quarta-feira, 25 de março de 2009

Brazil's Lula prays more for Obama than he does for himself

By Fareed Zakaria, a foreign affairs analyst who is host of "Fareed Zakaria: GPS" on CNN at 1 and 5 p.m. ET Sundays.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says his country should be part of the U.N. Security Council.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says his country should be part of the U.N. Security Council.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says emerging industrialized nations like Brazil, China and India should have a greater say in world affairs.

In an interview to air Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Lula da Silva also said the United Nations Security Council should include emerging nations as permanent members.

"The geography of 2009 is different from the geography of 1948 when the U.N. was created," Lula da Silva said. "And because of this we want more continents to participate in the U.N. Security Council. ... Brazil should have a seat ... the African continent should have one or two members in the U.N. Security Council. There's opposition from Italy that doesn't want Germany to come in. There is China that doesn't want the Japanese to participate.

"I think this is foolish."

Lula da Silva also expressed his admiration for Barack Obama, saying he told the new U.S. president at a recent White House meeting that he prays more for the American leader than for himself "because although I face many problems, he has much more delicate problems than I."

Lula da Silva said there's a reason Obama was elected.

"The high hopes, the high expectations around him are tremendous," Lula da Silva said. "And I believe that God didn't put him there for nothing. It's because something important will happen in this country."

Lula da Silva said he did not speak with Obama about the "absurd" trade embargo the United States imposed on Cuba in 1962.

"The only thing that I believe as a citizen, as the president of my country is that there is no reason -- not from a sociological viewpoint, a military viewpoint, a political viewpoint, an electoral viewpoint, and much less from an economic viewpoint -- to maintain such a blockade," he said.

But Lula da Silva said Obama "should make a gesture" toward Cuba as a first step toward normalizing relations with the communist island.

Speaking about another U.S. trouble spot in Latin America, Lula da Silva said he told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently "that it was necessary that he become closer to President Obama, because now there is an opportunity to establish new ties of friendship with the U.S."

Chavez famously implied at a U.N. speech in September 2006 that then-President George W. Bush was the devil.

Lula da Silva, who calls himself a socialist and once worked as a factory lathe operator, talked about his humble upbringing.

"When I'm sitting in the G-20 meetings with all of those presidents or heads of state, I know I am the only one that definitely went through a lot of misery and hunger," he said. "I lived in houses that were flooded by water, inside my house, 1½ meters high. Sometimes I had to fight over space with rats and cockroaches, and waste would come in when it flooded.

"I know what unemployment means, because I was unemployed for 1½ years. And I know the drama that the worker -- an unemployed worker -- faces."

Lula da Silva praised the values of democracy, a system that allowed a former factory worker and union leader to become president of a large nation. He took office in January 2003 and was re-elected in October 2006 for a term that will end January 1, 2011.

Once in a while, he said, while sitting at a meeting with other world leaders, "I feel like an outsider. I ask myself, what am I doing here?

"But it was democracy that led me to this position. It was the people that led me to this position. So I feel I am on equal terms with all of them. I don't feel that I'm less than anyone. And 10 years ago as I would watch these people on television, I could never have imagined that I would get close to them, never.
"And suddenly here I am. I am now in the same group as them, talking with them on equal terms, sometimes learning, sometimes teaching. And this is something that is pleasurable in politics. And it is also the great thing about democracy."

Source article

domingo, 22 de março de 2009

Brazilian-style Veep

When things get rough in Brazil, people start cracking jokes. Biden could be Brazilian:

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN KILLS AT GRIDIRON: 'Axelrod really wanted me to do this on teleprompter -- but I told him I'm much better when I wing it. ... I know these evenings run long, so I'm going to be brief. Talk about the audacity of hope. ... President Obama does send his greetings, though. He can't be here tonight -- because he's busy getting ready for Easter. (Whisper) He thinks it's about him. ...

'I know that no president has missed his first Gridiron since Grover Cleveland. Of course, President Cleveland really did have better things to do on a Saturday night. When he was in the White House -- he was married to a 21 year old woman. ... I understand these are dark days for the newspaper business, but I hate it when people say that newspapers are obsolete. That's totally untrue. I know from firsthand experience. I recently got a puppy, and you can't housebreak a puppy on the Internet.

