You cannot make this stuff up.
Obama gave his usual adult talking to the children, meaning American citizens, type of speech to mark the cease-fire in the budget battle so that the two sides can work out a peace accord. Of course, it goes without saying that both sides keenly want a pact that will inflict cuts on middle and low-income Americans while only imposing at most token costs on the wealthy, and in particular, secure the prize that the leadership of both parties keenly desire, namely, cuts in Medicare and Social Security, dressed up as “reforms”.
These speeches are unpleasant to read because the blarney is so thick it could be packaged and sold as an industrial lubricant. But underneath the greasy veneer is the message that the Important People in the Beltway, meaning Obama, Democrats, and “responsible Republicans” in Congress must dedicate themselves to the pursuit of prosperity…of the 1%. Admittedly he does throw a bouquet to the need for “creating more good jobs that pay better wages” But in July, Obama commemorated the opening of an Amazon fulfillment center as an example of a “better bargain” for “middle class jobs.” Given that Amazon warehouse “associates” average $11.90 an hour and this warehouse was in a lower-wage area than most of its current facilities, it’s clear that the “better bargain” was from the Amazon perspective, not that of its workers.
One of the unintended bits of irony is that near the top of his lecture, Obama starts on a litany of costs of the shutdown is less dire than the consequences of his decision to protect the banks rather than rescue ordinary Americans:
We know that families have gone without paychecks or services they depend on. We know that potential homebuyers have gotten fewer mortgages, and small business loans have been put on hold. We know that consumers have cut back on spending…
Contrast that with the millions who lost their homes to foreclosure, including the ones who were used to foam the runway for banks in HAMP mods (many were told falsely to default in order to be considered, put through “the dog ate your paperwork” chicanery by banks, and told repeatedly they were on track for a permanent mod only to lose their home), or the new college grads who are un or under-employed, and many with heavy student debt loads. Obama would have you believe the crappy state of the economy pre-shutdown was something to be proud of.
Obama pointedly avoids rubbing salt into the wounds of the Tea Party or the Republicans generally. He sticks with bromides:
Now, there’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown. But let’s be clear: There are no winners here….And, of course, we know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That’s not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington. At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what?
But Obama is clear who the bad actors have been:
But to all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change. Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people — and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust. Our system of self-government doesn’t function without it. And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that’s grow this economy; create good jobs; strengthen the middle class; educate our kids; lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul. That’s why we’re here. That should be our focus.
Now does anyone seriously think lobbyists were major players in the shutdown? By all accounts, it was constituents of Tea Party members, and not professional hired guns, who were egging them on. And as for the rest of the bad guys on his list, he’s just thrown big segments of the Democratic Party apparatus under the bus. “Professional activists who profit from conflict”? Let’s see, for starters, how about Daily Kos and Move On? Now that Emily’s List has started sending me e-mails and refuses to remove me from their list, I get almost daily missives that are loaded for bear. This was dated the 16th:
Now it’s time to do more. Way, way more. Because if you’re like me, you’ve been watching this shutdown and budget fight in total dismay. Now that it looks like we’ve resolved it — at least for a few months — I’m ready to fight…..
Contribute now. It’s time to put a permanent stop to the reckless anti-woman Republican Party — but our women can only lead the charge to win back the House if we give them everything we’ve got today and every day.
Right now might be the only chance we get to put this big of a dent in the Republican House majority. Don’t hesitate. Step up today.
But actually, maybe we should talk about lobbyists. How about the Democratic ne plus ultra, the Center for American Progress? As we wrote in 2011:
CAP is THE mainstream Democratic think tank for Congress and the administration. Its CEO, John Podesta, ran the transition for Obama and was Clinton’s chief of staff from 1999 to 2001, so he is the embodiment of Rubinite/mainstream (meaning corporatist) Democratic party thinking. His brother is an enormously powerful corporate lobbyist, and I’ve heard his brother also apparently collects and ostentatiously displays pornographically-themed art (a tactic to impress/intimidate clients; ironically, anyone who has done time on Wall Street has seen worse and at closer range too).
That this kind of low-income-advocate/bank-friendly throwback would come from CAP isn’t entirely surprising, since the Administration has made the pet wishes of the financial services industry one of its top priorities, and the CAP generally provides cover for Team Obama initiatives.
Oh and as for bloggers, Susie Madrak has had a few words about how the Administration’s two-faced stance towards them. This is how she described it on her blog in 2010:
Basically, after Axelrod told us how wonderful we were and how much they needed us to close the enthusiasm gap in this election, I called him on it. Like, yo Dave, here we are, liberal activists who give money and GOTV, and the White House needs to punch us in public so no one thinks they take us seriously?
The actual exchange was more colorful. From the Washington Post:
Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere’s anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of “hippie punching.”
“We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day,” the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.
The call seemed to perfectly capture the tense dynamic that exists between the White House and the online and organized left: Though White House advisers in the past have dumped on the left, anonymously and even on the record, Axelrod repeatedly pleaded with the bloggers on the call for help in pumping up the flagging enthusiasm of rank and file Dems.
Don’t worry, we aren’t one of those bloggers.
And finally, we have “talking heads on the radio”. That’s a strained locution, since “talking head” specifically means a disembodied head on a TV screen, and so excludes radio. So Obama must have been trying to exempt his best buddies at MSNBC but get a jab in at Rush Limbaugh and other right wing talk radio hosts.
So we have the pretense that Obama and Congressional leaders can and do operate like
benign technocratic authoritarians wise leaders except when those annoying extreme mouthpieces manage to addle their brains and push them around. But pray tell, how could mere lobbyists, bloggers, activists, and talking heads be worth listening unless they were articulating (and in many cases, seeking to influence) the view of significant swathes of the American public? Parse the Obama jibe. His named targets aren’t heavy hitters; the most serious ones, lobbyists, derive their power from their clients. These groups represent a problem because Obama has long believed that the solution to any problem is better propaganda. But he is so obsessed with loyalty and control that parties who have the independence they need to be credible aren’t as subordinate to him as he’d like (witness how lapdog MSNBC has taken a ratings hit). So this weird put-down looks like him directing the annoyance he can’t express directly towards the real objects of his anger, the feral House Republicans, towards a long-standing annoyance of his, the insufficiently servile messaging machinery.