Oratory Glory

I believe speeches can be significant. I think Obama’s speech on Wednesday’s might be one of those important moments. Or it may be more wasting of our time, more triangulation, more disappointment, more sucking up to the monied interest that currently dominate our government. My now seemingly naive hope when we elected Obama on the strength of millions of $20 donations, was that he would be able turn our corprate-ocracy back into a Constitutional democracy.

Fans of Thom Hartmann know I’m snatching this from Thursday’s show, but the similarities are too profound and I had to post this here. The following quotes are from a speech by FDR just before the ’36 election, after his first four years in office. This first clip talks about Republican attempts to undermine support for the just recently established Social Security program:

Here is an amazing paradox! The very employers and politicians and publishers who talk most loudly of class antagonism and the destruction of the American system now undermine that system by this attempt to coerce the votes of the wage earners of this country. It is the 1936 version of the old threat to close down the factory or the office if a particular candidate does not win. It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.

Every message in a pay envelope, even if it is the truth, is a command to vote according to the will of the employer. But this propaganda is worse—it is deceit.

They tell the worker his wage will be reduced by a contribution to some vague form of old-age insurance. They carefully conceal from him the fact that for every dollar of premium he pays for that insurance, the employer pays another dollar. That omission is deceit.

They carefully conceal from him the fact that under the federal law, he receives another insurance policy to help him if he loses his job, and that the premium of that policy is paid 100 percent by the employer and not one cent by the worker. They do not tell him that the insurance policy that is bought for him is far more favorable to him than any policy that any private insurance company could afford to issue. That omission is deceit.

They imply to him that he pays all the cost of both forms of insurance. They carefully conceal from him the fact that for every dollar put up by him his employer puts up three dollars three for one. And that omission is deceit.

But they are guilty of more than deceit. When they imply that the reserves thus created against both these policies will be stolen by some future Congress, diverted to some wholly foreign purpose, they attack the integrity and honor of American Government itself. Those who suggest that, are already aliens to the spirit of American democracy. Let them emigrate and try their lot under some foreign flag in which they have more confidence.

See any similarities? How many victims of the current ‘Wealthcare’ health ‘scamsurance’ system have been deluded into railing against a national insurance system? Only now, it is ‘understood’ that the American government is incompetent and incapable of doing ‘anything’. To those ‘nine word’ Reagan disciples I suggest they ’emigrate and try their lot’ somewhere else.

This next quote refers to the Republican administrations that came before his first term in ’32, that brought about the Great Depression:

For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

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.

Sound familiar? I would love to hear the right wing punditocracy howl if Obama could ever remind us how we arrived at this economic state as forcefully as FDR did.

Click this link to hear the audio and read the transcript. I can’t get enough FDR audio. I hope I hear a little FDR on Wednesday.

Post Script – This article from Harpers Barack Hoover Obama is brilliant…thanks Uila for linking to it, it is so pertinent to this post and has great insights into the Hoover administration. It probably deserves its own post, but the bottom line from this piece is that Obama needs to recognize the extreme situation the nation is in and he needs to grow the sack to take radical action, or become the left’s Hoover.

  • Madman

    Can’t stop this morning. Don’t think the victims have been duped by their tyrants? Consider the current climate compared to the results from this poll on healtcare taken in 2007. Has any reliable polling been done recently? I can’t find anything worth referencing (or even reading, for that matter). Who cares how respondents answered the question “Do you want a government bureaucrat deciding when you should die?”

  • M.Uila

    Back from vacation, refreshed and ready for some epically craptacular legislation! Unplugging for a week was good. Am tempted to stay that way.


    This post is on time and on point. I love the dip back into history. Americans seem to have a political memory of roughly six weeks, after which institutional amnesia kicks in. So we have to relive the same shit over and over again. “It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.” Indeed!

    Funny, but prior to reading this, I actually got it into my head to go back and study up on the other Roosevelt, Teddy. I want to know about some trust busting. As in, how bad were things 100 years ago relative to today, that government actually had the sack to rein in corporate power. Nowadays things are either not as bad as they seem, or way way worse. I’m curious which. Can anyone recommend some choice reading?

  • M.Uila

    HA! This is good

    This is all fine and good if you’re putting up a public front like you give a shit what the other side thinks but, based on what I’ve seen so far, there is little indication that Obama is willing to risk even the slightest legislative defeat in defense of anyone who isn’t a friend of Tim Geithner or Larry Summers. I’ve negotiated deals big and small for years and I know that, if you can’t or are unwilling to say “Fuck you. No.” and then walk away, you’re already losing before you even sit down at the table. Instead what you’re saying is “Make me an offer. There’s a good chance I’ll be your bitch.”

  • Jimmy Reefercake

    madman, as always you have a right to be mad. tomorrow night. this is the test. will he sink or swim?

    pubic option.

  • Jimmy Reefercake

    listening to the FDR speech on Hartmann right now…it would be perfect. could Obama at least get back to his ENOUGH! ENOUGH! I like when he says that.

  • Madman

    I love “This is His ‘Go Fuck Yourself’ Face”…classic. Uila, the only book on TR I’ve read was ‘Theodore Rex’ by Edmund Morris…actually I listened to the audiobook…it was very good – focused just on his years in the presidency, great details on the politics of the day.

  • Madman

    Embarassing. So the insurance industry gets millions of new customers and a great excuse to keep raising rates due to all the ‘government regulations’. In return, maybe we’ll get a public option in four years. Signing off to go puke

  • Jimmy Reefercake

    simmer down madman…i think that we are getting somewhere. the speech had some great FU moments. and with regard to the public option, we know it is going to happen…seriously, I think his posture on it is sort of saying, go ahead and show me another way, but at the end of the day I believe we will need to have the public option for those who can’t afford to be ripped off. the language of the bill we be such that you can only use the option if you don’t have insurance.

    crazy that as I was watching the speech I was drafting for fantasy football with a bunch of aetna employees. this is insurance country up here! every now and then on the chat I would randomly through in an obama line.

  • Madman

    I’ll keep looking for a reason to see the silver lining…should post Pelosi but I’ll stay on the dark cloud for now..

  • M.Uila

    @Madman: What’s that coming out of the young turk’s ears? Looks like an enhanced interrogation technique.