By CFS

If you haven’t already gotten the chance to view this clip of the Daily Show – basically Jon Stewart gets so frustrated and dumbstruck with politics in Washington that he gives up trying to understand the method behind the madness that he feels like giving up – I ask that you do so now.  It sums up perfectly how I have felt about politics for about the last year and the utter failure of my meek mind to understand the stonewalling tactics of GOPers and the rise of the angry right.

The latest thing to blow my mind occurred last week when Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes’ claimed that Denver’s new bicycle share program was part of a conspiracy to “convert Denver into a United Nations community.”  Who knows what that really means but it seems that bikes could “threaten our personal freedoms.”  So while progressives are attempting to provide America with more transportation choices through making transportation funding more level for roads, transit, and non-motorized modes – and isn’t that what American freedom is all about… choice – a certain segment of conservatives would like to demonize bicycles and even ban them from our roads.  These are the types of people who are rising to the top thanks to the Tea Party… Dan Maes, Sharon Angle, and Rand?

According to a study conducted by several researchers from MIT way back in 2006, and recently updated, we live in the most partisan political atmosphere since the civil war reconstruction era.  Thanks to that radical partisanship we also have the first failed Presidency of the 21st Century… not another FDR but Hoover 2.0.  And I am referring to the perception of a failed Presidency that surrounds Obama at this point.  It is a perception that had its inception early on when the media hyped his first 100 days as akin to FDR’s famous energetic push of legislation and then Obama promptly disappointed.  No matter what the reality is of the Obama Presidency, no matter what pieces of legislation get passed, the last two years have been a failure compared to the hype of “change” that was such a clarion call to the ideologically muddled masses.

And thats the place in the story where the needle skips for me.  The gap between the reality of the Obama Presidency and the perception of Obama that has engendered the Tea Party insurgency, the “Just Say No To Everything” Republicans, and political candidates such as Dan Maes.  Obama as a danger to our future freedom has been manufactured and used to an amazing level of effectiveness.  Far from being the transformative figure he was original billed as, or the secret socialist taking over every facet of American life and ridding America of free-will that the Tea Party would like everyone to believe,  he has proven to be an inept and ineffectual manager of congress, his legislative agenda and worst of all an incrementalist rather than a radical.  In that vein he is akin to Hoover, understanding the gravity of the situation laid-out before him but being to meek to take truly bold action the like of which propelled FDR to the venerated position he occupies in the American psyche.

Little, if anything, fundamental about our country has changed since Obama’s election other than that sentiment in this country has taken another rightward lurch that seemed so unthinkable after eight years of George W. Bush.  The truly transformative presidents of the last 100 years (FDR, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan) all aggressively pushed through their legislative agendas in a paternalistic manner and largely controlled the conversation surrounding policy effectively enough to give us policies and programs that have stood the test of time and have become a part of the fundamental makeup of our Republic.  Whereas Obama has passed a health bill that a Republican resurgence will guarantee the demise of while also being unable occupy the rhetorical high ground in political battles.  Sorry Republicans, but George W. Bush gave us a more radical expansion of federal government powers, powers that fundamentally erode our rights as citizens, than anything Obama has given us.

I understand the anger and fear of an unknown future that people feel at the current moment as jobs continue to vaporize and an avalanche of foreclosures continue to steamroll the economy.  But Obama is not the great monster threatening our freedoms and our future… extreme partisanship and levels of income equality not seen since the 1920s.  30 years of conservative ideology and policies led us to a precipice which we promptly fell off with the bursting of the housing bubble… so it must be the next guys fault and not the cumulative result of decades of policy, greed, and bets gone wrong.

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  1. Glad to find another citizen gives up! We got more hobo types and unemployed, since nothing much has changed with President B.O.! For sure, I don’t feel like a trillionaire. However, we do owe 13.5 trillion dollars, so I feel honored to be considered a trillionaire of debt!
    Anyhow, good you’re giving. Hobo types don’t use bikes much. However, it would seem to help us reduce pollution, reduce congestion to promote trolleys, subways, use more cabs, and ban private cars from NYC, Chicago, LA, etc. to reduce pollution, improve choices, and people can walk without fearing for their lives from crazy drivers.

  2. kip

    I have to agree with this post.

  3. Lizard

    the title of this post, cfs, should be I GIVE UP ON THE TWO PARTY CHARADE!

    first, let me apologize, because now i’m going to obnoxiously remind everyone that it was possible to anticipate the inevitability of obama’s disappointing capitulation to the big bucks who will never blink twice about fucking over millions of people if it means the funnel of wealth will keep filling their bank accounts.

    honestly, sometimes i think this “partisanship” is nothing more than a clever corporate exploitation of the old culture war still being fought between hippies and rednecks. and it’s getting old.

    personally i think (here he goes again) it’s high time for us up&comers to dispose of the baby boomer’s cultural tantrums and political baggage and unplug for a few seconds to really think about the consequences of not facing up to how deeply corrupt our country’s ruling class has become, and how undeniably complicit we are in allowing them to get away with it.

    the ruling class won’t even have to roll out the police state too often, because we will be too busy squabbling and attacking each other over trapping, wolves, weed and homosex. how fucking boring.

    jeezus, people, war with iran could break out any day, and there’s barely a peep over the disturbing escalations. i don’t think anyone in this country is even paying attention anymore. while obama’s administration is sending nuclear armed carriers to run war games, the neocons are pushing legislation supporting an israeli strike. the pieces are being put into place, and its a virtual repeat of the iraq formula.

    that is what most disgusts me about obama: not only has his election neutered the anti-war movement, but it was completely predictable during the campaign that escalating the af-pak theatre was a given.

    and people like me who tried to draw attention to this back then were absolutely ridiculed by “democratic” supporters, because i think they knew it wouldn’t be that easy. sorry, but the color of obama’s skin doesn’t mean your counter-culture struggles against social inequity had finally won (remember the 80’s?). it illustrates how those struggles were just the beginning, and because enough of you abandoned your principles, here we are, still slugging away futilely at false targets.

