Monday, June 28, 2010

Profiles in Discouragement

A friend asked over dinner the other night, "What do you think of President Obama's declining poll numbers?"

"I don't think about them," I replied; "I don't even look at them.  He's near rock-bottom on my personal rating system."

"Is that because he isn't liberal enough for you?"

With a sigh, I replied: "I suppose that's a fair, if not completely accurate, characterization."

In our political climate, espousing solutions  that are self-evident usually is dismissed as being "liberal."

Obama's campaign rhetoric seemed to support many of those self-evident solutions to the horrors of the Bush era.  As president, he failed to act in accord with his rhetoric on the most important of them.

It began with his cabinet and high-level government appointments.  Summers and Geithner on the economy. Key members of the big bank cartel that caused our economic collapse, such appointees aren't likely to push policies needed to bring Too Big to Fail under government control.  And they didn't.  Nor did they seem even to think about the economic needs of people -- jobs, jobs, jobs; relief from toxic mortgages shamelessly marketed by bankers who knew better; better health care for less money.

The Obama team failed on the economy.

The president-to-be campaigned as an anti-war candidate, vowing to bring the troops home with honor.  His appointment of Gates to head DOD wasn't the act of an anti-war president, nor have his policies done anything to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, he is even more committed than Bush to endless war.

The Obama team failed on war policy.

Ken Salazar, who promised to be a "sheriff" in Interior, looked the other way as the cozy oil, gas and coal company relationships with the people who were supposed to regulate them became even more blatant than they were under Bush. To paraphrase A.M. Rosenthal, "If you regulate the circus, you don't fuck the elephants."

The Obama team failed on environmental policy, public health, public lands and public trust.

Candidate Obama promised health care for every American.  President Obama didn't even put single-payer health care on the table, and sold his soul to the pharmaceutical industry for less than a mess of pottage.

The Obama team failed on health care reform.

Candidate Obama decried government secrecy, torture, secret rendition and vowed to close Gitmo.  President Obama fights for more secrecy in government, continues secret rendition, condones black prisons where people are tortured -- and Gitmo is still operating.

The Obama team failed the Bill of Rights.

The candidate of such great promise has been a failure in office.  Not because he isn't "liberal" enough, although he isn't. Not because he didn't deliver on what he promised.  But because he didn't even try.

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