By David Scott Milton
Obama needs my advice like he needs a third leg. Nor, I sense, would he or his people act on what I have to say, even if they were inclined to hear it. That will, of course, not prevent me from putting in my two cents. I’m like Joe the Barber yammering away while clipping hair.
I was a passionate supporter of Obama’s. And I still like him. He’s very smart, articulate, fair, honest, and filled I think with good ideas and fine impulses. However, as the economic crisis continues and seems to be deepening, a certain softness of character is emerging and this is disquieting. No Drama Obama dominates his persona and this is unfortunate. FDR, JFK, Harry Truman were anything but non-dramatic and our dire times demands a leader who is capable of drama, of passion. Obama must study—and I can’t believe he hasn’t—the speeches of Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Truman. They breathe, they sing, they soar. And they are passionate and they are angry. It’s not good enough to say in a professorial way, ‘I’m focused on jobs.” “I awake in the morning and go to sleep at night, thinking about jobs.” You must go to battle, fight for the right of a man to have meaningful work, to have economic justice. This is a glorious fight, a fight worth having.
An astounding statistic: the 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the poorest 50% of our countrymen, 150 million people! And the gap is increasing. How can one take that in and not be shaken? FDR said: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” Harry Truman, among others, said a society will be judged by how it treats its weakest members…
A job is the heart and soul of a person. Lack of jobs is disabling people, wrecking them, destroying families, killing them. And our President has to feel anger and be passionate about this; he must thunder at the lack of jobs, not tell us the reasons for it. The reasons are immaterial. What is he going to do about it? What did Roosevelt do about economic injustice? Kennedy? Truman? Were they ever “non-dramatic” about it?
Obama must shed coolness. Coolness may be fine for the Harvard campus or the Democratic political salons. The world is a brutal and nettlesome thing and you must be a fighter when you represent the unprivileged, the mass of our population. He must go to battle and he must be hot about it. Lack of a job is an injustice. Economic hardship when it is married to a reactionary ideology is an injustice. He has done enough temporizing and making nice; he has been all too accommodating, too ready to compromise, too unwilling to attack, to label the Republicans for what they are—narrow, ideological, ferocious in their dislike and disdain for Obama and liberalism. Liberalism needs no apologies. It is the bulwark of our modern society. The United States is great for many reasons; none so important as our liberal tradition. It is our soul. It has given us the graduated income tax, Social Security, Medicare, eight hour work day, forty hour work week, minimum wage laws, child labor laws, unemployment compensation, voting rights, public education, community colleges, on and on and on. We are a free people and doubly free because of our liberal ethos. What have the conservatives given us, save an economy that is dissolving? Unions that are being attacked. Social programs that are being ripped apart. A view of humanity that is narrow, cynical, and ugly.
FDR said: “There is nothing I love as much as a good fight.” Obama must study hard these words, take them to heart. Carve those words, Obama, into your heart! And, FDR said: “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.” Yes! No wonder the oleaginous, grotesque, profane, vicious radio hack, Mark Levin, says he despises FDR. And I’m sure if FDR were alive today the feeling would be mutual. Levin is great dog lover, a dog lover in the way that Hitler was a dog lover; that is he loves dogs while he loathes people.
During the 1948 election campaign Harry Truman hit back at Republicans who had attacked him mercilessly. “The smear campaign on your President started in all its vile and untruthfully slanted headlines, columns, and editorials. Hearst’s character assassins, McCormick-Patterson saboteurs all began firing at me, as did the conservative columnists and radio commentators.” Familiar, no? A presage of odious, toxic radio hatchet men, Limbaugh (“I hope Obama fails” “Obama’s got a health care logo that’s right out of Adolf Hitler’s playbook, (he’s) asking people to rat each other out like Hitler did, sending out his brown-shirts to head up opposition to genuine American citizens who want no part of what Barack Obama stands for and is trying to stuff it down our throats.”), Hannity (“consort of terrorists, the worst president in our country’s history” Hannity calls liberalism evil, lumps it in with terrorism and despotism.”), Michael Savage (“treasonous communist”), Mark Levin (“A-hole, jerk, schmuck, tyrant”)!
At one rally a man yelled out: "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" Truman shot back: "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell…There's one way to confront tough issues, and that's head on, and the hell with the consequences."
From train cabooses at whistle stop stations Truman attacked: I am still for Roosevelt’s New Deal. I have told the people that there is just one big issue in this campaign and that’s the people against the special interests. The Republicans stand for special interests, and they always have. The Democratic Party… stands for the people–and always has stood for the people.
“I wanted an insurance program that would work, so that a fellow would have a little money saved up when it came time to pay medical and hospital bills, and the doctor and the hospital would get paid promptly. But the Republicans are against that. They say that’s socialized medicine. Well, it isn’t. That’s just good commonsense, and some of these days we are going to get it, because the Democrats are going to be back in power, and we are going to see that we get it.”
Obama, shed No Drama. Shed it! What we need now is passion, claps of thunder, shards of lightening, roil the Wing Nuts, give ‘em hell. As John Kennedy said, “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” And: “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”
These are harsh times. Obama, your enemies have called you an imposter, a socialist, a communist, a Nazi, worst president ever, a traitor. On and on, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. He’s not a Christian, he’s a Muslim, he wasn’t born in the United States, he was born in Kenya or Indonesia; his mother was a hippie his father, a communist; he and Michelle hate America; he’s tethered to a prompter—can’t speak extemporaneously; not smart; hates capitalism. He’s a terrorist or a pawn of terrorists. He’s a secret follower of Louis Farakhan; he’s an Alinskyite, a Stalinist, a spendthrift sybarite, not a leader, golfs when he should be leading… What about Dwight Eisenhower, Ike? Great general, sufficiently good president, certainly a leader and fervid about golf, fanatical, twice a week throughout his presidency, golfed while he was head of the allied forces planning the invasion of Normandy, golfed during the war in Europe. And Abraham Lincoln, ferocious lover of theater, constant theatergoer; his assassination, we know, took place at Ford’s Theater, Lincoln in rapt attentiveness watching “Our American Cousin.” Obama, though, and his wife, mirabile dictu, attend a Broadway play and they’re vilified by the Wing Nut Right, petty, miserable attacks, vomitous. It’s important that the President hit back, shred these calumnies.
Obama, enough cool, enough No Drama. Thunder with Harry Truman: “There's one way to confront tough issues, and that's head on, and the hell with the consequences." The time is now. Thunder, Obama, roar! Give the perverse, cheeky right wing nut bastards hell! Enough, No Drama. Enough, enough Enough.