The Dilemma of the Disenchanted Progressive – Part 2

by on November 10, 2009 · 20 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Media, Organizing, Popular, War and Peace

Bogey at table

The convergence of historic events

History is converging events for us very quickly: the first – the anniversary of the election of Barack Obama as President; the second – the rise of a reactionary and racist mass movement in this country; third – the passage by the House of what some call an “historic” health care reform package and the beginning of discussion on the Senate  version; and fourth, we’re on the eve of the continuation and even expansion of the war in Afghanistan – as Obama contemplates just how many thousands of Americans he will be sending soon to the “graveyard of empires”.

They are all related, of course,  – the reform of health care is directly linked to Obama’s selection by the American electorate on November 4th, a year ago.  Congress in its various houses wouldn’t be having such a debate – no matter what the final version of the bill looks like – if Obama hadn’t been elected.

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Equating the Holocaust with Obama health care, before the Capitol, Nov.5, 2009.

Meanwhile, outside the Halls of Congress – literally – several thousand Tea Party anti-reform activists demonstrated last November 5th, protesting the passage of the health care bill.  “Kill the bill! Kill the bill!” the crowds chanted – just days ago, as John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House, stood before them and declared that the health care bill is “the greatest threat to freedom that I have seen.”

“The greatest threat to freedom” that he has ever seen.  The GOP leader of the House of Representatives. A health care reform bill.

To top it all off,  it appears that President Obama is about to order an increase in US troops for Afghanistan – not the 40,000 that the top soldier  – General Stanley McChrystal – wanted – but perhaps over 30,000.

The Moment of the Crystallized Dilemma

With eerie similarities between JFK wrestling with Vietnam while propping up the corrupt and unpopular Ngo Dinh Diem regime – and Obama wrestling with Afghanistan while propping up the corrupt and unpopular Hamid Karzai regime, progressives and liberals are watching history cruelly forcing a lesson upon us – one we as a nation should have learned long ago.

For progressives, then, this moment perfectly crystallizes  our historic quandary : the dilemma of the disenchanted progressive.

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In Part 1, I presented what I see as this dilemma for disenchanted progressives: as people on the political left we are disenchanted about the tempo and types of changes that President Obama has ushered in to date.  The House just passed the health care reform bill – barely – and the more conservative Senate now takes it on. Yet, even if it passes, we have mighty criticisms of it, the gutting of any federal funds for choice, and too many compromises made to get blue dog Democratic support – … but then it would not have passed without their support. It WAS a close vote in the House.

One year after the election of the guy we voted for, many progressives and liberal-minded people are bemoaning the lack of progress on the very issues we believed were important – the very promises that Barack Obama made on the campaign trail – now appear unfulfilled.

At the same time, we are upset at the politicization by the right of every little issue that comes along.  I wrote Part 1 in the context of the controversy the extremists of the right-wing made over Obama’s school speech that he delivered back on September 8th.

The polarization outlined in my first part has continued unabated. The right was able to successfully rip ACORN. The extremists now have a couple of mass demonstrations in Washington under their belts – including the rather large DC protest (see here) on September 12th. With all of this, we can say that these right-wing activists and their leaders  represent a new definitive force on the current American political landscape,  a force that is one of a budding mass movement.  A reactionary and racist movement that feels happy to include very derogatory and racist signs of the President.

anti-obama sign healthref

It is a racist, even anti-Semitic movement and force. It  is definitely anti-Constitutional and anti-democratic – as a good part of it does not accept Obama’s election.   It does not accept the 2008 election. It does not accept history. Indeed, it is a truly home-grown reactionary movement.  And Barack Obama is in their sights, figuratively and literally.

We as progressives are deeply worried about what this budding reactionary movement – the Tea Party people and their friends –  means for the country.  Funded by the very rich, by large oil company owners, by insurance companies, fueled on racism and anything to do with Obama, “socialism”, or government-run health care, and fanned by a corporate media – this reactionary movement has a dark side that must be identified and called for what it is: it is a mass movement and home-grown variant of an American brand of fascism.

There I said it. Fascism – this is not the same term flung around by the righties, as they equate marxism, communism, socialism, all the “isms” with all the others.

