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This is not an Obama bashing diary, although I am frustrated to be sure.  

But I am also dismayed by the growing number of diaries and comments that focus on what the President and the Dems "are up against."

I read the MSM and shudder at the lies that are repeated and at the the shallow investigation that passes as journalism.

I watch the video clips of Beck, Limbaugh and Palin and cringe--sometimes with an anxious knot in my stomach.  

But this is not what we are up against.  Really.  

I do a lot of consulting with businesses and non-profits.  I have noticed that the organizations and companies that thrive are rarely focused on the negative pressure pushing against their success.  

Social service agencies that focus on the dysfunctions and troubles of their clients typically become paralyzed and dysfunctional themselves.  Businesses that focus on their competitor's market share or price structure rarely pull ahead.

This is how the administration and the Dems have been behaving.  

We have (now it may be had) enormous assets.  A resounding electoral win.  Real disgust at the excesses and lies of Wall Street and the previous administration.  A movement of volunteers that dwarfs the Tea-Party.  An economy that made real and concrete the need to reform American capitalism to create more balance and restore opportunity to more people.

The President and the party has never really worked to unleash that power.  When health care came up our leaders focused almost exclusively on what compromises needed to be made, rather than on rallying the American people to speak out against excessive profiteering from disease and death that is rampant in our current, and reformed, system.  

On financial reform, we focused on back room compromises rather than tapping the real frustration and focus present in the electorate regarding the abuses and excesses of high stakes Wall Street gambling.

On the deficit, we don't reach out to Middle class Americans whose Social Security payments made possible the borrowing needed to create the Bush Tax cuts, we worry about seeking balance and political neutrality with characters like Simpson.

It's how organizations and businesses suffering from decline and malaise operate.  Focus on the hurdle while ignoring your strengths.

So, let's not bash the President.  But let's push him, and the congressional leadership, to stop focusing on the hurdles and start capturing our strengths.  

We can make this happen--but our leaders need to call on our vision, energy and passion.  

Let me add: I don't believe the nonsense that the problem is that our leadership secretly supports right wing ideas or opposes progressive ideas.  I think/hope  Obama probably wanted to get a little more out of the Health Care Reform process.  My point is that the focus on the obstacles has caused us to rush to compromise and to potentially lose more battles than were necessary if we had spent more time gathering and reinforcing our strengths. A great athlete doesn't get better by fretting over their inability to draw, which is what seems to happen to Dem leaders once we vote them in.

Originally posted to canoedog on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 07:32 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Will Continue to Vote Democratic... (6+ / 0-)

    but I am not too excited about it. Winning it all on a wave of enthusiastic support and watching it fizzle back to the same-old kind of takes the thrill away.

    At least we don't have to suffer under the Bush/Frist/Delay arrogance anymore.

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 07:40:45 AM PDT

  •  Can't Really Disagree With the Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, bustacap

    the author is right in that Dems should work harder and smarter with their political capital. Too bad they don't want to and would never listen to people like us. You have to be an Ivy League-educated CEO who sits on the board of Walmart or Target before this administration gives a damn about your opinion.

    This deal is getting worse all the time!---Lando Calrissian (D-Cloud City)

    by Aspe4 on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 07:43:57 AM PDT

    •  What a crock. (8+ / 0-)

      It funny how the left today sounds just like the left during FDR.


      William Lemke, North Dakota congressman, who ran a third-party Presidential campaign against Roosevelt in 1936 on the ad-hoc Union Party ticket. Lemke argued that the New Deal did not go far enough in redistributing wealth in the United States.

      Huey Long, populist Democratic Governor and Senator from Louisiana. Long criticized the New Deal for not going far enough to redistribute wealth; he advocated a centralized state-run economy. Long proposed a more radical economic plan called Share Our Wealth, in which all American citizens would not earn more than a million dollars a year or less than $4,000 a year.

      Max Shachtman, James Cannon and their respective Workers Party and Socialist Workers Party, were or had been followers of Leon Trotsky who argued that Roosevelt instituted these reforms in order to salvage capitalism.

