“Why Can’t They Just Be Honest” . January 2011

Steven A. Leibo
WAMC Jan. 27, 2011

Click here for the WAMC audio for “Why Can’t They Just Be Honest?”

Now, mind you I am not saying that Tuesday evening’s various state of the union messages were not interesting. I especially liked the Republican show of playing good cop – bad cop with two competing messages like one of those cute old movies that show a person with an angel and devil, each on a different shoulder demanding contradictory action. In this case, the moderate compromising voice of Congressman Ryan and the aggressive take no prisoner tone of representative Bachmann.

And, President Obama was certainly articulate enough; doing everything he could to appear reasonable. Open to improving his health care plan but refusing to go backwards. Yes, standing fast against allowing insurance companies to ever again deny people health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions or pushing our unemployed adult children off our family policies. Long established democratic principles if there ever were.

All this going on even as the republicans, obsessed as usual over any federal spending done under democratic administrations and naively convinced as always that private business corporations, despite their singular mandate to generate profits for their shareholders not jobs for Americans, will always have the best interests of the American worker in mind.
Yes, today’s republicans who have apparently convinced themselves that it was the federal government, President Obama’s federal government, that somehow brought us to our current financial fragility instead of their beloved corporate buddies, especially those on Wall Street whose reckless financial shenanigans plunged our nation into economic chaos.

Republicans who still refuse to acknowledge that only prompt action by the federal government, yes, the federal government first of President George W. Bush and then Barack Obama managed to save us from the full brunt of Wall Street’s recklessness.

Sure, President Bush was too little unconcerned about the massive debts he was building up and the Republicans rightly pointed that out. But, can they not a least give President Bush credit for intervening in the fall of 2008 despite all the conservative ideological arguments against doing so.

But, if conservatives remain unwilling to acknowledge the historic origins of our current economic challenge, President Obama’s failure to recognize present & future reality was even more egregious. I mean how could he possibly speak enthusiastically of how all those new jobs are suppose to come from the absolute necessity of building a new green energy future while providing millions of Americans with convenient public transportation without ever explaining why we need those new energy and transportation resources?

Let’s get real here. We built this country on cheap fossil fuel and Americans quite obviously love their cars so they are going to need a damn good reason to change. So why can’t Obama speak openly about just why we need that new energy and transportation revolution. Why doesn’t he just come out and treat us like adults?

Why can’t he just explain that the world’s supply of petroleum, our primary transportation fuel, is moving toward a crisis as millions of Chinese and Indians buy more cars and we find less and less of the stuff below the surface.

Why won’t Obama explain that while we might still have plenty of coal and natural gas, they are both increasingly less usable. Less usable because, and we certainly didn’t learn this from the president’s Tuesday address, because burning them has upset the heat balance of the entire planet, setting off the emerging era of rising storms and failed crops even as horrendous fires from dried out landscapes break out across the world — these more obvious features of the — long predicted and now upon us climate crisis.

So what is it that makes Obama believe he can’t just explain why we need that new energy revolution so drastically. Is he so afraid of a bit of congressional booing from those still in denial about the greatest threat humanity has ever faced?

No, Tuesday evening was interesting but if the Republicans won’t level with themselves or, the president won’t level with the American people it’s hard to consider Tuesday’s performances, examples of the sort of leadership today’s America so desperately needs.

About Steven Leibo

This entry was posted in American Politics, Energy, Health Care, The Climate Crisis, WAMC Northeast Public Radio Commentaries. Bookmark the permalink.

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