President Barack Obama today used his weekly You Tube Radio address to blast Senate Republicans for nixing the unemployment benefits extension and standing in the way of measures that would help small businesses:
This is clearly part of a recent shift: as polls show his and Democrats’ polls sagging badly heading into the mid-terms, Obama more than ever intends to “push back” and not leave the ongoing narrative to mainstream media stories essentially saying he and the Democrats are toast, cable broadcasters who are quick to predict outcomes and set ongoing news-story narratives, and ideological weblogs and talk shows that tell partisan audiences what they want to hear while cherry-picking the news.
Of course, in doing this Obama will cherry pick his own news and facts. But the point is: it’s likely that from now until election day we’ll be in a new era. Obama and the White House will aggressively make the case for their policies and against the GOP’s policies and actions (and nonactions). He can’t attempt to be “post-partisan” since this is most assuredly not a post-partisan part of 2010.
Polls show that Americans are worried about debt. But the issue of standing in the way of unemployment benefits could hurt the GOP greatly if the benefits are not passed and the mainstream media begins the series of inevitable stories about the impact of a nonextension.
But aside from that there is this: it truly is ironic that Senators who get government health care, eat in the gourmet-menued Senate dining room, have nice expense accounts, who aren’t exactly (ahem) poster people for the undernourished — and who are wooed, wined and dined by fat-cat lobbyists — to say “tough luck” to the unemployed or suggest the jobless just want to stay home and live off their paltry unemployment checks. Several experts point out that filibusters on unemployment benefits were virtually unheard of until this year — no matter which party was in power.
It’s unlikely that many of these Senators who could probably use a trip to Jenny Craig have faced the stress of losing their homes, being evicted from their apartments, not being able to buy their children new clothing, or looking into their kitchen cabinets or the fridges and seeing it almost empty.
THEY don’t have to go on job interviews where there are 100 or 200 applicants seeking the job –or where they are told to put their resume online and then wait to hear from their prospective employer to even be considered for a job interview.
It’s sort of like Rush Limbaugh — you know, that not-starving talk show host who just sold his New York penthouse for $11 million (what man of the people hasn’t done that?) and flies to cities on his own private jet — going on about the poor and the evil Democrats who are siding with them.
Yes, if only all the unemployed could do what Rush did. Just give them three hour slots on radio stations where they could sit down in front of a microphone and demonize one political party and its members — if they could only follow Limbaugh’s work ethic then they would not be poor. Why can’t they get a job like Limbaugh and do what he did?
There is the serious issue: the country’s debt.
And then there’s another underlying, long term issue: whether in the 21st century — with all of its financial chaos and pain — Americans are going to hold onto to the empathy which has long characterized this country.
Will the debt issue trump empathy? O will some voters including those independents who don’t lean to the GOP or lean to the Democrats find that their concerns over the debt, the still-bleak jobs picture, the ailing economy’s impact on them and their loved ones, their disappointment over how despite Obama’s promises for substantial change be trumped by the utter lack of empathy seemingly being shown by some Republicans and their high profile, high volume infotainment figures?
PREDICTION: If the Republicans do not do as well as expected in November, it’ll be found that one reason will be some GOPers’ over the top rhetoric and the party’s seeming lack of empathy for the poor and non-corporate types that drove some voters who might have otherwise voted against the Democrats or stayed home to the polls to cast a negative vote — against those who are going to the polls to cast a negative vote on Obama and the Democrats.
More blogs’ comments on Obama’s address can be FOUND HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.