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Tuesday: Liberal Great Expectations

Jesse Jackson Sr. wrote a somewhat cryptic column in the Chicago Sun-Times today called Who Will Speak for America’s Poor?.  He gems nicely with the sentiments of Paul Krugman, who yesterday wrote in Fifty Herbert Hoovers, that one of the best ways of stimulating the economy is to start at the state level and keep former state workers from slipping into poverty.  If you get the state to keep employment up with new infrastructure projects, there will be money going to other businesses and tax revenue as well.

Jackson’s column is a bit sly.  Does anyone recall the controversy that erupted during the primaries when Hillary said that Martin Luther King’s dream of Civil Right’s legislation wasn’t enough and that President Johnson was needed to make the dream possible?  Hoo-buy, she might as well have said she was going to go bleach her sheets and chop a cross down.  Hillary never minces words when it comes to inflammatory rhetoric.  She goes right for the jugular, she does.  I know how angry *I* was when she turned out to be the grandmaster of her KKK cell.

That’s why I’m a bit puzzled by Jackson today.  It seems like he might actually be, um, *agreeing* with her but this time he is talking about the war on poverty:

When Barack Obama takes office, he will usher in the greatest period of reform in America since Lyndon Johnson in 1965-66. In a few extraordinary months, Johnson pushed through the Voting Rights Act, immigration reform and Medicare, and launched the War on Poverty. That effort was an early casualty of the war in Vietnam, but by the end of Johnson’s presidency poverty had been dramatically reduced.

Yet Johnson is seldom invoked as a great president. In part that is because his administration was itself a casualty of the Vietnam War. In part that is because his reforms sparked a reaction, with conservatives running against affirmative action, crime and welfare, profiting from the race-baiting politics of division. By the end of the Reagan era, poverty was no longer fit for political debate. Now politicians in both parties compete to appeal to the middle class and ignore the poor.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last campaign was the poor people’s campaign. He wanted to bring poor people from across the country, across racial and religious divides, to Washington to demand action. He was taken from us in Memphis, helping low-paid sanitation workers to organize, before his plans could be completed.

Now 40 years later, Obama will be inaugurated one day after the holiday celebrating’s King’s birth and life.

He will come with a mandate to get the economy moving, to put people back to work. And across the country, the weakest and most vulnerable Americans will be hoping that he takes up LBJ’s war on poverty, and King’s poor people’s campaign.

Yikes!  It sounds like Jackson is expecting Obama to act like a liberal.  Either that or Jesse Jackson has joined the ranks of the racists.  That almost doesn’t seem possible except that the same thing happened to Hillary.

Anyway, here is another one of those pre-post-partisan pols who isn’t grasping the whole hopey-changey message wherein Barack Obama gets to say he likes Reagan while he’s channeling Lincoln and protecting the people who profited from Bush.  Get with the program, Jesse.  He’s new!  He’s fresh!  Just because he’ll have the wind at his back, nearly a filibuster proof majority and mobs of angry citizens ready to scalp the Republicans who oppose him doesn’t mean Obama has to act like a liberal, Keynesian, anti-poverty, LBJ, FDR type of Democrat.  Heck, he didn’t even campaign as a Democrat most of the time.  Besides, where would be the payoff for the Whole Foods types?

Obama and his bloggy droogs have been very busy lowering expectations and here Jesse Jackson is sticking a jack under the bus.  He’s saying that now is the time for Barack Obama to fulfill Martin Luther King’s dream and Obama, the great African-American change agent, won’t have any excuses.

Damn him and his rainbow ponies.

On another note: The Confluence has been nominated as a finalist for Best Liberal Weblog for the 2008 WeblogAwards.  I’d like to thank everyone who nominated us.  It is truly an honor to be included on the list with other wonderful bloggers.  It’s also our privilege to be representing the rest of the PUMA community.  We wouldn’t be here without you.

I’d like to thank the posters who make it possible with quality content and witty prose.  The Confluence is now my favorite place on the blog.  I never know what to expect but I know it will be good.  Thanks especially to:

RonKSeattle, Katiebird, BostonBoomer, LadyBoomerNYC, Madamab, GaryinChapelHill, Mawminc, Shtuey, myiq2xu, Regency, Stateofdisbelief, Dakinikat, SM77, HeidiLipotpourri, Taggles and all of the other posters who have made this year such a success.

Thanks also to our friends who have featured us on their pages, murphy at pumapac, Alegre, Anglachel, Correntewire, Cannonfire, Heidi Li’s Potpourri, edgeoforever to name a few.  And thanks to the commenters who have created a vibrant ongoing cocktail party with humor, intelligence and biting snarkasm.

It’s hard to believe that we aren’t even a year old yet.  We’ve come a long way, baby!

Now, let’s beat the pants off of Josh Marshall.