It is a term I do not use lightly and will explain.

This is what’s new on our nation’s political landscape. This is why the moment is so tantalizing and excruciating frustrating –  it is the moment that certainly crystallizes this dilemma for us.

This is a personal issue

The dilemma of the disenchanted progressive is a very personal question and issue. It has been for me.  It took me several false starts before I  was able to sit down and complete this second part.  So much was occurring and has occurred since I started writing this that I couldn’t keep up with the onslaught and the accompanying editing.

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The Obama campaign in Denver, October 2008.

The guy that I voted for – that  many of us voted for – last November, Barack Obama, is under attack by the ugly underside of America.  The guy – who, as a candidate at first didn’t seem like he had a chance during the campaign because he was African-American – but who bested all his Democratic opponents, Clinton, Edwards, in the seemingly endless primaries, and then who moved on to defeat McCain…. McCain – remember? He wanted to win in Iraq even if it took 100 years.

Obama’s election overturned history. And now this guy, likable, popular, charismatic, with a golden tongue, is under attack himself – for being Black, for being “socialist” (I know, I know – he’s not), for raising liberal issues, for talking about health care reform, for exercising government intervention into the economy, for including left-wing and progressive ideas and activists in his administration.

But for the extremists, it’s as if the Presidential campaign never ended.  Those who can’t accept Barack Obama as President are not moving on.

Jimmie Carter has called them racists.  We agree. The Birthers, the screamers at the town hall meetings, the guys with guns, people who hold up signs of the white face “Joker”, or “Deport Obama”, the person who placed the poll of whether Obama should be assassinated on Facebook – until it was taken down – remember all of this?

Yet at this very same moment, the guy who we voted for, the guy who won, hasn’t done enough to reverse the worst of the Bush’s extremes and abuses, has drones attacking hamlets in Pakistan, and he is about to send even more troops to Afghanistan.  How can we stand to support him?!

This is indeed painful.

The moment calls for a deep political maturity.  A maturity that tries to grasp the lessons of history at the same time being hopeful that the American experience will end up with a genuine democracy and not an empire.  A maturity that was honed by the Vietnam conflict, Kent State, the Watergate crisis, the Reagan reaction …

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Why it all matters

Context. What with McCain’s defeat at the polls, the Republican Party has fallen apart, and there is a virtual civil war going on right now within it.  And it looks like the Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks are taking it over.   Last week’s demonstration of what seemed like a gathering of thousands of wing-nuts  was heartily endorsed by mainstream GOP leaders.  This is what is new. Mainstream Republican leaders are jumping over themselves in trying to play to these extremists.

This could lead to a temporary benefit for the Democrats – see what happened in the New York 23rd District recently – where the extremists forced the moderate Republican out of the race – only to be defeated by a Democrat in a Congressional district that has not been Democratic since the Civil War.

Yet the dangers are great – if the extremists take over the GOP – they gain incredible resources and credibility.

All the while, however, voters are distancing themselves from the Republican label. Only 20% in recent polls describe themselves as Republicans.

But the Dick Armeys and the organizations like FreedomWatch continue to mobilize.  The disruptions at last summer’s town hall meetings, the gun-toters, the so-called outrage against “czars”, the signs depicting Obama as Hitler will not be going away.

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Anti-Obama signs, Vista town hall meeting with Darrel Issa.

What kind of extremist movement is it?

This movement of extremists is a racist one. The open, publicly-displayed white-faced Jokerist Obama photos, other racist signs, slogans and images demonstrate that racism is acceptable in America once again. An openly racist movement, despite the denials, is now on our landscape – and is condoned by the corporate media that fuels their anger.  The Birthers, the people who won’t accept a Black man as president, who want to deport him – are the soldiers of this openly racist movement.

Four days after the right mobilized in DC back in September, former President Jimmie Carter called the extremist gathering  a racist movement.   Here is part of what the 85 year old former executive from Georgia said in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams:

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American. I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans.

“And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

It’s once again a rebirth of the “angry white man” but now with angry white women.  They hearken back to an America that was dominated by white supremacy.  The old days when Negroes and women knew their place.

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Cong. Darrell Issa.

