Monday, September 21, 2009

I Thought We Could

I just received an email from Madeleine Albright. The subject line read "The Referendum on President Obama."

Of course, when I opened it, it was a fundraising letter from the DCCC, which began thusly:

"Every new president inherits headaches, but President Obama has inherited an entire emergency room.

Our struggle to reclaim our standing in the world has been challenging, but we are making progress. Together, we will need to continue to speak up, fight back, and give President Obama the support he needs to succeed."

And therein lies my problem.

I've been struggling with my hopes versus our reality. Our reality is a president who bears an ugly resemblance to his predecessor, and that's not the change I voted for. Our president is showing none of the courage that was inherent in the guy I believed in; the one who was supposed to be different.

President Obama's first eight months is looking more and more like a continuation of the previous eight years, and that's something I distinctly remember voting against!

I agree with Secretary Albright that President Obama inherited an emergency room. Unfortunately, he seems to have closed down the trauma center.

I agree that we need to speak up and fight back, but he's not giving us -- those who fought hard for his victory -- the things he promised during the campaign-- the things we would gladly fight for!

He promised to get our troops out of harms way. As of today, we still have way too many troops in Iraq, and his new chief in Afghanistan today is calling for more. (And, in a cruel twist of irony, today is the 27th Annual UN International Day of Peace.)

When our economy was melting down during the final days of the campaign, Candidate Obama promised to take care of Main Street over Wall Street. Today, his Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says the recession is over. That's because Wall Street is back to their money-making, bonus-pilfering ways. Yet unemployment and foreclosures continue to rise, and Main Street is burning. Wall Street might say the recession is over, but can we? NO, WE CAN'T!

State Senator Barack Obama was in favor of a single payer health care system in the U.S. On June 30, 2003, Obama spoke to the Illinois AFL-CIO:

"I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program." (applause) "I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House."

It's now six years later, the Democrats have taken back the White House (with Obama as it's occupant), the Senate and the House, but single payer was never even given a place at the discussion table. And the public option, which most of us see as an absolutely necessary tiny first baby step toward any meaningful reform, is now being used as a bargaining chip to get a bill that would result in a massive windfall to the blood-sucking leeches that call themselves health insurance companies.

In his address to a joint session of Congress last week, President Obama said that he has no interest in putting the health insurance industry out of business.

Why not?

No one should be making a profit off of our health care. It should be a self-sustaining concern that costs just enough to provide care to keep us healthy, and pay our providers a comfortable living. Health insurance company CEOs certainly shouldn't be getting wealthier by the moment while their paying customers are dying because the death panel, I mean, pencil pushers in their accounting office decide what procedures they'll pay for, despite what the doctor ordered.

As he went on a tour of the Sunday talking head shows yesterday, the president that I had so much hope for and faith in actually had the gall to say that those of us on the left need to stop clinging to the ideological idea of a public option.

The need for a public option has nothing to do with ideology or politics. It's his backpedaling on it and willingness to give it up that proves that it's politics as usual (just check and see how much money Obama takes from the healthcare and insurance industries), and it disgusts me.

And now we're seeing the political discourse in this country deteriorate to base bigotry and hatred, threats of violence with no veil to disguise the intent, and gun and ammunition sales are at the highest levels in recent history. But this president - who has to be living in fear of his and his family's well-being in the wake of the threats -- is blaming the 24-hour news cycle which celebrates the rude.

I agree that the media is a problem, and we can thank Bill Clinton and the 1996 Telecommunications Act for a talk radio industry with a 9:1 ratio of conservative to progressive voices, and the total deregulation of ownership rules. But I can't just fault the Faux News channels for that. Where are the liberal voices calling foul? Do I have to do this alone?

And what about our elected officials? I have to give Nancy Pelosi credit for her statement last week, and giving voice to the fears that we're feeling! Why is it ok for Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to use the public airwaves to spread lies and incite the populace to violence? When will those in position of power say "Enough!" and stop the madness?

