The media response to President Obama’s speech on jobs yesterday says less about the consistency of his message than it does about stale pundits’ fetish for shiny new things. (More)
It’s well-known that I like macadamias. Yes, I’ll eat pecans when Chef bakes a pecan danish ring for the BPI faculty and staff, but I prefer macadamias. I don’t want them salted, or dipped in honey or chocolate, or baked into brownies or muffins. A macadamia may improve other foods, but other foods will not improve a macadamia. I don’t want “bold new ideas” for macadamias.
President Obama’s message on jobs and the economy is like a macadamia. As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank notes, President Obama has been giving essentially the same speech since 2005. The principles and ideas in President Obama’s “A Better Bargain” are the same principles and ideas he proposed in 2011 in Osawatomie, Kansas. Rather than applauding the president’s consistency, Milbank criticizes the lack of “bold, new proposals.”
Yet as Milbank admits, nothing President Obama could have said yesterday would change the political calculation of House Speaker John Boehner, who called the president’s speech “an Easter Egg with no candy in it.” (I’m no expert, but Chef paints hard-boiled eggs for the BPI Easter Egg hunt. They never have candy in them. They have egg in them. Just sayin’.)
Let’s take education, for example. That’s a major element of President Obama’s jobs platform because, as he put it yesterday, “if you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century.”
He’s right, but yesterday Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said in a committee hearing on an education bill, “It is not the role of the Congress to make college affordable and accessible.”
As it happens, Rep. Foxx has received $68,718 in campaign gifts from for-profit education companies. Those are the companies she’s trying to protect with the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, which she claims will lift “burdensome regulations” like Department of Education rules to cut federal aid to colleges and universities that are not licensed in their states, and link federal education funding to graduation and employment records, and ensure that for-profit universities deliver an hour of course content per credit hour.
In other words, Rep. Foxx doesn’t think it’s Congress’ job to ensure affordable, accessible, quality education. Instead, Congress’ job is to be a cash spigot for unlicensed for-profit ‘colleges,’ no matter how poor their graduation and employment records or how little content they offer for a (usually non-transferable) credit hour.
What “bold new ideas” does Milbank think might convince Rep. Foxx to put young adults educational needs ahead of her corporate donors’ profits?
Or consider the 15 Senate Republicans who yesterday pledged to shut down the federal government unless Obamacare is defunded. Would any “bold new idea” President Obama might propose convince them to accept Obamacare – passed by Congress and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court – as the law of the land?
The quality of President Obama’s principles and ideas is not based on whether they’re “bold” and “new” in each speech. Indeed if he had outlined a plan very different from the principles and ideas he has espoused throughout his career, the media would doubtless criticize him for being desperate to “get his mojo back.”
President Obama’s mojo must take summer breaks, given the media stories in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. They tell this same, stale story every summer … and say President Obama needs “bold new ideas.”
Good day and good nuts.