And it is a mass movement. Even though fueled and funded by corporate higher-ups – those who bought the buses that brought thousands to Washington – there were still thousands in DC. They’re here in San Diego County – they go to Congressman Darrel Issa’s town hall meetings and listen to reactionary local radiohead Rick Roberts.

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Spring Valley town hall meeting, August 2009.

By its nature, this reactionary mass movement is authoritarian. The authoritarians, wanting to unconstitutionally reverse the 2008 election,  use aggressive tactics – shouting down Congressional reps, disrupting town hall meetings so no one can say anything, bullying people into silence. There’s the underlying threat of violence and aggression with the acceptance of the gun toters, the carrying of rifles near Obama and to some of those town hall meetings,  the acceptance of some activists as “domestic terrorists”, the poll on facebook whether the President should be assassinated, the huge increase in threats against Obama that the Secret Service has to deal with.

It is also a movement of ignorance.  Demonstrators with signs that equate Obama as a “socialist” and “fascist”, with “czars” and “marxist” etc. Not being able to distinguish these “isms” is quiet laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. The huge stink about “czars” – where earlier presidents had many more of them than Obama – is incredulous but real.  The insensible fear of a “government take-over of health care” while ignoring the nature of Medicare and veterans’ health care.  Those who actually believe Obama was not born in Hawaii or that he is a Muslim.

It is a movement of manipulation and misrepresentation.  Its leaders knowingly spouted lies about “death panels” and “killing grandma” – all a lethal form of manipulating the masses.  Republican Congressional leaders calling the health care reform bill “the greatest threat to freedom” is comically ridiculous if it wasn’t coming from the mouths of opposition leaders.

Importantly, the corporate sponsorship of this mass extremist movement shows how a sector of capitalism is actively involved in stirring up this reactionary muddle and attempting to manipulate our political reality.  The financial links between the rank and file extremists and the very wealthy have been completely documented.

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Couple this with FOX News and the Murdock-controlled huge corporate media empire that incites this mass reactionary movement – giving them more air time than their numbers represent – you can see how this spells out how deep the problems are.  Murdock has agreed with Glenn Beck who called Obama a “racist.”  Just recently, in the face of actual evidence that it happened, Murdock denied that one of his people compared Obama with Stalin.

All of this on top of the sour economy – worst since the Depression – and we have a very dangerous context.

Put it all together – the racism, the authoritarianism, the aggressiveness and threats of violence, the bullying, the ignorance, the manipulation, the outright deception, the corporate links and funding and media support – and we have something that is – by definition – a movement of American fascism.

A fascist movement.  I’m sorry if the term upsets you or causes you to immediately reject this analysis.  It is true that the right-wing extremists batter the term about, although they combine it with “socialism” and “marxism”, and it is even true the left has used it every time something disagreeable arises.

But it is here. We have a fascist movement in this country right now. Elements of it are fighting for the soul of the Republican Party.  But they are all aiming at Obama and what he stands for and what he has stood for.  They are attacking Obama for many of our own issues. How ironic is that? Here we are thinking about distancing ourselves from him, at the same moment the right is mobilizing against him because they think he is one of us.

Where is all of this going?

Where will all this polarization go? If the GOP is taken over by extremists, it will forever change this country. It will become a very dangerous place to be.

If the convergence of these forces occurs we’re in very deep trouble: one, a major political party and its apparatus; two, a mass grass-roots movement energized by racism;  and three, a deeply funded corporate connection to the most retrograde sector of American business. If these converge – and they are quickly moving in that direction – we will be staring fascism straight in the face.  And if allowed, it will destroy America.

That is why progressives need to defend Obama from these attacks by the extremists. We cannot and will not allow the reactionaries and fascists to reverse a presidential election.   At this point, it is we, the progressives, who now stand for Constitutional government;  it is we who must stand for the election of 2008, and need to guard this “victory”.

Despite his faults, his weaknesses, Obama needs to be defended and shown that we – the progressives – are his allies. It is crucial when facing fascism that those who oppose it collude and coalesce with others who stand to lose under this reaction, to build coalitions and networks.  If the extreme right can defeat Obama, guess who’s next? Obama stands between us and the Glenn Becks, the Randall Terrys, the authoritarians, the guys with guns.

