Brace yourself. Obama is flirting with the 99%. He is coyly sending a friend over to the table to take their temperature, and next he'll send a waiter with a free drink. But he has an agenda, make no mistake about that. Sooner or later he's going to ask for a dance, and the 99% will have to answer. Do they want to get screwed by a nice guy or a Republican?
If Obama had the chops to lead the 99%, we would not have needed to move on our own. But now we do, and here he comes, sidling up to the language of the movement while mildly overlooking the content. He's pretending they are the same, while trying not to alarm anyone. They are not the same, as he has proven rather deftly on numerous issues now, and he damn well knows it. He's not a stupid man. He knows very well that most of the people gathered in these parks distrust him now. They see what he does. Uh oh. He's being reasonable and soothing. Sadly, that has become the signal that we're all about to get screwed. How many times can you tell the 80% who really WANTED some kind of a public option that getting all up in Boehner's pants and making HIM feel good is the important thing? Not many, my friend. After a while they just expect to find you there.
So they see the dissonance between language and content, and are moving well beyond a lack of trust. That trend is pretty well established by now. They are fairly deep into the place where he has already become irrelevant. That's what victims do. When they can't escape physically, they run deep into their minds where the bogeyman can't follow. Sometimes they dream big dreams in there. And sometimes they find the courage to take their opportunity and fight back.
I'm reminded of the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza here, and I'm talking about the American people versus their own damn government. That's a freakin' tragedy all its own. But Obama has become indistinguishable from The Problem. The 99% don't want to talk about him, not because they dislike him, but because they know instinctively that focusing their attention on The Problem is not the way out of their predicament. They, like Ilibagiza, are in the process of becoming the solution. And here he comes, toying with the language, casually ignoring the content, channeling his inner Billy Dee Williams. And the Occupation isn't biting. Not yet. They have a dream. And he's not really part of it. Yet. It will take more than soothing tones and familiar catchphrases to win them back, and I think he knows it. But he also knows that there's a good segment of that group that has been well trained to focus on the evil of two lessers, and it's likely that he can persuade that group to loathe the Republican more than they ignore the Democrat. That's what it has come down to. The only question is whether he can spark enough fear to start a fire there, while appearing to be mild and reasonable.
Obama hasn't done everything wrong. He hasn't earned unlimited criticism or contempt from his voters. But he cannot become the answer unless he truly starts answering, with measurable action, a call for honest accountability and a democratic process that gives the 99% a voice reflecting the power of their numbers. Right now, the people I have met in the parks just aren't interested in talking about him. They aren't talking about the problems. They are focused on the solutions. In their GA's and on the streets, they are talking -- not about what they don't want, but about what they DO want. And Obama is not on the menu. Not yet.
The 99% aren't listening to the problem. Not yet.