'Now let's see: we have a Republican speaker who was born in Austria, and tonight's Democratic speaker was born in Canada. Folks, this is Lou Dobbs' worst nightmare. ... We are now two months into the Obama-Biden administration and the President and I have become extremely close. To give you an idea of how close we are, he told me that next year -- maybe, just maybe -- he's going to give me his blackberry email address. ... But the Obama Administration really is a good team. I am the experienced veteran. Rahm can be an enforcer. And Tim Geithner is always there when you need to borrow money. And no questions asked.

'You know, I never realized just how much power Dick Cheney had until my first day on the job. I walked into my office, and you know how the outgoing president always leaves the incoming president a note in his desk? I opened my drawer and Dick Cheney had left me Barack Obama's birth certificate. ... I now realize that we have to be extra careful when we enunciate new policy ideas to make sure they don't look like they're personally motivated. For example, the other day there were a whole bunch of stories about the President's hair going gray; the next day there's a story about a Vice President who's trying to grow new hair, and then the day after that, the two of us come out in favor of stem cell research. That looked bad.

'I'd like to address some of the things I said: Like when I said that 'JOBS' is a three-letter word. I did say that. But I didn't mean it literally. It's like how, right now, most people think AIG is a four-letter word. ... Or when I announced our stimulus package website, I was asked how you get to it: All I said was I didn't know the website number. What I really meant to say was, 'Ted Stevens didn't tell me what tube the website is in.'

Source: Mike Allen's Politico Daily Playbook Update

terça-feira, 17 de março de 2009

It should have been Jon Stewart!

FIRST TIME A SITTING PRESIDENT HAS GONE ON A LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW, per NBC: The president stops by Jay Leno on Thursday, during his California trip. 'Obama will be making his first sit-down talk show appearance in studio in front of a live audience since becoming elected ... Among other topics, President Obama will be sitting down to talk about his economic plan. President Obama made his first 'Tonight Show' appearance on December 1, 2006.'

Source: Mike Allen's Politico Playbook Daily Update

Has it been a year already?

TOMORROW IS THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE PRESIDENT'S RACE SPEECH IN PHILLY -- The National Constitution Center, the site of the speech, announced it will mark the anniversary 'by launching a virtual exhibit online. The interactive website and supplemental educational materials will provide users with a deeper understanding of this important speech. The interactive webpage [launches tomorrow] will ... contain full video of President Obama's speech, A More Perfect Union, with a chapter index and a scrolling transcript to make it easy for users to follow along. The page will also feature quotes from media personalities and historians about the significance of the seminal speech, including audio of historian Harold Holzer comparing Lincoln's historic Cooper Union speech and Obama's Race Speech at the Constitution Center; press materials; and an image gallery of photographs from the event and of the Center's signed copy of the speech.'

Source: Mike Allen's Politico Playbook Daily Update

sábado, 14 de março de 2009

There was almost nothing about this on the usual English-language news websites today so here goes...

Obama-Lula meeting sign of Brazilian ascendancy: US

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The weekend summit between presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil underscores Brazil's "ascendancy in the world," a top US diplomat said Friday.

The two leaders will meet at the White House Saturday to discuss growing ties promoting alternative energy like biofuels and economic development, as well as tackling climate change and fighting malaria and AIDS in Africa.

"This, from our point of view, is a great opportunity for the United States to build on an important relationship that we have with Brazil," Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon told reporters.

In promoting biofuels, the two countries have "built a relationship around alternative energy sources dedicated to using energy as an important component of social and economic development," Shannon said.

Their work to fight climate change and protect the environment will "open a space for the United States and Brazil to cooperate more broadly, not only throughout Latin America, especially Central America and the Caribbean, but also in Africa and other parts of the developed world."

The two countries have also worked together "to address health care concerns, whether it be fighting malaria in Africa or fighting HIV-AIDS in Africa," and Washington hopes to "deepen that commitment," Shannon said.