One year after his election, it is not for us to abandon the first African-American President.  It will not be us – the progressives of this country – to kick Obama under the bus, just as the far-right reaches a new zenith in their abilities to mobilize against him.  His reforms are not fast and furious enough, but then he’s facing the worst financial crisis in 80 years, he’s having to deal with two and half wars (Pakistan), and revolts in his own party.

His historic election is way too close to be forgotten by us.  The hope he has given us is way too fresh to be denied. It is not time for progressives to hide from the very real threat that a fascist American movement makes.  Now is the time to ensure that Obama survives and sees our numbers surrounding him.  When he sees our strength holding off the reaction, he will be all the more ready to listen to us.

How we do that and criticize his policies – around Afghanistan – for instance – is our challenge.  How we defend Obama from the right while showing him that he is wrong on certain issues is what we have to do.  How we can save America and its democracy while losing the empire is part of this challenge as well. And from the depths of our maturity we will figure this out.

My third part will be why this is all important for Ocean Beach.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Dave Gilbert November 10, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Nice work Frank and plenty of food for thought too.

Not to over simplify the situation(s), and speaking as an Independent/Moderate, I can only state that that opposite of Love isn’t Hate, but rather Fear.

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avatar story November 12, 2009 at 6:52 am

actually the opposite of love is indifference.

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avatar Dave Gilbert November 12, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Maybe that’s true in a one on one relationship, but the anti Obama people have fear in their hearts rather than indifference.

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avatar lane tobias November 11, 2009 at 12:05 am

“His historic election is way too close to be forgotten by us. The hope he has given us is way too fresh to be denied. It is not time for progressives to hide from the very real threat that a fascist American movement makes. Now is the time to ensure that Obama survives and sees our numbers surrounding him. When he sees our strength holding off the reaction, he will be all the more ready to listen to us.”

This really stayed….to see the Obama we as a nation elected, we have to prove our own mettle and give this rising movement a dose of our own political energy. The picture at the top where a protester comparing health care reform to Nazi genocide was sickening and extremely offensive. They have no boundaries.

Really great piece Frank.

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avatar annagrace November 11, 2009 at 1:01 am

Frank- I have been waiting for Part II. You didn’t let us down. This piece comes at the right time, when many of us have been trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Your analysis is right on.

At this moment I am your insomniac “foreign correspondent” from City Heights. I have a few things to add to your post, but the significant thing is how how much your remarks are inspiring, a reminder of what really matters right now.

Thanks. And play it again, Sam.

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avatar doug porter November 11, 2009 at 9:09 am

righteous! and, I agree.

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avatar lane tobias November 11, 2009 at 1:25 pm

One thing I just thought of, after reading an article on time.com about Sarah Palin’s book tour, is that Obama has been playing the moderation/compromise/unity card in Washington since being elected, trying to find common ground and supposedly “get stuff done”. Unfortunately all the while, the Republican Conservative base has been doing the exact opposite (see Rush Limbaugh) and making things MORE difficult by completely ignoring the call for unity by Obama. Its time he stopped playing that card, and started just simply standing up for what HE believes in. Maybe there will be a further divide in Washington, but regular folks – who elected Obama – will at least know the votes weren’t for naught.

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avatar Ernie McCray November 11, 2009 at 5:32 pm

That’s what I’m waiting for, what HE really believes in and HIM standing up strongly for those beliefs. Besides the war my biggest disenchantment with HIM is HIS farting around on discrimination issues. I thought he would jump right in there on stuff like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and let gay people know that he cares enough to raise a little hell on their behalf. I can handle “failure” better than I can “lolly gagging.” But if we pull away from him we won’t see anything getting done. He just seems slow in recognizing that there are a lot of people who will rally behind him if he does something worth rallying about.

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avatar Monty Kroopkin November 11, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I just posted a comment that is relevant to this article, at the OB Rag discussion about the House action on a healthcare bill, at

http://obrag.org/?p=14518#comment-28621

(see the string of comments it is part of, starting at
http://obrag.org/?p=14518#comment-28493 )

The only progressives who are disenchanted are those who allowed themselves to be “enchanted”. Although there are progressive elements in the Democratic Party, it is NOT a progressive organization. It acts in support of progressive policies only when there is a huge public clamor for it.

