Saturday, September 3, 2011

Profiles In Fierce Advocacy: Sometimes, It's Really Frustrating

Image credit: Brandon Baunach/Flickr

There was a time when I was on the Obama campaign mailing list. Then this happened. Or maybe it was something else. Whatever the reason, e-mail from that particular list is no longer cluttering up my inbox.

Sometimes, that means I miss gems like this one:

That lone word on the subject line of the e-mail President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign sent to supporters late Wednesday night said it all.

How the president was feeling after two months of near-constant fighting with Congress. How the White House felt after a day when it capitulated in a high-stakes contest of political gamesmanship with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“I know that you’re frustrated by that. I am, too,” Obama wrote in the e-mail, which arrived in hundreds of thousands of inboxes between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Obama’s 2012 campaign ‘frustrated’ over fight with Republicans
The "high-stakes contest of political gamesmanship" the article refers to, of course, is the upcoming Greatest Speech On Jobs Evah, which the White House tried to schedule for the same evening as a Republican Presidential candidates' debate, so he wouldn't bump against what is, apparently, a crucially important football game. (Does Green Bay have a team? When did that happen?). John Boehner, the Speaker of the House thanks to the Democrats' past incompetence at dealing with the economy, suggested he try to squeeze it in before the Big Game.

So, gosh, the guy's frustrated. That's understandable, I suppose. What's amazing, though, is that he assumes anyone else would be.

To understand why, let's remind ourselves that this speech is supposed to address what President Obama wants to do about our sucky economy. Taking the CBO's ridiculously optimistic forecast that this depression will result in an output gap of $ 5 trillion, you'd think that any President who was really worried about unemployment would try to spend at least a significant chunk of that output gap on putting people to work. Let's annualize that gap, and say that, over the seven years the CBO optimistically expects this thing to last, that the target for one year's spending should be $700 billion or so. Does anyone reading this think that he will propose even half that ridiculously low sum for the next fiscal year? Not a chance.

As Robert Reich predicted, this speech will be about half-assed spending projects and useless tax breaks.

Why would I want to miss a football game (hey, they're playing New Orleans. Have they pumped all the water out of their stadium yet?), when there will clearly be nothing in this speech worth paying attention to?

That's what I find frustrating.

Afterword: For anyone tempted to write to explain to me about the glorious history of the Green Bay Packers or the New Orleans Saints, just remember that this is the sort of thing I write about the Super Bowl every year...

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