I did not grow up in an atmosphere of privilege. My dad owned his own barbershop, and my mom was a seamstress in New York’s garment district. I wanted for nothing, but I knew we were solidly working class. If I and my brothers wanted to go to university—and with our parents, it was expected—we would have to work for it. There were no college funds, and no rich uncle was going to swoop in and save us. All we had were each other, our willingness to work, and our native intelligences.
Not coming from a place of privilege, I know instinctively that most things in this life for most people come at a price, the price usually being hard struggle. The world gives up very little for free. Short cuts, when they do exist, are far and few between. As I said in my post yesterday, at first that made me a practiced cynic. Fortunately I grew out of it, and embraced the rewards that come with struggle; the struggle makes the reward all that much sweeter.
But just as cynicism infects our modern politics, so does a culture of privilege.
NYT: Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, standing before the Old State Capitol where Abraham Lincoln began his political career, announced his candidacy for the White House on Saturday by presenting himself as an agent of generational change who could transform a government hobbled by cynicism, petty corruption and “a smallness of our politics.”
…. It was the latest step in a journey rich with historic possibilities and symbolism. Thousands of people packed the town square to witness it, shivering in the single-digit frostiness until Mr. Obama appeared, trailed by his wife, Michelle, and two young daughters….
…. The formal entry to the race framed a challenge that would seem daunting to even the most talented politician: whether Mr. Obama, with all his strengths and limitations, can win in a field dominated by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who brings years of experience in presidential politics, a command of policy and political history, and an extraordinarily battle-tested network of fund-raisers and advisers.
…. “If a campaign is premised on personality, then no, I don’t think you can stay fresh for a year,” he said. “But if the campaign is built from the ground up and there is a sense of ownership among people who want to see significant change, then absolutely. It can build and grow.”
Charles Pierce: …. As to the argument that the president “didn’t want this” to open up in an election year, I think he did. It’s too perfect an ending to the narrative of his “evolving position” that he’s been talking about for three years. He saw a clear injustice — the North Carolina vote — and he decided that his conscience would brook no more delay. Look at how carefully he wove his support of marriage equality into the fabric of everything else he’d done for the cause of equality since he’s been president.
He talked about how our men and women in the armed forces (you know, the gay ones who can serve openly because he ended Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell, and who can get married in Massachusetts and Hawaii because he told his Justice Department not to pursue cases under the Defense of Marriage Act) shouldn’t be denied a right that we all have — to marry — just because they’ve left the killing fields.
…. I think both the Biden and Duncan interviews were long-range reconnaissance, and I think he got the information he wanted. I have my differences with this president, god knows, but this is one thing of which I am certain: He does absolutely nothing by accident. He has spent his entire life learning how to take cautious, considered steps. He’s damned good at it by now.
…. All of which is not to diminish what an authentic act of political courage this actually is. The dingbats will scream and fling their poo to all points of the compass …. even I can’t be cynical enough to deny that most of the reasons that the president said what he did today he said because he is a child of the civil-rights movement, someone whose fundamental ethics and whose most basic view of this country were formed as a result of the crucible through which the country passed in those years, and I believe he saw that denying gay couples the right to marriage when they contribute so much to so many areas of society was simply the right thing to do.
….. we all had a good laugh at his “evolving position on it,” but don’t we want our presidents to be thoughtful, to be open to new data and new perpectives, and new ways of thinking about things? …..I can tell you that, in my lifetime, I have had my fill of rigid presidents.
….a better and fairer country awaits ….I’m prouder to be driving through this country than I was this morning, that’s for sure.
Liberal Librarian: President Obama has evolved to embrace everyone’s basic human right to marry the person they love. Mitt Romney has devolved from a moderate Republican to a puppet of the Koch Bros and the Tea Party. Enough said.
See ThinkProgress for more, these are just fantastic – thank you DesertFlower
President Obama arrives at the White House from a summit with leaders from the Americas in Colombia, early Monday, April 16
Buzzfeed: Former Governor Mitt Romney is already offering top donors access to a special “Presidential Inaugural retreat,” planned on the assumption that he will be elected president this November.
The offer, in a fundraising email circulated by a top Georgia supporter to fellow Republicans and obtained by BuzzFeed, is one of several goodies offered to those who contribute more than $50,000 to the joint fundraising committee known as “Romney Victory”….
Those donors will be named “Founding Members” of Romney Victory and invited to a California retreat with Romney and offered “yet to be determined access at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August.”
They will also “have preferred status at the first Presidential Inaugural retreat,” the email says.
A visitor pretends to talk on a phone alongside a wax figure of US President Barack Obama on the opening day of the new Madame Tussauds exhibition in Sydney on April 16
ET: The rivalry continues! First Lady Michelle Obama and Ellen DeGeneres continued their playful trash talking after their highly publicized push-up contest.
….. Their lighthearted back-and-forth took place via satellite, as the First Lady sat in an audience of 600 military families and their daughters in Jacksonville, Florida while Ellen reached them from her studio in Burbank, California.
…. You can see their entire exchange on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Monday, April 16. Check your local listings.
….. As the First Lady put it, she’s “Eeyore,” and he’s “Mr. Happy Guy, seeing the glass half full.” “I’m like regular people. It’s like – we’re losing! The sky is falling! Oh no!” she said. “And he’s like, just calm down.”
First lady Michelle Obama reaches for a hand as she arrives for physical activity with kids at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida, Feb. 11
AP: Add another dance move to Michelle Obama’s repertoire. This one has to do with a certain celebrity platypus. The first lady gave “the platypus walk” a try on Saturday during a visit to Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The dance was inspired by Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb” show, whose characters include Perry the Platypus. It required some flapping of flippers, or arms if you’re human, shuffling left and right and yanking limbs up and down, all to a pulsing rock beat.
Mrs. Obama did the dance at an event marking the second anniversary of her “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity.
…. with Perry the Platypus from the children’s TV show “Phineas and Ferb”
Thirty years after his father massacred tens of thousands of innocent Syrian men, women, and children in Hama, Bashar al-Assad has demonstrated a similar disdain for human life and dignity. Yesterday the Syrian government murdered hundreds of Syrian citizens, including women and children, in Homs through shelling and other indiscriminate violence, and Syrian forces continue to prevent hundreds of injured civilians from seeking medical help. These brutal killings take place at a time when so many Syrians are also marking a deeply meaningful day for their faith. I strongly condemn the Syrian government’s unspeakable assault against the people of Homs and I offer my deepest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones. Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now. He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately……
Ezra Klein: The strangest thing about January’s jobs report is that it’s pretty much all good. The headline numbers are great, of course: payrolls are up by 243,000 jobs. Unemployment is down to 8.3 percent. But the inside numbers are good, too.
…. The report also deals at least a slight blow to the case for economic pessimism. For months, forecasters have been telling us that though the end of 2011 was strong for the economy, the data showed the beginning of 2012 would be weak. That could still prove true. But we’re not seeing a slowdown in January’s payrolls. Just the opposite, actually.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t some areas of concern…..
The bottom line is that this isn’t just a good jobs report. It’s a recovery jobs report. It’s showing the sort of numbers that win elections. As my colleague Neil Irwin tweeted, “That sound you hear is champagne corks in the West Wing.”