The relationship is not only bilateral and regional but also has "a strong global partnership component to it. It is a recognition of Brazil's ascendancy in the world," he said.

"And we think that we are at a point in which this relationship, which has had so much potential, will be able to have that potential realized in ... the coming months and years."

"And we think that this opportunity for President Obama and President Lula to meet on Saturday is going to be an important and dramatic step forward," Shannon added.

View source article

domingo, 8 de março de 2009

President Barack Obama: Toward a Better Day

President Barack Obama, in his weekly address to the nation Saturday, said: "Yesterday, we learned that the economy lost another 651,000 jobs in the month of February, which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession to 4.4 million. The unemployment rate has now surpassed 8 percent, the highest rate in a quarter century. These aren't just statistics, but hardships experienced personally by millions of Americans who no longer know how they'll pay their bills, or make their mortgage, or raise their families."

President Barack Obama used his weekly address to detail his plans to fix our ailing economy, noting that reforming health care is necessary to ensure our long term fiscal health. While ending this crisis will not be quick or easy, the President's plans will take the swift, bold, and responsible actions needed for the United States to emerge stronger and more prosperous than before.
For full transcript, see this page.

The Dow Knows All

At last, the voice of reason.

sábado, 7 de março de 2009

Words of wisdom from Bob Herbert

Published: March 7, 2009
The renegade clowns who ruined this economy, the Republican right in alliance with big business and some feckless Democrats, have no basis for waging war against efforts to get us out of their mess.

I particularly like this line:
"Freaking out over earmarks is like watching a neighborhood that is being consumed by flames and complaining that there is crabgrass on some of the lawns."

sexta-feira, 6 de março de 2009

Message from Moveon.org

Want to see what change looks like? Real change?
Well, here it is. Last week, President Obama unveiled his budget—his blueprint for America—and it's ambitious, amazing, and unapologetically progressive. As Paul Krugman said, it will set America on a "fundamentally new course."1
President Obama called his budget "a threat to the status quo," and trust me, the status quo noticed. Oil companies, big banks and insurance companies are already mobilizing to stop it.2
Unfortunately, most folks don't realize how far-reaching and progressive the plan is—that's where we all come in.
Here are 10 really incredible things about Obama's plan. Check them out and then send them on to your friends and family so that millions of people will have the information they need to fight to make this vision a reality.

10 things you should know about Obama's plan (but probably don't)

The plan:

  1. Makes a $634 billion down payment on fixing health care that will go a long way toward paying for a more efficient, more affordable health care system that covers every single American.3
  2. Reduces taxes for 95% of working Americans. And if your family makes less than $250,000, your taxes won't go up one dime.4
  3. Invests more than $100 billion in clean energy technology, creating millions of green jobs that can never be outsourced.5
  4. Brings our troops home from Iraq on a firm timetable, finally bringing the war to a close—and freeing up almost ten billion dollars a month for domestic priorities.6
  5. Reverses growing income inequality. The plan lets the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire and focuses on strengthening the middle class.7
  6. Closes multi-billion-dollar tax loopholes for big oil companies. 8
  7. Increases grants to help families pay for college—the largest increase ever.9

  8. Halves the deficit by 2013. President Obama inherited a legacy of huge deficits and an economy in shambles, but his plan brings the deficit under control as soon as the economy begins to recover.10
  9. Dramatically increases funding for the SEC and the CFTC—the agencies that police Wall Street.11
  10. Tells it straight. For years, budgets have used accounting tricks to hide the real costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts, and too many other programs. Obama's budget gets rid of the smokescreens and lays out what America's priorities are, what they cost, and how we're going to pay for them.12
This is the change we voted for. President Obama has done his part, now we need to do ours.
Can you pass this on to your personal network and then click here to let us know how many people you told, so we can track our impact together:


Thanks for all you do.

–Daniel, Tanya, Peter, Justin and the rest of the team
P.S. Turns out there are way more than 10 amazing things in Obama's budget and we couldn't resist sharing just a few more.