      And even Howard Zinn trashed FDR in his book A People's History of the United States because he believed the main purpose of the New Deal was to save capitalism.

      In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

      by jsfox on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 07:55:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure what you are responding to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aspe4, Snud, Aquagranny911

        I didn't advocate for a particular leftist position.  I simply observed that the Dem leadership has been reluctant to call upon the strengths, numbers and assets of their supporters and allies.  (A diary about environmental issues currently on the Rec list reinforces this idea). Obama's Health Care speech came way late in the process--after the issue had been largely decided.  Financial reform could have been aggressive and more swiftly enacted if the real frustration of most American's had been funneled more effectively with a constant stream of town meetings and publicized discussions with real small business owners.  The "Don't worry, I've got this," idea is deadly, especially when combined with excessive focus on the oppositions strength's.  The Right's ideas are not particularly popular, but they often carry more weight because they are relentless in going back to their base for support.  

      •  What a crock! (0+ / 0-)

        FDR did, in fact, not go far enough, which led to the purging of the left in the 40s and 50s. He was a member of the elite, of old money, who's goal was, in fact, to save capitalism. We've been living off the infrastructure capital from the New Deal and the Truman and Eisenhower's follow ups for almost 80 years now -- which is why infrastructure has decayed so much.

        Why do defenders of the status quo have to be so fucking dishonest? Are they just dishonest with us, or are they lying to themselves?

        FDR was the best of the defenders of capitalism. You can defend him that way -- not by pretending he was something he wasn't. There was a price to be paid for that -- which we've paid for generations now.

        To think that the New Deal, as planned from above, was anything but an attempt to salvage a collapsing capitalism but instead to pretend that it was an attempt at a new system is, frankly, incredibly stupid.

        Face reality. The New Deal was really very smart as an attempt to salvage capitalism -- we are approaching the centennial of it's success. It was not a socialist plan, but a plan to coopt socialism's better attributes to protect capitalism, while avoiding it's excesses. It succeeded -- but in the end it didn't go far enough, leading to the movement to a permanent war economy to justify central subsidization of the economy via the military without creating the threat of more significant socialist reforms, since capitalism apparently can't survive without constant central infusions of capital.

        The "moderates" who can't face up to their reality are so damn tiresome, so intellectually empty. That's my problem with this entire democratic party -- they pretend to be on the left which undermines everything by being delusional and in fact supporting the right. Instead of just saying "we're smart capitalists and the far right are stupid capitalists", you try to have your cake and eat it too.

        But I guess it works to fend off a left in the US -- if the dems actually sold themselves honestly, the repubs would end up eliminated and a party on the left would form. We couldn't have that, now could we?

  •  Do we elect the people (6+ / 0-)

    who set the house on fire?

    Or do we elect the people who failed to put the fire out?

    At least the people who couldn't get a handle on the fire aren't arsonists.

    Not a particularly rosy place to be.  But alas, its where we are.

    Write In: Alan Grayson

    by Detroit Mark on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 07:58:07 AM PDT

    •  That fire was a big one that took years in the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mali muso, canoedog

      building and burning.  Fire is an almost human thing, it breathes and it eats but it does follow certain paths.  Fighting a fire is a relentless, sometimes dangerous job.  Fire can be extinguished but not without a real fight.  This is why the men who respond to fire are called "fighters."

      We all need to be fighters who don't give up until the fire is out and we have secured the safety of all.

      •  Why not hunt down the arsonists? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aquagranny911, canoedog

        I know that the logical course of action might be to try and put the fire out.

        But that might not be the best option if the arsonists are allowed to escape into a nearby woods.

        Maybe it would have been better to go after the banks, let them collapse and then start building with a good conscience.

        People loved Obama because he brought hope.  But people also needed someone through which to channel anger.

