Hello, first-time diarist here. And yes, it took something pretty monumental to get me to move from lurking to actually posting a diary -- and that would, not surprisingly, be the Obama-McConnell Deal.
I've had a difficult time the past few days trying not to be reactively angry at President Obama, and I've tried to look at the positive aspects of the deal he wants passed. . .but it's just not working. What I've come to acknowledge to myself is that it's not this particular event that has me (and many other progressives) angry enough to seriously contemplate the possibility of a primary challenge to President Obama, it's the cumulative effect of disappointment, frustration, bewilderment and being fed up at being the misplaced target of the President's ire.
Yes, Mr. President, there are some good elements in this deal. But it is not enough to entice many of us back to you. Now or ever. I, personally, am done with you because I don't trust you anymore. I can no longer believe that we will have change we can believe in, or any of the other soaring promises that captivated us two years ago and made us hope, actually hope, that the United States had finally come to a transformative moment and things were about to become, in the best sense of this over-used word, truly and absolutely awesome. It is sad and bitter to say, but you are not the leader we needed you to be. And if there is any doubt that we are not galvanized enough to mount a primary challenge to find the leader we need, all I can say is. . .well, ummm. . .Yes We Can.
Again, it's not that this deal the President cut with the Republicans is completely without some merit, half-assed though it may be, it's more that it was such a naked display of capitulation. And who caught the heat? The people who got out there and campaigned hard for Obama, the ones who provided the energy that swept over independents and even disaffected Republicans and propelled Obama into the White House. I think we kind of feel like Carrie now, sweet-talked into going to the prom, feeling like her horrible life was going to change, swept up by the soft music and the sweet talk. . .and not knowing a bucket of pig's blood was waiting to be dumped on her.
Well, we know how that worked out.
For me, my hope was to see a massive public works program launched in the spring of 2009, one that had as its centerpiece the construction of a nationwide high-speed rail system. Now, believe me, I am fully aware and remain fully sympathetic to the steaming mess left for Obama to clean up. But sometimes I wonder what would have happened if he'd gone about cleaning this mess a little differently. FDR knew the first thing he had to do was get people back to work. Granted, he had a better credit limit on his charge card than Obama did, but I always thought, here was the most stunningly talented public speaker in YEARS, surely he could have made a stirring case for a public works program to get people back to work, and not only back to work, but working on a project with the sort of grand American scale to it that we haven't seen for a long time.
I still think this is the best thing we can do to get out of this recession. The work cannot be out-sourced to another country, it's vital for a 21st century economy, it will spark growth in concrete, steel, and other industries, and the good paying jobs will almost immediately shore up the crumbling middle class. I'm not an economist; my major was in History, and something tells me, in terms of history, that a massive public works program will be a good thing for the country, for the middle class, and our democracy.
Well. . .that's certainly not going to happen with a Republican-controlled House, is it? (sigh)
And don't get me started with the titanium steel resolve that is the Democratic Senate leadership. (urrrgh) My Senator is Max Baucus, and what a Man of the People he turned out to be.
So, I'm disillusioned and disappointed about no works program -- but that's not what lost me to Obama. I think the worm of doubt began with the announcement of his economic transition team in November and December of 2008. Wall Street guys. Hmmm. Then there was the selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the Inauguration. Plenty of LGBT Obama supporters who went "Hmmm" at that one, yes? Then there was the health care fiasco, and it was a fiasco. Sorry, Mr. President. Removing single-payer -- your strongest bargaining chip!! -- from the table before talks even began? And, as we all know, it's been a prolonged series of capitulations ever since.
And capitulations without fighting? Punting on third down. Putting the "Kick Me" sign on himself. Hitting the canvas before the other guy finishes lacing up. Lots and lots of metaphors out there the past few days. But that's not what gets me.
We've seen the horrendous racist images about Obama posted online, or sent as gag emails, or used as posters at Tea Party rallies, and it was extremely cool that Obama never let them ruffle him (that we ever saw, anyway; I'm sure he was privately pissed at the ones targeting the First Lady. I sure was.). The President's calm demeanor was actually reassuring and impressive in the face of such hostility. But the only owliness and prickliness I've ever seen from him has been directed at the liberals and progressives in his own party. Talk about frustrating; he's not ruffled by racist taunts (nor should he be), but what gets his dander up is when we try to hold him to the promises of "Yes We Can" and "Change We Can Believe In" and "Hope". It wasn't our rhetoric, Mr. President. . .it's yours, and it doesn't look like you want to own it. I hate to say this, but did you ever really believe your own words?
Perhaps we projected too much onto one man. Perhaps. Nonetheless, I can't escape the unsettling feeling that we were truly and thoroughly conned. And I HATE feeling that way. But I am tired of seeing decent and humane progressive ideals shunned as though they are somehow anathema to American democracy. I am tired of seeing the things I believe in dismisssed and derided as ineffectual and naive. I have spent the last thirty years hearing how I am ungodly, or unpatriotic, or a Marxist (I am, actually; a Groucho Marxist), or whatever else the right spews lately, just because of what I believe, and I came to my beliefs early and have weighed them often, and still find them, as always, just and correct and decent.
So when we have a President that turns out to be a rather timid centrist rather than a fire-breathing liberal -- which, naturally, I believe we are overdue for one in the White House -- and who grumbles at his base for not being happy with his efforts. . .well, sorry, all I can see is the constant capitulation to people who hate him and won't ever, ever, ever vote to re-elect him, and it saddens me, and it infuriates me, and I cannot accept this crazy behavior -- not when we absolutely need to move to a progressive, activist government and stamp out this plutocracy before it entrenches permanently.
Mr. President, you have shown yourself not to be the leader we need.
I never believed you were secretly born in Kenya; I never believed you were a secret Muslim; I never believed you were a socialist, I thought of you, like other progressives, as a cool and logical Mr. Spock kind of guy, out-witting and out-thinking the opponent.
But we need Captain Kirk right now, not his first officer.