  1. Stops unnecessary government subsidies to big banks, health insurance companies and big agribusinesses.13,14,15

  2. Expands access to early childhood education and improves schools by investing in programs that make sure every child has a qualified, strong teacher.16
  3. Negotiates for better prescription drug prices using Medicaid's tremendous bargaining power.17
  4. Expands access to family planning for low-income women.18
  5. Caps the pollution that causes global warming, and makes polluters pay to support clean energy innovation.19
Sources: 1. "Climate of Change," The New York Times, February 27, 2009
2. "Obama Calls His Budget Sweeping, Needed Change," The New York Times, February 28, 2009
3. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
4. "Obama Expects Fight Over $3.55 Trillion Budget Plan," Bloomberg News, February 28, 2009
5. "Energy Budget Is Sunlight After Eight Years of Darkness," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009
6. "The Economic Cost of War in Iraq and Afghanistan," The New York Times, March 1, 2009
7. "Tax Cuts," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
8. "Energy Budget Is Sunlight After Eight Years of Darkness," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009
9. "Student Loans," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

10. "Obama unveils budget blueprint," CNN, February 26, 2009
11. "Obama budget would boost SEC, CFTC, FBI," Reuters, February 26, 2009
12. "Obama's budget," Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2009
13. "Student Loans," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

14. "Health Insurance Stocks Dive on Medicare Advantage Cuts," The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2009
15. "Agriculture," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
16. "Investing Wisely in Our Children," Center for American Progress, February 26, 2009
17. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
18. "Obama Offers Broad Plan to Revamp Health Care," The New York Times, February 26, 2009
19. "Setting 'Green' Goals," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

terça-feira, 3 de março de 2009

Blacks, Whites Hear Obama Differently

By Nia-Malika Henderson - Politico

On his pre-inaugural visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl, a landmark for Washington’s African-American community, President Barack Obama was asked by a cashier if he wanted his change back.

“Nah, we straight,” Obama replied.

The phrase was so subtle some listeners missed it. The reporter on pool duty quoted Obama as saying, “No, we’re straight.”

But many other listeners did not miss it. A video of the exchange became an Internet hit, and there was a clear moment of recognition among many blacks, who got a kick out of their Harvard-educated president sounding, as one commenter wrote on a hip-hop site, “mad cool.”

On matters of racial identity, many observers in the African-American community say he benefits from what's known as “dog-whistle politics." His language, mannerisms and symbols resonate deeply with his black supporters, even as the references largely sail over the heads of white audiences.

This is part of the reason that as a candidate, Obama won intense support among African-Americans while never being branded, in the fashion of a Jesse Jackson, as a candidate defined by race.

In January remarks about the economy, Obama made a reference to “American dreams that are being deferred,” a phrase black audiences understood without a citation as black poet Langston Hughes’. First lady Michelle Obama often cites her upbringing in the “South Side of Chicago.” On Election Night, the winner promised that “we as a people will get there,” an echo of Martin Luther King Jr. made more powerful by not expressly invoking King’s name.

Or a year ago in South Carolina, when he tried to swat down the persistent rumors that he is Muslim. “They try to bamboozle you, hoodwink you,” Obama said that night, in what many listeners heard as an unmistakable reference to activist Malcolm X, as portrayed in Spike Lee’s movie.

“All of us knew that he was referencing Malcolm X, and when he said it, the reaction was instantaneous,” said William Jelani Cobb, a professor at Spelman College who specializes in black history and politics.

Dog-whistle politics was hardly invented by Obama. One of its most deft practitioners lately was President George W. Bush. He regularly borrowed the language of evangelical Christianity and the anti-abortion movement to signal he was simpatico with their beliefs, even as he often avoided obvious displays of support that might turn off middle-of-the-road voters.

“The code words matter, how you dress matters, how you speak matters; it’s all subliminal messaging, and all politicians use it,” said Michael Fauntroy, an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University, who specializes in race and American politics. “Ronald Reagan used to talk about making America the shining city on a hill, which is about America as divinely inspired, and it has a deep vein in the evangelical conservative movement. It goes on all the time, and there are so many circumstances when only the target people get the message.”

But Fauntroy said the stakes were higher for Obama, who had to “deracialize himself.”