        And now we are having tea with the arsonists in our half-burned living room.

        by DingellDem on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 08:51:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not to beat the analogy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but if you purposefully or inadvertently discredit the fire fighters, and insist that they are unreasonable in thinking the fire needs to be put out rather than just contained or controlled, then the only people left are the arsons.  Discrediting your allies means your only "friends" are aiming at you.

        •  No firefighter chases the arsonist before all (0+ / 0-)

          the people are safe and the fire is out.  

          Priorities: People first, property next, perpetrators last.  The arsonists do get caught.  My son is a firefighter so I know the drill.

          They can run but they can't really hide.  Naive of me but I do believe that the mills of justice while grinding slowly do grind exceedingly fine.

          Patience is a fading virtue in our country.

          •  Sorry for the weakness of the analogy. (0+ / 0-)

            But the basic point is that President Obama [and Bush] clearly placed supporting the existing banking system far ahead of achieving justice and acknowledging the anger present within the electorate.

            He could have picked some symbolic targets and just shredded them.  He could have distanced himself from the central bankers.  He could have prosecuted a whole bunch of people.

            And I think that he could have done all of that while still maintaining a relatively functional banking system.

            People were screwed and no on paid.  That is an untenable position for a politician and political party.


            by DingellDem on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 10:45:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  He's got two. He can give a mean speech. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aspe4, esquimaux, Aquagranny911

    And he looks good in swim trunks.

    That's all folks.

    •  And he gets his agenda passed... (4+ / 0-)

      Barrack Obama has been extremely successful in getting his projects through Congress and passed into law.

      Barrack Obama has been so successful that he gets compared only to FDR, even by those on the left who hate him, and not to any other modern era presidents who had far less impressive records.

      Some people on the left join those on the right claiming that Obama has been a failure, but the facts prove different....

      Obama quote count - "Hold my feet to the fire" (3) - "Help me work for a better America" (137) --- [Phony numbers, real message]

      by BobTrips on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 08:55:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes he has (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but he has inflicted a lot of damage on much of his base by pushing them aside and allowing those around him to denigrate their views and treat them as extremists.  It's hard to go back to those ideas and people after the fact and expect the ideas to be taken seriously or the people to be enthusiastic. Social Security grew and changed over several congressional sessions, but the basic idea we now recognize was not rejected outright at the beginning and its supporters weren't called Liberal r*** publicly by someone close to the President.      Obama has been effective, but the growing discontent with what has been a successful legislative agenda, and should be getting him some credit, may be rooted in the perception that he got what he wanted in the first place--not a compromise with recalcitrant Republicans--and that it isn't working.  By running to the compromise, and pushing aside voices that called for more aggressive measures, he may have set up a tough problem to unwind.  I hope I am wrong.

        •  Which base (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BobTrips, flhiii88

          Obama's base include African-Americans, and other liberal Democrats who have ALWAYS supported supported him. His base have given him job approvals of 80-90%.

          Obama's base does NOT include a the few elite "progressives" who grudgingly came to support him after he won the Democratic primary, and who are now advocating that he be primaried in 2012.

          I don't hear the AA's complaining that Obama has pushed them aside and inflicted damage on them, do you?

          •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Regina in a Sears Kit House

            in private, yes.  A lot.

            I supported him from his announcement that he was running.  I am hardly a progressive elite--although I am finding that pragmatic, humane choices seem to make me elite these days for some reason.

            I was surveyed a few weeks ago.  I gave Obama a high rating because I know how the game is played and don't believe a public kicking is helpful.  

            But, the fact remains that if it weren't for the Republican implosion, the Dems would be facing a very bad election year for having passed so much legislation.  It still could be awful (Reid within 1 point of Angle when 66% of Angle's supporters regret her nomination--this is not good news for Dems no matter how hard you try to spin it).  

            I don't travel in elite circles.  Most of my friends are blue/gray collar non-union workers--over half are not white.  They feel that Obama has abandoned them and worse rejectedthem.  They will likely vote Democratic again, but I don't see or hear much enthusiasm.  

