Last evening, Cenk Uygur, the radio personality and MSNBC fill-in host, posted yet another one of his "Why won't President Obama listen to meeee" diaries here on Daily Kos. I wouldn't have read it completely, were it not for the attention grabbing (and in my judgment inappropriate) channel he chose to deliver to President Obama his message: his wife.
Well, the first lady isn't Cenk's personal messenger to the President. So I will do the second thing in the title first: Cenk, lay off Michelle Obama! You saw an inspirational woman in her own right and your first thought was "how can I bug her about her husband's public life?" You didn't think of telling her that you're proud of her and how incensed you are that Sarah Palin is re-launching racially charged attacks against her. You didn't think of thanking her for her initiative to reduce childhood obesity and raise a healthier generation of kids. You didn't think of the organic vegetable garden in the White House. You didn't even think about asking her about her biggest job: raising two amazing children.
Next time you want to tell something to President Obama, say it directly to him. You have a radio show and often a voice on TV. You don't need to package your message and deliver it through his wife. It is no more appropriate than if someone directed a message to your wife about your public life.
Now, let's get to the actual complaints reserved for the President in Cenk's message. Chief among them seems to be that the President has not overhauled the entire way Washington and Wall Street work. The President has admitted as much - that in a crisis situation, he had to concentrate more on pulling the country (and to a pretty good degree, the world) out of a deep, looming economic depression than in overhauling the system. Well, I'm not a disaster response expert, but I think that when your house is on fire, you concentrate on putting out the fire, not remodeling the house. So today, the financial system is stable, retirement funds are seeing growth again, the American auto industry is adding jobs and thriving, and thanks to the auto industry rescue and the Recovery Act of 2009, a total of over 4 million Americans now have jobs that otherwise would not. We haven't remodeled our house yet. But we have stopped it from burning to the ground, and we are doing the tough work of rebuilding.
Despite Cenk's constant complaining, progress has happened, and transformational reforms have become part of this President's legacy already, even before he hits the halfway mark in his first term. Cenk can't deny that it's the Senate and the Republicans that have been the biggest obstacle to progress and even bigger reforms than I described above. But, you know, President Obama should just change Washington. Everything. All by himself. How? By storming castles and turning over apple carts.
If he's doing his job right the entrenched powers in DC, whether it's the politicians or the Washington media, should be livid with him. If they're happy you're on the wrong path. We want you to turn their apple carts over. All these people got to where they are within this system. They're motivated to protect it. You should be storming their castle. You're the President you have the power to do it we don't that's why we elected you.
Heh. I like how Cenk avoids the one place where most of the national media, TV and radio stations, not to mention the entire financial sector are based on. New York. Could it be because he is based in New York? Hmm. But I'm going to include them. Politicians and "Washington media" are happy with President Obama? Anyone ask the politicians who are about to take over the House beginning in January? Hell, ask Evan Bayh. And media is happy with Obama? Dude, have you ever turned on Fox News (which is the highest rated cable news network)? And I dunno but the New York media figure of one Cenk Uygur seems to be pretty "livid" with the President.
Oh, and lobbyists. If I'm right and Cenk is talking about corporate lobbyists, let's see how "happy" they are with the President. Corporations are so happy with the President that their money funded Republicans over Democrats 11 to 1 in the midterms. Get it? Corporate lobbyists are so in love with Barack Obama that they just about anything possible to wrest control of Congress away from his party. Now why would they be doing that? Maybe because of these things:
- Health Reform forces insurance companies to stop dropping people when they get sick, outlaws pre-existing conditions discrimination (for children it is already in effect, for adults, it will be by 2014). Oh and they got slapped with the requirement that they must spend 85% of their premium dollars (in large group markets, 80% in individual and small group markets) on actually delivering health care, and the NAIC made good on that promise in formulating the regulations. Some insurers are already paring down on the commissions.
- Wall Street Reform creates a strong, independent consumer protection agency, new mortgage regulations ensuring both the borrower's ability to pay the loan and a stake of the bank issuing the loan, forces most derivatives trading to an open exchange, and more.
- Credit card reform stops credit card companied from praying on vulnerable college students, stops arbitrarily raising your rates, and requires notice and opt-out before your rate can be raised.
- Student loan reform cuts the banks out of the process of issuing federally insured loans, and uses the money saved to expand aid to students.
Not to mention, Barack Obama is the first president in history to release the White House visitors' log to the public. All of these things are significant changes in the way things are done in the government and the financial sector. President Obama was punished for enacting those reforms. Handily. With the corporate interests investing money 11 to 1 in his political opposition, after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates with Citizens United. But let's go back for a minute to Cenk's demand that the President turn over apple carts and storm their castles and how he has that power with the sheer fact that he's president. Really?
What is he supposed to do? Sign an executive order banning lobbyists from lobbying Congress? Sign an executive order banning members of Congress from being lobbyists for 10 years? You understand that there's that little issue with it called the Constitution and the separation of powers, don't you? Is he supposed to wave a magic wand and institute public financing of elections? After the herd of newcomers to Congress have been elected with anonymous corporate cash who are all going to vote for public financing of elections, right? Maybe the President should just pick lobbyists up from the street and just order a public flogging. 'Cuz they suck. So let's flog the bastards. I mean, the President has the power to order public floggings of anyone he pleases, does he not?
Get a grip. We elected a President, not a dictator. As much as we may hate the "system," the fundamental governmental system in America is that the President has awesome powers, but not unchecked or unlimited powers. The president, by himself, does not have the power to change everything. President Obama has given voice - and action - to changing the system. We must help him do more. Not by disparaging him and crassly sending him a message by addressing his wife, but by fighting by his side.