More of This, Please

For what seems to be the first time, President Obama put on his oft-mentioned but rarely seen “comfortable shoes” to support union rights at a speech in Michigan today.  It was Obama at his best; serious but funny, calm but pointed.  And not a moment too soon: last week the lame duck Republican legislature pushed through an ALEC-concocted “Right-to-work” bill Gov. Rick Snyder promised to sign, complete with diabolical legislative trickery that makes it impossible to overturn by initiative.  Of course, it was not a fight the President willingly joined; the Detroit speech was already scheduled, and it was plain that the audience demanded such a response.

As charming and well-received as the digression was, he pivoted, as usual, to his original topic, the dreaded Fiscal Cliff, with disappointing swiftness.  Despite the roars of approval that greeted his pro-union comments and an audience hungry for more, he stopped short of pointing to the elephant in the room, or in this case, a herd of them stampeding through the industrial midwest.  Michigan is now the fourth state (following Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana) to enact copycat union-busting laws devised by sociopathic billionaires bent on destroying the American middle class.  The Detroit Free Press pointed this out, and Obama did not.

It’s a pretty boneheaded omission, given that the exact same forces that are attempting to inflict ruinous austerity over the overhyped Fiscal Cliff are also running roughshod over the working people of Michigan, and for the same reasons.  In his customary hesitancy to call things by their proper names, he misses a chance to pillory a series of bought-and-paid-for charlatan Governors vaulted into office on a sea of dark money for no other purpose than to serve their paymasters, and, if possible, defeat Obama personally.  By failing to link Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, Rick Scott, and John Kasich to the Koch Brothers and the Amway heirs, along with all the other cartoonishly greedy billionaires who bedevil him on every front, he throws away the opportunity to engage in the sort of tribal politics at which his opponents are the undisputed masters.

While Republicans must continually invent increasingly preposterous fantasies about the villainy of their political enemies to rally their addlepated  and dyspeptic base, Democrats can quite easily point to real predators out to plunder America in a manner so obvious as to be readily apparent to the pre-school set, yet time and again fail to do so.

Yes, Mr. President, the race to the bottom is one America can’t win, and yes, unions built the once-formidable industrial heartland into a model of the high-wage modern economy, and both stories are important.  But neither is as important as the stories of the people with the time, inclination, and money to take it all away, and are systematically doing so even as we speak.

Baby steps are better than no steps at all, as Wisconsin must bitterly remember on this day, but the chance to really walk a mile in those fabled shoes continues to evade the President, even when a golden opportunity like this lands in his lap.

14 Comments

  1. michlib says:

    I think it’s time to dust off card check and ” jam it down their throats ” as the righties deeply fear. Snyder has revealed himself to be a stealth smart-ALEC. So sad, and just as we are beginning to turn the corner. To answer Ted Kennedy’s question ” when does the greed stop ? ” unfortunately, never .

  2. cocktailhag says:

    It’s so flagrant, I can’t understand why it keeps going over.
    Nobody ever went broke, and all that.

  3. avelna says:

    You’re so right about the failure of the Democrats – or at least their mouthpieces. Maddow was on last night deploring the actions of the rethugs in MI, but praising BO to high heaven for his oh-so-few words on the subject during his speech in MI. Cenk Uygur, OTOH, praised him faintly for the loverly speech but pointed out that he still hasn’t pulled those “comfortable shoes” out of the closet.

    Effin Obama is still in campaign mode for god sakes. He needs to figure out that he actually won the election.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Sadly, I couldn’t get the whole 6:00 clip to embed, but it was even more revealing. It was just polite laughter and applause until he brought up RTW, and then the crowd went wild. He had a moment, and he whiffed it. It’s hard not to think it isn’t deliberate, since it happens so often. No wonder plutocrats have such thin skin, even the Leader of the Free World is afraid to criticize them by name.

  4. mikeinportc says:

    No wonder plutocrats have such thin skin, even the Leader of the Free World is afraid to criticize them by name.

    He’s not a full-fledged member of The Club yet, just an associate member. That, and the rewards that go with it, come later.That seems to be what he’s been campaigning for, all along. He can’t go all Evo Morales on ‘em, and expect to make it permanent. ;)

    michlib, I was reading the review ,below, of Economists and the Powerful Norbert Häring and Niall Douglas. One point is the one you made:(Current) Conventional economic theory applies the law of diminishing returns to greed, when it works in the opposite direction (for a lot of people) .

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/10/reality-economics/

    • cocktailhag says:

      Yeah, he wants to go the Clinton route, and the approach is drearily familiar. You can do a little around the edges, but no upsetting of applecarts allowed. At least Republicans are true to their promises, odious as they are.

  5. avelna says:

    You and yours are safe and sound I hope? Not at the mall last night?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Just as a precaution, I never go to malls, even at Christmas. But I would NEVER go to Crack o’ my Ass Town Center, home of Tonya Harding.

      • RUKidding says:

        Thought of you last night, as well, but somehow couldn’t picture you inna mall, esp at this time-o-year. Didn’t know it was in the home to La Tonya of the “My Skates Need to be Tied Tighter” school of why I am such a bone-headed trailer trash failure.

        hmmmmmm…. very sorry for loss of life (and with due respect to families/friends affected) but perhaps the La Tonya nastitude is “catching” like cooties??

        • cocktailhag says:

          Actually, Clackamas County contains both white trash suburbs like Milwaukie and Oregon City, along with snooty suburbs west of the river like Lake Oswego (aka Lake Nonegro) and West Linn. Together, that makes for an unsightly red splotch on the deep blue metro area. Recently, they voted to refuse to pay for their share of a bridge used mostly by Clackamas residents, and to refuse future light rail projects. Big surprise they’re shooting each other; they were probably aiming for their own feet.

      • avelna says:

        Yep, didn’t think you would be found in a mall, ‘specially at this time of year!

  6. RUKidding says:

    Eh? As they say in the south: why hooooow nice.

    O said whatever he said bc he had no other choice.

    I was visiting with pals from downundah over the past few days, and they kept giving O a big “pass” because of the meany-bully Republicans who just won’t give O a “break.”

    I flatly stated that O isn’t *really* hampered by the Republicans, or even by the Blue Dog DINOs… it’s more about him being able to be become a billionaire like the Clintons after he’s done with his current “job.” They had to ponder that for a while. Not totally convinced but conceded I might have a point.

    I still don’t see Big Zero unpacking his walking shoes. Never has, never will. Serfdom for the serfs. Big Zero got HIS. The rest of us can get stuffed. Didn’t Barry just go on Oprah or something and say that Seniors better get ready to have the Medicare age raised? Like Medicare & Soc Sec have *everything* to do with the so-called ginned up “fiscal cliff”… NOT.

    Color me just as cynical as ever, but thanks for the update.

  7. Ché Pasa says:

    The victories of the Kochevik faction in the Midwest — including Michigan, of course — against the People’s interest and will is an ugly reminder of how close the rest of us are to some sort of fascist future.

    On the other hand, after the repeated recall debacles in Wisconsin, I’m real leery of unions going mano-a-mano with these Kochevik predators and depredators.

    As for that Clackamas business, yeek. These shoot-em-ups sure seem to keep the plebs in mortal fear, don’t they? Schools, malls, temples, churches, no safety anywhere, eh?