    /end rant

    • Amen, brother. Of course it was predictable! I fell under his spell, but many didn’t.

      But here’s the rub with politics – we can see what is in front of our faces, but not understand the overall objective. Most of what Republicans say in public can be discounted, as they are just playing to their nutter butter base. But the idea that Obama is characterized as he is, on one side, while so many of us can see, on our side, that he has a definite righty streak in him … and my how the Bush agenda is still in place … I think that all this right wing nonsense is political cover for Obama. It allows him to be perceived as a lefty due to the verbal abuse from the right, and to acts as a righty, as Democrats normally aren’t very bright about actual policy.

  4. Big Swede

    Some one else “gave up” 65 years ago today.

    • Lizard

      don’t think you won’t get yours.

      • Big Swede

        Knew you’d rise to the bait there Liz.

        • Lizard

          i’ll go a step further, bs. my hunch is the next domestic escalation of the war on terror will be a dirty bomb going off in a major american city.

          that may sound a bit crazy, so how about something that’s actually happening, like the pentagon expanding its seven bases in columbia. and how columbia recently accused venezuela of harboring FARC fighters. and how this is seen by some as laying the ground work for hostilities. and there are rumors we’re positioning a naval presence off costa rica. same old imperial shit has been going on for decades.

          and if the democratic supporters who just got flamed by gibbs can’t see the contempt elements within this administration have for his supposed base “holding him accountable” which is what he said recently to net roots attendees, then what’s the point?

          i think democratic supporters might unconsciously need republicans to make major strides back into national leadership so they can shift their guilt and shame back toward contempt for the right, because that makes sense.

    • A life lesson for you here Swede: If there was any chance that someone would have retaliated, the U.S. would never have used the bomb. It was the fact that Japan was defenseless that allowed us to commit that atrocity. 60+ scientists working on Manhattan petitioned Truman not to use the bomb, that the war was over, Japan was beat. But we had the weapon and therefore had to use it.

      Can you look someone in the eye and kill him? If not, you are normal. But all this kill talk is a little but unsettling.

      • Big Swede

        I don’t think the pilots of the Enola Gay looked anyone in the eye.

        But to answer your question if some one were to rob, rape or threaten me or my family, yes, unsettling as that may be.

        • Lizard

          gee swede, i wonder if anyone who has had their loved ones blown up by our predator drones feel the same way.

          • Big Swede

            Maybe their love ones would be relieved that their slave masters are now beating the 72 virgins.

            Predator footage at the link.

            http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ae8_1279923628

            • Lizard

              too bad they’re not evolved like american christians with their armageddon hardons for the second coming.

              you are a true piece of work, swede. don’t ever change.

              • mr benson

                “In this successful campaign (to add “under God” to the Pledge), the Knights of Columbus worked closely with Representative Louis Rabout-a Democratic congressman from the Detroit area. He was a devout Roman Catholic. One of his sons became a Jesuit priest and two of his daughters became Catholic nuns.”

                The authoritarian left is a product of the Great Awakening as surely as the authoritarian right. Both reject the idea that individuals are capable of just government and look to leaders, who receive their authority “under God”, to control and make decisions for an unrighteous rabble.

            • Lizard

              you are one of the reasons why these wars will never end. you callously link to a video of people being blown up with a metallica soundtrack. what a lowlife gutless piece of shit thing to do, swede. i’m almost speechless.

      • We are all alike in that imaginary scenario. We all think we would kill without remorse. But only a few of us can do so without remorse, and you know very well you are not among those few.

  5. Big Swede

    Here’s the real reasons why people are giving up on the current ruling political class.

    By Pat Caddel, longtime Dem strategist.

    • Lizard

      gobble gobble yum yum
      i wish i was republican
      and then i’d get my country back
      from aliens, fags, and uppity blacks

    • mr benson

      I don’t believe the polls accurately reflect how the voters will vote. I think “republican triumph” claims, months ahead of the elections are idiotic.

      Carville is just firing up the base with his “dire” forecasts.

      There is so much room between the two extremes as represented now by the democrats and republicans, yet only a few Senators or other politicians exist in that vacuum in the middle. It’s as if american politics is graphed not as a bell curve but as a barbell curve.

      The silent majority has given up and handed the country to the cacaphony of the extremes.

      • Big Swede

        Is that was the Missouri vote was?

        A poll?

        • mr benson

          Missouri gave us the Anointed Genital, Mr. Ashcroft. I’m not reading any “change” from the “hope and change” in their results.

          but I still hope for change from “hope and change” because all that’s left is hope for a bit of spare change left to us by a runaway federal govt.