            It's not that they think he's a failure--but the willingness to rush to compromise and seem bi-partisan while simultaneously allowing those around him to aggressively attack anything and anyone to the left of the compromise as extreme, unrealistic or as a "liberal r***" is not helpful.  

            I am not doom and gloom, nor do I dislike this president, but there is a problem here and the view to November would support that observation it seems.  

            •  There is a problem, several problems... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SouthernBelleNC49, flhiii88

              This recession was the deepest ever without turning into a depression.  It is not easy to crawl out of this deep a hole, and people want immediate results.  

              People are not reflecting on how scared we all were a year and a half ago when it looked like the country would to a 1930's type melt-down.  People don't remember how long it took to get back out from much less extreme recessions.

              The health care bill has not fully kicked in, not enough people have experienced any gain.  They're looking at insurance companies giving them one last good screwing before the insurance companies get reined in.  

              There is a constant feeding of lies from both the right and the far left about how bad things are and how nothing is being done to fix things.  

              Both the right and the far left refuse to acknowledge anything Obama has done which helps America.

              The major media is dominated by corporate interests.  News and opinions are tweaked to keep people unhappy with Obama and Democrats so that corporate Republicans can once more get into power and cut regulations and taxes for the rich.

              The extreme left?  Don't get me started....

              Obama quote count - "Hold my feet to the fire" (3) - "Help me work for a better America" (137) --- [Phony numbers, real message]

              by BobTrips on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 10:03:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  You think the leftist of the left... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Is Obama's base?


          When you get way, way out to the extreme left you find people so far out of the mainstream that they have just about zero political power.  

          The brightest and most rational of the left-left realize that.  They know that one of them will never be president, nor will the country join them in their vision of what the country should be.

          They know that the way that they move the country in their direction is by education, by teaching the country a better idea, a better way.

          (I'm not going to spend energy talking about the crazies that one finds out on the far end of the distribution.  They aren't anyone's base.)

          Obama's base is made up of people left of center, but closer the middle.  These are people who believe in equal rights for all, in peace, in helping the less fortunate, in all the liberal/progressive ideas.  

          Obama's base doesn't come here in great numbers.  Here one finds mostly the <20% of Democrats who don't like Obama.</p>

          Obama quote count - "Hold my feet to the fire" (3) - "Help me work for a better America" (137) --- [Phony numbers, real message]

          by BobTrips on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 09:35:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obama's base is made up of people who (0+ / 0-)

            never got passed the 16 Magazine stage.

            The rest of the country is getting sick of his lies. Watch this election and then get ready for 2012.

          •  How do you know that I am leftist (0+ / 0-)

            I supported Paul Tsongas, voted for Arne Carlson (R) in Minnesota and will probably vote for Horner rather than Mark Dayton in the Minnesota Guv race (unless it looks like the scales are tipping to Emmer).  

            Questioning the tactic of rushing to compromise and then attacking those to the left of your compromise (which in most cases has taken on a pretty right center position when the current Republican extremity is taken out of the equation) is not a leftist view.  

            I am not suggesting that Obama is a failure, but the tactics need some refining or we are going to be out of power pretty quickly.  

            Many, I would say most, of the people I know who don't follow politics think Obama has gotten what he wanted--not a realistic compromise with Republicans--because his staff seems to paint anyone who wanted more as extreme.  This is not good, because most folks know that Health Care Reform is not finished, the stimulus was OK but could have been better, and the Financial Reform still leaves the gamblers on Wall Street with too many options to repeat bad behavior.  

            •  I don't know what you are... (0+ / 0-)

              I was responding to your statements...

              he has inflicted a lot of damage on much of his base by pushing them aside and allowing those around him to denigrate their views and treat them as extremists

              supporters weren't called Liberal r*** publicly by someone close to the President.

