Today's email from Organizing for America, the largely irrelevant remnant of the grassroots effort that helped get Obama elected, put another nail into my I'm pissed off at Obama coffin.
I voted for him. I contributed quite a bit of money to his campaign. I started off enthused about Obama's presidency following his inauguration. Now just about everything he does irritates me -- especially the fact that he isn't doing much.
A recent spate of opinion pieces in the New York Times crystallized my irked mood. They helped me realize that people who are a lot more knowledgeable about political goings-on than I am have come to the same conclusion about Obama:
He's turned into a weenie (weak and ineffectual guy, for non-native English speakers).
I have no idea what he stands for, or what he will fight hard for. I don't know what his governing philosophy is, the principles (if he has any) which guide his decision-making.
Frank Rich says that Obama is like someone who has fallen into the "Stockholm Syndrome," where a hostage ends up identifying with his captors (Republicans, in this case) and does whatever he can to please them. Also:
The cliché criticisms of Obama are (from the left) that he is a naïve centrist, not the audacious liberal that Democrats thought they were getting, and (from the right) that he is a socialist out to impose government on every corner of American life. But the real problem is that he’s so indistinct no one across the entire political spectrum knows who he is. A chief executive who repeatedly presents himself as a conciliator, forever searching for the “good side” of all adversaries and convening summits, in the end comes across as weightless, if not AWOL.
Paul Krugman sings the same song in his "Freezing Out Hope." He notes that Obama's decision to freeze federal salaries will save $5 billion over two years. However, extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will cost $140 billion over that time frame.
After the Democratic “shellacking” in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?
On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him.
So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of.
I'm no fan of the current incarnation of the Republican party. I grew up reading William F. Buckley in National Review, as my mother was an avid GOP devotee. Back then Republican political stances were intelligent and nuanced, if not always wise.
Now, they're founded on simplistic sound bites, with very little substance. Yet I'll give Republicans credit for standing up for what believe in, even though it is misguided. This is the theme of a New York Times editorial, "Inside the Beltway: A Deficit of Purpose."
On Obama's part. And Democrats in general.
A sense of resolve and a clear purpose should not be partisan commodities, yet, in Washington, only the Republicans seem to have them. They know exactly what they want and pursue it with ruthless efficiency: preserve all the Bush-era tax cuts, no matter the cost, and make sure President Obama gets nothing done.
In the last few weeks, Republicans have blocked or vowed to kill: an extension of jobless benefits; the first real arms reduction treaty with the Russians in nearly a decade; the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”; and, most significantly for the nation’s financial future, the expiration of unnecessary and expensive tax cuts for the rich.
Where has the president been through all this, as the sand runs out on a Congress with two Democratic majorities? He has issued a few mild statements and urged everyone to work together, when everyone knows the Republicans will refuse.
It's obvious that Congress is going to have to extend the Bush tax cuts for everybody, both middle-class and wealthy, since Obama and the Dems didn't push for eliminating the high-end tax cuts (a central promise of Obama during his campaign) when they had firm control of both the Senate and House.
Yet a CBS News poll shows that most Americans oppose the GOP effort to extend the cuts for everyone. Only 26% said "continue for all" while 53% favored "continue for households with taxable income under $250,000."
Somehow Obama has turned what should have been a crowd-pleasing political victory -- delivering on his commitment to let tax cuts for the wealthy expire -- into a defeat. Reason: he never fought for what he supposedly believed in, thereby disheartening his supporters and encouraging his enemies.
I'm fed up with this crap. I voted for Change We Can Believe In, not Compromises That Make You Want to Barf.
That email from Organizing for America may be the last straw.
I've been thinking of changing my voter registration back to non-affiliated to show my displeasure with Obama and the weenified Democratic Party. When I read the email, I couldn't believe how bizarre it was.
The President's opponents in Congress are gearing up for a fight.
Their plan? Obstruct progress and delay action on our agenda during these last few weeks of this session of Congress.
Which battles go our way is unknown -- what's certain is that failure to act will hurt the economy, the middle class, the unemployed, the military, and our national security.
...Organizing for America is waging a campaign to make sure Congress takes action on these critical priorities before the end of the year -- but we need your help. We're counting on 16 donations from Salem to get the job done.
Will you pitch in $500 or more now to support Organizing for America and help continue to push back on obstructionism?
No! Absolutely not! Not $500, not $50. not $5, not a freaking five cents.
Like millions of other progressives, I worked hard to elect President Obama. He's had a Democratic Congress for two full years. Even now, after the midterms, he still has a Dem majority in the Senate.
Obama is the one who should be pushing back on obstructionism. Obama is the one who should be planning how to defeat opponents who are gearing up for a fight. Obama is the one who should be leading the battle to get Congress to take action on critical priorities.
What the hell are you talking about, Organizing for America? The presidential election is over. Obama won. Yet the email message ends with:
So organizers and supporters like you are on the ground, reaching out to their communities. We're writing letters to the editors of newspapers across the country. We're pressuring Congress with calls from their constituents.
But this organizing, as always, relies on support from folks like you.
Reaching out to my community or writing a letter to the editor isn't going to stop the Republicans from failing to act on the START treaty, continuing tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, or blocking an extension of unemployment benefits.
President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are the only ones who can do this. They need to knuckle down and use some hard-nosed political power, playing fair whenever possible, but hitting below the belt as needed -- just as the Republicans do.
Weenies rarely win in national political battles. Obama is proving that.