Dissing Obama


There is a strange but worrisome tendency I’m seeing. New articles every day, by authors and websites I respect, attacking Barack Obama. I’m used to the right-wing tea-bagger’s attacks. I expect the Rethuglicans to write and say the stupidest complaints about him (And yes, they are often the same.)

What I was surprised by are the articles by progressive writers like Naomi Klein, Drew Westin, James Ridgeway, and Marjorie Cohn. It’s become fashionable, I think, to blame Barack Obama for the lack of progress on health care, the economy, or housing. Not that I’m entirely happy with the guy. He could have pushed for single-payer and only moved to public option as a compromise. He could have accepted that the Rethugs would always be obstructionists. He could have chosen more wisely in his economic advisors. BUT in each case, the real enemy of progress has been the conservatives.

It is Reagan who began the destruction of the middle class, brought us the enormous debt load, weakened the rights of workers. It was the Clinton administration that brought NAFTA and other globalization treaties which ignore the rights of workers or the environment and simply intensified out-sourcing and the rush to the bottom. (Actually Reagan began this, G.H.W. Bush intensified it and Clinton just pushed the door wider.) Obama did not do that.

Progressives are all too ready to form a circular firing squad. We easily take our eyes off the ball and let the conservatives get away with default wins. We are a contentious lot and seem to get more fired up about each other’s failures than about the other side.

I can understand this. Progressives expect the other side to be obstructionist and self-serving. We expect them to be corrupt. We also have a larger variety of issues that move us so are much more diverse. The right tends to be self-serving, have only a few issues like Christian theocracy, military strength, free market capitalism and anti-unionism. We expect that and are automatically in opposition.

Many progressives (I’m not avoiding the word “liberal”, but liberal and progressive are not synonymous.) see their own main issue as most important and expect Obama to work on that one before all else. In reality, Obama has made progress on many fronts. Environment, moving out of Iraq, Guantanamo closing (It would have been done already, if the Rethugs had not fought against it.), diplomacy over bellicosity, even with Iran. Yes he could have done better, more, but we are already light-years ahead of where we were at the beginning of this year.

My fear is that so many of those, fired up to remove the Bush Crime Family, will now be disheartened because they don’t see instant cures in their pet area. They may not show up to fight the 2010 battle for Congress. It is normal for the “out” party to win more Congressional seats in the off-year elections. We must not let that happen. We, progressives, need to aim our weapons at the enemy. I’m not suggesting that we give Obama a “pass” on his failures. But if we lose Congressional votes, reform will be just that much harder, if it comes at all. Obama will have to bend even more to the righties.

Pundits. Aim your pens at the enemy who, even now continue to throw every possible block at health care reform.

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