Thursday, September 21, 2006

Barack Obama: Had Enough?

I wish news coverage of Barack Obama's speech in Iowa focused on what he said and not on speculation about his 2008 candidacy. And I wish that more reporters had actually heard the speech. The speech was televised. You can see it here. (Fast forward to about 23 minutes for the section of the speech quoted below.) How hard would it be to write an original article about it? Yet dozens of newspapers and TV and radio stations carried the AP story with the headline "Dems Need Tough Security Stance" and the quote "What Democrats have to do is to close the deal." And dozens more carried the Chicago Tribune article with the headline, "Obama greeted like a rock star in Iowa" ('though the Tribune's headline was "Iowa Democrats see contender in Obama.")

The New York Times at least picked up the line that caught my attention. Obama says, "I don’t think that George Bush is a bad man.” He goes on to say that Bush and Republicans "believe in different things” and to underscore the party’s agenda by explaining the variety of ways Americans have “had enough” of Republican and Bush administration policies.

In case you don't have time to listen to Barack Obama, here's part of the speech:
I don’t think George Bush is a bad man. I don’t. I think George Bush wants to do right by America. I think he’s a patriotic person. I don’t think the people who work for him are stupid people. I think a lot of them are smart - in their own way. I think the problem is that they’ve got a different idea of America than we’ve got. They believe in different things.

They have a sense that, in fact, Government is the problem, not the solution. And that if we just dismantle government piece by piece, if we break it up in tax cuts to the wealthy and if we make sure we privatize social security and we get rid of public schools and we make sure that we don’t have police on the streets, we have private security guards and we don’t have public parks, we’ve got private parks, if we just break everything up that, in fact, everybody’s going to be better off. That we don’t have obligations to each other, that we’re not in it together but, instead, you’re on your own. That’s the basic concept behind the ownership society. That’s what George Bush and this Republican Congress have been arguing for, for the last six years. And it’s a tempting idea. Because it doesn’t require anything from each of us. It’s very easy for us to say that I’m going to think selfishly only about myself.

That I don’t have to worry about the fact that 46 million people don’t have health insurance. I don’t have to make any effort to deal with the fact that our children don’t have opportunity to go to college because student loans have been cut. I don’t have to worry about the guy just who lost his job after working 30 years in a plant because his plant’s moved to Mexico or out to China, despite the fact that he has been producing profits on behalf of that company this whole time and he’s lost his health care and he’s lost his pension as a consequence. I don’t have to worry about those things.

But here’s the problem. The problem is that that idea won’t work. Because despite the much vaunted individual initiative and self reliance that has been at the essence of the American Dream the fact of the matter is that there’s always been this other idea of America. This idea that says we have a stake in each other. That I am my brother’s keeper. That I am my sister’s keeper. That I’ve got an obligation. Not just for my self, not just for my family, but also for you. That every child is my child and every senior citizen deserves
protection.

That simple notion is one that we understand in our churches, in our synagogues, in our mosques. It’s an idea we understand in our own families, in our own blocks, in our workplaces. But it also has to reflect itself in our government.

You know, nobody here expects government to solve all our problems for us. We don’t want government to solve our problems. What we do expect is that government can help. The government can make a
difference in all of our lives. And that is essentially the battle that we’re going to be fighting in this election. It is a battle about education, it is a battle about health care. It is a battle about energy. But it is also a battle about what America is going to be about, America’s future, about how we relate to each other and how we understand our place in this world.

Now the fact is, if you look at the record of the last six years, we shouldn’t have a problem in this election. I know, Tom, you wouldn’t normally hear this quoted at one of your steak fries. But, you know, the other day I heard Newt Gingrich speak. I don’t normally quote Newt Gingrich – at least at Democratic events. But I’ve gotta say Newt caught my attention. ‘cause folks were asking him, you know, given all the problems Republicans have had managing the country, managing the economy, managing the war in Iraq, what do you thinks going to happen in this election? And Newt Gingrich said to the commenter, “If I was advising the Democrats, I gotta admit I would just use two words to campaign.” And the reporter said “What are the two words?” and he said “Had enough.”

Had enough! And I don’t know about you. But I think old Newt’s on to something. Because I’ve had enough…

Of Drug companies writing the prescription plan….
Of Oil companies writing the energy bill…
Of A Bill like no child left behind that left the money behind…
Of a do nothing, not even trying, effort to deal with the health care crisis that every single American is affected by…

And let me tell you something else I’ve had enough of. I’ve had enough of using terrorism as a wedge issue in our politics. I’ve had enough of that.


Cross posted at Five Wells
[ed. 9-22-06 Corrected link to the speech.]

3 Comments:

Anonymous Publius said...

Thanks for posting this speech, it's the first I've heard of it. Barack Obama has been flying under the radar screen, as far as the nat'l mainstream media is concerned (you know the "liberal media" we've all heard so much about). I saw a window sticker in a car yesterday in Chestnut Hill, PA and it said simply, "Had Enough? Vote Democrat '06," Thank you Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama.

I think with all the focus on Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel, etc., and I truly believe it's Karl Rove's doing, Obama would be an excellent statesman for this country.

8:06 AM, October 07, 2006  
Anonymous Bluedog said...

Barak Hussien Obama's motto could be: "From each according to his abilities. To each according to his needs." He is clearly not a centrist nor is he a moderate, as he so urgently wishes us to believe.

2:56 PM, December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, he is now the President. Thank God!

3:38 PM, November 25, 2008  

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