Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What I Wish For ...

... is, no doubt, what millions wish for. Even if they don't know it.

I wish more people would read Bob Herbert's column for the New York Times. The ones who really need to read it, though, are Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their Democratic colleagues in Congress.

Maybe they do. Sometimes.

And, since so many Democrats seem bewildered by their fall from grace with many voters, they particularly need to read today's column, which is headlined "The Source of Obama's Trouble."

In his unique way, Herbert gets right to the heart of the matter when he asserts that Democrats are in trouble "because they are not urgently and effectively addressing the issue that most Americans want them to: the frightening economic insecurity that has put a chokehold on millions of American families."

Herbert observes that "millions upon millions of Americans who have lost — or are losing — their jobs, their homes, their small businesses, and their hopes for a brighter future" and laments the fact that Democrats have devoted most of their time and attention to health care "while the nation is desperate for jobs, jobs, jobs."

Herbert has been baffled — as have I — by the Democrats' blase attitude toward the jobs problem. "The talk inside the Beltway," he writes incredulously, "is that President Obama and the Democrats have a messaging or public relations problem."

Herbert's reaction can only be described as astonishment.

"That's just silly," he writes. "People are upset because they are mired in economic distress and are losing faith that their elected representatives are looking out for their best interests."

How could it be any more basic than that?

But Herbert spells it out for them. "It's not the message that's a problem for Mr. Obama and the Democrats," Herbert says, "it's the all–too–clear reality."

Annalyn Censky of CNNMoney.com has an unpleasant piece of reality for the unemployed today: nearly three–quarters of employers do not anticipate a change in their hiring plans through June.

"[I]t will take 11 million or more new jobs to get us back to where we were when the recession began," Herbert writes. "The many millions of new jobs needed to make a real dent in the employment crisis are not going to materialize by themselves. Mr. Obama and the Democrats don't seem to understand that."

But their success in the 2010 midterms depends on it. When voters are frustrated, they take out their frustrations on the party in power. Don't believe me? Read your history.

Of course, the only available alternative is the Republican Party, and I've heard some Democrats insist that voters have seen the light and will never give power back to the people who caused all this trouble in the first place. That is what psychologists call denial. I think the ones who are practicing it are going to be the first ones who are shocked on election night.

I guess it's easier to give in to the temptation to engage in denial when news reports tell you that job openings went up earlier this year and that rising energy prices will be easier to absorb because various factors have kept the demand down. Talk about reaching for a silver lining.

Look, when you're angry and you want to punish the party in power, you won't be too choosy about the instrument you use to inflict the punishment. The fact that the Republicans are the only option may actually be a plus for some especially cranky voters. After all, many voters may rationalize, what better way to get a message across than by giving power to the Democrats' arch enemies?

"The Republican Party has nothing in the way of solutions to Americans' economic plight," writes Herbert. "It is committed only to the demented policy of trying to ensure that President Obama and the Democrats fail.

"But the fact that the Republicans are pathetic and destructive is no reason for the Democrats to shirk their obligation to fight powerfully and relentlessly for the economic well–being of all Americans,"
Herbert writes. "There is a staggering backlog of discouraged workers who would show up tomorrow if there were a job to be had."

The longer there is no place for them to go, the more time they have to think about how frightened and angry they are.

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