Leonce Gaiter

Leonce Gaiter
California, USA
March 24
Leonce Gaiter’s work on social and cultural issues has appeared in numerous publications, from the Los Angeles Times to the New York Times magazine. His historical novel, "I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang" [buckrampage.com] has an official publication date of September 1, 2011. His noir thriller "Bourbon Street" was published by Carroll & Graf. Additional fiction and non-fiction writings are available on his site: www.leoncegaiter.com.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2011 10:06AM

Chutzpah! Barack Obama's Shameful Black Caucus Speech

Rate: 3 Flag


President Barack Obama told blacks on Saturday to quit crying and complaining and "put on your marching shoes" to follow him into battle for jobs and opportunityAP

Follow him?  If the President wants anyone to follow him, he had better start leading -- something he has consistently failed to do since his inauguration.  He did not lead while the health reform debate devolved into a national joke and coughed up a bill that Americans still do not understand.  He did not lead the march for job creation when the economy proved to be in much worse shape than his economic advisors had forecast.  As a matter of fact, he did the opposite: he publicly made the Republican case for job-killing austerity measures while trumpeting his willingness to weaken entitlements on which the middle class depend.

The President said that "blacks need to have faith in the future and understand that the fight won't be won if they don't rally to his side."  Suddenly, there is a "fight" in the President's mind.

Since the election, the Obama administration's working theory has been that the first-best outcome is striking a deal with Speaker John Boehner and, if that fails, the second-best outcome is showing that they genuinely, honestly wanted to strike a deal with Speaker John Boehner. - Washington Post

Some fight -- compromise your principles or desperately try to compromise them.  Now, suddenly, it's election season, and he's magically switched from conciliating to fighting.  Unfortunately, this is not the fight for the longevity of the American dream; it is not a fight for a restoration of a vibrant middle class.  It's more craven than that.  It is a fight for his own job.  That is the only cause for which this President has displayed a "fire in the belly."  Come election time, he is all feisty speeches, ultimatums and "bring it on," bluster.  The day after the election, he is the Cave Man -- the one who caves to the slightest right wing pressure to sacrifice the promises he made during his election phase, like the promise he made to defend Social Security, like the promise he made to reform the Patriot act and to robustly defend labor rights.

As if chiding his black audience for laziness, he told them to "take off your bedroom slippers.  Shake it off.  Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'.  We are going to press on.  We have work to do."  

His audience applauded.  How desperate are we to see a black face in high office that we applaud insults.  We're supposed to stop complaining that Obama has consistently ignored the economic advice that turned out to be correct -- and continues to employ the economic advisors who have been wrong about everything -- who have helped craft the policies that have done nothing to heal an economy with tens of millions of Americans unemployed, underemployed, frightened, and desperate.  

As if to preening before a mirror in his shiny suit of self-righteousness, Obama has tested a theory of governance that bespoke naivete to the point of dilettantism.  Washington Post again:

...That was the thinking that led the White House to reward the GOP's debt-ceiling brinksmanship by offering Boehner a "grand bargain" that cut Social Security, raised the Medicare age, and included less new revenue than even the bipartisan Gang of Six had called for. It was also a theory that happened to fit Obama's brand as a postpartisan uniter and his personal preferences for campaigning on achievements rather than against his opponents. But though it came close to happening, the "grand bargain" ultimately fell apart. Twice.

The collapse of that deal taught them two things: Boehner doesn't have the internal support in his caucus to strike a grand bargain with them, and the American people don't give points for effort.

What American does not know that his/her countrymen value results over intent when it comes to politics?  What American does not know that his countrymen admire strength and hold weakness in contempt?  Barack Obama and his advisers did not know.  Or were they so blinded by the bright, shiny image of themselves as Messianic post-partisans that they ignored the facts repeatedly slapping them about the face?  

Obama has no right to demand that anyone follow him.  He hasn't led us anywhere worth going.  He hasn't even tried.  He's been too busy polishing his mirror image as a post-partisan "better than that" non-politician, despite running as a bona fide progressive promising a bold, progressive agenda.

How many Americans' jobs and savings and houses and children's educations has he sacrificed to his preferred self image?  Until he publicly acknowledges that he was wrong to do so, how can we trust him or follow him -- or vote for him again?


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
"Obama has no right to demand that anyone follow him. He hasn't led us anywhere worth going."

Absolutely right. Excellent post. Rated.
Stop whining and complaining...and get behind the man.

Or, stick with your unrealistic expectations and stick it to him.

