Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Obama should say

I'll admit to having a thing for Sorkin-like political speeches. Sorkin is the liberal id. He has his politicians speak the way we want to hear them speak, not in the political BS-talk they all use. Even the Congressman I worked for and admire in part because he speaks his mind more often than most politicians speaks politically sometimes. Grad school pounded some of this out of me. I understand that politicians are very concerned with reelection and are thus very risk averse. Many of them think it's just not worth it to possibly say something that could get them in trouble. A lot of them still get into trouble when they are trying to be careful.

But there are times when not only do I think the blunt truth, spoken in "real" talk, would not only satisfy the liberal id, but would actually be beneficial to the politician's agenda (be it policy or reelection). We kind of saw this with Obama after Senate Republicans filibustered gun legislation requiring background checks. He seemed a bit more angry and blunt with his comments. I'm sure that was genuine. But I also bet his communication staff didn't have a problem with that tone because they thought they were on the right side of the issue in regard to public opinion.

The Obama administration probably won't make that calculation often. Obama will very likely continue to speak as he always has, very carefully and very politically. But given the pretty shitty week he's had lately, which has probably put him in not the best mood, Ezra Klein spoke to some ex-aides and came up with what Obama might say if he just said the hell with it and said what he really thought:

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. At this point, though, can the American people actually trust their government? There’s a sense that these issues might just be the tip of the iceberg.

OBAMA: [Long pause.] Are you kidding me?

No, the American people can’t trust their government. They can’t trust their media either, I might add. But that’s not because of a couple of I.R.S. agents out in Cincinnati. We can fix the Cincinnati office. Let me be clear: We’re already fixing the Cincinnati office. This problem was solved a year ago. The guy who solved it just got fired anyway because you all wanted to see some blood on the walls and I’m just political enough to give it to you.

Look, the reason the American people can’t trust their government is here in Washington. Right now sequestration is cutting unemployment checks by 10 or 11 percent. Do you hear anyone talking about that? Or doing anything about it? No. You hear Republicans aides telling Politico, anonymously, that the speaker is quote “obsessed” with Benghazi. You know, I don’t think most of the Republicans screaming about Benghazi could find Libya on a map. I don’t think 10 of them knew our ambassador’s name. And, let me be clear, Speaker Boehner certainly wasn’t obsessed with giving us the money we asked for to keep the embassy’s safe.

But now he’s obsessed with Benghazi. And not even Benghazi. The Benghazi talking points. Are you kidding me? He’s not obsessed with global warming or unemployment or rebuilding our infrastructure. And now that there’s conflict, all of you are obsessed with Benghazi talking points too, and meanwhile, we’re cutting the National Institutes of Health and we’re cutting too deep into the military and we’re making life harder for the unemployed and we’re doing nothing to keep this planet in good shape for our kids.

Look, this is why the American people can’t trust their government. Because this town is obsessed with conflict and political advantage and not with real problems. We worry about the wrong things so much that we don’t even have time to talk to the American people or each other about the right things. And that’s not the I.R.S.’s fault.

What would it hurt to say that? Republicans are going to hate anything he says no matter what. At least if he said that liberals might rally around him and give him some support while trying to handle those issues. I won't quote any more of it since what I quoted above is long. But read the rest. It's good. And I don't see how it would hurt Obama. So many people are cynical about politics. Maybe if Obama or someone else spoke openly and honestly more often people would trust them more. That's how it works the rest of the time in the real world isn't it? I'm not sure why it wouldn't work more often in politics

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