How many of us have heard the old adage that it's actions, not words, that matter. I concur with that assessment generally. However, when it comes to presidential politics, it doesn't hold as fast and tight. The bully pulpit is a powerful tool to convey political agenda, ideology and action in any presidential term, and while a president isn't a king (sorry teaBirchers, he's not) who can enact whatever policy he likes, he certainly can explain and promote his beliefs to millions of Americans at any given time.
Obama over his first four years has frustrated his liberal base because he was just as likely to mention Ronald Reagan in glowing terms as much as he would Teddy Roosevelt or FDR. And he never laid out a consistent progressive agenda to the American people during his first years in the White House. (No matter what FOX News said.) But on FOX News shortly after the inauguration, Charles Krauthammer was the only one to come on after the speech and praise it honestly. Most conservatives complained that the president was being mean to Republicans yet again, but not Charles:
I thought it was an amazing speech — historically very important,” Krauthammer said. ”Not memorable — there’s not a line here that will ever be repeated, but I think very important historically because this was really Obama unbound. And I think what’s most interesting is that Obama basically is declaring the end of Reaganism in this speech.
I was pretty astonished by his response when I watched this, because for the most part, Charles has been one of the leaders of the Sour Patch Kids who live off being deficit scolds. Obama's victory is forcing many conservatives to come to grips with certain realities (maybe America isn't a center right country?) and Charles is trying to understand what it means for Republicans in the future. I may disagree with his notion of what 'Big Government' is and means, but his analysis on the whole is fairly accurate.
Funny, how many pundits that criticized Obama for not extending a loving hand to Republicans never mentioned George Bush's second inauguration speech. It dealt almost entirely with his bombastic and aggressive foreign policy beliefs.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
Bush did promote his "ownership society" theories, but freedom was the central tenet of his speech after the 9/11 tragedy. He also talked a little about equality, but shrouded it in Republican orthodoxy. Unfortunately for us, his beliefs helped destroy the global financial economies. There was nary a word about Democrats and Republicans working together to cure the ills of our land. I guess he's been deleted from conscious thought by the Villagers in which we are to compare past and future presidents.
In Obama's second inauguration--he surprised many liberals by making the case for some of the strongest beliefs the left holds dear like equality; including marriage, voter rights, climate change and exalting the safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. (Applause.) They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. (Applause.)
In your face Roger Ailes, Mitt Romney, Rupert Murdoch, Karl Rove and the entire Conservative movment. So Obama is off to a good start at least in terms of rhetoric. And yes, rhetoric from the top is an important ingredient for baking a very progressive pie. He is the leader of the Democratic party. However, if Obama does not continue to use the bully pulpit promoting Liberal ideas and falls back into being a deficit scold then all will be lost.
At least for now he's on the right path.
Krauthammer: Remember, he once said that Ronald Reagan was historically consequential in a way that Bill Clinton was not. And what Obama meant is that Obama had changed the ideological course of the country. In 1981, in his inaugural address within two minutes, Reagan had declared that ’government is not the solution, government is the problem.’ Today’s inaugural address was a rebuke to that entire idea.”
“This speech today was an ode to big government,” he continued. ”It was a hymn to big government. In his refrain, the three ‘we the peoples,’ number one I’m going to defend what liberalism achieved in the 20th century, where he mentioned Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Said, ‘I’m not going to let any of that be chipped away.’ And then second, he said the vision for the future is climate change and green energy, the new expansion of liberalism in the new century. And then the third element was his expansion of civil rights, where he talked about immigrants and gays, and he even shoe-horned gun rights under the rubric of security. He outlined the liberal agenda, the big government agenda in the future.”