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Newsweek on Obama's 'moral cowardice'; NYT on House Dems running scared

The headline of Jacob Weisberg’s column continues: “The president needs to find his principles.”

It is one of the more scathic indictments of the Obama administration — and the President himself that I’ve seen in a while. It touches on many issues, including immigration and marriage equality.

Obama has had numerous chances to assert leadership on values questions this summer: Arizona’s crude anti-immigrant law, the battle over Prop 8 and gay marriage, and the backlash against what Fox News persists in calling the “Ground Zero mosque.” These battles raise fundamental questions of national identity, liberty, and individual rights. When Lindsey Graham argues for rewriting the Constitution to eliminate the birthright-citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, or Newt Gingrich proposes a Saudi standard for the free exercise of religion, they’re taking positions at odds with America’s basic ideals. But Obama’s instinctive caution has steered him away from casting these questions as moral or civil-rights issues. On none of them has he shown anything resembling courage.

With the Proposition 8 fight, Obama has fallen short in a different way, by his reluctance to join an emerging social consensus. Obama had previously criticized California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, as “divisive.” But his official position-which no one believes he actually holds-is that he is against legalizing gay marriage. Americans are changing their views on this issue with inspiring rapidity. Judge Vaughn Walker’s moving opinion provided an occasion for Obama to embrace the extension of equal rights to gay people. Instead, he slunk mumbling in the other direction. How dismal that America’s first black president will be remembered as shirking the last great civil-rights struggle.

Few would argue that defending liberal principle serves Obama’s short-term interests. Americans oppose the mosque 61 percent to 26 percent, according to one recent poll, and support the Arizona law by an even wider margin. But even if some people don’t like Islam, or illegal immigrants, or gay weddings, they may respond to admonitions that our society is built around freedom of conscience and equal treatment under law. If he applied his oratorical gifts to these principles, Obama could remind a grumbling nation what it liked about him in the first place.

Weisberg may be overly optimistic about how responsive some Americans to logic or appeal to equal treatment under the law. It didn’t help with Prop 8. And I really doubt that appeal with work for immigration. The nativism awakened with that and the “9/11 Mosque” shows just how much our nation is in moral distress.

He also takes the position is that the President’s inability to weigh in with sufficient fervor has allowed the right wing noise machine to flourish – and put the WH on the defensive. After all, look at how it drops everything (including political common sense) to respond to Glenn Beck when he opens his mouth. The response is to ensure America that the President prays every day and is a good Christian.

This is a WH that chooses to be weak and respond with political pablum to challenges. That was not the Barack Obama that was on the campaign trail, and certainly not the same man who asked to be challenged if he was dropping the ball. There in lies the problem when you have a WH and President beholden to the charges of the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the “papers, please” supporters, rather than the people who put in money, time and votes to get him into office.


Meanwhile, take a look at this NYT article – Democrats Plan Political Triage to Retain House. The meat of the story here is the begging for $$$ — watch for more ploys to tap the gAyTM touting that long list of padded “accomplishments” as the desperation mounts. What it boils down to is “it’s the economy, stupid.” The jobs have no materialized in some of the hardest-hit areas of the nation. People are angry, and sadly, only a couple of years after over a decade or GOP economics, some are ready to revisit that disaster again.

“We are going to have to win these races one by one,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, conceding that the party would ultimately cut loose members who had not gained ground.

… A sputtering economy and discontent with Washington have created a high sense of voter unease that has also put control of the Senate in question.

To hold the line against Republicans, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued an urgent plea for members in safe districts to help their endangered colleagues by contributing money. She called out Democrats who were delinquent on paying their party dues and instructed members with no re-election worries to tap into a combined $218 million from their campaign accounts to help save their majority.

“We need to know your commitment,” Ms. Pelosi wrote to lawmakers last week in a private letter, demanding that they call her within 72 hours to explain how they plan to help. She added, “The day after the election, we do not want to have any regrets.”

As always, give time, effort and money to the individual pols who support issues important to you. No DINOs. No homophobes. No self-loathing closet cases. No more.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding