Dukaki — n., pl.; (1) progressive politicians vaporized at the polls for campaigns in which they chose not to tell voters what they stand for; (2) Candidates who go out with no bang, only whimpers.
We start this discussion with a fact: The stimulus bill worked. USA Today veritably screamed it in an editorial last week. An independent panel of economists, including those on retainer with Republicans, said as much.
Democrats, have you said as much? I can't hear you.
True, what Washington and the Obama administration have accomplished has not restored the nation to the rosy-cheeked complexion it had before two wars waged on credit, the wages of uncontrolled funny money in lending, and whatever else "running government as a business" wrought when we contracted it to Bush-Cheney Corp.
But, tell me this: Which phrase have you heard more often:
(1) Obama's bloated stimulus program failed;
(2) The stimulus bill created 2.7 million jobs and saved millions more.
No contest. You've heard claim No. 1 more often, by multiples of, maybe, 1,000 — though it's a lie.
Indeed, what the president and a Democratic majority in Congress did was prevent a second Great Depression. So says Mark Zandi, one of John McCain's own go-to men on economic policy.
That's not all. The stimulus bill's heavy focus on state aid regarding public necessities like education prevented countless layoffs in school districts and state agencies that serve us every day.
The daring effort to rescue automakers kept 1 million Americans working.
Sure, you can pick at it any way you want: It was indiscriminate spending. It was too timid. Indeed, Nobel economist Paul Krugman continues to shout his face blue saying the latter.
Whatever the case, here's what Zandi and others said: Without the sum of the efforts, including the rescue of banks, our unemployment rate would be 16 percent instead of where it is today, hovering at 10 percent.
Every American ought to know this, that the dollars borrowed this time went to provide jobs for us and our needs, rather than to, say rebuild bridges and water systems our bombs blew up in elective warfare.
Every American ought know how Obama and the Democrats directed an astonishing chunk of the stimulus outlay — $94 billion — to alternative energy and energy conservation in ways that will be paying off long after this Great Recession is consigned to history books.
Back during the Great Depression, federal dollars went to make-work projects on such niceties as improving national parks. Good for us. Better for us: In this recession, public dollars went to match private investment — $2 from investors for every dollar we spent, for instance, in cleaner energy and more energy-efficient structures, with a massive retrofit of federal offices.
In the latest Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson has a checklist of the Obama administration's accomplishments, and comments from historians like Doris Kearns Goodwin and Douglas Brinkley. They say the obvious: In the midst of economic times that rarely have been tougher, Obama has put more progressive "notches on his belt" — in Goodwin's words — than anyone since Lyndon Johnson.
Who is proclaiming this success? Democrats seeking re-election? Progressives? The silence is suffocating.
One person admittedly late to the game is President Obama himself. However, on his trips to several states last week to boost the efforts of fellow Democrats, he sounded the charge that progressives should heed and that a lot — a majority — of Americans want to hear. He sounded like a fighter.
Guess what? From that short, vigorous effort, the most recent Newsweek poll shows Obama's favorability jumping 6 points, up to 54 percent. You know, sometimes it pays to show some passion. Progressive candidates: Are you fighters? Or are you Dukaki?
For goodness sakes, people. Stand up for what you believe in, and speak out against the din that threatens to return this nation to the days when oil executives wrote environmental laws and Enron was the nation's business model.
Yes, candidates, I'm talking to you. Then again, you voters — you who have memories longer than a 30-second attack ad — you've been sitting on your tongues, too.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.