Ezra Klein: fiction writer

OMG, Ezra imagines (informed speculation) what Obama would say if he “went Bulworth.”  What results is an absolutely brilliant critique of the media, among other things.  Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.  Here’s my favorite part:

Q: Sir, you’ve been criticized in recent weeks for being overly passive. And as you say here, it’s your view the government isn’t doing enough on the problems facing the American people. Isn’t it up to you to lead?

OBAMA: Let me be clear. This kind of question right here is the problem. You have no idea what it actually is that you’re asking. If you did, you wouldn’t use the word “lead.” You’d be specific. You’d say, shouldn’t I be putting forward a budget that includes serious compromises on entitlement spending to show I’ll meet the Republicans halfway. But I did that. You’d say shouldn’t you be reaching out more to the Hill, trying to build some personal relationships with more congressional Republicans, maybe invite Paul Ryan to lunch? But I did that. You’d say, shouldn’t you just sign an executive order repealing sequestration. But I can’t do that, and you know that. You could say, why aren’t you ordering the army to march on Capitol Hill and simply take the place over? But I’m not going to stage a coup, and you don’t want me to.

So you use this word “lead.” And it gives you cover. It lets you say the fault here is on both sides. The Republicans, they won’t compromise, and they won’t work with me, and they keep threatening to shut down the government or breach the debt ceiling. But, on the other hand, I’m not leading. And so it’s all kind of even. And then no one can criticize you for being partisan. No one can say you’re taking a side. No one can criticize you at all because no one can argue with the word “lead” until you define it, which you never do.

But let me be clear, you are taking a side. You’re taking the side of this town not working again. You’re taking the side of the media backing off of its role as a neutral arbiter and becoming an enabler of whatever irresponsible political strategy one party or the other happens to pick that week. You’re taking the side of what’s easy for you over what your readers and listeners need you to do.

Look, I’m happy to lead. I’ve sent young men and women to die in battle. I ordered a raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound that, if it went wrong, could’ve destroyed my presidency. I made decisions to rescue banks and automakers that honestly turned my stomach. I’ve told my base things they really didn’t want to hear on entitlements and the public option and the Bush tax cuts. I pushed health-care reform over the finish line even after the polls had dropped and everyone was saying it would be my Waterloo. I’ve proven that I’ll lead. I need some Republicans to lead, too. That’s the only way this works. Yes, in the front.

Damn, that’s good.  Your turn President Obama.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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