by David Goodloe
I think I was in college when I first heard a little jingle about plagiarism — “Plagiarize! Plagiarize! Let no one’s work evade your eyes!”
As a journalism major, I was constantly being warned by my instructors not to plagiarize anyone. It became an article of faith with me. So I guess that accounts for my appreciation for that little snippet, which bubbles to the surface in my brain from time to time — sometimes because I really am confronted with a clear case of plagiarism, other times for reasons that aren’t altogether certain at the time.
Today, it popped up, not because I have seen evidence of plagiarism but (I presume) because I’ve been seeing (and hearing) frequent pleas to Barack Obama to do a better job of prioritizing — and the two words sound so similar.
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, for example, was writing the other day about how the midterms — “like it or not,” she writes — are going to be a “referendum” (her word) on the Obama presidency.
You might have to look long and hard to find anyone who was a more devoted supporter of Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign than Clift, and she has some trouble shedding that enabler role. She insists, for example, that “there’s nothing wrong with Obama that a better economy wouldn’t fix,” and she’s probably right about that.
But the economy isn’t better. That’s the reality.
And Clift, while still giving credit where she feels it is due, has plenty of blame for others for why that is so.
She still seems to think that Obama has time to right the ship of state (“The only saving grace for Democrats is the roster of fringe candidates the GOP has served up, and the hope that voters will reject the change these Tea Party insurgents represent,” “it’s not too late for Obama to raise the level of his game,” etc.) but I don’t.
Clift suggests things that might qualify as cosmetic changes, like revamping the economic team in which Obama places so much faith. And that wouldn’t have been a bad idea — last year. But Obama was busy obsessing over health care, a Supreme Court nomination that was never in jeopardy and a “teachable moment” over race relations.
(Speaking of race relations, isn’t it interesting that Obama and the Democrats never miss an opportunity to lecture the rest of us about race relations and are quick to dismiss any criticism as the product of racism when escalating unemployment has hurt minorities even more than whites?)
Even Clift can’t escape the conclusion that Obama simply isn’t doing the things that presidents usually do to reassure voters when times are difficult. She points out — and rightly so — that Bill Clinton survived impeachment by “going before the cameras every day to insist he was doing the work of the people.”
Obama, on the other hand, will be addressing the nation tonight about Iraq.
“The time for that was earlier in August when the last of the combat troops rolled into Kuwait,” writes Clift. “Voters want to know what Obama is doing to create jobs” — as I observed the other day, a great time for that would have been last Labor Day — “and if he doesn’t get the message soon, he will in November.”
Maybe, in Obama’s inexplicable sense of logic, what he is doing is groundbreaking and will work in ways that the rest of us cannot see yet. Perhaps, in the years to come, political science professors will be telling their students how Obama rewrote the rules for being a successful president and leader of his party during bad times.
If so, then perhaps on November 3, the day after the midterms, it will be incumbent upon me to acknowledge that Obama really did know what he was doing all along.
And if that’s the case, I’m a big enough man to admit I was wrong and give credit where credit is due.
But today, about nine weeks before the voters go to the polls, I’m inclined to think that the Democrats are going to lose at least one chamber of Congress — and perhaps both.
If that happens, the Democrats will be all too eager to point fingers. Some are avoiding the rush and getting started on it ahead of time.
And, to be sure, there will be many scapegoats — some legitimate, some not.
But you will need look no further than the White House and its failure to prioritize to find the biggest reason for the setbacks.
David Goodloe got his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas in 1982, and his master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas in 1991. He publishes the thoughtful weblog Freedom Writing. This post is cross posted from his website.
Copyright 2010 The Moderate Voice