Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Barack Obama and the Chamber of Mostly Shallows

Now, on some issues, like the Recovery Act, we've found common cause. On other issues, we've had some pretty strong disagreements. But I'm here today because I'm convinced we can and must work together. Whatever differences we may have, I know that all of us share a deep belief in this country, our people, and the principles that have made America's economy the envy of the world.
President Barack Obama speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2/7/11

 "I just dropped my butter knife.  Can I borrow yours?"

America's success didn't happen by accident. It happened because of the freedom that has allowed good ideas to flourish, and capitalism to thrive. It happened because of the conviction that in this country, hard work should be rewarded; that opportunity should be there for anyone willing to reach for it. And it happened because at every juncture in history, we came together as one nation and did what was necessary to win the future.  POTUS, again.

Loud cheers.  "He said 'Capitalism', right?"

We still have, by far, the world's largest and most vibrant economy. We have the most productive workers, the finest universities and the freest markets. The men and women in this room are living testimony that American industry is still the source of the most dynamic companies, and the most ingenious entrepreneurs.  POTUS, same speech

"Free markets, YAY!"
 "Shut up, idiot, he's talking about American industry."

But we also know that with the march of technology over the last few decades, the competition for jobs and businesses has grown fierce. The globalization of our economy means that businesses can now open up shop, employ workers and produce their goods wherever there is internet connection. Tasks that were once done by 1,000 workers can now be done by 100, or even 10. And the truth is, as countries like China and India grow and develop larger middle classes, it's profitable for global companies to aggressively pursue these markets and, at times, to set up facilities in these countries.  POTUS

 "All right!  That's what I'M talkin' about!"

These forces are as unstoppable as they are powerful. But combined with a brutal and devastating recession, they have also shaken the faith of the American people - in the institutions of business and government. They see a widening chasm of wealth and opportunity in this country, and they wonder if the American Dream is slipping away. President Obama

"So. . .Steelers or Packers?  You a bettin' man?"

We cannot ignore these concerns. We have to renew people's faith in the promise of this country - that this is a place where you can make it if you try. And we have to do this together: business and government; workers and CEOs; Democrats and Republicans. Obama

"Jesus, somebody spilled sauce on my tie."

We know what it will take for America to win the future. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build our competitors. We need an economy that's based not on what we consume and borrow from other nations, but what we make and sell around the world. We need to make America the best place on earth to do business. O

"See that guy behind me?  Don't look!  I met him at a party last year.  He could buy and sell both of us.  Wanna say hello but I can't remember his name. Shit! Know him?  Don't look!"

And this is a job for all of us. As a government, we will help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate. We will upgrade our transportation and communications networks so you can move goods and information more quickly and cheaply. We will invest in education so that you can hire the most skilled, talented workers in the world. And we'll knock down barriers that make it harder for you to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system.

"Yeah, I've heard that song and dance before.  Show me the money, buddy.  Show me the money."

But I want to be clear: even as we make America the best place on earth to do business, businesses also have a responsibility to America.
Now, I understand the challenges you face. I understand that you're under incredible pressure to cut costs and keep your margins up. I understand the significance of your obligations to your shareholders. I get it. But as we work with you to make America a better place to do business, ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy, and to invest in this nation. That's what I want to talk about today - the responsibilities we all have to secure the future we all share.  Barack Hussein Obama

"Picked up another place on Hilton Head.  Love those short sales!"

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  BHO

"Where's that waitress with the coffee?  Is it hot in here?  What time is it?"

We have faced hard times before. We have faced moments of tumult and change before. We know what to do. We know how to succeed. We are Americans. And as we have throughout our history, I have every confidence that will rise to this occasion; that we can come together, that we can adapt and thrive in a changing economy. And we need look no further than the innovative companies in this room. If we can harness your potential and the potential of the people all across our country, there will be no stopping us.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.  That guy still talking

 "Okay, so. . .I'm ready for a drink.  How about you?"


