"What follows is speculation about what's holding his numbers down: He's too liberal for a center-right nation. No, he's too intellectual, too Mr. Spock, for voters who want more passion. And so on."
Krugman speculates on what's holding the President's numbers down, and I wonder what's holding them up. The Senate today finally passed legislation reinstating unemployment benefits. It's been as long and bitter a battle as it's been an unnecessary one. Democrats credit the swearing in of Robert Byrd's successor Carte Goodwin as key to breaking the Republican filibuster. But back before the fourth of July it was Democrat Ben Nelson voting with the Republicans that started this debacle of cruelty and government-imposed misery in the first place.
What did the President say throughout all of this? He said little or nothing. He blamed Republicans for generic obstructionism. Ben Nelson changed his mind and voted with the Democrats today. What do you suppose caused this sudden change of heart? A month ago Nelson was worried about the deficit and what changed?
It smacks of political Kabuki Theater, of good guys and bad guys in white hats and black hats. Four months before the mid-term elections and I can hear it now, "Those Republicans cut off unemployment but we got it back for you." There is this paternalism in the administration and its adherents that the administration is doing so much for us and we just don't appreciate it.
Four out of five American's think the financial reform legislation passed by Congress will do little or nothing to stop another melt down. Just as millions think the health care legislation was nothing more than a giveaway to corporate America. Perhaps it was the way it was handled, with the now you see it now you don't public option played like a three-card Monte in a midway carnival game. "Aw, you were so close. You almost had a public option and we tried real hard at it. Want to play again?"
One of my favorite historical persons is Winston Churchill and not just for the great speeches he gave. As a politician Churchill was wrong as much as he was right. He made mistakes and blunders; he annoyed his staff because they had to spend hours talking him out of hair-brained schemes. But when he took over as Prime Minister he attached notes to the reports that he read with suggestions that were titled "Action this day!"
Those three words changed everything, and when things were going bad in the western desert Churchill flew to meet with Commander General Auchinleck. Churchill listened patiently while Auchinleck described his problems in the field and their shortages and the difficulties of operating in the desert. Churchill then asked one question, "When will you be ready to go on the offensive?"
There was a silence that fell over the room and Auchinleck stuttered out, "I don't know." That was the end of Auchinleck.
When things went bad in Burma and Singapore, Parliament had blood in its eyes and was looking for scapegoats to cashier. Churchill told the Parliament that if there were shortages of tanks or planes that it was his fault and if the commanders had failed it was his fault, as well, because he had put them there. Churchill knew that the military had its hands full and could not stand an inquisition hunting for victims. He also knew that nobody on that island wanted his job and no one on the island would work harder at it. He promised nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat and the public could accept that.
This administration approaches issues like a lazy high school student assigned a term paper. It slap-dashes together "My Dog Spot" and is more concerned about completing the assignment than in doing a good job of it. It wanted a political victory on Capitol Hill with the stimulus package so they allowed it to become a laundry list of Republican wants. Too small, too light in job creation and too heavy in tax cuts. The money for job creation was spent on job salvation and the administration argues, "It's the same thing! We've created or saved three million jobs." Me? I save the world at least once a week by praying to Jesus to not let an asteroid hit the Earth and kill millions. Me and Jesus, saving your life, but do you appreciate it?
The administration puts in its thumb and pulls out a plum and says, "What a good boy am I!" Look at it from the Republican perspective: GM got its unions broken and its pension benefits transferred to public accounts. The auto industry got cash for clunkers to help sop up its cars returning from leases. The homebuilders got tax credits to induce those with jobs and good credit to buy new homes while a record number of existing homes sat on the market with falling prices and the lowest interest rates in history.
Health care reform transfers billions of government dollars to private coffers; while the rest of the world has single payer we have single sucker. The government will pay the bills for a public no longer able to afford its own healthcare, and when the money runs out? Too bad, but we did the best we could. Financial regulation will still allow banks to speculate with depositors' money and consumer protection will be housed in the Federal Reserve and the organized crime commission will meet in Tony Soprano's basement.
They are proud of themselves and don't understand why you aren't proud of them, too. I read a story tonight by a woman who volunteers in a food pantry. They had six pallets of food and in two hours it was all gone. In a town with a population of 3,000 they had delivered food to 433 people. The line snaked around the old firehouse and the people stayed despite high heat and humidity and threat of a thunderstorm.
The unemployment numbers have gone down only because as people have run through their benefits they are then dispatched to an alternative universe of the uncounted. Things are bad and getting worse.
The Employment Report points to: "Payrolls Fall in 27 U.S. States, Led by California." California is 12 percent of the population. The states that added workers? New Hampshire, Texas, Kentucky and Montana, but the job losses just in New York State alone are more than all the job gains nationwide. So it is disingenuous to point to the numbers of states because the story is the number of jobs. By a four to one margin job losses exceeded gains.