Barack Obama had an excellent opportunity to put his Hope and Change promise into action this week, after having been introduced by union ally James Hoffa Jr on a Detroit stage with a call, “Let’s take these [Tea Party] sons of bitches out” and telling Obama that his army of union activists would do the job. Obama may not have heard Hoffa’s speech when it happened, but he had all day yesterday to repudiate Hoffa’s comments about going to war against Tea Party activists. That would have fulfilled his promise to change the tone in Washington and reduce the bitter partisanship — which is something that almost by definition has to start with one’s own allies. It also would have matched his speech after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona that called for constructive rhetoric in political debate. Hoffa might have been miffed if Obama took the opening for a “Sister Souljah” moment, but it wouldn’t have damaged Hoffa at all and could have boosted Obama with moderates.
Instead, not only did Obama fail to take the initiative to rebuke Hoffa for his own gain, the White House couldn’t pick up the golden opportunity handed to them by ABC’s Jake Tapper yesterday. Jay Carney could have distanced his boss from Hoffa’s remarks by scolding Hoffa, but instead just prattled about how the press corps wants to make “connections” between supposedly unrelated people and incidents — even though Hoffa introduced Obama at the event with the remarks in question. It’s a response akin to, “Who are you going to believe — us or your lying eyes?”
Obama could have had a real presidential moment. Instead, Obama looks clueless as to what his own promises of Hope and Change actually were, and ended up tacitly endorsing Hoffa’s remarks.
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