training our teachers in math and science; and by bringing the dream of a college education within reach for millions of Americans.

And now is the time to create the jobs that remake America for the 21st century by rebuilding aging roads, bridges and levees; designing a smart electrical grid; and connecting every corner of the country to the information superhighway.

These are the actions Americans expect us to take without delay. They're patient enough to know that our economic recovery will be measured in years, not months. But they have no patience for the same old partisan gridlock that stands in the way of action while our economy continues to slide.

THIS, THIS is amazing stuff. He's leveraged that "Now is the time" stuff that did so damned much good in the primaries and general to get things done.

All the excitement of his campaign, all of that sense of history and purpose and unity, all of it is bound up in the phrases he drilled into people's heads over and over and over again. People complained that "they didn't mean anything"; now they do. It's pretty much inevitable that readers (who aren't doctrinaire Republicans) are going to see this and make that association with positive progress, and they're going to come down on any filibuster like a ton of bricks.

So we have a choice to make. We can once again let Washington's bad habits stand in the way of progress. Or we can pull together and say that in America, our destiny isn't written for us but by us. We can place good ideas ahead of old ideological battles, and a sense of purpose above the same narrow partisanship. We can act boldly to turn crisis into opportunity and, together, write the next great chapter in our history and meet the test of our time.
..and that's the judo flip that makes the Republicans look like the nasty partisans, not the Dems. It's almost bizarre seeing it. I'm so used to Republicans making this sort of play that when a Dem does it I almost feel a bit confused. It's strange having a Democrat in the White House, but it's shocking having a Dem in the White House who plays the game at the Republicans' level.

But that's the thing about Obama, isn't it? He's still new enough to Washington that he doesn't seem to quite "get" the things that everybody else "gets". He doesn't buy into the Republican interpretation of everything, doesn't think that the country is "center-right", doesn't do whatever his handlers tells him, and doesn't spend all his time triangulating between his own party and those who consider that party their enemies. But that doesn't mean he's a bad politician. He's an excellent politician, one of the most gifted liberal politicians I've ever seen.

No wonder the Republicans look so desperate.

Edit: That said, Gibbs needs to work on his press-handling. He's getting torn up here.

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