          I don’t look to the show me state to show me that hope, though.

    • carfreestupidity

      Republicans get everything they want for eight years and never complain while W. sells them down the river and the Democrats act like a bunch of orphans asking for another bowl of porridge… then Obama comes along and they are suddenly awakened and throw the hissy fit of the century?

      And this guy has the balls to blame it all on the Dems?

      • Yes. He does. And rightfully so.

        When you have clear majorities and can’t get half of your agenda through, it’s your fault. When you look toward poles and elections instead of at what is right and just, it is your fault. And this goes straight to the top where President Obama could be doing things like:

        1) Ending the wars
        2) Ending DADT
        3) Pushing for a real healthcare reform bill
        4) Standing up against Arizona Gov. Janet Brewer’s insanity instead of getting money for drone patrols along the border (he likes his drones, doesn’t he?)
        5) Not forcing Chevrolet to use tax dollars to put the horrendous Volt into mass production (40 miles per charge? $41,000? WTF is the point?)

        The list goes on and on…

        This is not about the failures of the right, and the GOP anymore. Of course the GOP is having a hissy fit. They spent the 90s in that mode–the last time someone from the middle was president. It’s what they do when they’re out of power (whereas Democrats out of power roll over and vote for such things as: Tax cuts for the rich; the border fence; and the amazingly successful Medicare Part D).

        So let the GOP do their song and dance, and ignore it.

        The real issue is that the Democrats sold us on an agenda of reform and change and have yet to take the necessary gambles and risks that comes with the territory of making said changes because they don’t want to risk losing power. It’s pathetic. When I see the money trails from insurance companies to Democratic coffers, and the inability for anyone but Rep. Alan Grayson to stand up for ending the wars I can think only one thing:

        I want my vote back.

        • carfreestupidity

          I want my vote back as well.

          I still think that much of the current stalemate is a result of the rise of the Tea Party… It stiffened the resolve of the GOP not to give any ground to Obama and forced the GOP into a more extreme rightward lurch than normal so that even Obama’s moderate and centrist agenda is “extremist” and “socialist” because the Tea Party has effectively shouted down everyone else in the debate.

          And yes Obama is to blame as well for the failure or his platform… If he had been more courageous and bold you might not have had the fracturing of the left and the popular support might have continued had he turned the vision of the future he presented in the 2008election into bold action.

  6. mr benson

    “So while progressives are attempting to provide America with more transportation choices through making transportation funding more level for roads, transit, and non-motorized modes – and isn’t that what American freedom is all about”

    Well, no. America is about personal freedom and individual rights and responsibilities. It’s what you can do for America, not what America can do for you.

    Exactly the opposite of the authoritarian nanny state the “true progressive” espouses.

  7. Lizard

    first, mr. b, i don’t think progressive=authoritarian nanny state. i think most progressives would support a radical shift in what our tax money currently supports. like education instead of endless war, and real infrastructure investment instead of covering the losses of those arrogant asshole high stakes gambling addicts on wall street

    and because progressives prioritize social enrichment above corporate enrichment, they should despise duplicitous democrats like the sitting president who gladly harnessed progressive energy but, sadly, keeps defecating in their mouths.

    thankfully there are now finally some waves being made from the left, which is why robert gibbs bitch-slapped them so publicly. they need to be reminded that acknowledging reality is politically unacceptable.

    i often wonder what a progressive uprising could look like. j-girl’s post about ibsen trying to keep party politics out of his run for sheriff made me day dream a what if.

    what if enough democrats could be convinced to jump ship from the party; change the D to I (and turn their backs on the old school party nods and subsequent “donations”). and what if enough so called progressives who support the democratic party likewise quit giving money to the party unless set conditions were met.

    i have no idea what those conditions would be. and the reality is there are too many easily disorganized factions within the fractured remnants of the real left. i don’t think enough shards could be organized to produce more than a bee sting on the two-faced beast that is our broken political system.

    so divest. it’s what broke apartheid in south africa. and it’s what frightens israel as more and more nations can’t stomach their blatant violations of human rights, along with ours of course.

    i mean if progressives can’t make more than a peep over gibbs ridiculing them and suggesting they need drug testing, it will just mark another lost opportunity to redefine what was expected of electing this president and how far from those expectations he has deviated.

    there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities left.

    • Lizard – what a well-thought comment. Thanks.

      Unfortunately, the way our system is designed means that a progressive revolt against Democrats can only mean that Republicans are elected. Then we are blamed.

      However, I am one who thinks that it is better to have Republicans in office than quisling Democrats, as political office is not the be-all-end-all, and is at best only a weak expression of political power. Office holders are sensitive to money and power, for sure, but they are also incredible sensitive to organized political movements, which is what caused Gibbs tantrum. It appears that progressives are not supporting quisling Democrats.

      A principle of politics that we need to understand is this: An office holder who refuses to fight for an issue or principle does not believe in that issue. They are merely posing for the cameras. So when Democrats say “We just don’t have the votes” for this or that, what they are really saying is that we will not fight for your beliefs.

      In that situation, it is best to let them fall out of office, and allow genuine opponents to take office. This creates the seed bed for organization.

      It’s all we have in this corrupt system. And remember, Democrats are the problem.

