NBC's David Gregory was on Jon Stewart's show last night. He said this about the right-wing attacks on the president:
I think this is bigger than Obama. It happened to Bush, it happened to Bill Clinton -- this idea that the president is somehow illegitimate. And that's where the debate starts.
Really? They're analogous? And that's where the debate starts?
I remember "Not My President" bumper stickers in the Bush years, and a lot of people online calling Bush the "pResident" -- but I don't remember any active effort, or even a widespread demand, to remove him from office before the Iraq War and Abu Ghraib and warrantless wiretapping other abuses of power. And by the time that all happened, well into his presidency, I don't remember the impeachment rhetoric even referencing the 2000 election results, except maybe in passing. We grumbled about that election, and to some extent about suspicions regarding Ohio election results in '04, but it seems to me that that talk and kick-the-bum-out talk proceeded on separate tracks.
I appreciated this from Jon Stewart a bit later in the interview, about the anger of the anti-"big government" crowd:
But how has it changed in the last eight months, really? The eight years that preceded that were very similar. I mean, these bailouts were begun under the Bush administration, he had a huge Medicare program that was 1.3 billion dollars -- it seems like when they say, "We want limited government," it means "We want government limited to the guy that we want."
=Gregory said in reply:
But Republicans were also critical of Bush on spending, on overall competence.
Bollocks. They were critical of him on these issues when they started losing elections. Not before.
I'll give Gregory a little credit, though, for this assertion about Obama:
... he's got to go out there and say, "Government is the solution." He doesn't have any choice now.... have that fight with the Republicans, who are going to say, "No, government is the enemy, government can't get this done." I mean, that's the fight that needs to be had.
I don't know how you start that fight again. I don't know how you dare to rise up and challenge the Holy Writ of Reaganism, which has been the state religion of America for thirty years (even as Republican presidents and Republican Congresses have happily expanded government their way). But I suppose if anyone can utter the heresies, it should be a Democratic president. However, Clinton didn't have the guts, and Obama, regardless of what he's doing, won't defend what he's doing categorically. He won't go out and actively defend the principle that government can be a force for good. And it's possible that even if we get a public option and it works extremely well, Americans will still think government doesn't do anything right. (Their satisfaction with Social Security and Medicare certainly doesn't prevent them from thinking that.) So, yeah, it would be nice if he'd speak up.
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