The headlines in my morning papers make me think the Body Snatchers arrived overnight. Or at least that Darth Cheney is secretly sending sonic waves to shake the Democrats’ collective psyche, stoking fear in every corner.
The New York Times writes “Obama weighs a paring of goals for a health bill … seeks bipartisan backing.”
Bad call, Mr. President. If you cower and buckle now because Republicans hijacked a single tepid Senate campaign, you’ll still be cowering in three years when Republicans, already back in control of House and Senate, drive you from the oval office.
Keep these two things in mind.
1. Scott Brown’s campaign came down to these to these words: “I’m Scott Brown … I drive a truck.” He won because he signaled to voters he’s just a regular guy, one of the people, an important message in hard times and one Democrats desperately need to remember. This country wants hope, not more Congressional mush, not more watering down of the gruel that’s already awfully thin after a year of horse trading on health care.
Speak to the people, Barack. They elected you because you used to do just that. Remember, “fired up and ready to go?” Get fired up. Come up with programs that create jobs, help people stay in their homes, regulate the robber barons. Explain why there’s no more room for compromise on health care. Because it’s a human right. Because the people deserve it. Because we’re the only developed democratic country that doesn’t provide it to all. Be impassioned. Then, if you lose the vote in Congress, you lose. The people will understand. They’ll stay behind you.
Which leads me to 2.
The Republican Party takes no prisoners, or if it does, it sticks them in Guantanamo to rot in perpetuity. This is the party that thinks water boarding is a new Olympic sport, not torture. Stop trying to reason with people who created the birther movement to “prove” you’re an impostor, who say you want to create death panels, who accuse you of raising money for Haiti so you can expand the list of Democratic donors. You are wasting your time.
Yes, the American people liked your message of bipartisanship during the campaign. But they’re not stupid. If you talk to them — honestly, transparently and often — they’ll get who the real obstructionists are. Explain what you’re trying to do, how it’s being spun, what the country will lose through gridlock.
In short, Barack, be president of the people, not the Congress. They, after all, are the ones who elected you.