      • JC

        If “Democrats are the problem”, it does not necessarily follow that “it is better to have Republicans in office.”

        Just because dems are quislings, doesn’t mean that republicans aren’t quislings, too. You are the one who preaches about the two faces of the mono-party political system we have. If dems are quislings, then too are republicans, and it is no better to have them in office.

        As to letting corrupt politicians fall out of office–even given that the replacements are just as corrupt (I’m thinking of replacing Melcher with Burns here as an example, and then replacing him with Tester)–I think that the current dem plan for this fall of choosing the lesser of two evils is destined to fail.

        How far we have come in less than two years when the mantra was “hope and change,” and now it is “don’t vote for them because they are more corrupt and whacko than us.”

        When politics reaches that place, it is time to look back to third party candidates, because quite frankly, I can’t vote for the lesser of two evils any more.

        • I don’t paint Republicans with a broad brush, but yeah, there is plenty of corruption and stupidity there. The question is, which party inspires organization, which party destroys it?

          Example: We had a vibrant and active anti-war movement before Obama took office, and now it is weak and divided.

          Given that Obama too would have started the same war (I know that’s not a given with anyone but me), and that his party cuts the balls off community organizing, it is better to have Republicans in office.

          And finally, gaining political office is a very low level of organizing, and efforts usually end the day after the election.

        • Example: We had an active and vibrant and completely ineffective anti-war movement before Obama took office, and now it is less effective than it was before, which was … none … none effective. That is Obama’s fault. If your fee-fees are hurt and you feel like a failure, it is certainly the fault of Democrats. Democrats are the problem, if the problem is that your feelings are bruised.

          • I was just going down the list looking for stupid comments, and stumbled on this one.

            You are kind of worthless as a friend. You must be a Democrat. A Reagan Democrat to boot.

          • Too close to the truth, douche bag? I never claimed to be your friend, Mark. I was a friendly, until you displayed your delusions for all to see.

            Answer a simple question: Was the anti-war movement more or less effective before Barack Obama became President? The same you say? Not effective at all? I pray I can contain my surprise! And after all, I am wedded to the Democratic party, and wish to gay sex Ronald Reagan. I must file for divorce … Pshaw!

            Your labels are meaningless, Mark. Jhwygirl has told you so. JC has told you so. Pete Talbot has told you so, though gently. Craig Moore is currently spanking you with the truth of your obsolescence. I’ve been telling you so for a year and half. Engage or be a willful idiot, Mark. It won’t change the fact that the anti-war protests before Obama were flaccid and you blame Obama because they remain flaccid. That’s just stupid. If you’re looking for stupid comments, look no further than yourself.

            • See what you’re saying? You’re saying that the group doesn’t approve of my opinions. This is good insight into how your mind works, constantly checking the boundaries to see what is appropriate.

              That and the lecturing demeanor make you a real treat.

              Now if two million people demonstrated against the Iraq war, and it made no difference, then you might gather that anti-war efforts in a rabid imperialist country are of no importance. There’s something to that, but at the end of the day, some of us stand on principle.

              Not you, you Democrat, you. I used the word “friend” in the political sense.

            • See what you’re saying

              ?

              I wrote it. Why wouldn’t I see it?

              You’re saying that the group doesn’t approve of my opinions.

              No, arrogant kitten. I wrote very clearly that the individuals who think and respond to you don’t approve of your responses. No one is taking your opinion very seriously at this point. Your “opinions” are kind of meaningless at this stage of the game.

              This is good insight into how your mind works, constantly checking the boundaries to see what is appropriate.

              This from the little boy who’s trolled me in post, comment and email (thought I’d missed that, didn’t you, troll?). The amusing part for me has been to play you at all levels. I’m certain your arrogance has an answer, just as I’m certain that you would rather I not, once again, post the proof of your trolling me. That’s why it’s been so desperately important to you to show how we should both be ignored; so that others will never know how bankrupt you are in honesty. I have nothing to fear here, Mark. You do.

              There’s something to that, but at the end of the day, some of us stand on principle.

              And your principle has led to nothing. Nothing, Mark. You stand on the ground and scream, because you stand no higher than nothing. Get a grip, kitten. And for the record, pissant, photos of me protesting against the wars have been published online and in the local paper. Any pics of you? No? Why doesn’t that surprise me, liar. Who would be the treat now, cupcake?

              I used the word “friend” in the political sense.

              In other words, you have no idea what the word means, “friend”.

            • My god you’re boring! Predictable, tedious, and boring. I think Kavulla saw this the other day after you launched a 500 word empty-headed bomb on him. Words, words, words, no substance.

              Regarding wars, I am one who sees futility in protesting, as it is 60’s kind of behavior that frankly was not that effective then. That is, the war went on until 1975, and the major effect of protests was the Nixon pulled back American troops and then unloaded a monstrous air attack on North Vietnam and Cambodia, killing millions. So protests in the 60’s were counterproductive.

              So I don’t have an answer for you other than that it is not to join the Democrats and join in the fun. Your quisling attitude is so disgusting I want to vomit. You can’t bear them so you join them.

              There are among us smart and dedicate people who are working to stop the unending wars that have plagued us since the end of World War II. Some of them are in the Democrat Party, but not many, The Party is really useless, even counter-useful, as its primary effect is to dishearten people, teaching them to expect less.

