Is Obama Missing Olympia Snowe’s Point?

When a Serious Issue Doesn’t Make the Top Seven Issues List of a
 Sitting President Seeking Re-Election

obama mlk memorial

Obama family visits the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Readers: if you can and if you care to, please point your browser to President Obama’s official re-election website. We’ll get back to that site, momentarily.

Now, did you catch the first few minutes of The Rachel Maddow Show on February 29th, the day after the Michigan and Arizona primaries? She argued that the big news of that day was not who had won either of those primaries, which the media had hyped as being so-o-o-o important, but was instead Olympia Snowe’s announcing that she would not seek re-election the United States Senate.

Rachel played video of Senator Snowe’s describing (apparently) halcyon days of yore; specifically, back when Bob Dole ran the Senate. According to Snowe, “[Bob Dole would] say, ‘Go into my office and work it out.” The retiring Senator then delivered her punchline, saying:  “And that’s the point: We’re not working out issues any more…”

Now, Readers, it seemed to my ear that Senator Snowe drastically understated her “point”. If I were giving up her Senate seat just because so many of “My Friend from [other state]” Senators had made “working out issues” intentionally impossible, I certainly would have included enough “oomph” in announcing my decision to do so a real production, so that print media would feel comfortable including as much emphasis as their software would allow, and attributing it to me, as in “emphasis in original”, so that writers and editors would feel comfortable quoting me as having said: WE’RE NOT WORKING OUT ISSUES ANY MORE… See the difference? You can practically feel the increased volume.

At this point, go to President Obama’s official re-election website and click on “Issues”.  Please notice that “We’re not working out issues any more” is *not* listed among the top seven issues.  I ask myself over and over, how can that be? How can that “point” cause enough of a problem to lead Senator Snowe to give up her seat, and at the same time not be counted as an “issue” at President Obama’s re-election website?

Unfortunately, I have been asking it over and over again for almost four years, beginning back in 2008, when we were all working so hard to get Obama elected president the first time. Putting my Bushspeak-to-English Dictionary to good use, I tried to draw attention to dangers inherent in “misunderestimating the division thing”. To do so, I quoted from an NPR interview with then-88 year-old Bertha Means, an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention, from Texas. if I’m not mistaken.

Ms. Means said, “We can’t solve the problems of our time unless we can all get together.”

It was not clear whether she was speaking of unity only in terms of Democrats, or in larger terms: of all Americans. But the importance Ms. Means placed on coming together was unmistakable.

Somehow, OFA-2008 out-ignored “OFA”-2012. As I noted back in 2008, pamphlets provided by OFA-then for the purpose of informing volunteers of Obama’s positions on “the issues”, listed 32 “issues”— with none of them responding to either Ms. Means’ 2008 question or Senator Snowe’s 2012 question.

robert letcherAnd even if field workers argue[d], as one [had] to me, that the problem is not properly an issue; rather, that it is more of an underlying theme or approach. I’m not sure that Ms. Means would appreciate the fine distinction. Furthermore, I doubt that that field worker would refer in public to Senator Snowe’s action as a fine distinction.

So, Hey!, President Obama, puuuhlease pay attention! This issue won’t go away by not talking about it. Please take Senator Snowe’s position seriously. You could begin with the fact that this is the first time in my memory that I’ve agreed with a Republican. It’s not that I’m special, either; just that I might not be alone among your supporters who find themselves in that unusual position.

Bob Letcher

Posted: Saturday, 28 April 2012

Published by the LA Progressive on April 28, 2012
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About Robert Letcher

Robert A. Letcher, Ph.D. is a political economist who describes himself as "an academic without portfolio, writer, political activist, and Qigong practitioner who tries to help people learn".