Tuesday, August 09, 2011
President Obama has taken a lot of heat lately over what many believe is his mismanagement of the economy and his inability to successfully take on his Republican opponents. Unlike millions of other Democrats, I am neither disappointed or surprised by his political failings. Prior to the 2008 election, and as an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton, I wrote quite frequently about what I believed would be Obama's inability to fight Republican obstructionism and the party's fierce attack machine. Sadly, I was 100% right.
It's easy to understand Obama's appeal in 2008. He was indeed exceptionally bright, a master campaigner and fundraiser, and able to move tens of thousands of his progressive disciples, moderates and independents through rousing, messianic oratory. But I never drank the Kool-Aid, and had heated battles with many friends who couldn't understand how I didn't "get" Obama's second-coming status. And while I was thrilled that a black man could come so close to the Oval Office and ultimately win the election for the first time in history, I didn't get caught up in the whole liberal guilt trip. What I personally hoped for for America was that the best candidate win, not the darkest.
To be sure, Obama showed passion and a deeply personal vision for America, but he lacked something much more important: the fire in the belly and the cajones to battle the ruthless GOP warriors to see his vision through to law. The man with the sanctimonious professorial lectures who loves to stay above the fray while being 'the only adult in the room' has learned the hard way about the ugliness of modern partisan politics. Watching him these past three years it's as if he's fighting against the Republican bazooka while merely holding a gladiator shield. He's been outwitted, outmatched and out of touch. This is hardly the change anyone believed in or hoped for. He now looks like Jimmy Carter on a bad day.
Where did Obama go wrong? To begin with, he squandered huge majorities in both the Senate and the House, wasting over a year fighting for health care reform while caving on the critical public option. Can you imagine how much the GOP would've accomplished in the same period had they controlled the White House and Congress? Can you imagine how ravenously they would've rushed through their ideological agenda and changed America as we know it? Obama's also caved on the economy, on gay marriage, on the Bush tax cuts, on Guantanamo, on Afghanistan and on debt ceiling/deficit reduction bill. And we still have 14-million people out of work with a 9.1% unemployment rate. What happened to jobs, jobs, jobs? Where's the jobs bill?
Obama simply seems neutered, unlike his predecessor. Like him or not, look what Bush was able to do to further his conservative agenda. He didn't care what anyone thought..not voters, the media, Democrats or members of his own party. He, Cheney and Rove saw their vision through, whether it was right or wrong or good for the country. The point is, they acted. They led. Where's Obama's leadership?
I'm not gonna say Hillary Clinton's perfect or baggage-free, but I firmly believe she'd have fought much more effectively for Democrats. She knows first-hand how ruthless Republicans are when they're in battle. She would've calculated her battle strategy day-one. To the contrary, three years later, Obama still appears like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.