24 February 2010

Ask Obama: Why His Stranglehold on Mediocrity?

How did we go from an avalanche of support for Barack Obama's soaring and inspired rhetoric and promised progressive reform, which carried him into office and created the largest House and Senate majorities since the post-Nixon years, to this mega-monument of mediocrity now being erected by his administration and dysfunctional national Democrats?

Ask Obama!

Or better yet, ask Howard Zinn, who wrote in The Nation, last month; "I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president--unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction."

Since Mr. Obama was elected, we (progressives, liberals, Democrats, and informed independents) have witnessed the loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat to the GOP, breaking the filibuster proof margin the Democrats held in the Senate; the counter productive tax-cut laden stimulus bill, which was designed that way to induce Republican support, has cleverly been turned against the President by those same Republicans he sought to woo; the loss of Governorships in Virginia and New Jersey; an administration riddled with remnants of Bush's failed neo-liberal economists from the Friedman philosophy of deregulation and unrestrained capitalism; and what is an overly generous description (given the stench) of "business as usual" in Washington; and expansion of the war in Afghanistan, to name just a few of the more unsettling things about this administration after only one year in office.

Even one-term Jimmy Carter has protested any comparison of his administration to Mr. Obama's--"c'mon now, we weren't all that bad", he seems to say.

But for me, Mr. Obama's greatest failure is in what was to be his signature domestic victory: a meaningful comprehensive health care reform bill that would for once-and-all break the stranglehold of the giant insurance company Tsars and their partners in crime, the oligarchs of the international pharmaceutical conglomerates.

There will be lot of analysis of how Mr. Obama squandered this unique and historic opportunity to finally arrive at this particular dismal failure, but for me it is very simple. Mr. Obama was tepid and tentative in his early support of any real and meaningful change..single-payer (Medicare for All) was taken out of the planning. Even with that, there were floated several credible "Public Option" plans, which if implemented, would have provided the leverage to bring about the promised change, but this president voiced no support for such plans. Furthermore, when flagrantly dissed by the likes of Senators Baucus and Lieberman he failed to exercise the presidential option of taking to the "woodshed" these two simpering renegades and all but handed the process over to those very drug and insurance company villains who profit so greatly from our sicknesses, accidents and infirmities.

There was a memorable and historic effort by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, and House Whip Steny Hoyer to craft, over a year ago, a meaningful and comprehensive health care reform bill. This president, intent on who knows what, stood by in silence as Senators Baucus, Lieberman along with Minority Leader John Boehner waged the Republican war of disinformation, prevarication, lies and misinformation including claims of "death panels", "socialized medicine", "loss of Medicare benefits for seniors" at contrived and staged "Town Hall Meetings" during summer recess..

One hates to, but feels compelled to compare this president to his predecessor, that dry-drunk sociopath George W. Bush. Bush barely squeaked into office only with the help of a conservative packed Supreme Court and after losing to Gore in the popular vote, yet he governed as though he had a mandate and in so doing accomplished much of what he set out to do--to the detriment of this country and the world. Obama, with a clear majority of the popular and electoral vote, a majority House and Senate behaved, and behaves, as though any affront to the Republicans will reverse the results of the election.

Now the question remains, will progressives unite and make their voices heard and break this president's grasp on mediocrity and force him to dare to venture into excellence?

This president likes to compare himself to Lincoln who, during a hiatus in the Civil War, asked of his commanding general of the moment, "General if you're not going to use your army, I should like to". With that in mind, Mr. President if you're not going to use the presidency, there are those of us who would!

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