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Suppose you call AAA because your car ran out of gas. But the AAA guy, instead of loading up 5 gallons of gas to bring you, loads us 5 gallons of water. At what point is it safe to say the AAA guy failed in his mission? When he pours water into your gas tank? Or when he chose to bring water in the first place?

President Obama was on ABC's Good Morning America show this morning and said this:

So, the intent of the speech .. is to ... make sure that the American people are clear exactly what it is that we are proposing ... to make sure that Democrats and Republicans understand that I'm open to new ideas, that we're not being rigid and ideological about this thing, but we do intend to get something done this year. And ... to dispel some of the myths and, frankly, silliness that's been floating out there for quite some time."

Water in the gas tank.

After the glow of rhetorical exuberance wears off, and there will be a glow, no one doubts the president's ability to deliver a speech, but after that wears off, what do you have left? Nothing. Nothing has changed.

"I'm open to new ideas"? That's what he wants to tell the country at this point? We want to "get SOMETHING done"? Something? Where's the new information here?

And to drive home what a wasted opportunity this speech will be, press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed that Obama is still not willing to commit to a public option, only to "more competition." What it must have been like this week, writing tonight's speech and knowing you are only one verb away from making history and doing the right thing, but you just can't type that word: "will". Not "prefer". Not "ought to". We will.

As someone who worked tirelessly to elect Barack Obama to the presidency, all I can say is I am disappointed. I thought we were electing a leader to the White House. Instead, we elected an empty suit. I thought we were electing charisma and drive. But what I see is weakness and impotence. In fact, what I see is a carbon copy of Harry Reid.

Here's what a real leader sounds like:

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.

Yes, Mr. President, tell us the whole truth. Tell us the truth about the merchants of greed and power who leveled the economy and brought hardship to millions:

True, they have tried. But their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

That was, of course, Franklin Roosevelt. No president today could be seen showing such audacity as to call out evil men. To stand up to entrenched interests who have so captured this nation. To show that the democratic will of the people is THE BOSS to private industry. To simply fight.

I am not writing this to slander the president. I'm writing this in the hopes that maybe some staffer will read it and recognize the truth of my words: this is not the time for more open mindedness. This is the time to fight. This is the time to lead. This is the time to make history.

I can barely even type this as I have lost all hope that tonight will turn things around. If what is in that speech is what Obama said was in it on ABC this morning, then it will, instead, be nothing more than a slight ratings bump for the talking heads on cable, it will rally the base, and I mean Obama's fan base, and it will drag out the inevitable for a few days longer.

And, if this speech isn't to present a bold new plan, which it apparently is not, then what is its real purpose? Clarify misinformation, as Obama said on ABC? That will fail. The Republicans don't care if the misinformation is true or not. They just want you to have to defend it. And for months, that's what the White House has been doing.

The way to respond to the accusation that there are "death panels" in the bill is not to spend 4 freakin weeks debating whether death panels really are in the bill. It is to attack the person claiming it as a liar who just wants to scare old people.

I know college students who understand this simple concept. There' a famous story about Lyndon Johnson accusing an opponent of sex with a minor, "Just so they would have to deny it."

Are we to believe that no one in the White House knows this story? Are we to believe that they are really that incompetent.

Maybe Obama's also going to make a big pitch for the public option and rally the troops. "I need your help" he exclaimed over the weekend, reminding us of his campaign rhetoric.  

Again, what do they think? Obama is going to come out and rally the troops to get behind a health care plan that as yet doesn't exist and even the president is not willing to fully commit to? It's as though he wants us to lead him.

Many, including myself, who understood just what the White House was really up against, wanted Obama to bring his campaign machine to the fight. Use a little of that populist uprising thing for some extra pressure, not to mention organizational outreach, PR and some seriously needed bodies on the ground. But that would have required leadership - committing to a plan even though K Street didn't like it, and hunkering down for a fight, and then rallying the troops AROUND THA PLAN.

Now they want to rally the base around a waffle. Harry? Is that you?

What this speech has to be is a restart. A complete reset of the whole game. Obama has to come out and effectively say "look, we tried it your way, you failed. Now we're doing it my way."

Then he needs to put the carrots away, and dust off the big stick. Max Baucus, who received 349,000 votes compared to Obama's 67 million needs to be put to bed. This guy's a thug and a saboteur.

Harry Reid, who I'm surprised can even feed himself, needs to be put to bed.

Obama needs to realize he works for us. Those 67 million votes are not his votes. They are our votes. And letting halfwits from very small states like Max Baucus and Harry Reid override the will of 67 million people is an affront to democracy.

Please Obama -prove me wrong. Show us you're not a pathetic weakling. Show us you are a fighter when you have to be. Fight for us.

UPDATE: I was warned about the trolls who pop up in any diary that doesn't comply with their views and start lashing out with vitriol and ad hominem attacks. And sure enough, there they are. We have, "Fuck off", "I hope Obama kicks you in the crotch", and "Fucking grow up".

Here's a clue: I earned the right to say whatever I want about Barack Obama. I raised almost $200,000 to get him elected. I worked my ass of for over a year canvassing, calling, mailing and taking out the trash.

What did you do? Sit on the internet calling people names. Doing the opposite of campaigning by insulting and alienating every potential voter that disagrees with you? I'm new here, but I've heard about you for a long time. You do not represent Democrats. I have the right to speak my peace whether you disagree with it or not.

Originally posted to labor in vain on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 01:10 PM PDT.

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