At the end of July, I wrote a post about President Obama’s video address to Netroots Nation – a group of liberal bloggers and Internet users. I complained that Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress were not using their Congressional majority to pass laws that would actually help regular Americans. They had compromised too much with the GOP. It seems more people in the Netroots are coming around to my feelings.
The pundits have been complaining the President hasn’t been out banging the pots and pans about his agenda being passed and I think I know why. I think they know the bills – like Health Care reform (HCR) and financial reform – don’t mean anything to regular people outside of DC. HCR won’t really take effect until 2013 (one of the compromises that watered the bill down) and the financial reform didn’t punish the bankers that screwed our economy. You would think that any “victory” would have a ticker tape parade with a band and party favors but nope.
It’s as if the administration wasn’t surprised at getting limpy bills passed.
That’s what’s so sad. The Democrats pissed away their power these past two years. They had such great potential.
I am also mad because I have no alternative. I will have to hold my nose and keep these losers in office because the alternative – the GOP – is much worse. And the White House knows it.
Netroots, President Obama, and the Democrats – a sad rocky relationship
Ian Welsh, on Crooks and Liars, wrote an excellent essay that describes my problem with the President better than I did in my July post:
If Obama had wanted a $1.2 trillion stimulus, say, he should have asked for a $1.6 trillion stimulus. Then “moderate” Republicans and Dems could have negotiated him down $400K. This is basic negotiation, which anyone who has ever negotiated in a third world bazaar knows—you start off with an offer far higher (or lower) than what you’re willing to accept, and leave room for the inevitable haggling.
The same is true of health care reform. If you’re negotiating for a public option—if you actually want one, then you don’t throw single payer advocates out. You act as if that’s something you’re seriously considering, you talk about polls showing it has majority support, and you then “compromise” to a public option.
This sort of self-defeating, pre-negotation concession has been a repeated pattern for the Obama administration (assuming that Obama does seek Liberal ends).
Obama has a huge slush fund with hundreds of billions of dollars and all the executive authority he needs to turn things around.
If Obama is not using that money and authority, the bottom line is it’s because he doesn’t want to.
Putting aside the question of what Obama could have accomplished already, if he wants to help everyday Americans, turn around Democratic approval ratings in time for the midterm elections, and leave behind him a legacy of achievement, he can still do it. If he wants to.
What Can Obama Really Do?
It also seems Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos and one of the founders of the Netroots agrees:
This goes beyond “doing something”, and into the realm of actually doing something to excite the base. The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. Half measures and compromises with Republicans who voted against final legislation certainly doesn’t count. Failing to follow through on promises on everything from comprehensive immigration reform to DADT doesn’t help. Fighting to open up more shoreline to drilling doesn’t help. Lilly Ledbetter was a step forward, then the Stupak Amendment was two steps back.
In fact, from the beginning, this administration and Democratic congress seemed more concerned with “bipartisanship” for the sake of bipartisanship, than they were in passing the best possible legislation possible. Harry Reid came off the gate in 2008 by immediately whining about “60 votes” — something I don’t recall ever hearing from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Obama Administration indulged Max Baucus’ “negotiations” with Republicans Mike Enzi and company, even as those Republicans publicly bragged that their entire strategy was to delay and obstruct.
People may whine about cable hosts and bloggers who point out these failings, and try to shoot the messenger. But we don’t have a noise machine like Fox’s. Rush Limbaugh reaches a third of the conservative base on a weekly base. There is nothing even remotely close to that on the Left. Limbaugh’s weekly audience is 20 million. Keith Olbermann’s is maybe a tenth of that.
No, this mess is the administration’s making, with a healthy assist from Harry Reid’s Senate. The shame is that Nancy Pelosi’s House, which did its job, will bear the brunt of the voter backlash. But the White House won’t be spared.
The impending November of Doom
I admit I live in a sort of bubble since I read and participate in the Netroots. Someone who isn’t as super-informed like me might have a different view but my fear is since the mainstream media has failed in their job to report the facts, then it might be very bad for the Democrats in November.
I really don’t see a wave of incumbents being thrown out. In fact most of the incumbents who have lost lately were Republicans who didn’t fall into the Tea Party line.
I hope I am wrong and while there are some losses, the Democrats can try to pass their agenda but this time without sniffing the ass of the Republicans. The Democrats pissed away their opportunity to reform all the shit we put up with under President Bush.
The President knows what the issues are, as he said during his speech announcing the end of combat in Iraq:
Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its link to our own liberty and security. But we have also understood that our nation’s strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home. And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class.
Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.
And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad. They have met every test that they faced. Now, it is our turn. Now, it is our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for –the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it.
Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.
President Obama address to the nation 8/31/2010
Speeches are nice but people want to see results – real results. They need jobs, they want the people who screwed the economy to go to jail, they want at least a public option in health care, and they want help to keep their homes.
If the Democrats don’t deliver then they better be ready for if not giving up Congress more obstruction from the GOP and that might hurt them going into the 2012 Presidential elections.
I wonder if the administration is even listening to what is happening outside of DC.