Help Wanted: Readership Is Leadership
TO Barack Obama, I just have just one name: Jimmy Carter.
I know you’re familiar with that name. Carter lives in infamy in U.S. history as the face of massive U.S. economic misery (oil shocks, inflation, unemployment) and foreign policy catastrophes (Iran, the Middle East, Russian invasion of Afghanistan). Be advised that you’re courting a similar fate and maybe worse. Actually, it is worse: you’re making Jimmy Carter look like Abraham Lincoln.
But unlike Carter, who was simply another guilty-feeling white liberal with a soft heart and a head to match, you have the ability to make things better. That’s because you are Dear Reader. You can read a speech and change the course of history; you can read a speech and make the lion lie down with the lamb; you can read a speech and alter the dark soul of America. I knew Jimmy Carter, sir, and you are no Jimmy Carter (take that as a compliment); you are Dear Reader.
We need speeches read that will call for loaning more to money to irresponsible financial players, make Uncle Sam the landlord of choice, and through accounting tricks and magic, put our financial house in order. We need speeches that will call for the licensing of government-endorsed entrepreneurs; speeches that will call for taking more from the productive class and giving to a government that’s never really had enough to make a difference; speeches that will unify us in our support for government-directed solutions to market-based problems.
Reading these speeches will not be easy: some will require advance meetings. Others will require redrafts. Still others will require the network preemption of Republican debates. And we know your readership will not fix the economy overnight; it will take years to fix the damage done by George W. Bush.
What’s worse — like Jimmy Carter, you seem to have concluded that more speeches may not be needed when the situation self-evidently cries out for more. Our markets cannot wait in their cry for another speech outlining more government intervention and I know the European debt crisis can’t wait for its own speech on how the U.S. government’s solution is at hand.
Do Americans not understand that only government can fix these messes that they’ve made? Where is the urgency? This is code deep purple and requires immediate bipartisan compromise. We need non-market answers to the global financial contagion triggered by European banks choking on sovereign debt and spreading their woes to an already weakened U.S. financial system. First, more speeches are needed and are needed now; next, more money must be printed.
And while President Obama says it’s Mr. Boehner’s fault, and all I know is this: it’s Mr. Boehner’s fault. But the President still needs to make another speech.
If the president wants to lead (as well as read) from the front, he should exorcise the spirit of Jimmy Carter and summon Democrat and Republican leadership, and all 12 members of the House-Senate deficit “supercommittee,” to join him at Camp David. Once there, he can tell them that he’ll have the Secret Service cut off their fingers one at a time until they have government solutions that address jobs, the debt, entitlements, manmade global warming, China, and more taxes.
We desperately need this for two reasons: first, there are plenty of fingers in the world should the approach fail. Second, the President needs to show that he can still act coercively. The toxic paralysis of slowly slowing government solutions is, in and of itself, slowing everything else. It is keeping a black cloud over the center of the country and disrupting people’s digestive tracts.
If between now and November 2012 all we are have from our two parties is a death duel — Republicans blaming their new Jimmy Carter for the bad economy and the new Jimmy Carter saying nothing is his fault — we will pay a very, very dear price. Only Dear Reader’s speeches can lead us out of this wilderness.