              The party of low expectations. Somehow, oddly, seems appropriate for you.

              What email? What are you talking about? You’re a little off-kilter there, my man.

          • Lizard

            jeezus, this thing between you two has more energy than the energizer bunny.

      • carfreestupidity

        Democrats aren’t the problem… Money as free speech and corporations legally considered people are two roots to the problem that must be dug up before any true progressive advancement can be made

    • JC

      “so divest”

      Amen!

    • carfreestupidity

      Hey… If 8 years of Bush-Cheney couldn’t unify the Progressive left into having a coherent political philosophy and a strong political force I doubt a quisling set of democrats will be able to accomplish the task

  8. Lizard

    i was reading a collection of michael parenti’s ruminations today, and came across this interesting little tidbit:

    conservatives like a big deficit because it represents an upward transfer of income from those who are eventually held responsible to pay it (the general public) to those who hold the notes on the debt (rich creditors). a massive national debt is a way of privatizing the public treasury. the bigger the debt, the larger the portion of the federal budget that finds its way back into the coffers of private creditors, as the government continues to borrow from those it should be taxing

    hmmm, maybe this explains why republican administrations like to blow up our debt when they’re in office. then, when a corporate neo-liberal shill like obama is installed, the conservatives become deficit hawks and start yammering for “fiscal responsibility.” that of course means cutting back on entitlements and throwing major tantrums whenever the word “tax” is uttered, even if that means closing corporate loopholes to pay for keeping teachers.

    then i ran across this piece:

    While progressives and leftists write about the “crises of capitalism”, manufacturers, petroleum companies, bankers and most other major corporations on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific coast are chuckling all the way to the bank.

    From the first quarter of this year, corporate profits have shot up between twenty to over a hundred percent.1 In fact, corporate profits have risen higher than they were before the onset of the recession in 2008.2 Contrary to progressive bloggers the rates of profits are rising not falling, particularly among the biggest corporations.3 The buoyancy of corporate profits is directly a result of the deepening crises of the working class, public and private employees and small and medium size enterprises.

    With the onset of the recession, big capital shed millions of jobs (one out of four Americans has been unemployed in 2010), secured give backs from the trade union bosses, received tax exemptions, subsidies and virtually interest free loans from local, state and federal governments.

    As the recession temporarily bottomed out, big business doubled up production on the remaining labor force, intensifying exploitation (more output per worker) and lowered costs by passing onto the working class a much larger share of health insurance and pension benefits with the compliance of the millionaire trade union officials. The result is that while revenues declined, profits rose and balance sheets improved.4 Paradoxically, the CEO’s used the pretext and rhetoric of “crises” coming from progressive journalists to keep workers from demanding a larger share of the burgeoning profits, aided by the ever growing pool of unemployed and underemployed workers as possible “replacements” (scabs) in the event of industrial action.

    The current boom of profits has not benefited all sectors of capitalism: the windfall has accrued overwhelmingly with the biggest corporations. In contrast many middle and small enterprises have suffered high rates of bankruptcy and losses, which has made them cheap and easy prey for buyouts for the ‘big fellows’ (Financial Times August 1, 2010). The crises of middle capital has led to the concentration and centralization of capital and has contributed to the rising rate of profits for the largest corporations.

    this is part of the program. inflate bubbles, make massive amounts of money. collapse bubbles, and use the crisis to loot the treasury. then use that money to buy up (at firesale prices) all the little fish who don’t control the levers of capital.

    and you wonder, swede, why the first lady is jetting around with 40 of her closest friends. her husband is engaged in some very difficult work keeping up the veneer of change while letting these corporate bloodsuckers squeeze us dry.

    • Lizard

      sorry, giving up isn’t relevant to this article. this article is about soldiers taking a stand. they are doing the opposite giving up. and we all should be paying attention.

  9. Lizard

    sorry, i won’t let this thread die. obama is now bombing yemen. who cares if we aren’t in a declared war, right? certainly not americans. and here is the best articulated discontent i’ve read so far, by michael david green. i’m going to just post it here, in full. read it.

    *

    “Hey, Robert Gibbs: Screw you, and the president you rode in on.

    I’ve always heard former presidents and their staff remark about the insularity of working in the White House. Now I see what they mean. These people are losing it.

    Press Secretary Gibbs recently did an interview with The Hill magazine in which he vented what is apparently widespread anger within the White House toward progressives who express their disappointment with this presidency. Among other comments, he noted that the “professional left” wasn’t recognizing the administration’s accomplishments to date. Gibbs said, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.” He also said, “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it’s crazy”. And he argued that liberals would never be happy, saying, “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president”.

    Let’s leave aside how insulting and demeaning these comments are to millions of Americans who happen to share three key attributes: One, they really care about their country, two, they worked harder than anyone to get Barack Obama and Gibbs their current jobs, and, three – unlike much of the rest of America today – they have so far resisted slipping into insanity. In truth, this White House has been bitch-slapping its own base since it walked in the door, staffing up with Republicans and Wall Street bankers, negotiating endlessly at every opportunity with the absolute worst elements of both political parties, and completely ignoring any progressive initiatives or components of key legislation. Now it comes along and adds grievous insult to injury with these degrading remarks.

