Tuesday, August 2, 2011

America's Neville Chamberlain Moment

Barack Obama has now said it is time to talk about unemployment.

When I think of this claim by Obama I realize this is really the Neville Chamberlain moment for Obama. After being reasonable, accomodating, compromising, and conceding other countries territories to sate Hitler's demands, Neville Chamberlain finally drew the line at the Danzig corridor and felt it was time to be reasonable and stop the endless demands. Much like Obama has drawn the line and is saying "now it is time for job and economic growth" and expecting politics to pivot and face the really important issues facing America (sure 2.5 years late, but better now than never).

But as Chamberlain discovered that Hitler wasn't going to be reasonable and wasn't going to be sated and stop the endless demands, Obama is going to discover that this isn't the end of Republican demands for tax cuts and deregulation and deficit reduction and cutting down entitlements and accepting smaller government. Obama is going to discover that the Republicans have yet another demand, another non-negotiable demand, another hostage they've taken. At some point Obama has to have to find a spine like Chamberlain and say "this nation will no longer be held hostage to unreasonable and unending demands". Chamberlain finally declared war on Hitler.

I keep waiting to hear Obama have his Neville Chamberlain moment because at that very moment, I want to see the Democratic party's equivalent of a Winston Churchill step forward and give a gut-busting speech like Churchill to let the Republicans know that they won't be rolled over one more time. I want to hear a Democrat give the equivalent of this speech:
We are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history.... That we are in action at many points — in Norway and in Holland —, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean. That the air battle is continuous, and that many preparations have to be made here at home.

I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs — Victory in spite of all terror — Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival

And this speech:
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
I want to hear this grim determination to fight for the bottom 90% of Americans. I want to hear a call to fight to the death with the Republicans. I want to hear that a bitter and protracted fight will be carried out to stop the erosion of the middle class and the impoverishment of the working class. I want to hear politics delivered by politicians who act like this is a life-and-death struggle which it truly is for the bottom 90% of the population, a population that for 30 years has been pummeled and abused by the insatiable demands of the Republicans to give more to the billionaires and millionaires so that some day, some day in the dim future, wealth and jobs will "trickle down" on the bottom 90%.

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