[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana][FONT=Verdana]“A President Who Doesn't Even Try[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]Is Obama Kowtowing to the Right? Or Is He One of Them?[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]by Ted Rall[/FONT]
[/FONT][/FONT][FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]The President's progressive critics blame him for continuing and expanding upon his Republican predecessor's policies. His supporters point to the obstructionist, Republican-controlled Congress. What can Obama do? He's being stymied at every turn.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]The first problem with the it's-the-GOP's-fault defense is that it asks voters to suffer short-term memory loss. In 2009, you probably recall, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. By a sizeable majority. They even had a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate. His approval ratings were through the roof; even many Republicans who had voted against him took a liking to him. The media, in his pocket, wondered aloud whether the Republican Party could ever recover. "Rarely, if ever, has a President entered office with so much political wind at his back," Tim Carney wrote for the Evans-Novak Political Report shortly after the inauguration.”[/FONT][/FONT]
This is somewhere between highly misleading, and factually wrong. Yes, the Democrats technically achieved a barely filibuster-proof majority, in 2009. What is Left out is that many of those Democratic wins were achieved by running Democrats who were well to the Right of the party, the only kind of Democrats who could win in those areas. They sacrificed ideological purity for numerical supremacy. The problem is that being on the Right end of their party, most of these ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats didn’t support a lot of the more progressive pieces of legislation, so, in truth, Obama didn’t really have a filibuster-proof majority. All it took was for just one of the aforementioned ‘Blue Dogs’ to vote the other way, and any initiative was dead in the water. This only underscores the importance of reforming the filibuster rules because it’s an enormous impediment to enacting any kind of progressive legislation.
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“If Obama had wanted to pursue a progressive agenda—banning foreclosures, jailing bankers, closing Guantánamo, stopping the wars, pushing for the public option he promised in his healthcare plan—he could have. He had ample political capital, yet chose not to spend it.”[/FONT][/FONT]
He might have been able to do some of those things, but he probably could not have done all of those things.
[FONT=Tahoma][FONT=Arial][FONT=Verdana]“Now that Congress is controlled by a Republican Party in thrall to its radical-right Tea Party faction, it is indeed true that Obama can't get routine judicial appointments approved, much less navigate the passage of legislation.”[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“Oh-so-conveniently, Obama has turned into a liberal-come-lately. Where was his proposed Buffett Rule (which would require millionaires with huge investment income to pay the same percentage rate as middle-class families) in 2009, when it might have stood a chance of passage?”[/FONT][/FONT]
Well, for starters, the ‘Buffet Rule’ was inspired by a statement Warren Buffet made in 2011, so without a time machine….
Again; this underscores the importance of fixing the filibuster, because otherwise anything that gets less than 60 votes is dead in the water.
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“Team Obama's attempt to shore up his liberal base also falls short on the facts. Progressives were shocked by the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling, along party lines, that legalized strip-searches and body cavity rapes by police and private security firms who detain people suspected of any crime, even minor traffic infractions.”[/FONT][/FONT]
By the author’s own admission, it was a 5-4 ruling, (As was Citizens United.) ergo; it barely passed. If more voters had shown up for Kerry in 2004, or for Gore in 2000, it’s almost certain that these decisions would have gone the other way.
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“Responding to fall 2011 polls that indicated softening support among the younger and more liberal voters who form the Democratic base, Obama's reelection strategists began rolling out speeches inflected with Occupy-inspired rhetoric about class warfare and trying to make sure all Americans "get a fair shot." But that's all it is: talk. And small talk at that.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]Instead of introducing major legislation, the White House plans to spend 2012 issuing presidential orders about symbolic, minor issues.”[/FONT][/FONT]
That’s mostly accurate.
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“Repeating Clinton-era triangulation and micro-mini issues doesn't look like a smart reelection strategy. The Associated Press reported: "Obama's election year retreat from legislative fights means this term will end without significant progress on two of his 2008 campaign promises: comprehensive immigration reform and closing the military prison for terrorist suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Piecemeal presidential directives are unlikely to make a sizeable dent in the nation's 8.6 percent unemployment rate or lead to significant improvements in the economy, the top concern for many voters and the issue on which Republican candidates are most likely to criticize Obama. In focusing on small-bore executive actions rather than ambitious legislation, the president risks appearing to be putting election-year strategy ahead of economic action at a time when millions of Americans are still out of work.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]Of course, Obama may prevail. Romney is an extraordinarily weak opponent.”[/FONT][/FONT]
That’s all pretty solid. I don’t think Obama is going to see anything near the 2008 turnout. Furthermore; his administrations’ inability to enact real reforms, or, worse yet, in some cases, failing to even pursue meaningful reforms will cost him, dearly, in the general election. However; he is the incumbent, and, as the author points out, Romney is an especially weak opponent. I suspect Obama will be reelected by a slim margin.
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“For progressives and leftists, however, the main point is that Obama never tries to move the mainstream of ideological discourse to the left.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]Obama has been mostly silent on the biggest issue of our time, income inequality and the rapid growth of the American underclass. He hasn't said much about the environment or climate change, the most serious problem we face—and one for which the U.S. bears a disproportionate share of the blame. Even on issues where he was blocked by Congress, such as when Republicans prohibited the use of public funds to transport Gitmo detainees to the U.S. for trials, he zipped his lips.”[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“Obama has mostly shunned the time-honored strategy of trapping your opposition by forcing them vote against your popular ideas.”[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]For the most part, that’s true, with some exceptions. For example; the Buffet rule is wildly popular among Americans, but was killed by the Republicans, because it only got something like 54 votes. However; this doesn’t seem to have cost them anything, even though, according to statistics, something like 53% of registered Republicans support it.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][FONT=Verdana]“In 2009, for example, it would have been smarter politics—and better governance—to push for real socialized medicine, or at least ObamaCare with the public option he promised. He would either have wound up with a dazzling triumph, or a glorious defeat.”[/FONT][/FONT]
I’m not sure the defeat would have been particularly ‘glorious.’ While I certainly agree that the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act didn’t go nearly far enough, and the president was negligent in not pushing for a strong public option, let’s not forget that it wasn’t a total loss. For example;
Insurers can no longer refuse coverage or randomly drop people under the aegies of a ‘Pre-Existing Condition.’
Health insurers can’t charge different rates based on gender, or medical history.
Medicaid was expanded to cover individuals up to 33% above the official poverty level.
Last but not least subsidies were provided to help some Americans who could not afford insurance.
It’s not perfect, it’s not even great, but it was an improvement, especially for the working class. So, let’s just not lose sight of that.
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“Liberals don't blame Obama for not winning. They blame him for not trying. “[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]It’s not just the Liberals who blame him for it.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]“When he does crazy things like authorizing the assassinations of U.S. citizens without trial, progressives have to ask themselves: Is this guy kowtowing to the Right? Or is he one of them?”[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]I think Obama is more of a Centrist Democrat. Furthermore his administration has repeatedly been very tough on the Left wing of their base, and their party. I think Barack Obama is a product of his environment. He’s the product of an ivy-league education, which means he’s been thoroughly indoctrinated.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia][FONT=Verdana]In summation, it bears mentioning that none of these problems would be improved by allowing the Republicans to dominate the Senate, and the White House, and, more broadly, that continuing to ignore the political process is costly, and counterproductive.[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]Economic Left/Right: -7.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.13[/FONT]
"Kick over the wall 'cause government's to fall,
How can you refuse it?,
Let fury have the hour, anger can be power,
D'you know that you can use it?"-The Clash, "Clampdown"