Obama voters increasingly frustrated with Obama

August 13, 2009 | By | 11 Replies More

Drew Weston has captured my frustration with Obama:

I happen to be one of the lucky ones. I don’t carry a balance on my credit cards, my home is still worth more than my mortgage, and I still have a job. But if Americans are starting to turn populist anger toward a White House that has doggedly refused to focus that anger where it belongs — toward the banks, the mortgage brokers, the regulators who failed to regulate, the oil companies that have blocked energy reform for decades while racking up record profits, the health insurance companies that make their profits by denying coverage and discriminating against the ill, the pharmaceutical companies whose lobbyists have negotiated away the right to negotiate, and the Republicans who bankrupted the treasury during the eight long years of the Bush Presidency and crashed the economy on their way out — I can understand why.

We are not seeing major change where we most need them. I’m increasingly thinking that Obama is way over his head.   I do think Obama is a good and decent man, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that large corporations completely own and run Congress.  It will remain this way unless the people get mad enough to get up from watching movies on their big screen TVs and take to the streets. But anger is not enough. First, the people have to take the time to understand how bad things are and how they are having their way of life stolen by plutocrats. This is unlikely to happen on a mass scale given that so many of us can’t or won’t take the time to self-critically study complex situations.

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Category: Corruption, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (11)

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  1. If anyone thought the president-elect, whoever it may have been, was going to somehow make manifest all the necessary changes needed, given the facts and the history at hand, then they were deluded. What was needed before and is still needed is Congressional turn-over. Congress can always block, obscure, delay, or shut down anything coming out of the White House. Obama is inspirational. That inspiration needs to be turned into action on the local and state level and in another round of elections aimed at ousting old-line apparatchiks.

    To be disappointed in Obama is wrongheaded. He was never going to do what evidently people thought he would do. He couldn't.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    Mark's views correspond to my own. Obama can set goals and can significantly influence policy, but Congress ultimately calls the shots and pulls the purse strings. And, unfortunately, Republican politicians are very good at stalling legislation and fearmongering among their politically illiterate followers. Accordingly, we should not blame Obama if he can't control the cat fights in Congress.

  3. BJ says:

    Bullshit. Obama could be doing a lot more steamrolling of congressional members. Bush was known for "inviting" congressional members reluctant to support his initiatives to meetings at the White House, where I'm sure there was some pressure applied. Obama could easily do the same. Has everyone forgotten that the Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in both houses of Congress, as well as the presidency? They could pass whatever they wanted tomorrow, with not a single Republican vote. I understand his platitudes about bi-partisanship, but it seems to me that he's using bi-partisanship as a convenient reason why none of his voters are getting what they wanted and why the things he promised during the campaign are somehow now "impractical". Obama voters are becoming disillusioned because he's been breaking the most important campaign promises since day 1, with no good reason. Campaign Obama was full of inspirational rhetoric, but like most politicians, the rhetoric has proven to be empty.

    The system is so completely dependent upon corporate fundraising (at all levels) that there is simply no way Congress or the President will make more than incremental changed because they can't afford (literally) to upset their corporate paymasters.

  4. BJ

    That's naive.

    First, do you really want Obama to follow Bush's example? I think not.

    Second, that so-called filibuster-proof majority is not proving to be, since a lot of Democrats are polling in opposition to some of his favorite policies.

    Third, just how does everyone know what is or is not going on vis a vis the rest of his cabinet and negotiations on several fronts?

    The thing that Obama has to be careful about, more than anything else, is increasing divisions. He may have been elected with a substantial majority, but he pledged to be "everyone's president" and the first order of business is to heal breaches Bush et al turned into canyons.

    I don't want a steamrolling president. Too much of that can get him shut out by Congress and result is overturns at the next elections.

    He hasn't even been in office a year. Chill, everyone.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    BJ: There seems to be a glass ceiling keeping Congress from breaking out of its ways and changing the way things are done. Democrats control Congress, but maybe not enough to just write the new bills, sign them and change the way business is done. It's becoming clear that Obama doesn't control enough of the Democrats. Many of them are corrupted by their corporate paymasters, as you've said. But I also think that Obama has (intentionally) failed to set out the clear terms of his proposal for health care reform. I can see why many members of Congress are hesitant to support something that isn't yet well defined. I try to stay informed, but I'm not yet convinced that I know how the new proposed system would be funded.

    These frustrations are symptoms of what, for me, is an enormous problem we are facing. We are repeatedly proving ourselves incapable of having an honest and direct national conversation about how to run the country. Instead, we speak in vague platitudes and we point to our poster-people as if these are substitutes for clear, well-communicated policy. What, exactly, would the new law provide, to whom, and how much would it cost, to whom?

    Obama's lofty rhetoric from the campaign is not what we want or need anymore. We need honest and non-corrupt lawmakers, and we have almost none of them. I feel despair when I think about how dysfunctional the political process has become.

