Has Obama Lost the Left? Why Is He Still Pushing Bi-Partisanship?

by on January 28, 2010 · 9 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Election, Environment, Health, War and Peace

StateofUnion congressEditor: I received this email from a good friend this morning after he had watched President Obama’s State of the Union speech:

How meaningful are Instant polls? Equal to the nutritional value of a glass of kool-aid. For me, an Obama supporter who contributed hundreds to his campaign – well, tonight I removed my Obama bumper sticker. Based on his speech, he’s a 20th century president in the 21st century, looking backwards into the future. Nuclear power, capital gains cuts, and a health care bill designed by the greedy for the greedy – insurance companies, he’s as much a republican as he needs to be. Just better looking with a better presentation. His approval rating is sinking not because he’s losing the right – he never had them. He’s losing everything left of center.

Here’s an analysis of the Speech:

by John Nichols / The Nation-AlterNet / January 27, 2010

State of the Union: Why Is Obama Still Clinging to Bipartisanship?

Say what you will about Barack Obama.

But don’t accuse the president of veering from the course he charted at a point when his term was new, his popularity ratings were high and Americans took seriously all that talk of “hope” and “change.”

Despite the battering he has taken during his first year in the White House, despite suffering a serious drop in his personal approval ratings, despite the frustration and disenchantment that gave the Senate seat from the deep blue state of Massachusetts to the opposition Republicans, Obama used his initial State of the Union address to renew the call for the health care reform initiative that was the primary focus of his difficult first year in office.

“Don’t walk away from reform — not now, not when we are so close,” the president pleaded with the Congress.

“By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Co-pays will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether,” he declared, in the signature line of his speech. “I will not walk away from these Americans. And neither should the people in this chamber.”

The president admitted that he bumbled the push for health reform, even drawing warm laughter when he said: “I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics. But remember this– I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone.”

He also acknowledged that his first year in office was a tough one: “I campaigned on the promise of change — change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change — or at least, that I can deliver it.”

Yet, Obama still did not seem to “get” the politics of the moment.

For the remainder of the article, go here.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar jettyboy January 28, 2010 at 10:38 am

Yawn… Don’t know how much more he can capitulate to the Republican machine. Obama, and the rest of the Dems never understood they won the election with a mandate for change. They have never taken charge and simply told the Republicans
to just fuck off. Obama has not done anything of significance since getting elected, nothing. If he can’t control his own party with a majority to accomplish change, what makes anyone think he will be any different from the standard mold? I can’t believe he still thinks he can make bipartisanship work. The Repubs have stated from the beginning they will do everything they can to make sure he is a failure, and they have been successful, yet he stills believes he alone can make bipartisanship work. He is either really stupid or completely out of touch with what’s been going on in DC, or both. The left has been duped once again.


avatar JEC January 28, 2010 at 10:39 am

It seems so much revolves around the issue of health care. Do we compel healthy young adults to pay for something they neither need nor can afford within a system designed to generate profits for those who have nothing to do with delivering medicine? The bill now in the Senate is a brutal piece of malicious legislation.
This bill is close to Clinton’s (Hillary) proposal and appears to have the support of Obama. It’s clear neither watched or failed to comprehend Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” – for those who did not see it, it focused on the insured and the fact people with insurance are denied health care. Insurance is not medical care, it’s overhead. To be competitive on the world stage we must reduce the total cost of health care while expanding those served. How to do that? Cut overhead. Eliminate insurance companies. YES, it’s time to raise the call – death to the insurance companies. Clearly Obama is not our champion – it’s something we must do ourselves. John Nichols is correct – Obama was originally the ‘centrist’ candidate and all he’s done is move further to the right. It’s time, time to craft a plan to kill the insurance companies, get them out of the way.


avatar lane tobias January 28, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I like the idea of that movement – end insurance companies. It will at the very least do more for a single payer, universal system than sitting back and talking about a bill that doesnt make any sense.


avatar Patty Jones January 28, 2010 at 8:18 pm

People with insurance are denied care by having to wait endlessly for referrals, or appointments or by trying to find a doctor that will treat them. What good does insurance do you this month if you can’t get in to see the doctor ’til next month or the month after, when your insurance may have run out, or the money for it does?

Kill the insurance companies, nationalize our natural resources, health care and education for all. What a world we could have….


avatar Frank Gormlie January 28, 2010 at 11:09 am

So much for the dilemma of disenchantment. I couldn’t watch the speech myself – although I did read it this morning. Standing in the center and looking to the right just doesn’t cut it. And Nichols expresses it for me. Yet, I personally know those in the “I told you so” crowd who didn’t think Obama would even be elected.


avatar annagrace January 28, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I watched the speech and was struck by how that “august” body looked like a visitation from an alien planet. The words, their mien and dress didn’t seem to have anything to do with what I see and and sense all around me here. The Dems jumping up enthusiastically and clapping- on cue. The Republicants sullen virtually the whole time. It struck me as the fiddling of a not unintelligent nor uncaring president while the smoldering and outright fires continue.

I am tied up six ways to Sunday with the concern about how I can continue to support our president as I watch virtually everything he campaigned for fall by the wayside. Do you think he is as tied up as we are wondering how to continue working with the progressives who supported him in some meaningful way? I can only hope so. I don’t have a plan B at the moment.


avatar Shane Finneran January 30, 2010 at 8:43 am

Like many of us on the left, I’m suffering from ODS, Obama Disappointment Syndrome. But it’s not because Obama has veered too far from the principles he campaigned on; in fact, he has governed just about how he said he would govern. My ODS is a result of the dreamy expectations that I, like many liberals, had for the guy.

I dreamed Obama would hold Bush & Co. accountable for their many misdeeds, though Obama made it clear he would let them off scot-free. I dreamed Obama would end war, though he made it clear that he was going to continue the occupation of Iraq and escalate Afghanistan. I dreamed he would push for single payer, though he made it clear that he wouldn’t. Overall, I dreamed that Obama would, once in office, turn out to be more Dennis Kucinich than Obama.

Now I see my dreams for what they were – fantasy – hence my case of ODS. But I don’t think it’s fair to blame Obama for it. He’s more or less living up to his end of the deal.

It’s my fault for convincing myself that Obama would blossom as a liberal when he became President. Obama has always made it clear that he is not a liberal – just a Democrat.


avatar Chris Moore January 31, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I think a lot of people are suffering what Shane is going through – Obama is a pretty middle of the road Democrat, not the leftist the Becks and Limbaughs of the world portray to whip up their crazed hordes. He always has been, looking at his record.

His “surge” or whatever in Afghanistan seems to have really touched a nerve, despite the fact that it’s more or less exactly what he said he’d do during the campaign.

To keep things in perspective, if he had been the “progressive” the left wanted, we’d probably be discussing the latest antics of the McCain/Palin administration right now.

The horror… the horror.

(Actually McCain would still be far better than shrub was, but Palin is a nutbird, and downright scary IMO.)

It’s not all bad – we are pulling out of Iraq (albeit too slowly for many people), Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will soon be a bad memory, tensions with the Russians have eased considerably.

Also some parts of the “progressive” agenda I personally can live without – gun control for instance – have happily been left on the back burner, though I realize that may niot please many people here ;-)


avatar JEC January 31, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I’m with you up until the McCain/Palin comment – their loss was a solid loss. Nothing compels Obama to move further to the right. The rest of the world is beginning to see political instability inside the US – as I do. Why? In a democratic world, Obama won an honest election by large margins, the Democrats won large majorities of both houses yet the Republicans have succeeded at sabotaging every piece of meaningful legislation. Our problems like holes in a ship are sinking us and the rest of the world is beginning to see our system as broken. We have not repaired the damage done by Bush. The threat is we may not.


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