January 22, 2013

Morning Line: O, say can you see? (Or just hear?)

Sam Smith - When I started out covering Washington, journalists used to report on what politicians actually did. These days they seem obsessed with what they say.

Part of the reason for this may be that there now is a much higher percentage of college grads in journalism  and college is a place where you learn to dissect phrases better than how to detect actions and their true meaning.

Thus, the hysterically positive reaction to Obama's inaugural speech wasn't all that surprising, which doesn't mean, however, that it wasn't also misleading. 

For example, it is rare for a politician to reverse course in just one speech. They prefer to try a little here and little there, test it and move on. Thus to claim that Obama has become a real Democrat may be a bit premature. For example, he still thinks it's all right to kill innocent foreigners (and Americans) with his pet drones, which I don't believe ever made it into the party platform.

Unmentioned in all the inaugural rhetoric - media and otherwise - was that in the coming weeks Obama is going to have to reveal just how far he plans to walk the talk, in the form of his new budget.

And, according to Roll Call, "The Obama administration’s fiscal 2014 budget is widely expected to arrive late on Capitol Hill, possibly not until sometime in March, primarily as a result of uncertainty created by fiscal cliff negotiations . . . A Pentagon official said that as of the end of last week, departments and agencies had not yet been told by the White House how much money they will have to work with in their fiscal 2014 budgets... That information is usually conveyed in late November, after the administration has reviewed the agencies’ budget requests.

"By this point in the budgeting process, the administration has typically communicated to departments the changes it has decided to make in their budget requests, and the agencies have responded by appealing decisions they do not like or by trying to work out a compromise with the OMB."

This is not a good start towards a whole new American era in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr, that we were periodically promised by inaugural pundits.

Perhaps Beyonce gave us the best hint. Just as Obama may not walk the talk, she chose not to sing the thing.

I guess we'll have to wait until March to find out for sure.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This time the South is not surrendering. During the secession, Seward suggested the North should embrace slavery to keep the Union together. That is Obama. What is needed is ruthless targeting and attack on plutocratic strongholds from all agencies of the government, going to the public for support in a war against Wall Street and the fascists. Obama lacks interest in attacking the robber barons, deferring national progress to a successor.

Anonymous said...

When was the last time a politician made a great speech? I can remember Paul Wellstone at a 1988 DFL convention. And again Wellstone in the Senate. You'd have to go back to JFK just to find an effective inaugural address. Nobody thinks a speech can impact history anymore, as did "the Cross of Gold." Speeches aren't delivered for later written publication. But then nobody delivers speeches that could change history. This decline is correlated to the alteration of political free speech after Buckley v. Valeo. The ontological shift is notable, as money now does the talking.