So, our job is to make more clamor.

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 12, 2009 at 9:54 am

We need to make more clamor against the reactionaries, Monty, not the people that we wish to align with, we need to be more inclusionary not less so. We need to expand the numbers of those who will possibly unite with us and listen to our concerns, not create divisions. We need to confront the reactionaries – and this where we differ. You want to spend your time denouncing the Democrats and I want to spend my time denouncing the racist movement that is mobilizing against president Obama.

Hopefully, however, you and I and others can come together and figure out what we are united on, to build that front against the reaction.

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avatar Monty Kroopkin November 13, 2009 at 10:08 am

Do we wish to align with the Stupaks? There are some very reactionary elements inside the Democratic Party. If one reads stuff from Progressive Democrats of America or Move On, there is plenty of talk of getting rid of the right wing Democrats. Would we ever cooperate with those reactionaries inside the Democratic Party on any issue? Sure, probably we would if and only if they were willing to support something progressive. Shades of gray. Far better to get the Stupaks out of office and replace them with more progressive candidates. That is double true for the Republicans we need to get rid of.

Frank, your position seems right now to be to the RIGHT of the progressive caucus in the Democratic Party. You sound like the Left outside the DP is more dangerous than the Republicans and the Tea Party neo-fascists. I know that is not what you mean to sound like. So please clarify. Do you mean to say the only way to have broad left unity is if people follow whatever the DP official position is?

I and all the other people of the Left outside the Democratic Party denounce that party consistently for what is reactionary about it, and support its progressive wing whenever it tries to do good work on an issue. Anybody who reads much of the Left press knows damned well that the Republicans get much “higher marks” on the scale of how harmful and reactionary their policies are, compared to the Democrats, overall.

Conversations amongst progressives about how to deal with the real fascist movement we are seeing, and how to deal with the economic depression and real crisis of capitalism we are confronting, very urgently need to focus on identifying where we agree and can work together. The areas of disagreement amongst progressives are largely generations old and not likely to change much in the immediate future. Anarchists still think the political state is harmful in itself and political parties (even Left ones) lead people to buy in to activity (elections) that prop up the state. Revolutionary socialists still think no fundamental change to abolish the slavery of capitalism can happen peacefully (through elections, etc.) because the ruling elites have almost always resorted to violence to stop it. Reformist socialists still believe peaceful democratic change is possible, not only small incremental changes but fundamental change to end capitalism. Liberals do not concern themselves with ending capitalism, but with extending and expanding democracy (not to be confused with fake corporate liberals) and human rights, in general.

These differences are not going away, and finding common ground to work on anything demands that conversations flow from respect for the differences, and focus on areas of agreement.

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avatar annagrace November 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Monty, it is rather harsh to say that Frank”s position seems to be to the RIGHT of the progressive caucus, even though you added that you know that’s not what he means. His piece is hardly a case against thoughtful and necessary criticism of the members of the Democratic party and legislative actions which they as the majority, have crafted. It is however a sobering and accurate assessment of the machine that is building against the Obama administration and what the success of that machine would portend for all of us as Americans.

There are in fact meaningful differences between the Democratic and Republican parties. I spent the afternoon reading their respective 2008 party platforms. It would bore the spit out of our readers for me to assess how different they are, but it’s worth looking at their positions regarding women’s reproductive choice as one example.

Here’s what the Democratic Party has to say about CHOICE: “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”

Here’s the Republican position to PRESERVE TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE: “At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life.”

Pretty different in content and tone. So when when Stupak, a Democrat decides to grandstand on the abortion issue, he is at odds with the party platform. Women’s reproductive choice is not a fringe issue of the party- it is central. Through the bum out, and sit on him in the meantime if you have to.

The dilemma for me is what can an at times disenchanted, pissed off and frankly exhausted progressive do at this moment. Blogging in this community, with all of you, has provided me with a forum to say all of these very things. Thank you all. We support each other, keep our spirits up, and are able to think things through together. Neither indifference, nor throwing in the towel on what is happening in Congress and within the Obama administration are an option for me. I frankly hope they aren’t seen as an option for others reading this article.

