Monday, August 10, 2009

Obama's Punking and Punting on First Down

July 10, 2009, 5:00 p.m.

Change We Can No Longer Believe In

From the blogosphere to the pages of the New York Times, others' disappointments and disillusionment with President Obama are coming more and more to resemble what I have been saying in blog entries here since the election last November. (And I consider myself an Obama supporter.)

Below are excerpts from a couple of examples. And see, Robert Reich, "How the White House's Deal With Big Pharma Undermines Democracy," Robert Reich's Blog, August 9, 2009.

First, some excerpts from Frank Rich, "Is Obama Punking Us?" New York Times, August 9, 2009, p. WK8:

Is Obama Punking Us?

[T]here is real reason for longer-term worry in the form of a persistent, anecdotal drift toward disillusionment among some of the president’s supporters . . . articulated by an Obama voter . . . “Nothing’s changed for the common guy,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been punked.” She cited in particular the billions of dollars in bailouts given to banks . . ..

It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged — that . . . [as the President said earlier] the system is in hock to “the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few” who have “run Washington far too long.” . . . [T]he fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media. . . .

[T]he Democratic members of Congress those hecklers assailed can hardly claim the moral high ground. . . . [I]ndustry groups contributed almost $1.8 million in the first six months of 2009 alone to the 18 House members of both parties supervising health care reform . . ..

[T]he Democratic Senate Campaign Committee . . . raked in nearly $500,000 from a single doctor-owned hospital in McAllen, Tex. — the very one that Obama has cited as a symbol of runaway medical costs . . ..

[Former Congressman Billy] Tauzin, an active player in White House health care negotiations, . . . secured a behind-closed-doors flip-flop, enlisting the administration to push for continued protection of drug prices. . . .

[Obama's] first questionable post-victory step was to assemble an old boys’ club of Robert Rubin protégés and Goldman-Citi alumni as the White House economic team . . .. The questions about Geithner’s role in adjudicating the subsequent bailouts aren’t going away . . ..

And here, in its entirety, is the Daily Kos blog's take on Obama supporters' dispair:

Oh, my President. What are you doing?

Sun Aug 09, 2009 at 07:53:27 PM PDT

You warned us from the beginning not to expect too much. You told us that you were a centrist.

    OK, we said. You are intelligent, you understand constitutional law, you are inspiring, you speak of real change, you are saying all the right things about special interests. You are a natural leader. We want you to be the leader of all of us.

    You were everything that George Bush was not.

    You gave us hope.

    We understood.

But today, Mr. President, we are devastated.

We were forgiving when you compromised on FISA.

    We understood, you had to get elected, you didn't want to spook those who were still scared, and you didn't want to make this an issue.

We were puzzled when you appointed the guys from Goldman Sachs to run the economy.

    OK, we knew these guys are smart and they have experience. They do understand how the system works. We gave you the benefit of the doubt on this.

We were patient when you asked us to be patient on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

    Well, we still don't really understand why you can't end this now, but at least we know you're committed to fixing this. Most of us said we'd be patient.

We cheered when you vowed to shut down Guantánamo within twelve months.

    Maybe a little longer than we'd hoped, but at least you've given a firm commitment.

We were concerned about what we were getting into with the increased mobilization in Afghanistan.

    But you ran on this during your campaign, and nobody really knows the best answer for this. We again gave you the benefit of the doubt.

And we were thrilled at the real prospect of health system reform.

    Maybe not what many had hoped for, but we were going to get real reform, real structural changes in the system, a real Public Option, a new paradigm.

But then, Mr. President, but then, things started going not so well.

First there were the second thoughts about indefinite detentions without charge or trial. And whether Guántanmo would really shut down within twelve months.

    OK, the fools and cowards in Congress threw you a lead anchor on this. We know you'll do the best you can.

We heard you loudly and clearly about wanting to move forward, and not look backward.

    But we remain increasingly alarmed, as more and more comes out about torture, rendition, the shredding of our Constitution, and now the alleged abuses of Blackwater, that we will never restore the precedent that the rule of law must come first, and can never be abrogated with impunity by an Executive branch that has claimed unaccountable power, beyond the rule of law.

And transparency, Mr. President. You promised transparency.

    And you are more and more defending the idea that we can't afford transparency. That it's a luxury, not something we should expect of our government.

Then there was the DOJ brief not merely defending DOMA, but using language that would have made Sean Hannity proud.

    What was that all about?? Was this a Bush mole run amok at DOJ?

We expected the pushback from the right on health system reform, albeit nobody quite expected the ferocity of the hatred and venom.

    But at least we can understand where it's coming from. So, we'll be out there at all the town halls, we will mobilize, we will defend, we'll use calm logic where the other side uses slander and lies, we'll be there defending you and defending health system reform.

But despite all this, the talk of "bipartisanship" has continued, relentlessly, when it is clear as the New Mexico sky on a cold December morning that this would buy you nothing -- that maybe with one or two exceptions, the Republicans will oppose you every step of the way on this, and will extract concessions that would gut the bill.

    And with this, Mr. President, we started to see the writing on the wall.

And at the same time, Mr. President, even the Senators like Bingaman and Durban who have supported real reform, who have spoken of the importance of a robust public option, have started to back down, using terms like "on the ropes", that maybe "co-ops are sorta the same thing".

    We really, truly don't like this, Mr. President. This is not going well. The writing on the wall looks like it's written in blood now.

Amidst all of this, Mr. President, your Chief of Staff, Mr. Emanuel, decided that he'd had enough of interference from the people who were questioning how all this was going. He decided that it was the moment to exercise his superb powers of diplomacy to look in our direction -- in the direction of progressives, of the people who have given you our all, who sent in millions of donations during the campaign, who have worked for you tirelessly, endlessly, with faith that ultimately, finally, we would have a president who would lead us back from the abyss that we faced after eight long years wandering in the wilderness of ignorance, lies, greed and destruction, with faith that even when you felt you had to compromise, your heart was in the right place and you would do the best you possibly could -- your Chief of Staff looked in our direction, looked right into our eyes and smiled and extended his middle finger.

    To this, Mr. President, I cannot begin to even offer a response.

And now, Mr. President, now we are dumbstruck. Over this weekend, we have learned of the deal with Big PhRMA. A deal that George Bush would be proud of -- the deal to buy their support, their advertising dollars, in return for their pledge to cut their profits by a defined margin, but not more than that, and that it would be promised that WE WOULD NEVER SEEK TO NEGOTIATE FOR THE BEST DRUG PRICES. I don't have to outline the details of why this leaves us speechless. Robert Reich spelled that out with great clarity today.

The Barack Obama we voted for in November of 2008, the guy who spoke eloquently of not allowing special interests to run the government, would understand. He wouldn't require Robert Reich or any of us to explain it to him.

This is not reform, Mr. President. It does not even remotely resemble "change". This is business as usual. It sends the message that true change is impossible, that there is no hope at all, that all we can do is capitulate.

    Will all due respect, Mr. President, those who love you are all sitting here tonight with tears in our eyes, saying: "WTF, Mr. President. WTF are you doing?"

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1 comment:

Maven said...

I wrote about this very thing this morning.
Good stuff about not so good stuff.