I much preferred Barack Obama to be President over John McCain. Obama now has a track record, and I find it highly disappointing. Frank Rich is also disappointed:
It’s this misplaced trust in elites both outside the White House and within it that seems to prevent Obama from realizing the moment that history has handed to him. Americans are still seething at the bonus-grabbing titans of the bubble and at the public and private institutions that failed to police them. But rather than embrace a unifying vision that could ignite his presidency, Obama shies away from connecting the dots as forcefully and relentlessly as the facts and Americans’ anger demand.
I think Frank Rich is being naive, however. I think that many of us who put so much effort into seeing Obama elected are naive. It’s not that Obama is still feeling his way. It’s not that he’s trying to figure out what should be done about health care insurers, Wall Street or BP. When I see Obama these days, I see a President whose failures to speak up and rail at injustice are conspicuous by their absence, over and over.
Truly, how long does it take to get angry about the way our military has treated highly competent gay soldiers? Where is any meaningful cost control component to health care reform (supposedly the main reason for health care reform)? Why isn’t he forcefully arguing against too-big-to-fail banks and promoting the reenactment of Glass-Steagall? Why isn’t he livid when Congress carves payday lenders out of the financial reform bills? When the financial sector floods Congress with 2,000 lobbyists, or when “78 former government employees registered as Comcast lobbyists in the final quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010″ to push through it’s proposed merger with MSNBC, why isn’t President Obama visibly and audibly outraged?
When I watch Barack Obama, I am watching a President who is not willing to stand up for the rights and needs of regular folks when those rights and needs conflict with the greed of huge well-monied corporations. He has shown us that he’d rather not take the bully pulpit and deliver a sustained message of condemnation, even when the need for such a tirade is palpable. Obama’s absence of outrage demonstrates either that he has succumbed to the power of money to get himself re-elected (or to get his fellow-democrats re-elected), or he’s being physically threatened. There’s no other way to explain the sharp conflict between Obama’s pre-election speeches and his post-election malaise.
To the extent that there is yet any “Hope” to turn this Presidency around, Obama needs to make it his mission to tell the American People in every way possible, using every rhetorical skill he has, that our Democracy is utterly corrupted, and there is no use trying to govern this country until we take private money out of politics. Until then, we cannot have any honest debate on any issue and all “fixes” of any problem will be illusory.