John McWhorter, a linguist at the conservative Manhattan Institute, said that he believes that in Obama’s case coded messaging, which can be a matter of words, sound or grammar or all of them, is partly conscious because “he knows it arouses black audiences.”

“Black English, especially the cadence, is becoming America’s youth lingua franca, especially since the mainstreaming of hip-hop. Its sound conveys warmth, authenticity and a touch of seductive danger not only to blacks but many whites, especially ones below about 50,” McWhorter said. “Obama’s tapping into that cadence helped win him the election. Imagine John Kerry or Hillary Clinton saying, ‘Yes, we can!’ It would have sounded phony — only in what I call a ‘black-cent’ can it sound prophetic and arousing.”

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush, said that dog-whistle politics at its best is not really about politics at all.

“The connection that Barack Obama has to the black community and the connection George Bush has to the evangelical community began long before they began running for president. It was a natural and deep connection, politics aside,” Fleischer said. “When they became candidates, it was a powerful, strong bond that created a base for both people. ... But genuine speech with conviction has tremendous power, and there always is a tendency for the base to hear the deeper message and say, ‘That was sweet. He’s talking to me.’”

Bush used phrases lifted from church hymns and the Bible to signal an affinity for like-minded Christians. The phrase “culture of life,” became part of the political lexicon when Bush used it weeks before the 2000 election — it was a less political, more evangelical version of “pro-life.”

Bush also recognized that he had to tread carefully with his evangelism — keeping his most loyal voters satisfied, even if following through on policy initiatives might be difficult.

As for Obama, an aide declined to talk about whether it was a matter of strategy.

Beyond speech, blacks have picked up certain of Obama’s mannerisms, particularly his walk, that signal authenticity. Bush had his cowboy strut, and Obama has a swagger — a rhythmic lope that says cool and confident and undeniably black. It was most noticeable on his first post-election trip to the White House, some said.

“The swagger was out of control, dragging the left foot, it was like, ‘Barack, you have got to calm down,’” said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a Princeton University professor who teaches courses in politics and black studies. “The swagger thing just got worse and worse during the campaign. ... I am sure David Axelrod told him to stop swaggering. ... I can’t imagine that anyone is telling him to do that.”

“In those circumstances, it is his blackness kind of squishing out of the edges. It’s not the same thing as deploying it like Bush did, but it has the same effect ... solidifying his base of black folks,” she said.

Yet the question remains as to how far style or even swagger can take Obama among black people, without matching policies seen as beneficial to the black community.

“The swagger goes a long way for Barack, a long way,” Harris-Lacewell said, adding that the black support will mean a boost in polls. “Black people were strong supporters of Clinton because of race. ... If it works for someone who is just symbolically for the black president, it will be very powerful for the actual black president.”

Notably, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has used phrases recently like “bling bling” to describe the stimulus package and “off the hook” to describe the new RNC outreach plans, at a time when he is trying to step up the party’s appeal to African-American voters.

Beyond stylistic gestures, Obama has made several overtures to the black press since winning in November. His first print interview as president-elect was given to Ebony and his first print interview as president was given to Black Enterprise. And at his first press conference, journalists from the black press were given prime seating — yet weren’t called on for questions.

Strategy or not, Obama’s efforts will likely continue, some said, and so far have helped.

“I think that the combination of his style and his swagger and his connection to the various currents of culture make him seem like a man who is much younger than he is,” Cobb said. “But the genius with Obama is that he is fluent in it, so it doesn’t come off as a deliberate kind of doling out of references or points. It winds up to being to his benefit politically.”

View source article (with video)

War, What Is it Good For?

Published: March 3, 2009
The nation as we’ve known it is fading before our very eyes, but we’re still pouring billions of dollars into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with missions we are still unable to define.

segunda-feira, 2 de março de 2009

Franklin Delano Obama

Published: March 1, 2009
If President Obama can move the country toward universal health coverage, even gradually, he has a chance to join the pantheon of truly great presidents.

