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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.

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 14, 2009; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Obama on Nationalizing Banks and the Stimulus

Comments

Hey Capehart, TheOne is president.
You, Maddow and Lowery preaching in chorus to the choir is getting a bit old now, don't you think?

Posted by: spamsux1 | February 14, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama can rely on the courage of Republican Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Susan Collins (Maine) only so much.


You mean he can only buy off so many people. How much money did Spector (R) get for his pet project? Oh yes $10 Billion for National Institutes of Health.

As long as Obama can continue to buy off people, Americans will continue to be ripped off.

Posted by: debmries | February 14, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Your television is locked on MSNBC, eh? So you're just as cocooned in a biased bubble as the left claimed Dubya was. I bet you deplored Bush's bubble and Cheney saying all he watched was FoxNews. You're just as close-minded, just as desiring to have your opinions reinforced by those you agree with as the right-wing blowhards you despise.

Posted by: reg1979 | February 14, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Capehart, but you can tell who actually knows what you are talking about and who doesn't. Rachel is so riled that people in politics can't be logical!
1) Let's see, giving people jobs and money to spend won't stimulate the economy, how? Giving them food stamps, so they can eat while they are looking for a new job and the money will actually be spent 1.73 times..is not good for us how?

2) Why on earth do we need any tax cuts at all?... and the corollary it will all have to be paid off by our grandchildren anyway.

3) But she found her niche with the POPULIST Caucus..so it will be fun seeing her follow them.

You know Obama thought just what he said, once the Repugs started doing their old, old, old schticke.

I wrote an LTE locally reminding everyone that our Representative voted against the Recovery Act...so if anyone is or knows anyone, like, family, friend, coworker, neighbor..who need jobs, is helped by the plan in the next two years, please remind them..our Repub Rep voted against it.
Maybe we can get him out next time...almost did it this time.


Posted by: LOrion | February 16, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Mr.Capehart:
I never before realized that "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was written by the same James Weldon Johnson who is credited with composing the melody for the Dry Bones song. In looking this up, I ran across the reference to a 1927 Johnson book, "God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse," also by Johnson(and the pen-and-ink illustrations are beyond stunning).

As to the Dry Bones song, any rendition of it will entrain you into Ezekiel's whirlwind, but I am partial to the Four Lads version in the final episode of The Prisoner, "Fall Out." And thanks for reminding me!

PS: Rick Warren for openers; Rev.Lowery
at the other end. Get it?

Posted by: martymar123 | February 16, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

very nice Mr. Capehart...very nice.

Posted by: kayebradley | February 16, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

I hope all the press has the courage to say what is obvious to all of us:

The republicans are lying.

They cried for weeks about what was in the stimulus plan, showing up in front of microphones to wave papers and denounce this or that, then claimed no one had read it.

They all had input, some of which remains in the final, yet they're claiming they were excluded.

These are bold faced lies designed to get them back into power in 2010, while painting Obama and the democrats in unfavorable light for their constituencies that don't know they lie to them on a daily basis.

Posted by: dutchess2 | February 16, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Please note in my above post re: "God's Trombones." The astonishing illustrations in this book were done by Aaron Douglas of the Harlem Renaissance, a major light in his field and deserving of a citation on his own.
Let's hope for a renaissance of this book and its wonderful illustrations.

Posted by: martymar123 | February 16, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Is it me, or does Rachel Maddow look like a long lost son of Pelosi? Anyway, Obama is the Pres with a Dem congress, he doesn't need the Rep, so why are you all dumping on the Rep? They are just doing their job. This is a bad bill as far as Rep are concerned (I am one) and so be it. Instead of bashing Rep you should be reading the bill and telling us all how good it is, if you can. There are over 1,000 pages and almost $1T dollars of spending, so this should keep you busy.

Posted by: mmourges | February 16, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Obama is in the same path of 'almost dictator' Hugo Chavez from Venezuela.

First, nationalization of the private asset - banks and so on,, then, censorship - no more free speech etc, then, dictation of norms and guidelines for everything pertinent to the public.

A perfect conduit to socialism-marxism ...eventually comunism.

And the last straw by Chavez was, 'promote', 'ask' and really PUSH the LIFETIME PRESIDENCY (TOTALITARISM/DICTATORSHIP) to the masses there in that country.

Prediction !,...if this character Obama suggest this , chances are that the 'LETARGIC PSEUDO-HYPNOTIZED OBAMANIZED MASSES' will go for it, unless before, a DIRECT STRIKE for TOTALITARIAN /DICTATORSHIP comes first.

Should that be the case,.... ( ANY WHICH WAY YOU PUT IT )?,...then, the scenario is more scary that anything else,... for then chances are that we might just will have HERE ! in our country - IN MAINLAND ! a CIVIL WAR ( A REVOLUTION ! )

Correct !, just like one of those third world countries with TYRANTS AT HELM !

People, this does not looks good at all, I hope and wish I am completely and totaaly wrong and the way to put this gogus administration out of commision is by TRUE HONEST AND CLEAN NON-CORRUPTED VOTE IN THE CLASSIC BASIC AMERICAN WAY. Not as FRAUDULENT as it was in the past elections( REMEMBER ACORN AND AMONG OTHERS THINGS ?)

Ok, now there you have it,...now pray hard and BE ALERT , WATCH CLOSELY AND CAREFULLY THIS CURRENT ADMINISTRATION and GET INFORMED, INVESTIGATE, GET KNOWLEDGE !

KNOWLEDGE IS THE REAL POWER!

sleep well,

DC

Merrillville, IN

Posted by: morcab | February 16, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

dear morcab,
when five members of the supreme court supremely usurped their power and installed a president, that was the time to start worrying. that set powerful forces in motion, and we have never been the same. torture, repudiation of habeus corpus is us? what is happening now, i hope is a correction, but can never be sure of anything in this world. can we? but i live in hope--and this president did not invent the word.

it isn't being on top of everything happening in the world that helps you sleep, but knowing you yourself are doing all you can reasonably do and then trusting to God or fate, whoever, whatever you trust. and so, to bed.
i sleep well. may you do the same.

Posted by: martymar123 | February 17, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Does Mr. Capehart write a newspaper column, or is he a political operative for the White House, hired to analyze the minute details of getting bills through Congress? Is a supposedly intelligent human being actually proposing that Barack Obama's strategy for winning the votes of a handful of Dixiecrat (AKA: Republican) Senators is the key to the ability of the United States of America to cope with its most severe crisis in 70 years? What in the world is Capehart's obsession with this bipartisanship thing? Given the Dixiecrats' brutal slap down of Obama's proffered hand, most informed observers have already dismissed it as the latest equivalent of how many angels dance on the head of a pin.

The Obama administration needs to move ahead and govern on the basis of the mandate given it by the American people. The Dixiecrats can either get on board or continue their slide into oblivion. It is mystifying that anyone could seriously believe that saving the Dixiecrats from their suicidal tendencies should concern President Obama at all, much less be a key element of his governance. I greatly fear that the danger of the Post's hiring of people like Mike Gerson and Billy Krystal is now evident. Their virus of spewing nonsensical bilgewater is spreading, and Jonathan Capehart is its first victim.

Posted by: tbarksdl | February 17, 2009 6:30 AM | Report abuse

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