    Which also happen to be stupid remarks. As I have wondered aloud previously, just who exactly does Barack Obama think will be voting for him in 2012? The right? Golly, that seems unlikely. They don’t even think the sonuvabitch is an American. The center? He punted away these voters three months into his presidency, chiefly over fiscal issues, and they’re not coming back. This loss was largely unnecessary, but it nicely highlights the values, results and ineptitude of the White House. Anyhow, take away the right and the middle and that leaves the rest of us worthless whiners, out here on the professional left. Sure, prolly a lot of liberals will vote for this guy again, especially when they see their foaming-at-the-mouth other option nominated by the GOP. But is that supposed to represent a winning coalition? Two-thirds of the twenty percent of Americans who self-describe as liberals voting half-heartedly for Obama’s reelection because the other choice is too horrible to imagine? Is that their vision of a ringing endorsement? As for me – and I think I speak for many others here – I’d rather eat metal than vote for Obama in 2012. I’d rather shit bricks. Big, rough, rocky ones. I’m not sure if I’ll ever vote for another Democrat again for the rest of my life, but if I do it sure won’t be this pathetic punk.

    Yet all of this appears to be quite lost on the White House, where the reigning dogma is that they’re doing wonderful things and dummies on the right and now the left (oh, and the middle too) just don’t recognize it. It’s all perfectly clear when you’re inside the bubble.

    And, in fairness, there is some bit of reason to see the world in this fashion. A large part of how we measure the success of presidents involves the degree to which they are able to fulfill their legislative agendas. This president has put through Congress three major, difficult, bills – the stimulus package, the health care bill, and the financial reform act – which gives the outward appearance of outstanding and unusually strong success.

    But, of course, appearances are often deceptive. As in this case. This is, in fact, a failed presidency – and tragically so. Here are ten reasons why:

    First, Obama has indeed shepherded through Congress several major pieces of legislation. No doubt. But the bills are crap. It’s like the difference between a sperm donor and a dad who has actively raised a kid for twenty years. You can accurately label both ‘father’, but they are very different animals. Similarly, you can push through Congress massive bills which do many things, and accurately call them ‘stimulus’ or ‘health care reform’ or ‘financial reform’, but that doesn’t make them quality legislation.

    And, in fact, these were not. Yes, Obama did in fact get health care legislation through Congress, and yes, it does include some necessary and beneficial changes. But otherwise this was a lousy bill. The fact that the insurance industry applauded it in the end (and, indeed, the president cut a secret deal with them from the very start) tells you everything you need to know about who were the winners here (hint: you are in that other category). This legislation took everything that’s fundamentally broken with American health care – namely, the whole for-profit modality of the system – and exacerbated it expansively, forcing thirty to forty million Americans to buy this useless predatory product, and stealing money from Medicare in order to pay for it. Moreover, there is nothing within the legislation to contain the escalating costs of health care delivery in America, or to prevent insurance companies from just jacking up their rates. Recently the president was seen wagging his finger at the industry, trying to prevent them from doing just that. Can you imagine the laughs they have inside corporate headquarters across America at the expense of this rube?

    The same is true of the two other major bills associated with this presidency. The stimulus bill was a grab-bag of pork and Republican tax cuts which was wholly insufficient in scale and entirely unfocused on projects that would actually stimulate the economy. Yes, it seems very likely that things would be worse now than had the bill not been passed, but is that our current standard of presidential achievement? “Life is bad, my fellow Americans, but it would be worse without me”? Likewise, there are some good items in the financial reform bill, but it fundamentally doesn’t address the problems that got us where we are and will therefore take us down even further on the next iteration. Wall Street is reportedly happy with this package, which, again, tells you just about all you need to know. Think about it. Imagine that Congress had passed legislation on criminal penalties for sexual assault that left serial rapists applauding the quality of their work. Get the picture?

    The second reason that the Obama presidency is tanking has to do with the process by which the president moved these bills. The White House displayed ineptitude that could make Keystone Kops wince. They make piñatas seem like the new standard of proactive advocacy by comparison. This president evidently sees Mr. Bill as his model for self-actualization. And so he holds endless negotiating sessions with every rapacious barbarian and grotesque freak in the American political system (and nobody does political sickos quite like we do), even as those same folks quite literally label him a granny killer, a socialist and a fascist. And then, of course, after a year of cutting deals with these monsters, watering down the bills to meet their requirements, while completely stiff-arming progressives, none of them vote for his bills anyhow. Meanwhile, the president, the Democratic Party, the progressive agenda, and the country have all been deeply damaged by the dithering dummkopf in the White House. Are you really surprised that we’re not excited about your legislative achievements, Mr. Gibbs, after you put us through such a tortuous process only to yield such detritus, the legislative equivalent of junk bonds?

