The late, great Ted Kennedy spoke for millions of Americans - the majority of voters as it turned out - when he described Barack Obama last spring as "the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country's best days are still to come."
Sen. Kennedy chose to back Barack instead of his close friend, Hillary Clinton, because he believed Obama was a visionary who would lead our nation into a new era of political change. Unfortunately, President Obama hasn't been looking much like a leader recently.
Instead of the strong, inspired visionary voters chose last November, President Obama has been coming off like a weak-kneed go-along who has bent over backwards to appease his opponents in the healthcare fight. He has failed to vigorously refute the lies and inflammatory hype from Republican leaders and their surrogates in the media and he has bowed under pressure from right wing fanatics on core principals like the public option and the end-of-life provisions. This strategy of over-compromising hasn't won the President support from Republicans or conservative "blue dog" Democrats, but it has alienated and infuriated us liberals who are Obama and the Democratic Party's core supporters.
President Obama needs to flip to another page in the playbook.
Sen. Kennedy was famous for brokering compromises with his Republican opponents, but the "Lion of the Senate" was also renowned as a fierce fighter for liberal causes. President Obama recalled this as he eulogized Kennedy last Saturday saying: "We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers' rights or civil rights." Mr. Obama needs to take on Sen. Kennedy's ferocious, leonine qualities as he returns to Washington to re-enter the bitter battle over healthcare and the rest of his agenda. It's time for Barack Obama to do some figurative and literal bellowing and fist-pounding of his own.
The President must recognize that he is at war. The Republicans have proven that they don't really want to discuss or debate. They still refuse to rein in the right wing radicals who are spreading lies, fomenting hysteria and setting a tone of violence in the media and at town hall meetings. And they are doing this while opposing beneficial change and supporting the failed conservative policies which have given us soaring federal deficits and nationwide economic collapse.
So, President Obama needs to start pointing fingers. He shouldn't hide behind euphemisms. He should come right out and blame Republican leaders and the right wing media for obstructing and lying about healthcare reform. Blame the Republicans and the Bush Administration for our economic mess. Blame them and force them into the position of defending themselves.
President Obama should also take 10 or15 minutes of primetime TV time to lay out his healthcare goals. Mr. Obama could cut through the noise and trickery around this issue by going directly to the American people with a simple, straight-forward and inspiring speech smashing the misinformation and illuminating the facts and benefits of reform.
Ted Kennedy knew that he was sick last year when he endorsed Barack Obama as a candidate. He must also have known that he might not live through Obama's first year in the White House. So, Kennedy's stirring endorsement last year was based on his faith that Obama would deliver. Therefore, the best way for President Obama to honor Sen. Kennedy's memory is to justify that faith by straightening his back, taking a strong stand and acting like the visionary leader that he truly is. In doing so, Barack Obama will once again, "renew our belief that our country's best days are still to come."
Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.
Think! It ain't illegal . . . yet!