Click here to read the article

domingo, 1 de março de 2009

Obama's Catch-22

Barry Blitt
There are several excellent columns in the Sunday NY Times today, but this one in particular is well worth posting (scroll down for links to the others):

BARACK OBAMA must savor the moment while he can. It may never get better than this.

As he stood before Congress on Tuesday night, the new president was armed with new job approval percentages in the 60s. After his speech, the numbers hit the stratosphere: CBS News found that support for his economic plans spiked from 63 percent to 80. Had more viewers hung on for the Republican response from Bobby Jindal, the unintentionally farcical governor of Louisiana, Obama might have aced a near-perfect score.

His address was riveting because it delivered on the vision he had promised a battered populace during the campaign: Government must step in boldly when free markets run amok and when national crises fester unaddressed for decades. For all the echoes of F.D.R.’s first fireside chat, he also evoked his own memorably adult speech on race. Once again he walked us through a lucid step-by-step mini-lecture on “how we arrived” at an impasse that’s threatening America’s ability to move forward.

Obama’s race speech may have saved his campaign. His first Congressional address won’t rescue the economy. But it brings him to a significant early crossroads in his presidency — one full of perils as well as great opportunities. To get the full political picture, look beyond Obama’s popularity in last week’s polls to the two groups of Americans whose approval numbers are in the toilet. There is good news for Obama in these findings, but there’s also a stark indication of the unchecked populist rage that could still overrun his ambitious plans.

The first group in national disfavor is the G.O.P. In the latest New York Times/CBS News survey, 63 percent said that Congressional Republicans opposed the stimulus package mostly for political reasons; only 17 percent felt that the Republicans should stick with their own policies rather than cooperate with Obama and the Democrats. The second group of national villains is corporate recipients of taxpayer money: only 39 percent approve of a further bailout for banks, and only 22 percent want more money going to Detroit’s Big Three.

The good news for Obama is that he needn’t worry about the Republicans. They’re committing suicide. The morning-after conservative rationalization of Jindal’s flop was that his adenoidal delivery, not his words, did him in, and that media coaching could banish his resemblance to Kenneth the Page of “30 Rock.” That’s denial. For Jindal no less than Obama, form followed content.

The Louisiana governor, alternately smug and jejune, articulated precisely the ideology — those G.O.P. “policies” in the Times/CBS poll — that Americans reject: the conviction that government is useless and has no role in an emergency. Given that the most mismanaged federal operation in modern memory was inflicted by a Republican White House on Jindal’s own state, you’d think he’d change the subject altogether.

But like all zealots, Jindal is oblivious to how nonzealots see him. Pleading “principle,” he has actually turned down some $100 million in stimulus money for Louisiana. And, as he proudly explained on “Meet the Press” last weekend, he can’t wait to be judged on “the results” of his heroic frugality.

Good luck with that. He’s rejecting aid for a state that ranks fourth in children living below the poverty line and 46th in high school graduation rates, while struggling with a projected budget shortfall of more than $1.7 billion.

If you’re baffled why the G.O.P. would thrust Jindal into prime time, the answer is desperation. Eager to update its image without changing its antediluvian (or antebellum) substance, the party is trying to lock down its white country-club blowhards. The only other nonwhite face on tap, alas, is the unguided missile Michael Steele, its new national chairman. Steele has of late been busy promising to revive his party with an “off-the-hook” hip-hop P.R. campaign, presumably with the perennially tan House leader John Boehner leading the posse.

At least the G.O.P.’s newfound racial sensitivity saved it from choosing the white Southern governor often bracketed with Jindal as a rising “star,” Mark Sanford of South Carolina. That would have been an even bigger fiasco, for Sanford is from the same state as Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the junior high school student who sat in Michelle Obama’s box on Tuesday night and whose impassioned letter to Congress was quoted by the president.

In her plea, the teenager begged for aid to her substandard rural school. Without basic tools, she poignantly wrote, she and her peers cannot “prove to the world” that they too might succeed at becoming “lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president.”

Her school is in Dillon, where the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, grew up. The school’s auditorium, now condemned, was the site of Bernanke’s high school graduation. Dillon is now so destitute that Bernanke’s middle-class childhood home was just auctioned off in a foreclosure sale. Unemployment is at 14.2 percent.