    But it actually gets worse. The fundamental reason that Obama is producing lousy legislation – and the third reason his presidency is failing – is because he is serving the wrong masters. Anyone who thinks that he or his pals in the Democratic Party are any less whores of the corporate oligarchy in this country than are the Reptilicans is living in the 1930s. Obama, like Clinton before him, and like Reid and Pelosi and even Barney Frank, know who their constituents are, and it sure ain’t you and me. This is a president who wrote health care legislation that will massively enrich predatory insurance companies which contribute nothing to the actual delivery of health care. This is an administration that continued to let BP and other oil companies run wild and unregulated, both before and after the Gulf spill. These guys are going to hugely increase offshore drilling. They gave away public funds to bail out Wall Street thieves, one hundred cents on the dollar, after those nice men wrecked the global economy. This presidency keeps feeding the military-industrial complex ever more and more, setting new records for ‘defense’ spending. And on and on. I hope the president and his professional mouthpiece can forgive us progressives for not getting excited about yet another administration that – even in the midst of the worst economic times since the Great Depression – continues to serve the American oligarchy and leaves the rest of the country out flapping in the wind. Maybe that makes us seem from inside the White House bubble like we’re a bunch of fussy, demanding cranks. So be it. People are dying out here in the real world, while the wealthiest among us are blowing out all records for the accumulation of wealth, and the hyper-polarization of class in America marches on unabated.

    But what really is most laughable about Gibbs’ remarks is how he has confused legislating with solving people’s problems. And, after all, that’s what people expect from a president. No one gives a damn how many bills he can ram through Congress or how hard it is to get it done. Odd as it may seem, what people want is results. Talk about needing drug-testing, do the folks in the White House really think that the public is happy about the state of the economy now? Do they really think that passing a stimulus bill – even a good one – is necessarily the same as creating jobs? It’s a real measure of the insularity (or desperation) of these fools that the president is running around these days talking happy talk about how the economy is in recovery mode, at exactly the same moment that the tapped-out Fed is reaching deeper than ever into its bag of tricks seeking unconventional tools to stimulate an economy that they overtly admit is heading southward again. The same lunacy applies to Obama’s other legislative ‘achievements’. Which one of us is on drugs here? Robert Gibbs for thinking we should all be pumped about being forced to buy health insurance when the legislation actually kicks in in 2014, or that we should be excited about how Wall Street criminals remain as unregulated as ever? Or those of us sitting out here in the real world, experiencing zero change in our lives as a product of this presidency?

    But there’s more to what Obama has done than simply legislation, and this gives us reason number five for why progressives think the guy sucks. He’s massively increased America’s commitment to a war in Afghanistan that might have made sense at one time, but now gives every appearance of being a poorly executed attempt to achieve objectives that would likely be completely impossible, were they ever to be adequately defined. He has staffed his economic team with almost no one who isn’t an acolyte of Robber Rubin and his kleptocratic klan of legalized Wall Street Madoffs. He’s appointed what appear to be careerist nothingburger vague moderates to key Supreme Court justice positions, at a time when the twisted mutants who form the majority of the Court are going absolutely off the rails, without any sort of constraint. He’s actually gone to court defending the Defense of Marriage Act. He has made claims for executive power and national security-based intrusions on civil liberties that could make John Yoo blanch. Every time the right runs a smear campaign against some low-ranking individual in the administration he immediately capitulates and has them fired. The administration has radically increased the offshore areas available for oil drilling in ways that environmentalists never thought Dick Cheney would contemplate.

    And there’s more still where all that came from. But a sixth reason that the Obama administration is not impressing progressives has less to do with what it’s done and more to do with what it hasn’t. Somehow, Harry Truman could integrate the military racially, but Obama can’t seem to do the same for gays. Nor can he close Guantánamo either, well after he promised he would do so. And despite the fact that Russia is quite literally on fire now (and this is just the beginning of the fun that is to come), this guy can’t do anything about global warming. What’s worse is that he isn’t even seriously trying. But perhaps the most glaring omission of all right now is the president’s absence without leave on behalf of the struggling people of his country. He has no plan for economic stimulus, and he couldn’t possibly get one through Congress at this point anyhow, having blown his political capital on the first one which was both too small and not remotely focused enough. My favorite of all, though, is his near silence on the most basic decency of unemployment insurance. The utter-scum-with-human-DNA otherwise known as American conservatives have been running around at a time of huge and genuine public suffering talking about how we can’t afford to continue meager unemployment benefits for lowlifes who are just too lazy to work. And this president, who never seems to get animated about anything, can’t even muster sufficient compassion and outrage to rise to the defense of the millions of poor slobs being ground under the wheels of this Government Sachs Depression. Of course progressives are disenchanted with Barack Obama. On so many key issues, we can’t even find the guy.

    Of course, all this adds up to disaster for the president as well as the rest of us, a seventh very fine explanation for why we professional lefties – who, after all, have no jobs and nothing else to do – gripe about the Great One, his amazing achievements notwithstanding. Do they actually not notice in the White House, that Barack Obama’s job approval rating has sunk by twenty points since he came into office? Are they really not aware that they have facilitated the revival of a Republican Party that less than two years ago was rightly (pardon the pun) on death’s door? Are they actually not cognizant of the fact that voters are about to reward their accomplishments by smashing Democrats everywhere next November, likely causing them to give up control of the House, possibly the Senate, and lots of state legislative and gubernatorial positions that will be key to redistricting for the next ten years? Have they not asked themselves why so many Democratic candidates across the country are busy, uh, doing laundry, when the president flies into town to campaign on their behalf? I’m sorry, but if this is a democracy (and that’s a debate that must be reserved as the subject of another essay, or ten), then isn’t the ultimate measure of how you’re doing just how it plays in Peoria? Don’t we know without question whether the administration is succeeding just by looking at these figures? Yes, we more or less do, and it ain’t a pretty picture.

