Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Obama found guilty of abandoning progressives

Economist James K. Galbrath has pronounced the verdict on the Obama.  The charge: Abandoning progressives.  The verdict: Guilty as charged.  I agree.

Here is an excerpt from Galbrath’s post:

Whether your prime interest is housing, health care, peace, justice, jobs or climate change, if you are an activist in America you have known for a long time that this President is not your friend…

The debt deal will make things clear. The President is not a progressive – he is not what Americans still call a “liberal.” He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics, an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a conservative result…

So now the die is cast. Practically nothing to address any real economic problem can now get done. Actual austerity will come slowly – the cuts are not abrupt and some may yet be blocked – but unless there is a radical change of events or mood it will come. Meanwhile as the economy stalls and despair deepens, the deficits and debt will continue to climb…

The President…is a young man. Unlike say Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter, when his term ends he won't be able simply to go home. He'll need a big house in a gated suburb, with high walls and rich friends. And a good income, too, from book deals and lecture fees. He may be thinking about that now.

The good news is: it won't save him. For if and when he ventures out, for the rest of his life, the eyes of all those, whose hopes he once raised will follow him. The old, the poor, the jobless, the homeless: their eyes will follow him wherever he goes.

Read Galbrath’s full post here:

Let me add.  Obama was smart enough to get elected with the help of a friendly media obsessed with the idea of hope, change and electing the first Black American (Tim Russert comes to mind).  He was helped greatly by an over-confident primary opponent in Hilary Clinton, a weak Republican opponent in John McCain and a Republican Vice Presidential nominee that was simply bizarre.  So, Obama was elected.  However, beyond the promise of something new, Obama had no real vision of where he wanted to take the country.  He wanted to BE President but he apparently didn’t know what he wanted to DO as President.  He had no experience with and therefore no command of the Washington legislative process.  During the campaign, Obama had demonstrated some command of rhetoric.  After he was elected, he seemed to lose his voice.  He compounded his problems by trusting Republicans to put the country’s welfare above partisan politics.  He never stood up to those who bullied him.  He tried to make friends with his enemies.  They took that as a sign of weakness and gleefully exploited Obama’s every effort to find common ground.  Obama, the so-called skilled poker player, never called their bluff.  He may no longer have the ability to do so.

Most liberals and progressives have abandoned Obama in spirit.  It remains to be seen whether they will abandon him at the ballot box.  His only hope may be that the Republican alternative is so scary that liberals, progressives and independents will choose to vote for the candidate that will accomplish nothing rather than see the candidate who would accomplish nothing but harm be elected.

Maybe Obama has time to change.  Maybe he will find his vision and a voice to go with it.  Maybe he will find some steel for his backbone.  Maybe he will reflect on the last three years and learn.  Maybe he will prove Glabrath and me and the rest who expected so much from the audacity of hope and got so little wrong.  I hope so but, I doubt that will happen.   I wish I would.

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