Exciting news, folks. Obama and team say they’re recalibrating, recasting, retooling and rebranding his presidency! And they’ve come up with a dandy new slogan to sum it all up and get America moving again. Ready? “Win the future.”
Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?
If you’re old enough to remember Gerald Ford’s hapless presidency, Obama’s fabulous new slogan might have a familiar ring to it. In 1974, with rampant inflation gobbling up the paychecks of workaday families, Ford blamed the American people, asserting that they were simply spending too much. So he ordered thousands of red-and-white buttons that said “WIN!” It was an acronym for “Whip Inflation Now,” which Ford thought would happen if only the public wore the buttons to remind each other to buy less.
This was, in a word, stupid — and it helped make Gerry a one-term president.
Obama, however, hopes his slogan will catch on. As explained in his Jan. 25 State of the Union speech, it refers to what he sees as a sort of global Super Bowl in which the U.S.A. is competing to “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” He has declared that this is “our generation’s Sputnik moment,” adding that, “My No. 1 focus is going to be making sure we are competitive.”
Hooray, let’s go! Washington should harness the idealism, creativity, energy and can-do spirit of grassroots people into a bold national program to revitalize America’s economy, educational system, infrastructure and middle class.
But, wait — it turns out that Obama’s not proposing a true Sputnik response, like Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson produced in the 1950s and ’60s. They launched such public efforts as a national program of science education and the Apollo moon landing. Instead, Obama is trusting Corporate America to “win the future” for us, offering deregulation and more tax breaks to entice them.
Corporate America? Hello, “America’s” corporations are abandoning our workers, communities, egalitarian values and America itself as fast as they can.
Trusting them to serve any interest but their own is a fool’s errand.
As an old adage puts it, you can dance with the devil, but never fool yourself into thinking that you’re in the lead.
That would be my 50-cents’ worth of advice to President Obama as he rushes to transform his presidency into a Clintonesque corporate enterprise. Apparently discombobulated by Republican gains last fall, he has quickly converted into an irrepressible corporate-hugger, suddenly blowing kisses to CEOs and big-business lobbyists.
He’s now filling his White House dance card with them. First up was Bill Daley, the Wall Street banker and longtime corporate lobbyist. Obama brought him to the White House ball, where he’s been shaking his corporate bootie as the president’s chief of staff, gatekeeper and policy coordinator.
Then, in a bizarre choice, Obama tapped Jeffery Immelt on Jan. 21 to lead his newly created Council on Jobs, which is supposed to “encourage the private sector to hire (Americans) and invest in American competitiveness.”
What’s bizarre about choosing him is that Immelt is CEO of General Electric and has been a leader in shipping American factories and thousands of GE jobs to Asia and elsewhere. Today, fewer than half of GE’s workers are in our country. As an AFL-CIO official notes: “Highly globalized companies don’t have the same interests as the United States. There is no company more emblematic of this than GE.”
Rather than criticizing these runaway outfits in his State of the Union speech, Obama hailed the rise in their corporate profits and stock prices, citing these as signs that our economy is strong again.
As for the millions of unemployed and barely employed Americans, he expressed regret that it’s now so hard “for Americans to find a good secure job.” But he offered only cold comfort, noting that “the rules have changed.” Well, yes — and who changed them? Self-serving CEOs like Jeffrey Immelt, that’s who.
America’s working families — our endangered middle class — have a right to expect Obama to fight for rules that are fair to them and our country, not meekly accept rules that have been skewed by an elite corporate class to profit them alone. Instead, our president is waltzing with the devil.
He’s rebranding his presidency, all right. It’s becoming Obama, Inc.
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist and author.