Posted by: JanF | August 31, 2011

Wednesday’s Words – August 31, 2011

It is Wednesday and I found some words on the World Wide Web and the Washington Post.

Eugene Robinson had a recent column about the Obama administration’s planned job program.

This paragraph struck me:

President Obama’s promised jobs plan needs to be unrealistic and unreasonable, at the very least. If he can crank it all the way up to unimaginable, that would be even better.

This is a moment for the president to suppress his reflex for preemptive compromise. The unemployment crisis is so deep and self-perpetuating that only a big, surprising, over-the-top jobs initiative could have real impact.

Unrealistic, unreasonable and unimaginable appear to refer to the Overton Window theory where public ideas gain degrees of acceptance along this continuum: unthinkable, radical, acceptable, sensible, popular, policy.

I am not sure that our country can wait for an Overton Window shift in public opinion in order to get a jobs bill that is big enough to start digging us out of the hole that the loss of 12 million jobs has put us in. But I did nod my head at the idea that President Obama seems to have an inclination towards “preemptive compromise”. However, as I thought more about that sentiment, it struck me that this was less “preemptive compromise” than perhaps a throwback to Professor Obama, the helpful educator … educating.

Presenting a proposal and then suggesting how one might work within it or which parts people might find attractive and therefore embrace is very helpful to those who are trying to understand an issue and how they might be able to support solutions to it.

The flaw in this approach, however, is that the president’s opponents (who are also, unfortunately for him, his current partners in governing) are not looking for parts that they can embrace or support … they are looking for reasons to say no. It might be better to propose the biggest boldest package to say NO to and then let the American people see the value (and the obstruction) and demand that their congressmen support it. It is clear from the debt ceiling negotiations, and indeed from just about everything we have seen in the teaparty 112th Congress, that there will be no compromises from about 80 or so Republican House members and about a half-dozen Senators.

I agree with Eugene Robinson: make a big, bold, over-the-top jobs program but then work now to enlist the aid of the American people to convince their individual congressmen to work with the president. With 84% considering jobs as a top policy priority (an increase of 24% from 2008 to 2011) and that percentage nearly identical across parties (87% for Republicans, 88% for Democrats, 81% for Independents), any congressman who wants to be re-elected is going to need to start becoming part of the solution in 2011. A solution for the people hurting from the Great Recession and the jobless “recovery” not just a talking point for 2012.

By the way, Eugene Robinson suggests that a bold jobs program would boost Obama’s reelection prospects, but clearly, based on this news, we do not have to concern ourselves with that anymore 😉 :

Allan Lichtman, the American University professor whose election formula has correctly called every president since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election, has a belated birthday present for Barack Obama: Rest easy, your re-election is in the bag.

“Even if I am being conservative, I don’t see how Obama can lose,” says Lichtman, the brains behind The Keys to the White House.

Lichtman’s prediction helps to explain a quirk in some polling that finds that while Americans disapprove of the president, they still think he will win re-election.

Professor Lichtman has 13 keys that he looks at to predict the elections. Obama wins 9 and loses 3 and has a draw on the other key.

As they say, prediction is very difficult, especially about the future so I will take Professor Lichtman’s prediction with a grain of salt but will use it to feel better about our prospects in 2012.

It is more difficult to get pumped up for an uphill battle and overconfidence is never good but a little good news can help keep our spirits up for the long slog. Let’s give Professor Lichtman another win in his impressive string.

Have a great day and fist bumps to those who need them (or want them)!



  1. I am not ready to give up on helping people now just to position ourselves for the future. We can’t sit on our hands for 16 months while there is so much pain.

    Go to Winning Progressive’s web site for more information about how you can contact your congressmen and write letters to the editor. We can change the world when we work together.

  2. Hi Jan, Good luck on the new site. looks great.

    • Thanks, sjterrid. These free sites are really easy to set up and use … perfect for personal blogging.

      Hope you are staying high and dry in New Jersey.

  3. We were lucky we only had a little bit of water in the basement, and never lost power. There has been a lot of damage in the state because of flooding. A lot of the creeks and rivers in parts of the state had overflown their banks. Governor Cristie requested emergency assistance. President Obama is supposed to be in New Jersey this weekend.


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