How The Man Of ‘Change’ Changed
On July 16, 2012, 12:22 PM by Karl Moats
After four years of constant bickering and hyper-partisanship, Obama’s hardest days remain ahead of him.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Think of the American economy as a car. President Obama starts. Republicans were behind the wheel for eight years before they drove it into a ditch. So Democrats got the keys. Now they’re in a ditch. And it’s hot. It’s muddy. There are bugs everywhere. But they’ve got their boots on. And they’re pushing, they’re clawing, they’re doing everything they can to get the car out of the ditch. They look up and see Republicans just standing there, saying: You’re doing it wrong. So Obama asks them to come down and help, but they go: No, we’re good, and keep “sipping on a Slurpee”.
Democrats keep slipping and sliding and finally they shove it out of the ditch. The car’s not pretty. It desperately needs a tune-up and a carwash, “but it’s moving.” Obama wipes his brow and opens the door when he gets a tap on his shoulder. It’s the Republicans. They want the keys back. No, Obama tells them, you can’t have them. You all are terrible drivers. You’ll just put the car in reverse and drive it back into the ditch.
Obama pauses at the podium. He flashes that Cheshire Cat grin of his before his favorite part of the car analogy: “There’s a reason why, when you want to go forward, you put it into ‘D,’ and when you go backward, it goes into ‘R’. It’s not a coincidence.”
Obama and his then 29-year-old speechwriter/“mind reader” wunderkind Jon Favreau drove the Car Speech all across the Midwest the Summer of 2010. But the rousing catcalls in sweltering roadside diners and dingy auditoriums never got traction.
WASHINGTON, DC. — “I’m exhausted of defending you,” the woman told President Obama.
Obama laughed first at the gall of her statement then bought some time with his trademark “Well…” opener. He hemmed and hawed before rattling off his litany of presidential achievements thus far: student loans, health insurance companies can’t drop you, and so on.
But all this meant nothing to Velma Hart. They were mere fancy words from a well-spoken man. She was a veteran, a laid-off mother of two. Neither student loans nor health care reform would put food on her kitchen table. She was headed back to “the hot dogs-and-beans era”. She just wanted the president to admit it.
He wouldn’t. Instead, Obama could only empathize. He said he knew it was tough “treading water”, but that “we’re going in the right direction”. And then he took the next question.
News pundits called Velma Hart 2010’s Joe the Plumber. A plain-speaking American whose pain was so raw, so visceral, that she left even Obama speechless. She was the frustrated clarion call of an American middle class tired of waiting. Hart said what every frustrated liberal was thinking: Why don’t you fight for us, Obama? Why don’t you get mad?
One of the great mysteries of the two-year old Obama Administration to date was the president’s failure to communicate. Obama The Candidate inspired a nation and the world. His primary campaign speech on race in the wake of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright imbroglio was hailed as one of the most frank discussions the nation had heard in decades. Obama The Candidate reinvigorated a drained Democratic party when he said “enough” to Republicans’ games under that clear Denver sky at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
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