Of course, the latter tack will lead to a tea party Republican victory...and then you will learn the true meaning of "getting screwed."
It seems to me that if he's being called a Muslim Communist by the Right and an a pro-Israeli sellout by the Left, he's in the middle, where elections are won, and per Frank, would you really like to see what the Republicans would be like? Moreover, given the long run budget constraints now biting because of the retirement of the Baby Boom generation, to not take steps to deal with that would be to accelerate the total implosion of those programs and the country. It seems like people did well with Bill Clinton when he was in the middle, except for people on the Right and Left who want a perfect world in a vision not enough people share with to do that and get elected.

By your logic, a Democrat can lie to us, betray the principles on which he ran, and cynically switch tactics right before an election to woo us and we have no choice but to "get behind him." We have no choice but to reward this bad behavior for fear of the right wing 'boogeyman.' I'm sick of cowering in fear of the right wing ghost. If it takes Tea Party governance to wake us up, so be it. This death by one thousand cuts, half administered by Democrats, is too much to bear.

As a former Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton never presented himself as anything other than a "new democrat." He never claimed the mantle of RFK and MLK. He never presented as a bold progressive promising bold, progressive change. Obama did. That's the difference. The other difference is that Clinton held office during an unprecedented boom, which did not require the leadership (currently lacking) required at the edge of a financial crisis--and which he promised to deliver. I'm not talking about the promise of policy results, but the promise to fight for principles as opposed to conciliate for deals that, all in all, promote a moderate Republican agenda.
Leonce, thank for the reply. I really do appreciate your position…but we are in substantial disagreement.

In my earlier post I suggested an alternative to backing Obama…

…a man I do not think lied to us more than any politician lies to us…

…a man I do not think betrayed the principles on which he ran—rather that he made pragmatic decisions occasioned by obstructionism on a scale never before seen…

…a man not cynically switching tactics right before election…but rather doing the kinds of adjustments every politician does in order to get elected or re-elected.

The alternative I suggested is to “…stick with your unrealistic expectations and stick it to him.”

I did call attention to the fact that you will reap what you sow—and although that crop may seem bearable now, I suspect it will taste like shit when actually on the table.

Obama has tried (and is trying) to get as much as he can out of a truly crummy situation—an unbelievably toxic political clime. I am merely asking you to do the same thing—get as much as you can out of choices you dislike.

Obama could have said, “No, I’d rather than have nothing than settle for less than I want.” He was smart enough not to do that.

I am asking you to be smart enough not to do the voter equivalent of that.

But go with what you think is best, Leonce.

After all, what do we have to lose but our safety net programs, the composition of the Supreme Court, and our national sense of dignity!
Why don't WE be honest and admit that it would not matter who is sitting in the WH right now, we would be saying the same thing, only insert a different name. He "isn't, can't, won't, didn't..." bla bla bla

The economy sucks because we're supporting two wars and a whole lot of old people in our own country who need the money a damn sight more than foreign countries.

If McCain had one, we'd be bashing his ass right now. Would that make some of you feel better? Not me. It all sucks.
I'm sorry. I simply cannot excuse a man who has not made any attempt to voice the progressive vision on which he ran. He has made no effort! He made the switch to austerity. He proposed the social security cuts. Nobody forced him to do these things and they were not an outgrowth of any outside circumstances. He chose not to lead. He chose to follow. Now, a minute before the election, he dares demand that WE follow HIM? No.
Have you ever heard of the words "premptive moves", Leonce?
Oops, I guess I shoulda spelled "preemptive" correctly!
I just don't understand the negotiating logic of pre-emptive concessions like those he made during the healthcare debate -- when he had majorities in both the house and senate. I don't understand the pre-emptive concessions made during the debt ceiling debate. If the Ezra Klein piece I quote is to be believed (and over the years, I have found his WAPO column to be quite reliable), then the Obama team was far more interested in proving themselves bipartisan than they were in promoting the progressive change on which they ran. They were far more interested in their self-image than they were in the policy results. This is not political leadership. It's bad marketing.
Leonce right on brother I worked my ass off for him. He rewarded me with a leadership style that is rooted in a childhood which stressed ignoring rather than confronting racism directed at him. I was done when he allowed Tom Vilsack to stay on after the Shirley Sharrod incident. We all know that had that been a white employee forced to leave a job by a black administrator that would have been the end of the administrators' job. And his comment about taking off our house slippers that was beyond the pale. I was especially incensed since I had my marching shoes on, was on the mall in DC standing with unions (I'm not a member) but he wasn't. He was too busy capitulating on every major issue and calling it victories!
By the way I now understand why your excellent writing isn't receiving EPs. It represents an honesty that even Progressives aren't really ready for. Preach!!