Obama killing foes with kindness, firmness…

(Copyright 2009)
Barack Obama just keeps getting better every day. I think we are in good hands with this new president.
Today he reached out to House and Senate Republicans in his $850 billion stimulus package even though he didn’t have to, seeing as the Democrats control both houses.
But the president seems to be making good on his promise for a new bipartisan or post-partisan approach to Washington politics.
For my part, I think the Republicans are frustrated because President Obama isn’t fighting fair — he’s being too nice, too congenial, too reasonable.
But don’t get me wrong, we need the loyal opposition, one that unfortunately was AWOL for much of the former  administration.
I’m blogging from my oldest daughter’s home in Roseville, Ca., which is — sorry Rosevillians — kind of like greater Sacramento. For those of you who don’t know, I’m out of Redding, Ca., which is at the northern end of California’s giant interior valley, known as the Central Valley.

(A Home Depot store in Roseville, it was announced on the radio as we drove toward town, is going out of business, resulting in even higher unemployment for the area already hit hard by the bust in the housing market. Meanwhile, in Redding the local paper seems to be running stories every day about local businesses going under. One day recently the whole front page was devoted to store closures.)

At any rate, as my wife and I neared Roseville yesterday I began picking up a Sacramento radio station and listened to their local talk guy who in the afternoons does his rendition of Rush Limburger (I know not his real name, but I refuse to use his actual name) politics. The talk guy’s name is Tom Sullivan (his real name). He is a curious guy, obviously more cerebral and reasonable when he wants to be than Limburger, but nevertheless hard right wing.

I want to say more about Mr. Sullivan‘s style, but before I do, I just want to note that he seems perplexed on how to stand in the current Obama thing. By politics he has to be against Obama. Even though the Republicans always harp on the idea that a patriotic citizen must support the president when their guy is in office, they change their tune when they are out of power.

Yesterday Sullivan was commenting on the fact that the Obama administration wants to let California have more stringent auto emission standards than the federal government. By politics Mr. Sullivan is predisposed to oppose that. Anything that the automakers don’t want should not be allowed because they are business people and if they say it is bad for business then it is bad for America.

But Mr. Sullivan, unlike Limburger, sometimes reveals his own thoughtfulness. He admitted that he was conflicted. He knew that California’s already high anti-pollution standards have actually helped the environment, helped to reduce smog in the LA basin and that is a good thing. He did object, though, to auto makers having to potentially face 50 (number of states) different standards for the production of their products. And that last part seems a reasonable concern. But the fact that Mr. Sullivan would admit that there is some merit to protecting or improving the environment is interesting.

Also, I get the idea that Mr. Sullivan and other hard line Republicans know that extraordinary measures need to be taken to deal with our current financial calamity, so much so that even their boy, George W., moved the whole nation toward socialism in his final desperate days in office. But they want this new socialism to only help businesses, kind of a business-socialism, with public debt to provide private profits.

Well, I’m going a little too far in trying to explain Mr. Sullivan’s feelings because I have not listened to him much for the past few years. I used to live in this area and listened to him regularly. I also listened to Limburger — kind of for entertainment, kind of to see what the belligerent hard right was thinking or what line they were taking. There were times I had to turn Limburger off and vow to never listen to his vitriol and mean-spiritedness again — then I would go back occasionally. And to be fair, at first I appreciated Limburger for some of the hypocrisy on the part of the left that he gleefully pointed out — he never seemed to see it on his side , though.

And now back to Mr. Sullivan. When he first came on the air — maybe 15 years ago — I don’t know precisely when, he just did a talk show on investments — him being a kind of stock broker investment adviser kind of guy. Then he began to comment on local politics, with that golly gee whiz approach — is that the way they do it? He seemed to be somewhat of a neophyte to the workings of government. But he was a quick study and obviously bright and articulate, for real, rather than pseudo bright and articulate as Limburger, who incidentally started out at the same radio station as Mr. Sullivan.

At first, Mr. Sullivan was refreshing to listen to, because even though he took the conservative line, he was able to for discussion purposes frame the argument of the other side in a totally reasonable way. But I think he learned that his ratings improved when he dropped all pretense of seeing the other side, or of even being middle of the road, and simply spouted the intolerant and close-mined Limburger approach. He was not as fun to listen to anymore, but I think his ratings soared. Actually I don’t know, but I have to assume so, because he is still on the air.

Mr. Sullivan once considered running for congress, but told his listeners he decided against it because he would have to spend all his time campaigning and fundraising (congressmen have two-year terms) and he would have to do too much compromising. If I wanted to make a snide remark here, I could say that it is far easier to spout off hard line positions than to come up with solutions and work for the good of everyone. But, really, I guess I should respect his decision. I think he found he would have to take too much time away from his investments and that he would not be able to provide whatever he provides his listeners with. He wanted to stay wealthy (which he reportedly is) and be able to continue as a spokesman for his so-called conservative ideology.

I did get laughs at times when he was still in his see both sides mode and some of his Rush Limburger fan listeners would call in and sound perplexed and worried that he was taking the wrong side.

What ticks me off the most about Rush Limburger is that all he does is preach to his own choir, with everyone competing to be the ultimate sycophant, which they call ditto-heads. No thinking required. “I agree with you Rush. Dittos”.

To be fair, what little left-wing radio (and I hate to use that term because it connotes communist, but you have to use some term) I have heard (there isn’t much) it is often the same. Reasonable discussion with both sides aired and discussion in the middle does not seem to produce ratings (too dull, I suppose).

And back to Mr. Sullivan. I wished I could have pulled his signal in over the past year or past several months as our economic system shaped mostly by the neo conservative politics lo these past many years, and even going clear back to Reagan, has led us to near ruin. I know that he was always the apologist for big business when I listened to him. If it made money it had to be right. He was a huge defender of multi million dollar bonuses for executives because you have to provide top pay for top talent. Now that it has been proved that those getting that top pay either did not know what they were doing or were simply crooks, I don’t know what his explanation is.

Back to President Obama. I also applaud him for making overtures to the Muslim world, saying we are not their enemies, that we are willing to get along, but that we will also defend ourselves.

So far, the president is killing them (Muslims and Republican foes) with kindness, but offering firmness, as well.

And so far, the new president does seem to be taking a new post-partisan approach that seems to be rankling both some Democrats and for sure a lot of Republicans.

I want the loyal opposition to keep at it.

I also want some progress and feel that there just might be.

While certainly the president is correct in cautioning that progress may be slow, The American people need to keep their leaders’ feet to the fire and demand that some amount of progress be made and swiftly.

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One Response to Obama killing foes with kindness, firmness…

  1. Tom Sullivan says:

    Tony,
    I enjoyed your analysis of me. Mostly correct. I don’t mean to make your readers mad at you but I took most of it as a compliment.

    Best Regards,

    Tom

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