Obama’s “Network” Moment

I haven’t seen the movie Network. But I have seen The American Film Institute’s semi-annual lists of great movies, great movie moments or what have you.  So, I know the famous line from Network – “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.”

I’m wondering if President Obama has seen it. 

Because from where I’m sitting, I’m way beyond fed up but don’t feel empowered to “not take it anymore.”  President Obama, on the other hand, sits in a room without corners and is empowered to not only to “not take it” but also to start giving “it.”  He can be the voice of a frustrated people.   People thought things were partisan before, wait till President Obama calls your bluff in front of the entire nation.  A little too cowboy? Perhaps.  Too much like a John Wayne movie? Maybe.

But we’re acting like conservative, Tea Party voters are the only ones voting in 2012.  They aren’t.  Maybe President Obama’s team doesn’t trust independents, moderates and Blue Dog Dems to show up in 2012.  Trust me when I say, we will.  I can only speak for myself, as a registered Independent, but dare them to beat you, Mr. Obama. 

Dare John Boehner to run for President.  Dare the GOP to win the 2012 election after this debacle.  Right now, you look just as bad as they do.  Bitterness.  Fighting.  Ridiculous metaphors of all shapes and sizes.  The President is not supposed to let bad things happen.  That’s what Americans know.   So, stand up, tell it like it is and get mad as hell.  It’s not easy for a man with Barack Obama’s disposition but that’s why it would be all the more effective.   Yesterday, Paul Krugman called the “centrist position” a cop-out.  He’s wrong.  Obama is a deal-maker.  He’s practical and sensible in his message and his approach.  That’s why people voted for him but it’s also what’s holding him back in this case.  Krugman says he wants leaders that do “the right thing” not “the center thing,” as if declaring yourself “right” is a better way to negotiate than describing yourself as the middle ground.  The truth is that Obama moved to the center, organized a compromise and was rejected and/or mocked repeatedly. 

Fair enough.

 The fun’s over. 

President Obama tried the reasonable approach.  Now it’s time to be a little unreasonable.

And if you need any ideas on where to direct that anger, President Obama, I have a few.  For example, John Boehner keeps saying that “Washington is broken” and now is the time to get spending under control.  Breaking news, Mr. Boehner.  YOU ARE WASHINGTON.  You’ve been in Congress since 1991.  You’ve seen how many budget resolutions? You’ve passed how many debt ceiling increases? You’ve had ample opportunity to focus on the deficient and spending, but did you? No.  Where were you when we spent $1.3 Billion a day in Iraq for about three years in a row? In Washington.  Where have you been this whole time? In Washington, probably having lunch with Mitch McConnell.  And now is the time you choose to draw a line in the sand?  Ha!

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to articulate.  I do think this is an important issue that requires a line in the sand.  I do think that the federal debt is way out of control and a long term solution is approaching mythical status.  But talk about poor timing.  After all this time in Washington and all the opportunities to utilize the revenue surpluses from the tech companies 10 years ago or to work with President Bush instead of supporting his irresponsible spending, now is the moment to play chicken with the American economy.  Come on!  That’s like the mafia extorting protection pay-offs  from local businesses for 20 years and then just at the moment when their “protection” is needed the most, growing a conscience and saying “you know what, I don’t think blackmail isn’t right” and walking away.   (Speaking of ridiculous metaphors).

Many point to a moment in 1980 in New Hampshire at a presidential debate, when President Reagan grabbed the microphone and said “I’m paying for this microphone” to the debate moderator, as a defining moment in his campaign.  The truth was that the Reagan campaign did shoulder the cost of the debate and that Reagan probably would have won the election no matter what.  But don’t underestimate the power of a moment.  Don’t underestimate the power of taking charge and shouting, if necessary.  Granted, Howard Dean probably disagrees with me on that last statement.  But given the right context (a face-to-face meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House) and the right time (now!), President Obama could have his moment.  

 I just wish someone would, cause I don’t know how much more of this I can take.


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