The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 8, 2014

How 'hope' became Obama's fight against cynicism

WASHINGTON (AP) — To hear President Barack Obama describe it, there's a creeping case of cynicism setting in across the country, leading Americans to suspect that not only is Washington broken, it's beyond fixing.

If that line of thinking continues, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy with dire long-term ramifications, Obama says. If compromise-minded Americans get so frustrated they just tune out, lawmakers will feel even less pressure to work together for the good of the country.

With a mix of alarm and dismay, Obama has started musing about the dangers of cynicism in nearly every major public appearance. The cautionary note has showed up in speeches to students and civil rights groups, at Democratic fundraisers — even in his meeting with Pope Francis.

It's a sharp change in tone from the days when then-candidate Obama rallied millions to his side with ambitious aspirations about hope and change.

"It's easy to be cynical. In fact, these days it's kind of trendy," Obama told a crowd of thousands recently in Minneapolis. Cynicism may masquerade as wisdom, he said, but it can't liberate a continent, invent the Internet or send a man to the moon. "Cynicism is a choice, and hope is a better choice."

But in Obama's stagnant second term, those inclined to cynicism haven't had to look far.

With Washington at a near-standstill politically, both parties have essentially written off prospects for any major legislation for the remainder of Obama's presidency. Obama' attempts to circumvent Congress to get things done have drawn rebukes from the Supreme Court and a threatened lawsuit from the House, casting a bright light on the state of Washington dysfunction.

"There were at least times in 2011, 2012 when we had big battles over things, but they usually wound up with something getting done," Obama's senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, said in an interview. Not anymore, he said. He blamed the poisonous atmosphere on six years of a concerted GOP strategy to breed cynicism for political advantage.

Text Only
AP National
  • Obama urges immediate access to Ukraine crash site WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sternly called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to compel Kremlin-backed separatists to stop hampering the probe at the Ukraine site of a downed passenger jet and allow international investigators unfettere

    July 22, 2014

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel JERUSALEM (AP) — The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel. Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the pri

    July 22, 2014

  • 2008 law unexpectedly at center of border debate WASHINGTON (AP) — A 2008 law to address human trafficking is at the center of the debate over the immigration crisis at the nation's Southern border. The law was passed at a time when fewer than 10,000 unaccompanied minors showed up each year at the

    July 22, 2014

  • Lawmakers face long to-do list, uncertain success WASHINGTON (AP) — A gridlocked Congress failed to do the big things: overhauling the nation's immigration system, reforming the loophole-cluttered tax code and stiffening background checks on gun buyers. Now it's time to see whether it can just do th

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014

  • Working-class whites lose voting dominance in Ohio COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For the first time, working-class whites make up less than half of Ohio's eligible voters, part of a demographic shift in a key Midwestern swing state that is pushing political parties to widen their appeal beyond the once-domin

    July 22, 2014

  • Obama urges immediate access to Ukraine crash site WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sternly called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to compel Kremlin-backed separatists to stop hampering the probe at the Ukraine site of a downed passenger jet and allow international investigators unfettere

    July 21, 2014

  • US outlines case against Russia on downed plane WASHINGTON (AP) — Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site. "A buildup of

    July 21, 2014

  • Florida town stunned by news of police KKK ties FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. (AP) — Ann Hunnewell and her central Florida police officer husband knelt in the living room of a fellow officer's home, with pillow cases as makeshift hoods over their heads. A few words were spoken and they, along with a half-d

    July 21, 2014

  • Kerry returns to Mideast to push for cease-fire WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is making a renewed push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas with another trip to the Middle East after the civilian death toll in the conflict sharply escalated over the weekend. Kerry left

    July 21, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National