Obama on Letterman:
You’ll recall, you know, for the last two years, we’ve been talking about needing to change how Washington works, how the country is managed and people were saying, ‘No, it’s about experience, experience, experience,’ and over the last week and a half I think they recognized that, no, the American people want something fundamentally different and for a good reason. Because when you travel, it doesn’t matter whether you’re here in New York City or a tiny hamlet somewhere in the Midwest, what you find is people are just having a tough time right now. The economy is not working for middle class families, incomes have gone down, people don’t have healthcare, you’ve got foreclosures all across the country, and so people want something different [what?], and whoever makes the better case that we have had enough of the last eight years, we need something fundamentally new [how?], whoever makes that case to the American people will be the next President.” (audience applauds)
Obama: “You know, I’ve got lunch with Bill Clinton, which I’m looking forward to. There’s nobody smarter in politics,” (audience applauds) “and he is going to be, you know, he’s going to be campaigning for us over the next eight weeks, which I’m thrilled by because, you know, the race that he ran in ‘92 is - it was similar to what’s taking place now. You had an economy that wasn’t working for people, you had a party that had been in power that didn’t seem particularly concerned that it wasn’t working for people, but, you know, he was new. He was young and people were still trying to figure out whether or not the guy was up to the job, and so, you know, I think giving - having him talk about, you know, why we need to change the economy in a fundamental way so it works for middle class families so that they can get ahead, so that they can send their kids to college, I think he can be a great advocate on behalf of the campaign.”
So, that's Obama in conversational mode. The transcript reads very well; I don't know why he doesn't do more like this. (I too remember how moving Letterman was, post 9/11; that's an effective use of shared memories.
But. Color me skeptical:
1. I'm betting -- readers? -- that the people who are suffering the most probably aren't watching Letterman. I love Letterman, but I think Letterman's demographic means that Obama was preaching to the choir. Again.
2. Obama recycles the change and experience riffs effectively in a rhetorical sense -- "The economy is not working for middle class families" -- but the content is stale. We know everything he mentions already; foreclosures; health care; everything. How about something real that isn't stale? Like mentioning the taxpayers are now on the hook for $5 Trillion in mortage debt when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got socialized? Like mentioning the actual unemployment rate? Where's the beef?
3. I'm glad Bill Clinton's going to be campaigning for Obama, and I anticipate "the lunch." But does Obama really get it? The problems we face aren't like those of 92; they're an order of magnitude worse. And not only did BIll Clinton not "change the economy in a fundamental way ," Obama, as per fucking usual, gives no clue to what "change" actually means (unless it be an ineffectual and broken health care plan that is not universal, despite his claim that it is). Bill Clinton can't put lipstick on a pig either.
4. And, of course, Obama wants to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Never mind whether that's a good idea strategically. How do we even afford it? This whole discussion reminds me of the Brits before Suez in the 1950s. Before Suez, the British ruling class thought they were still a great, imperial power. After Suez, they knew they weren't.
So, after reading the transcript, it's just as plausible to me that Obama -- "way up there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine" (as Arthur Miller has it) -- has been hired to put a smiling face on the Shock Doctrine policies the Village has in mind for us all. That strikes me as at least as plausible as the idea that he will help, as President, those portions of the base -- including me -- that he threw under the bus in the primaries.
And I'm afraid that, after the primaries -- affable and intelligent as the man seems on Letterman -- I have no reason to trust or respect him, or -- after the shameful performance of the 2006 Congress -- the Democrat Party.
And we get?
NOTE Earlier in the transcript, there's a splendid rationalization of the "lipstick on a pig" thing. Of course it was on purpose; and I think it was a two-fer. Smearing Palin as a woman was part one, as Tier Two Obama surrogate Jeralyn made perfectly clear by putting glasses on her image of a lipsticked pig; and pivoting to the economy from, as Obama did elsewhere in the transcript, is part two. Nice. I wonder if he'll pivot on my back next?