It's been an interesting week for politics. Former President Bill Clinton says he "gets" why Americans are frustrated and venting that angst through the Tea Party movement. After weeks of listening sessions of their own, House Republicans unveiled their "Pledge," which promises to alter the course of the Obama administration's policies. And President Obama has … well, he has problems answering a basic question from someone who wants so badly to believe in him.
I'm referring, of course, to Velma Hart, the American black who stood at a
town hall forum in Washington earlier this week to tell the president she's
tired of making excuses for him. "Quite frankly, I’m exhausted," she
told Obama. "Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration,
defending the man for change I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we
are right now."
What's interesting in the exchange is less Hart's candor and succinct way of putting her frustrations and more the president's response. Bill Clinton this was not.
Just what environment did the president think he was entering? It's not as if he hasn't heard of these travails and tribulations of the average American worker. It certainly shows in his approval ratings. This was almost a Michael Dukakis moment — not knowing what a loaf of bread or gallon of milk costs. Not understanding that folks are seriously considering eating beans and franks to make ends meet. Folks who voted for Obama.
The fact is the face of America's middle class has changed drastically. Gone is the blue-collar versus white-collar class warfare Obama would prefer to wage. He didn't have a good response for Hart because he can't relate to her situation. Private school? No credit cards? Female CFO? And a sister to boot? Velma Hart's situation didn't fit a tight liberal mold, and Obama showed it by stammering his way through a reply.
The president needs to get off this "us versus them" mentality in his policies. It's pervasive. He attacks businesses relentlessly and then tells that same CNBC crowd his top priority is revitalizing the private sector. Huh?