I’m proud to be a BKLYN liberal, but having been away from the borough for a few years it may be a bit easier to step back and see the ideology of the area for what it is. But when I opened the Washington Post this Sunday to read Nancy Goldstein’s advice for President Obama to help him regain touch with “reality” I couldn’t stop myself from gasping, then laughing. A lot. Goldstein, one of the Posts’ pundit finalists, says President Obama should drop the line that his administration has, “stepped in and stopped the bleeding” because this is a painful reminder that he is “closed off to reality”. Goldstein’s prescription to regain touch with the truth of the economic hardship Americans are facing: a few hours at her Brooklyn food co-op.
Now I can only assume that Goldstein is referring to the Park Slope food co-op, a mere 3 blocks from where I grew up. I can say with utter confidence that this is among the last places I would recommend the President visit for a re-acquaintance with reality. The co-op may be great, but it’s about as far from a representative portrait of the American experience as you can get.
Her point is that the technology of EBT cards has made it harder to tell who is using unemployment or food benefits and that visiting the co-op would give the President a modern view of the depression era breadline that he’s closed off to in his bubble. Certainly there is a great deal about the American experience to be learned from seeing the day to day lives of Brooklynites. But I think if the President spent much time at the co-op, he’s probably more likely to come away thinking that the country is overrun with baby carriages and yoga mats than he is to pick up a message about the struggle of working families.
Certainly I take issue with Goldstein’s basic assumption that the President is out-of-touch with the hardship of American life. I would challenge her to find a speech he’s given any time over the last 3 years where he hasn’t focused heavily on the economic struggles many are facing. Including the Des Moines speech she criticizes. But that’s besides the point. Mostly I’m just struck by the irony of somebody chastising the president for being out-of-touch from the checkout aisle of the park slope food co-op. Can you think of a worse way to make that point?