Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dog Bites Back

Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, calls (as so many have since January 2009) for President Obama to fight back, harder and in public rhetoric, against the conservative opposition and big business. This longing for presidential rhetoric seems to be a recurrent feature of our national life.

Rich even recommends FDR's 1936 Madison Square Garden speech excoriating his opposition -- a speech that my students always find a shocker. Here is a key passage from Franklin Roosevelt's speech, near the end of his first term:

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

Frank Rich, "Time for This Big Dog to Bite Back," New York Times, 12 September 2010.

Does big business try to run (or to stop) the government? Where to start? Have a look at Eric Lipton, "A G.O.P. Leader Tightly Bound to Lobbyists," New York Times, 11 September 2010. "As Democrats try to cast John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader, as the face of the Republican Party, his ties to lobbyists are under attack. . . ."

No comments: