Like many folks on the left, I’ve recently been suffering from PODS, President Obama Disappointment Syndrome. On mild days, my PODS symptoms would include eye-rolling during Obama clips on the news, lack of interest in presidential moments like the state of the union speeches, and on-sight deletion of emails I get from barackobama.com . And when my Obama blues would really act up, I’d find myself dwelling on how the president has let the nation down and turned hope into just another four-letter word.
But when I take an objective look at PODS, I realize that the malady actually is not caused by any chicanery on the part of Obama, who has governed just about how he said he would govern. My PODS 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 needless war, though he made it clear that he was going to continue the occupation of Iraq and escalate the violence in and around Afghanistan. I dreamed Obama would push for single payer, though he made it clear that he wouldn’t.
Basically, I dreamed that Obama would, once in office, turn out to be more Dennis Kucinich than Obama. Now I see my Obama dreams for what they were – fantasy – and this realization is what’s really causing my PODS. I convinced myself that Obama would blossom as a liberal when he became President, while Obama has always made it clear that he is not a liberal – he’s just a Democrat.
As the late Paul Wellstone pointed out with that brilliant quote in the late 90s — “I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic party” — there’s often little contrast between our Democratic politicians and their Republican counterparts. At some point in the last few decades, as liberal became a dirty word, the Democratic party tacked aggressively toward the center while Republicans went further right. So in the voting booths of today, instead of choosing between the liberal party and the conservative party, we find ourselves picking either the pro-corporate party or the extremely pro-corporate party. We pick our preferred shade of gray.
This situation is a damn shame, but it pre-dates Obama. Remember who the veep was on the ticket with Al Gore in 2000? Joe Lieberman. Know who the head Democratic honchos begged to run with John Kerry in 2004, before the party settled for John Edwards? John freakin’ McCain!
Facts like these are what’s really feeding the angst underlying my disappointment in Obama. The president pretty much delivered what he said he would in his first year in office. It’s the system he works for that has misrepresented itself and let us down.
Of course, this realization leads to another one, which helps me get over my PODS real quick: The good fight us lefties are fighting is much bigger than Democrats versus Republicans. And in a scrap as massive as this, we don’t have much time to spend sniveling about Obama. We’ve got to remember the big picture — and then we’ve got to get to work.