Governor Sanford’s response to such hardship — his state over all has the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate — was not merely a threat to turn down federal funds but a trip to Washington to actively lobby against the stimulus bill. He accused the three Republican senators who voted for it of sabotaging “the future of our civilization.” In his mind the future of civilization has little to do with the future of students like Ty’Sheoma Bethea.

What such G.O.P. “stars” as Sanford and Jindal have in common, besides their callous neo-Hoover ideology, are their phony efforts to portray themselves as populist heroes. Their role model is W., that brush-clearing “rancher” by way of Andover, Yale and Harvard. Listening to Jindal talk Tuesday night about his immigrant father’s inability to pay for an obstetrician, you’d never guess that at the time his father was an engineer and his mother an L.S.U. doctoral candidate in nuclear physics. Sanford’s first political ad in 2002 told of how growing up on his “family’s farm” taught him “about hard work and responsibility.” That “farm,” the Charlotte Observer reported, was a historic plantation appraised at $1.5 million in the early 1980s. From that hardscrabble background, he struggled on to an internship at Goldman Sachs.

G.O.P. pseudopopulism ran riot last week as right-wing troops rallied around their latest Joe the Plumber: Rick Santelli, the ranting CNBC foe of Obama’s mortgage rescue program. Ann Coulter proposed a Santelli run for president, and Twitterers organized national “tea parties” to fuel his taxpayers’ revolt. Even with a boost from NBC, whose networks seized a promotional opening by incessantly recycling the Santelli “controversy,” the bonfire fizzled. It did so because — as last week’s polls also revealed — the mortgage bailout, with a 60-plus percent approval rating, is nearly as popular as Obama.

The Santelli revolution’s flameout was just another confirmation that hard-core Republican radicals are now the G.O.P.’s problem, not the president’s. Rahm Emanuel has it right when he says the administration must try bipartisanship, but it doesn’t have to succeed. Voters give Obama credit for trying, and he can even claim success with many Republican governors, from Schwarzenegger to Crist. Now he can move on and let his childish adversaries fight among themselves, with Rush Limbaugh as the arbitrating babysitter. (Last week he gave Jindal a thumb’s up.)

But that good news for Obama is countered by the bad. The genuine populist rage in the country — aimed at greedy C.E.O.’s, not at the busted homeowners mocked as “losers” by Santelli — cannot be ignored or finessed. Though Obama was crystal clear on Tuesday that there can be “no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis,” it was telling that he got fuzzy when he came to what he might do about it. He waited two days to drop that shoe in his budget: a potential $750 billion in banking “asset purchases” on top of the previous $700 billion bailout.

Therein lies the Catch-22 that could bring the recovery down. As Obama said, we can’t move forward without a functioning financial system. But voters of both parties will demand that their congressmen reject another costly rescue of it. Americans still don’t understand why many Wall Street malefactors remain in place or why the administration’s dithering banking policy lacks the boldness and clarity of Obama’s rhetoric.

Nor can a further bailout be easily sold by a Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, whose lax oversight of the guilty banks while at the New York Fed remains a subject of journalistic inquiry. In a damning 5,600-word article from Bloomberg last week, he is portrayed as a second banana, a timid protégé of the old boys who got us into this disaster. Everyone testifies to Geithner’s brilliance, but Jindal, a Rhodes scholar, was similarly hyped. Like the Louisiana governor, the Treasury secretary is a weak public speaker not because he lacks brains or vocal training but because his message doesn’t fly.

Among the highlights of Obama’s triumphant speech was his own populist jeremiad about the “fancy drapes” and private jets of Wall Street. But talk is not action. Two days later, as ABC News reported, the president of taxpayer- supported Bank of America took a private jet to New York to stonewall Andrew Cuomo’s inquest into $3.6 billion of suspect bonuses.

Handing more public money to the reckless banks that invented this culture and stuck us with the wreckage is the new third rail of American politics. If Obama doesn’t forge a better plan, neither his immense popularity nor even political foes as laughable as Jindal can insulate him from getting burned.

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Live long and prosper!