              Obama quote count - "Hold my feet to the fire" (3) - "Help me work for a better America" (137) --- [Phony numbers, real message]

              by BobTrips on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 10:08:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Has there ever been a major progressive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fe Bongolan, Aquagranny911, moonpal

    legislative accomplishment that didn't require compromising and backroom deals in order to pass?  When FDR and LBJ passed most of their major bills they had at least 67 and as many as 76 senate dems, and more than a dozen liberal republicans.
    FDR and LBJ also had millions of Americans marching in the streets in favor of their proposals. The same cannot be said of the left of today.

    Hard work is damn near as overrated as monogamy. -Huey Long

    by flhiii88 on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 08:25:27 AM PDT

    •  Good points (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aspe4, Fe Bongolan, flhiii88

      And they didn't disparage those who spoke out and marched in their support, which I fear would happen today.  We are in a tough fight, and they need us to fight hard and fight to win.

      •  As long as the marches are responsible, I think (0+ / 0-)

        most dem pols would be appreciative.  Say what you will about the tea party, but being out in the streets by the thousands successfully removed many of the better parts of the hcr.  Nothing will steel the spines of democrats more than knowing the folks marching are on their side.

        Hard work is damn near as overrated as monogamy. -Huey Long

        by flhiii88 on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 11:12:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and rec'd. Thanks for your words (3+ / 0-)

    of encouragement.  I refuse to give up and I will work for this President and for Democrats.  I will prod them, I will poke and scream if necessary but I refuse to let the Republicans take us by default.

  •  Its not all bad and its not all good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mali muso, canoedog
    Obama is a mix for me.  I think he is probably the most impressive president of my lifetime ... on the other hands the extremity of the mess we are in calls for a Teddy Roosevelt who shakes things up more than he is doing and so far I fear that is too foreign to his nature.  I am very worried about this nation unless someone starts making way more noise on behalf of most of us.

    On the other hand I also really concerned about many progressives acting as though there would be no difference between this administration and a Republican.  The public hears that.  That is how we got G.W.  Countless people that I knew insisted it was a toss-up between Gore and Bush.  "They are all just the same."  No.  They are not.  Obama may not be foreceful enough for me but the other side is growing just plain scary and dangerous.

    If all our side can do is complain about what ever small steps we have made away from the right why would anyone think we should take more?  We are doing damage to ourselves - not by being critical or asking Obama to do more - but by disparaging the things he has done as useless.

    •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)

      A lot has been done--and we can and could do more.  Obama's gifts and strengths individually are not those of a Roosevelt, but I think he hurts his cause by relying too heavily on Washington and the power of careful politicking and not continually urging his supporters and friends to demand, and fight, for more.  The enthusiasm gap maybe isn't only about the sense of compromise or economic doldrums--it may be that too many folks feel like they aren't really welcome to be part of the solution.  

  •  Positive: Anger is non-partisan. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aspe4, canoedog

    People have been screwed and are angry.

    So, we have this constantly changing ball of anger floating in the sky.

    Every once in a while it moves down and takes a party or candidate out.

    It hammered the Republicans in 2006 and 2008.

    It takes out incumbents in primaries.

    Republicans try to coax the ball to detroy unions, teachers and social security.

    But Democrats could use it, too.

    Why is Obama so friendly with Bernanke?  Bernanke was just reconfirmed.  He's safe for five years.  Obama could go from town to town blistering the Fed.

    He could send out busloads of prosecutors to take down people who benefitted from the bank scam.

    We have justifiable anger and we need people to villify.  And if we don't help this floating ball of anger land on deserving souls, then it will continue to land on unions, teachers and good American Muslims.

    by DingellDem on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 08:41:51 AM PDT

  •  So where is the discussion about his strengths? (0+ / 0-)

    All I see is pessimism.  

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 10:40:14 AM PDT

    •  Here (0+ / 0-)

      A resounding electoral win.  Real disgust at the excesses and lies of Wall Street and the previous administration.  A movement of volunteers that dwarfs the Tea-Party.  An economy that made real and concrete the need to reform American capitalism to create more balance and restore opportunity to more people.

      His real strength was the grass roots effort behind him--which has been repeatedly told "I've got it covered."  

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