  1. This is so sad to read and so true. I am sure that somewhere in the distant past, this has happened before and how do you fight the configuration of money and bottom line Capitalism. Other Presidents have girded this country and I am not so patiently waiting for this to happen. Nedra

  2. Well, this president could stop partying with the enemy and come over to our side, for one.

    When I see him on Rachel Maddow instead of O'Reilly I'll know he's serious about getting down to the business of rebuilding America.

  3. You and I will have to disagree on this one, Ramona. President Obama is in fact trying to be President of the United States, not just the left.

    Maybe his faith in the institutional framework of our government and society is a bit excessive, but remember, that is the system by which he's made his ascent in life.

    And there's really little to be gained by talking to those who are already (at least nominally) on your side.

    Which brings me to this:

    The guy is trying - maybe with less success than we'd like - to bring people around. If you want a dictator from the left then maybe it's time for me to stop following this blog. Everything isn't going to change all at once, and to expect that it would is naive at best.

    You and Jeff spent enough time and effort beating on me on Facebook for disagreeing with you that I just walked away from the discussion rather than create more enmity. I can do that here too, and neither of us will lose out individually as a result. It will just be one more crack in our side that didn't have to be there.

    Isn't it enough that the right wing is working at full-tilt to undermine him? Does our side have to join in?

    Really? Do we?

  4. Calm down, Alan. We really are on the same side. I want to believe he's the president to all of us, but when was the last time (or even the first time) he spoke to the left?

    I wrote this blog the way I did because I'm imagining that's exactly the reception he got at the C of C. There are no "demands" he can ever make to them that are going to wake them up to their complicity in what has happened to our country. They aren't listening, they won't listen, he's wasting his breath.

    He keeps wasting time trying to get them on our side but they'll never be on our side (the side of the working class, that is) because they see us and they see Obama and everyone else who gets in their way as the enemy. Their interest is in making money and nothing else. They'll watch this country go down the tubes with absolutely no interest in the outcome because the bulk of their wealth is safe somewhere overseas.

    Where out of anything I've written did you get the idea that I want a dictator from the left? I want someone who fends for the working class. I want someone who sees that jobs and health care are the priorities and that his job is not to make us come around to giving up more, but to make the rich and powerful bend to our needs.

    He didn't need to go to the C of C, they needed to come to him. He should have met with them in the Oval Office--on his turf--and he should have make it clear that their glory days are over unless they become real Americans and take up their responsibilities to the nation they call home.

    I don't see the Facebook discussion as anything more than a discussion. I'm sorry that you did. As to whether you come back here again, that's entirely up to you. Of course, you're always welcome, but I have to write it the way I see it.

    You should know that I'm not a big fan of the rabid left and I'm not heading there any time soon, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to criticize the president when I feel he's wrong. He needs to at least speak to the liberals and so far he hasn't done it. I find that odd.

  5. A more appropriate name for this cartel would be Global Chamber of Commerce. The companies that control the organization are largely MULTI-national corporations. They have no interest in US dollars. They want wealth in any denomination. They are not after a free ride, they want better then that. They believe we should pay them for the privilege of their using the infrastructure in the US that was built by the US Taxpayers. But now that there are emerging "markets" that have modern infrastructures, medieval labor practices, and no concern whatsoever for the environment, they're really not interested in the US any longer. Here is what they need to know. They are too big and if they can't do it without subsidies, they are failures. But truth is, these leeches will walk away with fortunes and the middle class will pay them out of our 401ks. We are an anachronism. If their businesses fail, it is but a corporation that fails and they will move to their next host to suck the life out of it.

  6. The U.S (?)Chamber of Commerce is the last place our president should be talking up compromise. He ought to be taking names, twisting arms and if that fails, shooting from the hip. It makes me sick every time our politicians treat the C of C like they're a legitimate American entity. They gave up that privilege long ago. Now they're no better than any plundering foreign competition and it's our job to fight against their destructive practices. They are the enemy, and they don't care who knows it.

  7. Nicely done, and I'm willing to bet it's not that far off the mark!

  8. Thanks, Beth. You are one of only a handful who got it the way I meant it, I think. Gonna have to work a little harder at setting the stage. . .


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