From the President on the Protests…

This from the President of the United States:

The protesters in New York City, now spreading to other cities, challenge what they see as injustice and unfairness and the condescension of the wealthy and connected. The protesters whom we have called the Tea Party challenge what they see as injustice and unfairness and the condescension of the Washington elite.

Our people cry out for justice, Americans right and left demand fairness in good faith, though they have different routes to that justice and to that fairness. The rallies in New York City, like the Tea Party rallies in Washington DC and elsewhere, were mostly white people, and in both cases they protested certain of my policies.

Let me be as plain as possible: in neither case is this racism, or else I would never have been elected to stand at this podium. This is American dialogue. This is how we come to understand what really matters to Americans. This is how we gain a sense of what the people approve and condemn, and how much it matters.

Not all movements move electorates, but all movements teach us something about ourselves.

Yes, let there be a little more modesty on Wall Street. Your glibness about making money doesn’t set so well with many Americans after the federal government saved you from bankruptcy. You may have been too big to fail, but you aren’t too big to be transparent and accountable, and you aren’t too big to think about giving something back to America after your welfare money.

And yes, let there be a little more modesty on the streets of Wall Street. Figure out your anger. It’s not against “business,” because all of you are here and communicating with each other thanks to business and its innovations. We cannot revile business in this nation and hope to get out of this recession. Find the unfairness, find the injustice, and decry it, but find a way to make American business your partners so that Americans get back to work.

Well, no, he didn’t say that. I just wish he had. In fact, he was predictably supportive of the current protesters, after being condescendingly dismissive of the Tea Party. I just wish profoundly he had said something like the above, as befits his aborted promise to be America’s first post-racial and post-partisan president.

President Obama has squandered this and so many other opportunities to lead. I’m not yet tremendously excited about Republican alternatives to President Obama, but I’m convinced, as I said in 2007, that Mr. Obama wasn’t ready to be president, and still doesn’t step up to a fraction of his promise.

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2 Responses to From the President on the Protests…

  1. Larry Beck says:

    As usual Kendrick I see room for “tweaking”.

    I doubt the President would or even should raise the racial content of either the Tea Party of OWS crowds, but if he did he should point out that the predominantly white crowds of the Tea Partiers were older whites; many who transported themselves to their rallies in RV’s and whose income may still come from investments rather than from a salary. Whereas with this twenty something crowd at the OWS rallies, they’ve packed into a Hundai with a couple of their friends and are concerned about even getting a job after 4, 6 or 8 years of college so they can eventually have an RV and a portfolio to invest in.

    To be honest too, based on the link you provided, I don’t think Obama said anything so slanted about either group. His comments here seem similar to the generic ones he used when expressing the “frustration” of that older, anti-government crowd. He still remains faithful to a bi-partisan approach, much to the chagrin of those of us on the left who feel he has given too much while getting nothing in return.

    Or so it seems

  2. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    But this is politics, Kendrick, which you have reminded us is all part of this crazy, unruly American democracy. I don’t believe it’s lack of leadership. Which of our current our past leaders would ever proclaim this tone or position during an election cycle? Have any of the Tea Party candidates shown any leadership in their condemnation of his birthright, his religious background, his struggle to bring all sides to the negotiating table? Obama has made a few comments about the TP – in frustration, I imagine. He hasn’t dismissed them entirely, as this quote shows: Obama said there are “folks who have legitimate concerns” within tea party. Asked about the tea party during an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today, Obama stated, “I think that it is a still loose amalgam of forces,” and “[t]here are some folks who just weren’t sure whether I was born in the United States, whether I was a socialist, right? So there’s that segment of it which I think is just dug in ideologically, and that strain has existed in American politics for a long time.” Obama added, “Then I think that there’s a broader circle around that core group of people who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much.” He further stated: “I think those are folks who have legitimate concerns. And so I wouldn’t paint in broad brush and say that, you know, everybody who’s involved or have gone to a tea party rally or a meeting are somehow on the fringe. Some of them, I think, have some mainstream, legitimate concerns.”

    I don’t believe Obama has squandered opportunities to lead. He has faced a maelstrom of opposition, hysteria, innuendo, and blame over things he had nothing to do with. Some folks claim that showing leadership should resemble bullying and intransigence. That is not this man. But is he frustrated with it all and sometimes intemperate in his words? Perhaps. He’s still just a flawed human being in search of a better way.

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