By Matthew Rothschild on November 04, 2010

The President’s post-mortem press conference underscores why he lost, and why progressives should no longer invest hope in him.

While he accepted responsibility for the defeat, and while he acknowledged that people were “frustrated” and wanted “their jobs to come back faster,” he failed to even mention the massive housing crisis that he has so ineptly handled.

On top of that, he adopted the messaging of the Republicans. He talked about the need to reduce our deficit so we don’t “leave our children a legacy of debt” and so we’re not “racking up the credit card for the next generation.”

Those lines could have come straight out of the mouth of Rand Paul!

And like Rand Paul, he saluted business and the free market: “The reason we’ve got an unparalleled standard of living in the history of the world is because we’ve got a free market that is dynamic and entrepreneurial and that free market has to be nurtured and cultivated.”

Then he pitied big business.

“You just had a successive set of issues in which I think business took the message that, well, gosh, it seems like we may be always painted as the bad guy,” he said. “And so I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of making sure that I make clear to the business community as well as to the country that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector.”

Really??? That’s “the most important thing” he has to do? Wow!

He also backpedaled fast on expanding the role of government, conceding without qualification that some people thought “government was getting much more intrusive into people’s lives.” Amazingly, he said, “I’m sympathetic to folks who looked at it and said this is looking like potential overreach.”

Rather than represent an ideological alternative, he tried to blur the ideological lines. “None of the challenges we face lend themselves to simple solutions or bumper-sticker slogans,” he said. “Nor are the answers found in any one particular philosophy or ideology.”

And just as he did during his long waffle on health care, he said, “I’m eager to hear good ideas wherever they come from.”

He repeatedly mentioned the need for “civility” and “consensus” at a time when it’s more important than ever to slug out the ideological differences.

He also embraced some of the substance of the Republican Party agenda.

Sounding like John McCain, he endorsed the idea of cutting “earmarks” several times.

He said he wanted to “accelerate depreciation for business,” which is about the least efficient way to jumpstart the economy.

He said he wanted to push natural gas.

And he even waved at restarting “our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases.”

That’s his vision?

This is pathetic.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Crushed by Feingold’s Defeat."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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