By Edward Copeland
During the lengthy 2008 primary season, I didn’t immediately rush to Barack Obama’s candidacy. I began with John Edwards, but the longer it wore on, the more Obama won me over. He did it with one simple fact. It wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t the chance to make history. It was because he was the first presidential candidate from either party that I felt spoke to voters, i.e. me., as an adult, without that air of condescension you get from most politicians who talk down to you or the ones who are so partisan or dumb you feel as if you are listening to first-graders.
Alas, while this makes me feel good as an American and is why I still admire Obama as a president, I think it explains a lot about the many bumps in the road his administration has faced and continue to face six months into his tenure: He’s not dealing with a nation of adults and, even more importantly, he’s not dealing with a Congress populated by adults. Perhaps his lack of experience really was a problem. He didn’t spend enough time in the Senate to realize that the culture of incumbency among both Democrats and Republicans have created a culture of nothing but spoiled, whiny rich kids.
Obama does have the nickname “No drama Obama,” but he’s going to have to lose that moniker and shove an iron boot up the ass of his own party in Congress. He’ll have the American people on his side: They hate Congress. He has the power to call them into special session in perpetuity. Piss them off. Find new progressive candidates that he’ll threaten to support in primary challenges to them. Separate the true reformers from those who are bought and think they are above it all.
There is a reason that progressives, deprived so long from any access to power, want it all and want it right now, but they need to be reasonable as well. There’s always an excuse from Congress. When the Dems took over Congress in 2006, they couldn’t override a veto or stop a filibuster. Now, when they have “60,” it’s not really 60 since they’ve had ailing senators and erstwhile seat-fillers such as Specter and Lieberman filling those ranks. The bigger truth is that very few lawmakers on Capitol Hill have any principles beyond their own re-elections and goodies. Just watch their own sense of entitlement when someone such as Barney Frank is asked semi-tough questions by a reporter and goes ballistic, throws a hissy fit and storms off a TV interview time and time again.
Obama must start treating them as the spoiled brats that they are. He’s paying a price by letting them screw up the stimulus package and now health care. I had my own concerns, since I actually was satisfied with my health insurance and extremely dissatisfied with the system itself, especially hospitals and their billing practices. Obama made the mistake again by letting Capitol Hill lead the way and the mess has grown worse as polls are showing that those who have health insurance, except for the horror stories or those without any, fear getting what they know and have figured out screwed up by vague promises by multiple gangs that can’t shoot straight but who are bankrolled by health insurers, the AMA and pharmaceutical companies. They should have led with reform of the system. Tough love, my friends.
This week, he even let Democrats in the House remove from a defense appropriations bill the first step to ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The Republicans are flying around with lies and nonsense but they are doing it so incompetently that I think what the Democrats are doing is worse. Obama must stand up. He is the leader of his party. I noticed by a chance a few weeks ago the Senate voting on continued funding for Senate operations to the tune of more than $5 billion. Who knows what the cost for running the House is?
Obama needs his Sister Souljah moment and that Sister Souljah should be Democratic lawmakers. Don’t let them go home. Recruit fresh blood to run against the entrenched. Imagine if Obama backed Joseph Sestak against Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary. Specter only switched to survive and he’s 80 years old for God’s sake. Despite growing dissatisfaction with Obama’s policies, polls still find him personally popular and he only has popularity to gain by taking Congress to the woodshed.
Find someone to challenge Harry Reid as Senate majority leader, since he’s the worst we’ve had in quite some time. The last time a Democratic president let a Democratic Congress get away with whatever they wanted was during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. Barack Obama is too smart and skilled a politician to meet that same fate. He needs to embrace some of that Chicago-style politics to figuratively bust some heads for the good of the country and his party.
Labels: Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, Barney Frank, Congress, economic stimulus, gay rights, Harry Reid, health care reform, Jimmy Carter, Joe Sestak