An analysis by Steve Clemons in the Huffington Post suggests Obama should give more play to Chuck Hagel. He quotes remarks by Hagel made in an interview with the Washington Diplomat. For example:
Clemons suggests that Obama needs to move Hagel from what he calls “Team B” (the Afghanistan Study Group) to “Team A” (Cabinet meetings and National Security Council advisers). I agree that fresh voices are needed across the board, and wrote comments to that effect on Clemons article:
As I noted in my comment quoted above, Obama seems fixated on the Red/Blue divide and unable to figure out how to move forward on it. He keeps attempting to appease the Right, but like a Chinese finger trap, the harder he tries, the worse his situation. I think he needs to relax and not worry so hard about the apparent problem, focusing instead on other problems and allowing this one to solve itself.
The reason for this is that the rhetoric of the Right is designed to not match the reality of the Right. So the more one attempts to address the rhetoric, the farther one moves from actually addressing the needs of the people enticed by the rhetoric. In the end, those people are not served by compromise because compromise draws them away from their needs, not toward their needs.
This is expressed well in an article Sunday by David Michael Green at Common Dreams. Here is an excerpt:
And this dovetails with an excellent recent essay by Steve Klingaman in which he suggested that people should worry less about Islam and more about hopelessness and fundamentalism.
I think Steve was talking mostly about hopelessness abroad, but I think his message is equally well-taken right here in our own country. We often enjoy the luxury and/or arrogance to think of ourselves as somehow immune to such problems as those “other” countries have. But we are not immune here at home.
Obama promised us hope, but people are losing hope. And when that happens, people do crazy things. Reestablish hope and the Tea Party will lose its steam. But, at least for now, people are lining up in droves to bring the Republicans back into power. It's not clear that they even like the message the Republicans are offering. But it's almost as if they don't care. They are, as the saying goes, “mad as hell and not going to take it any more.” They are looking for a way of “sending a message,” and the message is: They have lost hope.
Put people to work doing something. Offer tax breaks or even subsidies to companies that hire the unemployed. As Klingaman so eloquently notes, “all people need a purpose.” Not having a purpose, a job, and money breeds hopelessness.
Obama may not be able to fix everything, but he needs to level with people—and himself—about the problems we face. And to get to that, he needs to start by getting some new advisors and some fresh viewpoints. He's become increasingly insular during his time in office, failing to fulfill his promises of transparency. Right now he can't seem to see out, and neither can we see in.
Once he can see clearly where he is, he'll be in a position to chart a believable path forward. Only when people see a plan they can understand and believe in will there be hope. He must articulate such a vision. And he must spell out clearly how completely essential it is to have a Democratic Congress in order to execute that plan.
Only by giving people a way to contribute positively can Obama overcome people's kneejerk urge to contribute negatively—to destroy what we have now and to want to start over. That's what the Republicans claim to be selling. It won't be what people get, but they'll vote for it anyway if they have no hope. The political enemy of their political enemy is their political friend, or so they think. By the time they find out otherwise, it will be too late.
Obama must restore the nation's sense of hope. Hope is the antidote to people going crazy and being self-destructive. People can endure a lot, but they cannot endure hopelessness.
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