They Said It
In the past few weeks, President Obama, Rachel Maddow and Rev. Joseph Lowery have each said or shown something significant that didn't get nearly the amount of attention they should have. And I want to -- in my own little cyberspace way -- change that.
President Obama: At his first prime time press conference at the White House, the president was asked about how he would go about getting more bipartisanship after not getting a single Republican vote when the House voted on the initial stimulus plan. His response:
I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that's the lesson I learned.
And it's a lesson he shouldn't forget. This tactic is used all the time in New York City. The mayor always plays the hard guy by cutting libraries and schools and neighborhood clinics in the budget he presents to the City Council. Council members then rail against him for being so cold, so heartless. They add the money back during budget negotiations. When the final budget comes out, the money has been restored to a level that reflects fiscal conditions at the time. Council members get to crow about programs they've saved. The mayor gets his budget. This so could have worked for the stimulus bill. While the final bill passed the House and Senate without this tactic yesterday, the president must use some form of it going forward. Obama can rely on the courage of Republican Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Susan Collins (Maine) only so much.
Rachel Maddow: Shocker! My television is locked on MSNBC. So, after Obama's press conference, I tuned into Rachel Maddow, who showed a chart guaranteed to take your breath away. Anyone who thinks that the economic meltdown isn't serious, or who questions whether the stimulus package and the jobs it will create is absolutely necessary, needs to look at a chart prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and released by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office on Feb. 9. It appears at 1:35 in the clip below. Summary: So far, 13 months into the current recession, the U.S. has lost more jobs (3.1 million) than the total jobs lost in the post-Sept. 11 economic contraction (2.7 million) that lasted four years.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery: The opening words of the stirring benediction at President Obama's inauguration by 87-year-old minister and civil rights leader Joseph Lowery were more powerful than many people probably realized at the time.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.
Those are the closing words of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," written in 1900 by high school principal James Welden Johnson of Jacksonville, Fla., for an Abraham Lincoln birthday celebration. But it is more affectionately known among African Americans as "The Negro National Anthem," because it speaks to the hope for liberation from oppression. To have the words echo across the National Mall from the steps of an edifice built by slaves on the occasion of the inauguration of America's first black President is weighted with incalculable historical significance.
In the days leading up to the inauguration, I wondered how or whether this song would be a part of the festivities. Lowery's subtle use of the words, enhanced by a voice gravely with age and wisdom, was as elegant as it was poignant.
| February 14, 2009; 12:08 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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