The Rolling Stone has done it again with a very long Oval Office interview of the President by the magazine’s co-founder and publisher, Jann Werner. Titled “Obama In Command: The Rolling Stone Interview,” the article went online on Thursday [Here] and will appear in the October 15th edition of the mag.
The piece is very long, detailed and is presented in question and answer form. It is clearly meant to be Obama’s summary of the progress that has been made during the first two years of his presidency. In effect, it is Obama’s apologia.
At the end of the article, Werner tells us that aides called the President away, breaking the interview, but he returned a few minutes later with a final statement, delivered, Werner tells us, with “passion and intensity.” It is a beautifully honed statement that I have slightly cut but not changed. (If you believe that Obama’s final words are an off-the-cuff, extemporaneous statement, please stay away from folks who are selling bridges to Brooklyn at bargain prices.) Here it is:
One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.
The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible...
...And right now, we are getting outspent eight to one by these 527s that the Roberts court says can spend with impunity without disclosing where their money's coming from...
We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard — that's what I said during the campaign. It has been hard, and we've got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place.
If you're serious, now's exactly the time that people have to step up.
This article sounds as if Obama is ready to put down the basketball and do some fighting. His recent speech [Here] at the Un. of Wisconsin at Madison sounded as if he is trying to stir some enthusiasm and shake up his supporters of two years ago.
However, the lethargy that needs to be thrown off is not from us, but is radiating from the White House itself. And it is not just lethargy that we are feeling. It is a deep lack of sympathy and empathy for the folks who are hurting--the poor, the homeless, the jobless, the hopeless. We need a rhetoric that will stir the conscience of America. We need a voice that will resound in our hearts, as F.D.R.’s did, as Martin Luther King’s did, and John F. Kennedy’s did.
With 23 million Americans living in poverty and almost 10% unemployed, stirring folks up shouldn’t be hard. We don’t need lectures, Mr. President. We certainly don’t need marching orders. We need heartfelt sympathy, concern and outrage--from you!
We need leadership...