Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Road To Hell

It took a year, but the Obama adulation has pretty much ended, if the world press reports listed at Watching America are any gauge. Now the rest of the world is engaging in some solid critical assessments, many of which are quite accurate. One such article was somewhat of a mixed bag. The writer didn't get the American congressional system as it is presently constituted quite right, but he did have something very perceptive to say about President Obama.

From Spain's

It is impossible to explain how the dizzying loss of affection on Obama's part was possible without mentioning the key aspects of his politics: his option for a pacifying message in foreign affairs and his determination to carry out health care reform. Many of the Independent voters who supported him in November 2008 have started to abandon him, fearful of a program that moves North American standards to leftist radicalism. The hand extended to those who see it stained with blood has not served to eliminate the threat that free societies face, and the European-style project of Social Security is not as popular in the U.S. as we imagine from this side of the Atlantic. Many leaders like Obama — and Zapatero has shared the sentiment many times — think that good intentions are enough to change reality, when the opposite happens nearly every time. [Emphasis added]

Many of us on the left have been disappointed, even outraged at the White House failure to move its signature project, health care reform, into reality. For a few months we cut the president some slack because he was dealing with an economic crisis the likes of which hadn't been seen since the Great Depression which faced President Roosevelt. But he even screwed that up, pouring billions into banks and insurance companies to save the very entities that caused the crisis, feeling, apparently, that they had learned their lesson and now would become good citizens. As bold as he was with the institutions "too big to fail," he was positively timid when it came to bailing out those who lost their jobs and those who lost their homes.

As a result, when it came to health care reform, real health care reform, the die was cast. He felt it only fair to listen to those who have been cheerfully ripping us off for decades and to only mildly rebuke them, extracting promises from them that they would try to do better if only he would include a mandate requiring each citizen to get health insurance and would take that nonsensical single payer/public option out of the picture.

And then he sat back, speaking softly to Congress about playing nice together so that the reform would make everyone happy and leaving them to do the job, even though most of "them" were on the receiving end of millions of dollars of campaign contributions from the insurance companies and health care providers.

I really believe that he meant well, that his intentions were good, that he believed decent people could and would work together to develop a system that would benefit everyone in the nation. As a graduate of Chicago Politics, he should have known better. Nice words are, well, nice. So is civility. But it takes more. It takes action and hard work. It takes leaning on people and threatening to remove their finger nails one at a time to get any real movement. It takes inviting everyone to the table, but excusing those who chew with their mouths open.

Good intentions are not enough. A willingness to do the heavy lifting to bring those intentions into the real world is required. President Obama didn't show any inclination for that kind of work and he's about to lose his majority in Congress in November of this year and his job in November, 2012 as a consequence. Has he figured that out yet?

His recent speeches seem to indicate a more muscular approach, but unless those words are backed up with real action, it's going to be a long and fruitless three years.

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Blogger marion said...

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1:03 AM  

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