Obama-the-not-progressive

July 5, 2010 | By | 6 Replies More

We have enough of a track record now, I believe.   Barack Obama is not a progressive.  I believe that he is most strongly motivated by what it takes (in his opinion) to maintain power to win the next presidential election.  We’re not going to see any bold moves out of this President. We’ve seen him support enormously complicated health care and Wall Street “reform” bills that fail to address the original impetus for reform.  They are bills that fail to fix the problems they purport to address.  Now, Barack Obama is failing to use the Gulf oil spill to hit the need for conservation strongly.  This is a president of missed opportunities, especially the opportunity to say no to ineffective legislation.   Thus, I agree with Robert Kuttner, who wrote a post titled “My Private Obama”:

I reluctantly conclude that whatever progressives might desire in our private visions of who Obama could yet be, he is who he is. It is like watching a needless accident in slow motion. Without a drastic and abrupt course correction, the missed opportunities will continue to accumulate this summer and fall. The whole country, not just the progressive movement, will pay dearly.

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Category: 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.

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I can't help, but notice the hypocrisy blossoming among the self styled progressives of late. During the campaign, I think many progressives fooled themselves into thinking that Obama was some sort of political messiah, or at least a Paladin, like the white hatted gunslinger of the western serials, who would come in and single-handedly clean up all the corruption and injustice, right all the wrongs and put all the bad guys behind bars.

    I got a newsflash. The real world don't work that way. Our government is not a dictatorship, where the president can say "This is the law, live by it.". He has a serious uphill battle to get any reform at all, and most of that is only possible through incremental changes achieved by great difficulty.

    Our legislative process operates by way of trading concessions for votes, and after the demolition of the Bush-Cheney years, when the power of the federal government was sold to the corporations, when the government became a subcontractor of the corporations, the corporate powers that be control the power, are drunk with it and and have no intention of returning that power to the people.

    The only way to gain any ground is by playing the conflicting interests of the corporations against the conservatives, who favor an ineffectual and weak government.

    What Obama needs is support from the legislature. We must work to give him that support by working to promote and elect representatives and senators who represent the interests of the people over the interests of the corporations.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Niklaus: I realize that Obama's power is limited, but he should use what he does have. He has a silver tongue, so he should take the bully pulpit. Why did he pull back on Glass-Steagall and too-big to fail when they had a chance? Why did he pull back on single-payor, when it had a chance? Why not speak out on government secrecy (he's furthered the Bush programs, not reversed them)? I'm not mad that Obama's not succeeding. Rather, I'm mad that he has repeatedly stopped trying at critical junctures.

  2. Erich,

    I largely agree with you, with one proviso—you assume these things actually "had a chance." Maybe they did, but in the mud wrestling match that is politics it's never so clear-cut. What would have had to give up on to get those things? What else, that is not being well covered by the myopic press, would have been sacrificed for the touchdown?

    I don't know, but we have to be careful making assumptions like that, that because it appeared feasible that it actually was.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mark: That's a worthy caveat. We are largely operating in the dark. And what we do know (re the massive campaign contributions pouring into politicians' coffers and the horse-trading among politicians) is massively distressing.

  3. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Erich, I don't know the details concerning the "too big to fail" legislation, but but in the case of health care reform, the basic problem was that the insurance industry partnered with the anti government ideologues in the Republican party to completely oppose single-payer, mainly because it ran counter to the financial interests of the insurance industry. The house bill cited many specific abuses on the part of the insurers and offer specific remedies, which the insurers took offense in and carried their war of disinformation directly to the voters.

    The BS about "death Panels", government bureaucracies to mete out health care, and all the other crap about "Obama Care" in the media? Well that was financed by the insurance industry. There was no way the corrupt bastards of the corporate world would allow single payer to happen.

    Since that way was closed, Obama fell back to a plan B. He traded concessions to the Pharmaceutical industry to gain their support in promoting an alternative reform that would at least provide universal coverage. This seemed somewhat acceptable to the insurance industry, since it protected their sacred cash cow, while pissing off the neocons. The Neocons, like prissy little spoiled rich kids, started screaming "unfunded mandate" (technically it is not an unfunded mandate) even though the individual mandate is modeled after health care in some other countries, and was previously proposed by John McCain and other Republicans in the 1990s. Republican Mitt Romney even made the individual mandate the law in Massachusetts.

    BTW, the individual mandate does not qualify as an unfunded mandate. An unfunded mandate is a Federal mandate that places the burden of funding on the state and local governments. The individual mandate, places the burden on the individual, but subsidizes those who can't afford the insurance. The funding for the subsidies would come from Medicaid and medicare which will be merged into the system.

    The true agenda of the Neocon movement, however seems to be concerned with the destruction of all opposition to a one party system. That one party would be friendly toward the corporations, antidemocratic. pro imperialist, and generally bad for the world.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Niklaus. I see it much like you do. I want a President who goes down fighting, though. Not one who compromises right out the door. He didn't even make the case for single-payer and then gagged himself on the issue. He could have take a real run at it and kept the debate going, but he didn't. He sold out. I suspect that he sold out because even though it LOOKED like he was pushing for "health care reform," he was busy running for his second term.

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