Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Assessment of the Obama Speech by Krugman

Most observers of Obama's prime time address to the nation were underwhelmed. Some questioned why the networks let him have valuable time if he wasn't in fact announcing any new policy, emergency, or new direction.

Here's Paul Krugman's take on Obama's "performance"...
Meh, Bleh, and Eek

At this point, we just have to accept it as a fact of life: Obama doesn’t, and maybe can’t, do outrage — no matter how much the situation calls for it. The purpose of last night’s speech, if there was one, was to rally the nation against crazy Republicans. But there were no memorable lines, no forceful statements of the very stark reality. “Now, now, that’s not reasonable” isn’t going to move multitudes.

It turns out, I’m sorry to say, that he wasn’t the one we were waiting for.

Meanwhile, Boehner’s reply was as vile and dishonest as you might have expected.

I really don’t see how this ends without either default or the belated discovery by Treasury that the constitutional option is viable after all.
I fully agree. Why gather the nation to a broadcast if you are simply going to rehash how the country arrived at the impasse and you repeat you position? What's the point? It should have been a call to action. It should have indicted the Republican party for putting the US at jeopardy. It wasn't.

Krugman has it right: Obama "can't do outrage". He is so fixated on "finding a middle ground" that he ends up moving from being a Democrat to taking up the Republican position only to find that the fanatics in the Republican party have shifted even futher to the crazy right and demand that Obama follow them right over the cliff. And, Obama's past behaviour, would indicate that if the Republicans hold out another 6 days, Obama will obligingly step right off the cliff into thin air and take the country down while he "negotiates" and tries to "find a compromise" with fanatics.

Update 2011jul26: This post by Dean Baker on his Beat the Press blog shows an additional serious problem with Obama's economic "leadership"... he simply hasn't done his homework and doesn't understand the basic facts of about deficits over the past decade:
This fact should have been highlighted in the news reporting on President Obama's speech last night. President Obama asserted:
"For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.

As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office."
This is seriously mistaken.

The Congressional Budget Office's projections from January of 2008, the last ones made before it recognized the housing bubble and the implications of its collapse, showed a deficit of just $198 billion for 2009, the year President Obama took office. In other words, the deficit was absolutely not "on track to top $1 trillion."

This is what is known as a "gaffe" of enormous proportions. It indicates that President Obama does not have the most basic understanding of the nature of the budget problems the country faces. He apparently believes that there was a huge deficit on an ongoing basis as a result of the policies in place prior to the downturn. In fact, the deficits were relatively modest. The huge deficits came about entirely as a result of the economic downturn brought about by the collapse of the housing bubble. This misunderstanding of the origins of the budget deficit could explain President Obama's willingness to make large cuts to core social welfare programs, like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

It is incredible that no major news outlet noted this enormous gaffe on the fundamentals of the most important issue facing the country today.
It is unacceptable for a smart guy like Obama to be this uninformed. He is surrounded by smart people. Why hasn't one of his "yes men" dropped the subservience and stepped forward to tell him he is dead wrong and needs to get an education? Why isn't anybody in that Democratic coterie around him stepping forward to re-educate Obama so that he shows some spine and respects the tradition of the Democratic party in delivering policies for the bottom 90% of the population? What a disaster!

No comments: