Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Daily Strike-4/18/09-Obama's Curious Talk and International Relations

Good Saturday evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Today, I will criticize the President. Enjoy.

SATURDAY WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS: For a President seeking to vastly expand government spending to fund important priorities in education, energy and health care, it sure was interesting to hear a speech that sounded like it could have been written by Republican budget hawks. This address contained every talking point Republicans have used to attack the President over both the stimulus bill and his budget proposal. He said that the United States is on an unsustainable fiscal path, and that rising deficits and debt will wreak havoc on our economy. He promised to make important budget cuts in discretionary spending, but like his adversaries on the right, didn't specifically mention what constituted "wasteful government spending." He even used a John McCain like anecdote of government waste by mentioning that the Department of Homeland Security is saving $3 million by not updating their department logo. Finally, he repeated the often used Republican line of "families across America are making difficult choices, and it's time for Washington to do the same."

I understand the President wants to seem like he cares about fiscal responsibility, but this speech took things a step too far. If he wants to convince the American people that in an economic downturn, the government need to spend a lot of money to spur consumer demand, it's not very helpful to talk about "cutting government waste." You can bet your life that if you turn on CSPAN this week, Republican lawmakers will be using the President's own words to attack his policy proposals.

In fairness to Obama, he did mention that we needed to make investments now to help the economy in the short-term. But in my view, it's important that the President be unambiguous on government investment. By attacking "wasteful" spending without pointing out any specific programs, he could be inadvertently implying that all government spending, the very spending he desperately needs the American people to support, is waste. Who knows, maybe the President really took those "tea parties" to heart.

OBAMA/CHAVEZ: My guess (and please make your own guesses in the comment section) is that the picture taken yesterday of Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be used in a Republican campaign ad within the next two weeks. Obama's team is trying to claim that a handshake is just a handshake, which is true. But Hugo Chavez, the socialist kind-of dictator of Venezuela has said some pretty nasty things about the United States, including a remark in 2006 that President Bush was "the devil." Thoughtful people like the Strike's loyal readers will realize that Obama is simply fulfilling a campaign pledge to meet with America's friends AND enemies without preconditions to start a new era of American diplomacy. But in certain political quarters, it will not be good for the President to have a picture of him and Chavez smiling broadly over a firm handshake. I also learned on the preschool playground to always be suspicious when somebody says, "let's be friends."

(That's what Chavez said to Obama).

NO DURBAN II: The United States has announced that it will not attend an upcoming UN conference on racism to protest anti-Israel and anti-Western language in the conference document. As Ben Smith of Politico wisely points out, this is a great example of Obama tacking slightly right in a symbolic sense, to help excuse his willingness to speak to Iran. Jewish constituencies in the US will certainly give the President a bit of goodwill for boycotting this meeting. He may need their goodwill when he takes some positions (like pushing for a land-for-peace deal in the Middle East) that will be tough for some American Jews to swallow.

This Jew is willing to say that he totally had me when I saw that picture of him at the White House seder.

That's it for today. PLEASE LEAVE SOME COMMENTS!


  1. Over under on days until the Chavez/Obama photo is used in a Republican Ad: 8.5

  2. Secondly, thank you to the strike for realistically criticizing our great president. Just because Obama represents a historic step forward for the progressive movement can we forget to be critical and skeptical of our leaders at times. Obama is after all a politician, whose driving motive still comes down to re-election in many situations. Remaining optimistic about our times while still holding Obama accountable is the advisable way forward...