  6. BJ says:

    Mark:

    You're right, the last thing I want is another Bush. Which is exactly why it's so shocking to see Obama retain so much of Bush's staff in key positions (Gates, et. al.). And look, I'm utterly independent of either party, so I don't have an axe to grind here, with either Bush or Obama. All I'm saying is that the precedent exists to ram legislation through, if that is what the president desires. Don't forget that the stimulus package passed 8 days after inauguration with NO Republican votes. Again a very divisive plan, but they rammed it through, then let the Republicans jump on board with the benefits afterwards.

    Secondly, the fact that Democrats in Congress have said that they're opposed to his policies is meaningless. As Glenn Greenwald reported, Obama has been able to cajole them into changing their votes before, out of sheer loyalty to "their president". So what's the difference here? He arguably had an impressive mandate to implement health care change, he had majorities in both houses of Congress, he had stellar public support (at least he did, until he abdicated the P.R. battle).

  7. BJ says:

    Mark:

    Of course I don't want a repeat of Bush 43, which is why it was so surprising to see Obama keep so many of Bush's choices in the leadership (e.g. Gates) and polices (indefinite detention, state secrets privilege for torture, etc…). These are the real reasons for the drop in his popularity. The fact is, Obama's presidency is just like a continuation of Bush's, only with a more intelligent captain. This is most definitely not what voters were expecting last fall.

    As to your second point, the fact that Democrats poll in opposition to him is meaningless. As Glenn Greenwald reported, Obama's been able to get them to change their votes before, out of nothing but blind loyalty to "their president". On an issue like this, it should be even easier. He arguably had a mandate to enact health care reform, he had majorities in both houses of Congress, he had enough political capital (until lately, as he's been abdicating the P.R. campaign). Also, he managed to pass the equally contentious stimulus package without a single Republican vote, so if he was trying to be bi-partisan when he came to office, that ended after 8 days. At least, there's a precedent in this administration to pass contentious legislation and let the Republicans come along for the ride afterwards.

    Make no mistake, I'm not a partisan warrior here. I think both parties are entirely beholden to the campaign finance system we've ended up with, which makes it impossible to obtain higher office without millions of dollars in corporate campaign contributions. It also makes in nigh impossible to implement real reforms. But I think you're giving Obama a pass here, when it seems to me that the real reason for his otherwise inexplicable strategy for this health care reform is the fact that he can't piss off big Pharma or big Insurance.

    Erich, you're right. He's been incredibly vague on the details. He hasn't stood up and clarified what the White House priorities are. He hasn't moved aggressively enough to win the P.R. battle that everyone knew was coming on this issue. To what do you attribute these failings? To me, it seems clear that he does not really want to "win" this battle. Incrementalism will win the day again, and it will remain safe for big business to earn record profits. Also, the entire campaign was built around vague constructions ("hope", "change"). Look, if politicians get specific, then someone might have a reason to take issue with their plans. If they stay utterly vague, they can retreat to blaming the other side for telling lies about how the plan will really work. It's a moving target, and it's not fair. I blogged about all of this last fall, during the campaign. I urged people to realize that the candidate of "change" would not be able to deliver it, and in fact, did not intend to. It's only because I share your disillusionment with the current state of political discourse and leadership that I am saying these things. I despair as well…

    Lastly, is there any way to get an RSS feed for the comments on a particular post? I'd like to keep up on this discussion.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      BJ: We are entirely in agreement on the health care issue.

      On the RSS feed question, I don't know the answer. I have a tech-savvy friend who reads DI through the RSS feed, but wasn't even aware that there was a lively comments contingent. If you know of a way to put WordPress comments onto the RSS feed, let me know . . .

  8. BJ says:

    Erich-

    I'm very sorry, I've been misspelling your name!

    I thought I might draw attention to another of your posts today, in which you point out the that Big Pharma appears to have the upper hand, unless Obama pulls some kind of 11th hour Hail Mary to screw them. Given his track record, how likely do you think that is? As the saying goes… I'll give it 2 chances: slim and none. And slim just left town.

    Obama was 100% for single-payer until he got into a position where he could actually do something about it, then his views morphed. Just like on the Iraq war ("troops gone within 16 months") and so many other issues. I think you're hoping for a miracle.

  9. NIklaus Pfirsig says:

    Sun Tzu, in "The Art of War" offered a bit of advice that is sometimes translated as "Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer.

    Obama's bi-partisan staff seems to reflect this advice. Bush was known for firing cabinet members for opposing him or Cheney on policy matters and It is obvious that this steamrolling is the tactic of scoundrels and the intellectually deficit often associated with dictators.

    Steamrolling is not leadership. Its "Pushership". It is herding and directing the underlings by removing alternate options. That lack of options, that lack of true leadership, that "my way or the highway" attitude of the previous administration is what brought us to the mess we are now in.

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