Sunday, October 03, 2010

He said WHAT?

Today I scandalized several of my fellow liberals by calling President Obama a "moral coward."  One went so far in retort to state that I "couldn't possibly understand his position and responsibilities."  Seriously--really?  Because I don't agree with his actions I obviously don't understand.  How convenient a rationalization.

I began by declaring straight out that I considered him a moral coward, referring in part to this article at T/O.  Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (my title, not theirs, btw).  Either way, the notion that this administration is not only following the same failed policies as previous administrations, but hiding them behind judicial gag orders after campaigning on a platform of transparency really chapped my hide.

It's bad enough that they're continuing some of the less than ethical security policies of their predecessors--can you say 'extraordinary rendition?'--but to announce in particular that they weren't going to be pursuing cases against medical marijuana growers, and then doing so behind the public's back while knowing the public doesn't support such actions, is an act of supreme hypocrisy.

This isn't all, of course.  Obama has repeatedly told us that he wants to do the right thing, but it's our job to "hold his feet to the fire" to make sure he does.  And to make sure Congress does.  Okay--first of all, this isn't leadership.  This is an attempt to use us as political cover.  This is suggesting that he's unable to do the right thing unless he's forced to do so by public pressure.  But what's worse is that we're supposed to do this foot holding thing while being sneered at by those he chose to fill his cabinet in direct opposition to the wishes of every single progressive constituent out there.

And it's not as though he or anyone else can claim ignorance.  This administration may be the first one that came into power knowing very well that the people (it is still 'we the people, right?) would be looking over their shoulder and commenting more or less in real time.

What I get out of all of this is "I want to do the right thing, but I'm afraid to..."  And those who seem to feel they have no choice but to carry his water--those who hinged everything on his success, take anything criticizing this side of him as a personal affront.

Speaking well does not make one a good leader.  Coming up with a great catchphrase like "Yes we can" doesn't mean much if we're left asking "Yes we can what?"  Try creating a bipartisan coalition with people who pretty much think you're the antichrist?  Good luck with that.  Negotiating from a position of weakness by taking the best possible option in health care reform off the table before negotiations even begin?  From the beginning I saw a flaw in his strategy--and people would say "oh, he's playing chess... he's two, three, four, ten moves ahead."  Near as I can tell at this point, he's an even shittier chess player than I am.

Then again, I'm not a strategist.  I'm a tactician.  That offers the ability to change directions swiftly, as events unfold.  Strategy is more long term, and tends to be more... conservative.  The Marines of my father's day were taught to improvise on the battlefield, to use the tactics that would do the job, regardless of the strategic choices that came down from on high.  Get the job done.

I think Obama made the same mistake as Clinton did when he stepped into the oval office.  He chose to "look forward rather than back" and therefore left enemies armed and dangerous drawing targets on his back.  The criminals who started unnecessary and quite possibly illegal wars, helped their friends make billions in obscene profits off the suffering and death of our own soldiers--not to mention innocent foreign civilians--, deregulated the banks and energy companies to the point they were more or less policing themselves (badly, I might add), lost billions of dollars through malfeasance and incompetence, conducted questionable (at best) warrantless and unwarranted surveillance of law-abiding American citizens, and committed a multitude of other acts of an ethical, immoral, and at best quasi-legal nature.  Not investigating their crimes left them in place to almost immediately begin a campaign of disinformation and obfuscation aimed at destroying and/or negating every single possible progressive policy change that might come down the pipe.

We're not only still in the middle of the Great Recession (despite the nonsense spouted by economists), but now have almost no chance of enacting the kinds of programs necessary to drag us out of it.  Partially because this administration's ineffectiveness at communicating both the problems and their causes has given the right the freedom to co-opt a surge of populist anger aimed at the people actually responsible for our situation, and instead aim it directly at those with the best chance of getting us out of it.

For the longest time I was willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt.  I was willing to blame Congress for a great deal of it.  But now I simply can't.  Because the man with the tools and the access to connect with America in a meaningful way, the man who can easily outline not only the difficulties we face, but the potential solutions, cannot, or will not, do so.

We needed a Roosevelt.  We didn't get one.  And we'll all pay the price.

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