Friday, March 5, 2010

Inaugural Anniversary: In Retrospect

From Vanity Fair Letter from Washington: In a piece by Todd Purdum that is entitled "Barack Obama's Year in Review" and written on the anniversary of his triumphant walk to his inaugeration he said:

"Sure, Obama has made his share of mistakes, rookie and otherwise. But don’t count him out—not just yet. For the fault, dear readers, lies not in our stars, nor even in our rock-star president, but in ourselves: in our impatience, our intemperance, our lack of perspective, our susceptibility to the easy untruth and the quick fix. Barack Obama only rarely falls victim to any of these vices, and, with luck, he may yet save us from ourselves."

I was reminded of how sad I was on that same day that this honest and idealistic young man should have been so ill-used by the members of the Congress that has not done anything of note since LBJ left office, that he is attacked not only by his enemies on the right, such villainous blow-hards as Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck, but by his supporters on the left. Unable to get everything they want legislated in his first year, they have attacked him as not having the back-bone to get their pet projects completed quickly and perfectly. They forget their elation on the night of his election when the crowds overflowed in Grant Park in Chicago and the wild and ecstatic crowd that poured into Washington to watch or even hear first-hand his inauguration. They are so fickle that they have weakened the President in the eyes of his Republican foes,allowing such insignificant Congressmen as Joe Wilson to call him a liar at the State of the Union. The dilly-dallying of the Senate Democrats in writing and voting on a reasonable health care reform bill before the August recess allowed the right-wing, led by such idiots as Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann to create the scare about "death panels". This led to the angry mobs at the August town hall meetings and further damaged the public perception of the actual legislation. Now, as the President has put Congress on notice to complete and vote on a bill before Easter, the House Dems such as Bert Stupak have declared that unless the abortion language in the bill is not more restrictive, and has the wording of his amendment, he will take ten other Democrats with him and not vote for the Senate bill. George Bush had better luck getting Democrats to vote him the authorization to conduct an illegitimate war than Obama has in passing legislation that will help the working class most of all. The beginning of this recession is dated to December 2007 and the collapse of the financial markets is in September 2008, so how does the public perceive that both are the fault of Barack Obama? Because his former supporters have gone to lunch and do not defend him. Are the ecstatic crowds still willing to cheer him on, only wanting a leader? Does such a leader exist?

I am deeply troubled by the politics of the 21st century. It is a politics of fear and greed. Evan Bayh decision not to run for another term in the Senate because Congress "isn't working" is a cop-out of the first order; Teddy Kennedy knew it wasn't working which is why he left what was actually his death bed to hobble to the Senate floor to cast a vote. Only first term Congressman Grayson has the courage and intelligence to demand the governing body change. The old dogs of the Senate are not heard from much, writing or sending out emails to rally supporters of the President to his cause. Resting easy in their Senate seats they draw their salaries, count their donations from the lobbyists and look forward to an easier life,when they too can retire and collect their pensions while getting a job as a university president or a CEO of some company for which they have done favors. Harry Reid should be voted out as the most impotent of Senate Leaders for not forcing Max Baucus and Kent Conrad to push the completion of the Finance Committee health reform bill and stop playing bi-partisan games with the Republicans on the Committee. He should have also warned Joe Lieberman that his Committee Chairmanship was at risk if he voted with the Republicans to fillibuster legislation. Is there anything that can be done now. First, we must remember why we voted for Barack Obama; second, we must remember who steered us into the ditch that Obama is single-handedly trying to pull us from, and third we need to demand of our Democratic Senators and Representatives that they take a page from Alan Grayson's book and get some courage; lastly, when they do something of which we approve, send them a donation, however small.

Todd Purdum also said in his brief article something we should remember:

"Perhaps Obama’s biggest mistake was in believing that his relentless, and usually rigorous, insistence on logic, civility, and calm thinking would carry the day, in the face of a political system that is at once calcified, corrupt, and scabrous in tone. From the very start, Congressional Republicans proved impervious to Obama’s charms and Democrats remarkably unafraid of his personal popularity. Both did pretty much what they always do."