Every day I ask myself what I can do on issues such as health reform, or the war in Iraq, etc. Michael Moore published a list of 15 things ordinary citizens can do to make a difference. One was blogging and using this unique medium to build community and speak the truth because the main stream media often won’t or doesn’t. Another was is to spend 5 minutes a day contacting ELECTED representatives to convey our opinion on an issue and ask for their support.

5 minutes a day…. I can email the President and congressional members at midnight if I don’t have the chance to personally call them during the day. Sometimes I call, write AND send an email. The Democratic leadership, my representatives and of course Joe Lieberman and Bart Stupak have been hearing a great deal from me lately. We can do that, and I know it makes a difference if we choose that approach rather than indifference, rather than throwing in the towel.

I do this because of the nature of the machine that Frank describes. The right has a highly successful media outlet- Fox News- and their media mogul Rupert Murdock who really thinks Beck is right and that Obama is a racist. The right has a shitload of DC neocon lobbyists who can pony up some serious bucks for tea parties for the masses. They have been embraced by the Republican Congress as their own. And of course they have a pit bull with lipstick.

As I have said before, we need to tighten it up, watch our back and keep moving forward.

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avatar Genie November 11, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Well done Frank! I, too, am frustrated and impatient. My fingers are crossed and I am holding my breath. But, I am trying to still remain possitive, and remember that I do not know, or have privy to the info and stategy that goes on behind closed doors. And only hope that the bigger plan will come to reality. I also think it is important to celebrate as well as criticize. I found this blog, and want to share it, for what it’s worth……………….

0 votes ShareWhat The “Do Nothing” Obama Has Accomplished That We Choose To Ignore Or Fail To Acknowledge
by Josh Hammond on 11/10/2009 15:00 18 comments , 38182 views
Categories: Waiting for Obama
There is a rising chorus of impatient progressive bloggers, some on these pages, calling Obama a failure and a do-nothing president only nine months into his first of four years as president. SNL’s “do-nothing skit” on Obama may well have empowered some on our side to start playing on the fringes of the Limbaugh sandbox. While the charges and name-calling are not as vicious as the Limbaugh Lemmings, it has started nonetheless.

So what has our newly-minted asshole president been doing for nine months?

Let’s start with what he has not done. He has not found a cure for cancer, reversed climate change, ended poverty, brought peace to the Middle East, end all wars, created enough new jobs, or created a single-payer healthcare system. These are big ticket items that no president will ever accomplish, so it is a little disingenuous to suggest a standard for Obama that does not apply to all past presidents or to future presidents. As Princeton economics professor Alan Blinder says in assessing what Obama has accomplished so far, “If he seems to have achieved little, it’s partly because he set out to do too much.” To which I would add, and we created an unrealistic agenda for what we wanted him to accomplish.

Let’s continue with what he has done. First and foremost, none other than the Wall Street Journal, in an assessment titled, “Democrats Quiet Changes Pile Up”, says he has accomplished more in nine months than George Bush did in his first nine months.

Let’s be specific:

1. Significantly, he buried the Imperial Presidency of George Bush and restored the Constitutional balance of government by respecting the equal standing of the legislative branch of government. As a former constitutional law professor, this is a major matter of change of tone and style that he promised during the campaign, and he has delivered. (Not pretty or necessarily effective given the Reid-less leadership in the Senate, but we are a constitutional democracy.)

2. Passed and signed the stimulus package, the biggest pieces of legislation–ever–in blinding speed, thus being able to start to stabilize the economy, with GDP now projected to grow at the rate of 3 percent by the end of the year. Check the comeback of your 401K since Obama has taken over.

3. Stabilized the top 20 banks without federalizing them.

4. Reduced the rate of foreclosures inherited from the Bush administration.

5. Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act that makes it easier to sue for wage discrimination, a dramatic reversal of the bill’s fortunes under Bush.

6. Granted regulatory power to the FDA to control tobacco products, another dramatic reversal of the Bush years that industry has lobbied hard to prevent.

7. Signed the Matthew Shepard Hate act that expanded federal hate crime protection to categories of sexual orientation and gender, to the major consternation of the Religious Right.

