We have now reached a point where there is beginning to boil over a lot of open criticism and disappointment finally from the “mainstream” left over the performance of Barack Obama, and his leadership skills.
Instead of just a few grumblings, made over hushed tones, immediately followed by pronouncements about how it’s only been just 3 months…5 months…8 months… etc., people are now coming to the full realization, even on DailyKos now, that Obama is not going to govern in a manner that brings about any substantial change whatsoever.
Yet many commentators from Ed Schultz, to Michael Moore, to Arianna Huffington, to Markos, to Keith Olbermann etc. generally see the problem as one of being — that Obama is just too unengaged, or not forceful enough, or not providing strong enough leadership. The idea put forth here is that Obama really wants to do the right thing, but he is just a poor negotiator, or isn’t standing up enough, or too happy to compromise away his real “dearly held” beliefs.
But I disagree with this second part of the analysis. I have seen enough now to come to the conclusion that Obama is really executing the agenda that he wants, and advancing the agenda that he and his friends want. He just fooled a whole lot of people during the Primaries with his (deceptive) lofty rhetoric, deliberately left unspecific, and charming speeches and charisma.
The problem with Obama, however, is not one of ommission, but one of commission. Recall that just as George W. Bush ran in 1999-2000 as a “compassionate” conservative with no critera at all about what that really meant for the middle-class ( a Dick Cheney Presidency-??). Well, Barack Obama ran his campaign very similarily as “Martin Luther Obama” come to save the little people – with no policy program ever put forward for doing any such thing – and an ever accumlating track record for totally backtracking on the few progressive ideas casually tossed about (then later retracted) throughout his campaign. Things like….suddenly being anti-NAFTA during the critical Wisconsin Primary (which he won), only to immediately reverse himself (and align himself with the pro-NAFTA agenda) once that State had voted for him.
But what we continually see is that Obama has no problem whatsoever with twisting arms, pressuring the Senate, asserting his own will, etc. when he wants them to vote against the reimportation of cheaper, generic Drugs (to prevent seniors from saving enormous amounts of money). He has no problem with villifying Howard Dean right out in the open, or outright intimidating progressive Congressman like Pete DeFazio with the open threat “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother“, when he disagreed with Obama’s new Military escalations. And he has no problem with protecting, and even praising the agenda of Joe Lieberman.