A Quick One Before Vacation: Fareed Zakaria Thinks Liberals Want Speeches:
This has stuck in the Rude Pundit's craw since Sunday, when author and CNN host Fareed Zakaria, on his show Fareed Zakaria Is Sick of Your Bullshit, took liberals to task for some kind of magical thinking about President Obama. Using a June New Republic column by Jonathan Chait as the basis for his tut-tut-tutting, Zakaria scoffed, "[T]here is a recurring liberal fantasy that if only the president of the United States would give a stirring speech, he would sweep the country along with the sheer power of his poetry and enact his agenda." And then he defends Obama as a centrist who has gotten what he wanted (the facts of which were almost immediately disputed by Paul Krugman on the same show).
It's always good to have a reminder that Zakaria is not another liberal plaything; he's not just Hadji to Jon Stewart's Johnny Quest. In addition to having the most intelligent and consistently compelling Sunday gabfest, Zakaria is, like Andrew Sullivan, a reformed conservative, someone who watched the GOP go nutzoid and say, "Whoa, those bastards are crazy," and aligned with a left-center in America that is more like traditional (non-teabagging) conservatism. And he supported the Iraq War.
It's the reductionism of Zakaria's attack that is most aggravating. Of course, people write fantasy speeches. Chait chides Rachel Maddow and Michael Moore for doing so. And if that's all they ever did, it'd be worth mockery. But we're not idiots and we're not children. As Donna Brazile pointed out on CNN's website, Obama has powerful tools that he is simply not using to achieve what he seems to say his goals are.
We know that Republicans are the real villains here. We know that conservative and/or fearful Democrats cower at the feet of the Fox "news" watching voters and go along with Republicans. Obama apologists cite FDR working with Republicans, as Zakaria does, but he was willing to call the Republicans out. He was more than willing to say that assholes are assholes and, hey, aren't these guys assholes?
We don't want Michael Douglas in The American President. We want Harry Truman. We've got Barack Obama. And while compromise may be necessary in order to achieve anything, when the compromises end up doing more harm than good or in watering down whatever goals you may have had to begin with, well, then dissatisfied liberals aren't the ones living in a fantasy.
Later today: "What? The Rude Pundit on vacation? Whatever shall we do?" Fear not. The list of cool and interesting guest bloggers (including two active soldiers) coming up.