Saturday, November 13, 2010
Worth Reading: Greider on Obama
William Greider writes a tough and cogent critique of Obama in The Nation, which urges the President to play "hardball," to "push back aggressively and stand his ground, more like those ruthless opponents trying to bury him." Greider contends that Obama must "switch from cheerleading to honest talk. Tell people what the nation really needs, what Republicans intend to sabotage." According to Greider, "what's missing with this president is power—a strong grasp of the powers he possesses and the willingness to govern the country with them." While Obama's extraordinary rise to the presidency was due to "learning rare skills, the ability to bridge different worlds comfortably and draw people together across racial, political and intellectual divides . . . to charm and disarm, not to smash and conquer" these skills, together with the Washington insiders and old friends with which he surrounded himself, have ill served him as president. This has been particularly problematic when the Republican opposition "are masters of deceptive marketing," having cast him "as a power-mad (black) leftist, destroying democracy with socialist schemes," a portrait "so ludicrous and mendacious, the president's party hardly bothered to respond." Greider argues that Obama needs to fight back and his allies need to encourage him to do so: "Popular forces . . . can mobilize to demonstrate visible support for the president's loftier goals and to warn him off the temptation to pursue a Clintonesque appeasement of the right. Given the fragile status of his presidency, Obama needs to know that caving in is sure to encourage enemies and drive off disheartened supporters. People should, likewise, call out the president's enemies and attack them with the harshness that's out of character for him. The racial McCarthyism of the GOP establishment is a good place to start."