    But don’t get me wrong. It would be fair to say that I couldn’t care less what happens to Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Geithner, Summers and that whole lot, except that it’s not quite true – I would actually like to see them smacked upside the head for their treason (and I choose my words carefully here) against the American people at a time of such great need. But the reason that their sinking prospects nevertheless remains so troubling to progressives is twofold. First, because what will replace these professional failures will actually be worse. In many ways there isn’t much difference between the parties, but at least Democrats don’t seem to feel the need to start wars so frequently, or slash taxes on the rich so much, adding to the national debt so significantly. At least they don’t embarrass the country so thoroughly abroad. That’s the first way, Mr. Gibbs, in which your failure translates into our punishment. The other is that because you’ve been such boobs in office, and because you’ve let the lunatic right (which is the only kind there is any more) falsely paint you as liberals, socialists and every other kind of mad creature from left field, you’ve managed to do great damage to the marketing prospects of real progressive ideas and badly needed solutions, damage that is likely to be around for a very long time. Great work, fellas. Thanks so much for pissing in our pond.

    A ninth reason why Obama has left his erstwhile base empty-handed and exasperated is because he refuses to grab the reins of an institution he profoundly misunderstands. I’m sick of this administration and its apologists – some of them nominally progressive – impatiently explaining to hopelessly naive lefties like myself how Obama has only (only!) sixty Democrats in the Senate and an equal percentage in the House, and how the very, very bad men of the right constantly say many unpleasant things about Mr. Happyface, tearing him down with supreme unfairness. Gee, I don’t really remember this being a problem for the last president, who often had no majorities in Congress. Or for Reagan or Johnson or Franklin Roosevelt. Why? Because they understood the nature of the presidency.

    It’s all about the bully pulpit. You don’t sit there like a can or corn waiting for the likes of Sarah Palin to take a Louisville Slugger upside your freakin’ head. You don’t park yourself in the White House and fret about the lack of public support for your policies. You don’t attack your base for insufficient obsequiousness. What you do is go out there and you sell your program to the public, insisting that people demand Congress acts the way you want them to. And then you go to Congress and you twist the limbs of those little freaks out of their sockets. Hell, you can even rip their arms right off their shoulders and use them to vote on the bill yourself. In short, you get the job done. You create the reality you need to achieve the goals of your administration. The Obama people are astonishingly inept at this, and thus he has become the most passive president in memory, something right out of the nineteenth century. Which explains why even when they win a legislative battle, they lose. A yawning, indifferent public, never mobilized behind your agenda in the first place, isn’t going to notice when you pass big legislation, even if it happened to be good stuff – which this is decidedly not. Ironically, Republicans get this concept all too well. They’ve been wielding the bully pulpit like masters of the craft, and they don’t even own it right now. This tells you everything you need to know about why Obama’s presidency is sinking, along with the country’s welfare and progressives’ aspirations with it.

    The upshot of all this is that yes, Barack Obama is in fact quite a bit like George W. Bush. Except, of course, that Bush and his people were only cowardly when it came to fighting America’s wars themselves, as opposed to sending other kids off to do it. Obama, on the other hand, can’t even muster a bit of courage to use the office with which he’s been entrusted. Otherwise, though – policywise – Gibbs is completely wrong in his indignation directed at lefties for thinking Obama is like Bush. His war policies are like Bush’s. His state power, national security and civil liberties policies are like Bush’s and maybe worse. He said he wanted to close Gitmo but hasn’t, just as Bush did. His “fierce urgency of now” seems to have settled in for a long nappy-time when it comes civil rights for gays, just like with Bush. He serves America’s oligarchy just as fully as Bush did, Geithner and Summers stepping right in where Snow and Paulson once stood. He’s doing nothing about the most urgent issue of our time, or any time – global warming – just as Bush also fiddled while the planet burned.

    So, yeah, Robert, we do say that your boss is hardly distinguishable from his predecessor because, in every way that counts, he is hardly distinguishable from his predecessor. I don’t particularly care that Obama smiles where Bush smirked. I don’t really give a damn that Obama is doing war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq while Bush did them in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are nuances on nuances. When it comes to actual policy and effective governance, this presidency has been every bit the regressive disaster as was Bush’s or Clinton’s or Reagan’s – but more so because now the country is deeply mired in crises brought on by the last three decades of these abysmal policies.

    And so I confess that I’m not all that psyched when I see the press secretary of a failed president lecturing the people who put him into office, following two years of betraying them while cutting deals with the scariest predatory monsters in the country.

    And I especially don’t want to hear it from folks who don’t have the good sense to have good sense about themselves and their record. Obama recently gave himself a grade of “incomplete” for his presidency, but said he has a “pretty good track record”. Last year it was a B+, with an A- after health care passed. He’s certainly entitled to his opinion, which his fawning press secretary and other White House staff no doubt share in spades. It’s just that no one else does.

    Maybe if Obama was up twenty points instead of down that many, maybe if he was adored by a grateful public, maybe if he was poised to increase his party’s majorities in Congress rather than turn over control of both houses to people like Sharon Angle and Rand Paul, maybe if he was genuinely changing the country for the better – maybe then he’d have a soapbox to stand on and lecture the left.

    Until then, it’s not working.

    And you’re the problem, Mr. Gibbs, not us progressives with the integrity to speak honestly about the transparency of your emperor boss’s new clothes”




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