Hecate said...

My dear Kitty with all due respect, this is not about Obama. This is about my neighbor who is dying of bilateral breast cancers. She was laid off 18 months ago. She has no insurance, and the palliative care that she receives from the free clinic two miles away barely controls her pain. She will die soon and badly. This isn't about Barak Obama. This is about the hundreds of people who die every day, the thousands who die every year, and the millions who live without health insurance. So says the World Health Organization. I am reasonably certain that no one in Obama’s glittering White House is qualified to argue them - not to mention the mudslinging media.

This is not about Obama. This is about the fact that we have gone from single payer, to public option, to Medicare buy-in and now to mandates that force the American people to do business with the monsters who destroyed the Health Care Delivery System.

This isn't about Obama. This is about backing off and backing down, giving in and giving over until you have lost control of the process and the message. This is about bending over backwards so far that you are at risk of breaking your neck in an effort to achieve a bipartisanship with a group of thugs who hate your face.

This isn't about Obama. This is about running to the middle and pushing it so far to the right that you pass the Senate Minority leader in the hall. I love Alan Grayson and Anthony Weiner. Why weren't they at the Health Care Conference?

I didn’t vote for a rock star. I voted for the smartest guy in the room who promised to be a President "for the working day," as Shakespeare said of Henry V. As much as I loved him, I wouldn't have voted for Cary Grant either, and he was the coolest, calmest, most reasonable and elegant gentleman who ever put on a pair of paints.

Kittisplace said...

Hecate is correct in her bitter comment on the failure of Obama to stick by his guns and demand the participation of ALL Democratic Congressmen and Senators to move quickly on a really comprehensive HCR bill as it was first approved by the House, by barely enough votes. The abandonment of the "public option" weakens the bill to the point that it will be a burden on many to afford the insurance that they are mandated to buy from "monsters that destroyed the health care system". I agree that Obama in an effort to move to the middle has gone too far to the right, but he is still "the smartest guy in the room" and my hope is that he will see that his efforts at bipartisanship have been in error and correct his position. Of course, presidents don't write legislation and he seems to have lost his influence with the Democrats. Does he have a plan to amend or correct the blatant deficiencies in the legislation as it stands? We will have to wait. I am still supporting him and hoping that he will have a course correction as FDR did in his first term.

Will (Astra Navigo) said...

"I am deeply troubled by the politics of the 21st century. It is a politics of fear and greed."

Kitty, you said a mouthful - and I fear you are right.

Obama was elected an hour and a half after the Titanic hit the iceberg. His 'job' is to preside over an attempt to keep the water out. While I wish he'd been a man of genuine courage, I have to applaud his intelligent attempts at bridge-building.

He will, in the end, however, succeed in appeasing no one with his 'Bush Lite' approach to everything from Gitmo to the abysmal and unconstitutional 'faith-based initiatives'.

The country is circling the drain. The pumps buy you time, but minutes only....

Hecate said...

You know Kitty, it occurs to me that one of the reasons that Obama is losing the support of the Democratic House and Senate is because he is losing the Left. One way to regain the Left's wholehearted support might be to zip Emanuel's mouth shut. We are not nut-jobs, root-nuts, wing-nuts, retards or any other damn thing. This impulse that I sense from the White House to treat us like psychotic step children that must be kept in the attic for fear the Conservatives will know that we are still around truly makes me bitter, real bitter. Particularly, when I look around and see what the Conservative wind has blown across this land. Wind follows draught you know. The right’s draught of intellect, decency, compassion and real patriotism lingers in the Congress, the tea parties and the right wing media. The wind blew in our joblessness, homelessness and hopelessness. I have such a fear that we will never see the growth of ideas, courtesy, love of one another and of country again.