Thomas Friedman: Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio?

October 10th, 2011

Here’s Thomas Friedman on the death of Steve Jobs and how it taps into the greater American sense that this country is off the rails and in bad need of leadership:

Think of how cramped and uninspiring our national debate has become. It is all about cutting, filibustering, vetoing and blaming — or solving our problems by either untaxing or taxing millionaires alone.

Neither party is saying: Here is the world we are living in; here are the big trends; here is our long-term plan for rolling up our sleeves to ensure that America thrives in this world because it is not going to come easy; nothing important ever does.

What is John Boehner’s vision? I laugh just thinking about the question. What is President Obama’s vision? I cry just thinking about the question. The Republican Party has been taken over by an antitax cult, and Obama just seems lost. Obama supporters complain that the G.O.P. has tried to block him at every turn. That is true. But why have they gotten away with it? It’s because Obama never persuaded people that he had a Grand Bargain tied to a vision worth fighting for.

I’m an Obama fan, but he’s not being straight with you when he says that we can balance the budget long term by just taxing the rich. He’s not being any more straight than the Republicans are when they say that we can only balance the budget by cutting spending and that we can reduce massive deficits by decreasing taxes at a time when they’re the lowest they’ve been in 50 years.

Friedman’s obsession with “the Grand Bargain” has been pilloried by people like Frank Rich who rightly point out that Obama isn’t going to come to any Grand Bargain with people who consider closing tax loopholes just as bad as the mortal sin of raising income taxes. But Friedman is ever the optimist, arguing that leadership entails telling the truth and that the American people are hungering to hear it.

Given the history, I’m not so sure, but I agree that telling the truth to the people is more important now than it has been in some time.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.