Marshall Ganz, writing today in an LA Times op ed: How Obama lost his voice, and how he can get it back.
During the presidential campaign, Obama inspired the nation not by delivering a poll-driven message but by telling a story that revealed the person within — within him and within us. In his Philadelphia speech on race, we learned of his gift not only for moral uplift but for “public education” in the deepest sense, bringing us to a new understanding of the albatross of racial politics that has burdened us since our founding.
On assuming office, something seemed to go out of the president’s speeches, out of the speaker and, as a result, out of us. Obama was suddenly strangely absent from the public discourse. We found ourselves in the grip of an economic crisis brought on by 40 years of anti-government rhetoric, policy and practices, but we listened in vain for an economic version of the race speech. What had gone wrong? Who was responsible? What could we do to help the president deal with it?
I enjoyed reading Ganz’s piece, and I think there’s a kernel of truth in it. It may be that now that Obama has a Republican House to deal with, something closer to Obama the campaigner of 2008 will be able to emerge. Going back to the Hillary battles, Obama has always been the guy who played chess while the other side was playing checkers, staying two or three moves ahead, and despite the attempts to portray last night as a referendum on his presidency, the real referendum will be held two years from now.
I actually was pretty gratified by last night’s results. The House fell to the Republicans, true, but again, I think that’s probably a good thing in terms of the larger political picture going forward. Let’s stand John Boehner and an actually-having-to-legislate Republican House up alongside Barack Obama, and let the American people decide whose leadership they prefer.
The Senate remained in Democratic hands, not that that makes a whole lot of difference as long as the party out of power is willing to wield the filibuster like the legislative equivalent of a roadside bomb. But it was gratifying to see Tea Party candidates lose Senate races the Republicans could otherwise have won.
Out here in my state and local races, most of the things I was hoping for came to pass: Brown beat Whitman, Boxer beat Fiorina, and Proposition 23 failed. Locally, all the candidates I supported won, so three incumbents were returned to the Carpinteria City Council, and one incumbent and two newcomers were sent to the Carpinteria Valley Water District board, with all the winning candidates being people I supported.
For me, the big issue going forward is climate change. I strongly approve of the new branding rolled out recently by David Roberts: This fight isn’t going to be won by people who describe themselves as environmentalists. It’s going to be won by climate hawks. More specifically, it’s going to be won by people for whom this issue transcends left-right political ideology. It’s going to be won by Democrats and Republicans who recognize that climate change is real, that it is caused by humans, and that the fight against it will be the defining battle of our generation.
How do we get there? How do we get someone like shcb to come to that realization? I think it has to happen gradually, one brave act of intellectual honesty at a time, and with a steady, careful presentation of the facts. I think we need to engage in the struggle of ideas, but engage in a way that acknowledges the basic intelligence and good faith of those on the other side, and that recognizes that both sides have work to do in terms of getting past our petty differences and facing up to the challenge at hand.
Darrell Issa, the presumptive new chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says he wants to put Michael Mann on the witness stand. I say, good. I realize that Congressional hearings are not a court of law, and that Issa will certainly stack the deck any way he can to make his “ClimageGate” charges seem more credible. But this isn’t the time to whine about the tilt of the battlefield. This is the time to strap on the armor, grab the weapons, and get to it. As Mike Roddy put it in a comment on the Dot Earth blog:
Bring it on, baby. I can’t wait to see televised hearings, showing people like Michael Mann and James Hansen pitted against Issa and Inhofe. Even the average American will be able to figure out who actually knows what he’s talking about if this happens.
What he said. Let’s do this.