Instead, we have the leader of the free world basically shrugging it off and saying it's just political discourse. By taking that approach, and not calling the guilty on the seriousness of their rhetoric, at the very least, truly troublesome, is making President Obama look even weaker and leaving him wide open to more attacks.

Where is this strong man, who had the courage of convictions during the campaign? The one who gave us hope in the belief that we were on the cusp of a change for the better?

Who is this person occupying the White House today, who is in lock-step with the Bush policies on corporate welfare, nation building and even rendition?

Secretary Albright, I'd love nothing more than to be able to support the president I voted for. Unfortunately, the person I'm seeing now is not him.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you Nicole, but I would add this caution: we are the Left because we are not the Right. A call for removing the lies of the right could as easily be an encouragement for the left to -start- lying, to keep up with the media's ever-more-modern conceptions, and we don't need that. We're the left, we're above that noise. We have all the tools we need to govern forever, conservatives be damned, we just can't waste the opportunity by stumbling over the right, or ourselves. The presidency has to be non-ideological, and we can't expect to agree with the President on every issue. What we can do is make our opinions on every issue vocal. The volume of the national debate is definitely right, and should get louder, but the temperature is a little too hot for most Americans to handle. We still can get the reforms we want, but the President is walking the middle line. The real culprits here are the Congress, who are supposed to have all legislative powers. Obama respects the separation of powers enough to stand off from the specifics, and to generalize his support. I believe he could take a firmer line, but I'm glad he isn't some ideologue "decider" who refuses to correct his own missteps. There's been a serious change from the Bush years, a step in the right direction, and it's still early. Hope can not be fleeting, or it more resembles lust.

Nick Lento said...

Nicole, you're echoing my own feelings and thoughts precisely.

I disagree with Mr Shawn Gray-Fleek in that no one is asking Obama to be an "ideologue decider". Quite the contrary, what is needed is for Obama to begin to actually become a LEADER!!!

If Obama had started off demanding single payer and making the strong and overpowering case for it that he could make (if he chose to) all the passion on the issue would have been on our side from day one and by now there would have been million person marches on DC every MONTH!

We would have either won HR676 this year or there would have been a compromise with a truly robust public option that would have simply been single payer for everyone that chose it.

Obviously, that kind of PO would have, inexorably, led to single payer for all.

The only reason to support the status quo is if you are a direct financial beneficiary or if you are ignorant and/or fearful.

No advocate for the status quo can engage a competent expert on Single Payer in any kind of truly fair debate and win. It can't be done! That's why they had to take single payer "off the table".

Not because we are somehow smarter than all of the opposition; but because when facts and logic are applied; the status quo is unsane, unsound, irrational, wasteful and hopelessly unsustainable on the objective merits!

Nicole is 100% correct in her observation that Obama is letting us down.

Having said that, Obama made it clear that he would be running as a center right establishmentarian.

Frankly, the best we can expect from him on this is that he would sign a single payer bill if we forced it to his desk....whereas a McCain would have vetoed such a measure.

Obama still thinks he can handle the snakes. What he doesn't realize is that the very interests that he is dealing with would just as soon see him out of the picture.

There is no amount of compromising or bending over backwards that will appease the Glen Becks/Rush Limbaughs and the millions of their rabid and wretched followers. They will always see Obama as an "uppity black man"

The insurance industry and the rest of the military/industrial/financial/medical/pharmaceutical complexes were content to allow Obama to win a single term in which they knew he would inherit a poison pill economy....and they are content to let him pass a version of "health care reform" that accrues to their benefit. They know that such a half assed compromise reform in name only bill will leave Obama vulnerable to being disliked by virtually all Americans over the next few years and that it would result in a single term presidency. That script is written

As brilliant and talented as Obama is, he's being played.

The only way out of this is a truly massive movement for social justice and common human decency. We something that will dwarf what happened in the 60's.....something new.

The politics of fear and ignorance and greed can only be overcome by appeals to love, enlightenment, generosity and hope!!!