As mentioned earlier, Rolling Stone has a long interview with Barack Obama in its latest issue in which Obama acknowledges that the financial crisis is going to require tough decisions and taxes and government programs; says Americans are going to have to make sacrifices to reform the country's energy policy (and to implement those reforms); and offers that we should probably volunteer more, among other relatively unpopular things. In any other election cycle telling Americans unpopular truths would be the kiss of electoral death. So what's different this year? Is it possible that Americans are actually tired of being lied to?From a sweater-clad Jimmy Carter telling Americans that turning down their thermostats at night would save more energy than any government program to Walter Mondale (correctly) telling Americans that the next President was going to have to raise taxes to resolve the government's debt, Americans have never been fans of the unvarnished truth. In fact, Reagan won every state in 1984 except Mondale's home state of Minnesota (and D.C.) in part based on Mondale's comments and despite the fact that he had already presided over tax increases. He then raised corporate taxes by almost half a billion over 5 years, not that most Republicans like to talk about it. George H.W. Bush was the same way — he was Mr. "Read My Lips" one day and Mr. Tax Increases the next. Not that his son has been any different — once upon a time, he told Americans that he was opposed to "nation-building," felt that, if the military went to war, they needed to have a clear exit strategy from the beginning and that the goal should be to have the people of a nation build their own nation instead of Americans pay for it. Whoops. So, how is it that Obama can get away with saying things like this:
People are going to have to embrace — revel in — the possibilities of a transformed energy economy. Over the long term it will mean a higher standard of living. But in the short term it means doing things we don't like to do — turn off lights, check your tire gauges, replace your light bulbs. Just being conscious of energy usage in ways other cultures, like Japan, have been for a long time because they're an island nation and just didn't have resources.
Let alone warning his Congressional allies to think small next year, not big:
So digging ourselves out of the fiscal mess we're in is going to be a big, big challenge, and it's going to require some tough decisions that will not always be popular — particularly when there's going to be a lot of pent-up energy among Democrats. If I win, every member of Congress on the Democratic side, and some on the Republican side, is going to have ideas about pressing needs and worthy programs. Trying to set some very hard, clear priorities is going to be tough.
Is it just that McCain's lies are so egregious that the truth sounds good this time around? Or are we finally so sick of being told crap we all know is untrue — like that Republicans are going to reduce the size of government and lower everyone's taxes — that we finally don't mind hearing a politician tell us that things aren't going to be sunshine, unicorns and rainbows? And how hilarious is it that the candidate of Hope(TM) is the one telling us there won't be gold at the end of his rainbow? Obama's Moment [Rolling Stone] Related: Report To The American People on Energy [Miller Center For Public Affairs] Thursday Video: Mondale's Pledge to Raise Taxes [Tax Foundation] 1984 [President Elect] Reagan's Liberal Legacy [Washington Monthly] Read My Lips [Tax Foundation] George Herbert Walker Bush [MSN Encarta] Campaign 2000 - Bush On Nation Building [YouTube] Once Opposed, Bush Begins Nation Building [WCBV TV] Searching For An Iraq Exit Strategy [Time] Iraqi Government Expected To Have $79 Billion Surplus [Think Progress]