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What’s Wrong With “Now?”

Dan Froomkin raises an important question — if the Democratic frontrunners all want to be considered agents of change, what exactly are they doing to change anything?

[R]eporters should be asking them a simple question: What kind of leadership are you showing right now? Why should we believe you have great leadership ability if you’re not showing any on critical issues currently facing Congress and the nation?

By contrast to the Republican presidential candidates who talk as if President Bush doesn’t exist (see my recent piece for, Rating Bush on a scale of 1 to 10), the Democrats talk about him a lot. But they act as if he wasn’t still very much in charge, still ramming legislation through Congress to fund his war in Iraq and generally subvert other key Democratic goals.

It’s understandable that the presidential candidates themselves want to focus on what they would do once elected. And sure, being president is awfully different than being just one member of a political party whose majority, at least in the Senate, is tenuous. But to the extent that part of their promise to the American people is that they will be strong leaders, that they will have the courage of their convictions, and that they will reach across party lines and build working political coalitions – why shouldn’t journalists ask for evidence in the here and now?

Very good questions, Dan, I’m glad you asked them. If Hillary Clinton does want to stand up to George Bush, why doesn’t she go back to Washington DC and do it? The opportunities are multitudinal. And if Barack Obama wants to get Republicans to reach across the aisle and join with Democrats to carve out important legislation, why doesn’t he shut down the nay-sayers by doing so now? What’s stopping him? John Edwards doesn’t hold elected office at the moment so he doesn’t have the same number of opportunities, but he could certainly lead an anti-war demonstration. A march on the White House would be nice.

The point is — campaign promises are a dime a dozen. If these people all want to be "agents of change," they’ve got the spotlight and the power at the moment to do so.

In common parlance — "put up or shut up."

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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