Betsy Reed on what Obama’s Inaugural Address got wrong about poverty:
Liberals seeking affirmation for their faith in President Obama believed they found it in his second Inaugural Address, with his passionate invocation of Stonewall and Seneca Falls, his soaring rhetoric about government “of, by and for the people” and an American creed forged “through blood drawn by lash, and blood drawn by sword.”
But amidst the warm words for equality and collective action, one sentence stood out:
“We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”
However much we might like to imagine otherwise, a little girl born into the bleakest poverty will never have “the same chance to succeed as anybody else.” If you take a step back, could anything be more obvious? And yet this notion is so thoroughly woven into the “American creed” that we barely notice how misleading it is.
“A country reeling from one disaster has dodged another. While President Obama’s re-election inspires varying degrees of hope among progressives, it has evoked one common sentiment: relief. Democracy may not be reborn, but a living symbol of plutocracy was defeated by the voters on November 6 … This right-wing coalition was defeated at the polls by a “rising American electorate,” a coalition of women, African-Americans, Latinos, the young and unionized blue-collar workers in Midwestern battleground states.”
“Progressive opinions on Barack Obama’s first term are as conflicted as his record. These differences are a sign of a diverse and spirited left, and we welcome continued debate in our pages about the president’s record and policies. But that discussion should not obscure what is at stake in this election. A victory for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in November would validate the reactionary extremists who have captured the Republican Party. It would represent the triumph of social Darwinism, the religious right, corporate power and the big money donors who thrive in a new Gilded Age of inequality.”
Inside this week’s issue—A forum of progressive voices on the stakes in 2012 and beyond.
“The United States does not have presidential debates in any realistic sense of the word. It holds quadrennial joint appearances by major-party candidates who have been schooled in the art of saying little of consequence in the most absurdly aggressive way. And Americans will be served a full helping this evening… But the likelihood that it will matter is slimmer now than ever. That is because presidential debates have become the political equivalent of a classic rock radio station. You’ll hear all the hits, and maybe even a few obscure tracks that you’d almost forgotten. But the whole point of the Barack Obama’s appearance will be to say nothing that harms himself and everything that harms Mitt Romney, just as the whole point of Romney’s appearance will be to say nothing that harms himself and everything that harms Obama.”
“Guns aren’t like shoes that wear out every couple of years or cars that might last a decade. A gun that’s taken care of should last a lifetime. Such a durable product can be a problem for the industry that makes it. That’s why it’s crucial not only to attract new customers, but to get gun owners to buy multiple guns. And that’s where the twin fears of crime and confiscation—hyped by America’s massive gun marketing complex—come in.”
Surprise! The GOP’s rural, red state base would fare much worse under Romney’s economic plan than Obama’s.
Is Obama using targeted killing to assassinate people who might otherwise have been detained? Jeremy Scahill says yes, and explains what that means for the war on terror (hint: it’s not good).
Which is scariest—targeted assassinations, the fact that Congress can no longer prevent them, or that Congress doesn’t seem to care?
President Obama: ‘If I Had a Son, He’d Look like Trayvon’
Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden at the White House this morning, President Barack Obama said that the parents of Trayvon Martin are in his thoughts and that it is imperative that we “get to the bottom of exactly what happened.” “You know, if I had a son,” Obama said, “he’d look like Trayvon.”
Find The Nation’s coverage of the shooting of Trayvon Martin here.