Obama’s punching below his weight class again. That was Gary Younge’s metaphor, a boxing analogy that makes more sense if you consider the weight a politician carries to be the support for their policies around the country.
Obama won office in the midst of economic meltdown, with applause lines about doing away with Bush tax cuts for the rich, about ending a destructive war, about universal healthcare.
This week he kicked off his re-election campaign with a speech about those same things—but three years in, he’s conceded the framing to the Republicans even when the majority of the country supports his original plan. Deficits, deficits, deficits—even as protests continue around the country in favor of jobs, jobs, jobs.
Meanwhile, Younge notes, Tea Party candidates without majority support are punching well above their weight class—they may be losing, but you certainly can’t accuse them of not trying. Maine governor Paul LePage was elected with just 38 percent of the vote, yet he’s picked a fight over a pro-labor mural that has drawn intervention from the Federal Department of Labor.
What can be done to show Obama that there’s plenty of fight left in the country if he’d only tap into it? A good speech—a solid defense of programs like Medicare—rings hollow when it’s come much too late and conceded too much ground. A line in the sand on tax cuts for the rich means little when it’s three years old and been proven false already.
Yet from Wisconsin to Ohio to New Jersey to Maine to right here in New York, citizens are fighting the austerity frame, calling for investment in jobs, for taxes for millionaires, for real health care. The fight goes on without Obama, when he should have led it.
Will he notice that in time for a re-election battle?
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.