8. Killed the F-22 fighter jet program, a popular program with Congress, saving billions of dollars.

9. With a stroke of a pen, enacted, by executive order, (see correction below in comments, it was a bill signing) the largest conservation measure in 15 years, spanning the Bush and Clinton records.

10. Implement an electronic medical record system before any healthcare legislation was introduced. This new technology will be singularly responsible for saving lives and reducing the high administrative costs of healthcare, a key element of reform.

11. Extended a $2500 tax credit to 5 million families to help with college tuition.

12. Cooperated with Japan in bringing a $5 billion stabilization package for Pakistan.

13. Engaged the Muslim world in a dialogue, beginning with his unprecedented speech in Cairo, followed by an interview with Al Arabiya, and face-to-face discussions with Iran, a total reversal of the Bush years of Muslim baiting and hate.

14. Dramatically reversed the reputation of the United States around the world, with now most nations looking favorably on the US, and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize as one consequence.

15. Agreed to plan for bringing the troops home from Iraq, at a slower pace than what he promised, but based on knowledge that commanders-in-chief, not candidates, have.

16. Brought the White House online, doing for the White House what he had done for political campaigning. There are now online Q&A’s with the administration, and a White House blog.

17. Released the names of all visitors to the White House, a total reversal of the secret Bush years.

18. Told Mexico that the US is responsible for some of their drug problems, a no small, but truthful admission.

19. Restored the rights of states to regulate the medical use of marijuana without fear of federal law enforcement intrusion.

20. Banned the use of torture, and he has begun a complete review of the torture policies under Bush.

21. Appointed the first Latina to the Supremes: Imagine what would have happened to the Supreme Court under four more years of radical Republicans. Obama has thus averted a long-term dramatic swing to the extreme right on the court, and appointed a progressive to keep matters in check.

In summary, and to those on these pages and elsewhere who see things differently, I say this feels a little like Waiting for Godot. Let’s recall one thing that Samuel Beckett said in the mischievous play:

“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors. Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all. It is true the population has increased.”

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 12, 2009 at 9:55 am

Genie – thanks. This helps us in understanding what the corporate media doesn’t want us to know about the guy that many of us supported a year ago.

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avatar lane tobias November 12, 2009 at 11:48 am

Well put blog, thank you Genie. It is also missing the fact that Obama’s DOJ (Holder et al) has publicly stated it will lay off medical marijuana prosecution.

I just wish Obama would take a more direct stand on gay marriage, the wars we’re fighting, and universal health care.

Outside of those major issues though, he certainly has transformed our government and made a significant, positive impact on how that government runs on a daily basis.

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avatar lane tobias November 12, 2009 at 11:49 am

excuse me, it does mention medical marijuana. scratch that.

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avatar Shawn Conrad November 12, 2009 at 11:59 am

I am excited for gay marriage to creep into Mormonism. I enjoy thinking of it as Homormanism. Multiple husbands for the win!

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avatar Genie November 12, 2009 at 7:07 pm

But don’t forget, NO SEX in these Gay Marriages!!!

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avatar Gary Ghirardi November 16, 2009 at 9:34 am

I agree with Frank in the estimation of the danger in all of this. I am not a progressive or liberal or republican or libertarian as is understood in the United States but I remember that Obama said that you need to drive him so drive him over these accurately defined FASCISTS. And in addition, all you rational Libertarian minded people, and you know you exist, that may constitute a much larger group than will be revealed to you by your now 5 major media conglomerates down from 50, in short years time; go form your own Republican Party over the screams of these demons and see your ranks swell and reclaim this delinquent party of power whores and idiot followers and make the Leadership take notice that a better brand of citizen calls themselves a Republican. That is if you yourselves want to save your country from a catastrophe, even if this activism seems repulsive initially to wear this cloak.

And if you are really want to save your country, work with the Democrats to support your standing President if he has asked you to push him to higher ideals. Make him feel he has no other choice. Don’t wait to find out what a completely Fascist America will do in your name!

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avatar Whatever2 November 25, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Reading the comments you guys leave is hilarious. “Progressive” “FASCISTS” “Gay marriage is one of the ten most important matters on Earth”

Unintentional comedy at its best!

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