Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chinese Water Torture

Even those living under rocks and in Bushvilles (which will be all the rage in a short time) know that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opened the proverbial can of hornets when he characterized the "liberals" or "progressive side" of the Democratic party as the "professional left."

It wasn't so much the criticism, but the Gibbs' condescending and overconfident attitude directed towards a [large] chunk of the Democratic party that got the tubes to light up. It also wasn't the first time someone in the Obama Administration looked at the left and basically flipped the bird. Rahm has already been down this road.

Don't think any of these comments are just random lines of frustration from Gibbs or Emmanuel. You can almost feel the political operatives in the Administration are strategically daring the left to "sit out November and then see what happens." Nah Nah Nah.

I never expected Obama to walk on water or turn the US Titanic around as fast as a lot of the country assumed he would. The economic morass was so deep and so complex - no one had the answers or knew what would work or wouldn't.  Plus years of economic abuse could not be cured in months.  My disappointment in the Obama Administration has more to do with what he could control (and has not) - then what he could not control. First there was the watered-down health care bill. The capitulation of the Democrats was so fast and so sharp, I fear the bill we ended up with  (chock full of givebacks and bonuses for the insurance companies, no control of costs etc.) will ultimately make a bad system even worse. Add in some other fun things like Gitmo remaining open, the President expanding an unwinnable (and unaffordable) war in Afghanistan, a financial bill that was passed that doesn't do one solid thing to address the complex and legal avenues of greed and corruption our financial system has mapped out, domestic spying that goes on unchecked and the minor fact the crooks of the Bush Administration are lounging on yachts. It sounds to me like the only change I can believe in is a bunch of shiny Lincoln cents.

Obama was truly an inspirational candidate, but what I have seen in his Presidency has been painful to watch. He lacks clarity, focus and in my mind, the will to fight with the opposition. Everything to him is a negotiation or discussion - even when he challenges the GOP on their stupidity. The words and speeches as always sound great, but all of the follow-through lacks any teeth and toughness.

This is why Senators do not often get elected to the Presidency.  The office is not designed to be a place for smoke filled back-rooms negotiations.  It is an office the demands and requires action, often unpleasant and distasteful action their MO. 

Sure the GOP has obstructed and been loyal (to their opposition of Obama) to a fault. And the media (yes that liberal institution called the fourth estate!) has more interested talking up failures than having constructive discussions on solutions.  Instead of fighting back, Obama seems to cower. The Shirley Sherrod debacle is a perfect example.  When the opposition dug in, the White House seems to have resorted to passivity and believed that time (as opposed to warring words) would be on their side. With health care - they dropped universal care before the bill even started and let Max Baucus appoint a group of 6 that included 3 Republicans! Bush would NEVER have been that accommodating. The public option only received tepid support and was also dropped when Obama had to appease Lieberman, Lincoln and figure a way to bribe Snowe. It was all justified as "compromise, bipartisanship and just the way Washington works."

Guess what Barack, we didn't want the way Washington works, we don't like the way Washington works. That is not what you told your base, that is not what you promised America. But everything seems to fall into this tired old pattern - and your operatives wonder why November looks so bleak.  That is why the teabaggers have grown so far so fast - they also promise a different Washington - except their vision of Washington is one that will ultimately destroy this country.

I tried to ignore the disappointment - and for a time I could. But Gibbs' remark was the straw that broke the donkey's back. He even stood by his comments the next day. I do not believe for one second that you, President Obama, didn't approve or at least have knowledge of what Gibbs had to say - especially the second time. Yes this administration is miles better than the anything the Republicans would have to offer. But the past 18 months have definitely been a huge let down compared with the approach many of us believed you would at least attempt to follow.

And I am so tired of voting Not-Republican.

Here is the deal on Gibbs attitude. The inside-the-White House cabal that sits and counts votes wouldn't be treating the left this way if it didn't believe that the Democrats can gain more from the "center" (whatever that is) than they will lose by pissing on the liberals. Besides, as Gibbs so obviously points out without verbally announcing, where else can the progressives go?

Gibbs know this. So does Obama. So does Pelosi, and that has to be frustrating the heck out of her. The loss of votes like mine will not be mourned by Rahm and Axelrod, since secretly they will be celebrating it as a sign of the coming victory - the pyrrhic victory that will pull in the indies and center. Obama is probably the smartest politician of his generation, what I don't get is how all the talent he hired can be thinking these Rovian tactics will really work?

Obama entered office with huge majorities in Congress, a deep economic crisis and an utterly discredited opposition. Only 20% of America called themselves Republicans - the lowest EVER!  Once in charge, Obama promptly began compromise with the GOP, quickly changing the status quo. Obama kept telling the country how reasonable that opposition was (just like they were under Bush LOL) and how his people looked forward to working with them. I could have told you that was not a smart move, but what do I know?

Guess what - I told you so.

Now the momentum is completely gone. In two short years the Republicans have risen from the ashes. Most people would have believed in 2008 that the GOP was dead for years. Well 2 qualifies as years I guess. Yes, the are controlled by the Teabaggers - but in reality there isn't much difference between the GOP and a flaccid hanging Teabag. The Democrats are so fractured that they can't get even small, minor or universally needed bills passed without superhuman effort. The Democrats are looking at potentially huge electoral losses to the most thoroughly beatable gang of political assholes in generations. That is pathetic.

And now they are actively antagonizing portions of their 'base.' (unions, gays, and progressives).

Happy talk of how they prevented a total meltdown, and celebrations of victories that should have been a lot bigger are growing tired and will not gain any brownie points. Angry outbursts at those who do not appreciate all their hard work is not exactly a good strategy either. Gibbs, Rahm, Axelrod and a many others have to go - a minor shakeup will do nothing to alter this downward spiral. The problem is that these necessary changes won't happen until after the November 2nd debacle - not before.

The only people with the power to actually prevent ther Teabaggers from sitting in the Congress right now are the Democrats and the White House. They only way that is going to happen is if voters see them taking real action to fight for them. Not compromising for corporations, not watering down bills for Wall Street, not making sure insurance companies are happy, and definitely not by remaining friends with Olympia Snowe.

Maybe it doesn't even matter. When you have the White House and huge majorities in Congress and get so little accomplished - how much can worse it be with a split government? If that is the case who really cares who wins or loses any given office - it won't make a difference. This was the Democrats golden opportunity to prove they stood for more than simply getting elected.  And it is now gone with the wind.

While we are not torturing prisoners any more, the progressives and the left have been subjected to a different method of torture.  The disappointments of the Obama Presidency have proven to be a different kind of waterboarding - the Chinese water kind.

Drip, drip, drip.

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