When Compromise Means Undermining The Logical Solutions To Our Most Serious Problems
When Barack Obama told the New York Times he was “like a Rorschach test,” after having just defeated Hillary Clinton in the Primaries, you have to wonder if he wasn’t already laying down a narrative he could lean on in defense of all the promises he intended to break.
Make no mistake about it, Progressives were NOT blinded by their infatuation with him. They were NOT merely projecting their own ideas of ‘change’ onto him, as he, his advisers and some in the MSM would have you believe.
Obama was not a candidate who spieled off a list of vague promises, leaving himself a vacuous space he could eventually wiggle away from. On the contrary, Obama was very specific about his platform. He eloquently explained to his supporters in precise details WHY his specific solutions were the most sound and the most logical for remedying the problems this country faced.
Unlike most politicians, Obama is blessed with a professorial ability to identify the cause of a complex problem and to articulately guide his listeners towards the most logical solution.
As it happened, his supporters equated his uncanny ability to brilliantly describe and defend each of his policy choices as evidence of his deep and profound commitment to them.
This is why Obama’s long list of betrayals have stung so many and in a way that differs from the all-too-familiar betrayals of the typical ‘talking points’ brand of politician. Obama was different. He made the intellectual case for the solutions he proposed.
An obvious example would be Obama’s promise that a public option would remain a vital component to any health care reform bill that he would sign. He explained it was the only way of injecting competition into a corrupt industry where none existed; that it was necessary for keeping the ‘for profit’ insurance industry honest, and would serve as a last resort for those who became unemployed, or who couldn’t, for whatever reason, afford the ‘for profit’ industry rates.
He had also described why a health care mandate — something his opponent, Hillary Clinton, favored — was idiotic. He stated “If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody buy a house. The reason they don’t have a house is they don’t have the money.”
As President, he championed the mandate, promised away the crucial public option in secret meetings with the hospital industry, and flipped on a good many of his other significant health care reform promises. And now — shocking! — Democrats worry about the political blowback in 2014 by middle-class families who will discover not only that they don’t qualify for subsidies, but that they will face financial penalties for not purchasing coverage, even if there are no policies they can afford.
Candidate Obama owes his alter ego, President Obama, one gigantic “Told You So!“
For this reason, there is a keen sense amongst many on the Left that President Obama has cunningly betrayed not just mere promises, but the public interest itself. That he sinisterly chose to enrich those same corrupt industries he spoke of so often, and to the detriment of millions of Americans.
Obama shifted very abruptly, once elected, from his commitment to ‘Change’ — as he had defined it — to something entirely different: a commitment to ‘Bipartisanship’. But this necessity for pragmatic compromise has cynically evolved into his chief rationale for pursuing the very opposite policies of the ones he once deemed imperative to solving our nation’s most vexing problems.
Here’s an exercise in simple arithmetic to help highlight the fallacy in Obama’s style of governance:
If Candidate Obama believed 1 + 1 = 2, and now faces Republicans who contend 1 + 1 = 5, should a President who quickly capitulates and decrees 1 + 1 = 4 still be trusted to solve our country’s problems?
Should he be praised for committing himself to something we all know is NOT a solution to the problem: (1 + 1 = 4), merely for the sake of projecting a token display of bipartisanship?
Many progressives believe that Obama’s commitment to compromise is nothing more than a cover to selfishly advance his own political interests. Because, we know from his campaign speeches what he himself believes to be the logical solutions for tackling these gigantic problems. And they are not at all what he has been fighting for since he was elected.
The President’s Eloquent Words Are Beginning to Ring Hollow
After eight tumultuous years of deceit, incompetence, and ideological extremism emanating from the White House the entire world eagerly embraced the ushering in of the new American President and all the hope that his victory embodied. I vividly recall the night Obama won: watching him give another spectacular speech on television, the tears of happiness filling the eyes of tens of thousands who ventured out into the cold Chicago evening to celebrate the country’s new beginning. I remember seeing the faces of people all over the world – rejoicing, misty eyed at the historic significance of this momentous occasion.
President Obama represented several things to a lot of people. He was an agent for change; an embodiment of ‘hope’ for so many who had lost it; one who answered to the people, and not the powerful interests (his campaign, after all, was largely funded by small $20-$50 internet donations). He was masterful in articulating his policy positions, and after eight years of watching an incurious half-wit demonstrate again and again that he was unqualified for the highest office in the land, we believed Obama’s competency and honesty would right all that was wrong. He would effectively clean up Bush’s mess. Optimism ran amok.
And suddenly we’re in October 2009 – nine months after his inauguration – and all that hope and promise feels as far away as Martin Luther King’s final speech in Memphis, TN. It has become crystal clear that the ‘change’ policies he outlined over and over again on the campaign trail have taken a back seat to his desire for bipartisan harmony. It’s becoming obvious to all that this current approach will achieve neither.
The tens of millions who brought Obama to power were never about bringing some kind of reconciliation to the political establishment. On the contrary, they were waiving ‘change’ posters in the streets, and yelling his ‘yes we can(s)!’ This grass routes movement was about the people – their lives. Obama supporters couldn’t give a rats ass whether the Republicans and Democrats sang ‘Kumbaya’ together. In electing Obama, the people rejected the status quo, and awarded Obama an overwhelming mandate to implement the change he promised.
And yet somehow Obama and his supporters’ messages must have got crossed, for he has tunneled all his energies into achieving Beltway bipartisanship, at whatever price. Why? Why is bipartisanship so prominent in his agenda? Politicial disharmony in the federal government actually serves a vital role: it creates an environment of political checks and balances which otherwise would not exist in such a corruptive institution. The last time there was harmony in Washington was immediately following the 9-11 attacks, and look where that got us: into the bipartisan authorization of the Iraq quagmire.
Each time Obama gives a new speech, I’m reminded why I voted for him, and then he and his staff proceed to undercut his very words. He is unwilling to mark a line in the sand and mean it; unwilling to shake up the establishment; unwilling to make a few enemies in the pursuit of implementing the change he espouses.
The monumental concessions he’s willing to make on health care alone — his willingness to toss the public option, as well as to prohibit the government from negotiating with pharmaceuticals — all in the name of bipartisanship, is nothing more than an insult to our sensibilities. From health care reform, to forcing Netanyahu to end the ethnic cleansing (settlement expansion) in Israel, to pursuing torture investigations, to implementing meaningful wall street and TARP oversight, to climate change, to bringing our troops home, … the list goes on and on. Either he’s just being consistently ineffective as a President, or perhaps we’ve all been duped.
This weekend, Saturday Night Live brilliantly flouted Obama’s inability to deliver the change he had once so eloquently promised us. Let us hope Obama receives this comedy skit as a wake up call. Because unfortunately, this caricature is beginning to stick, and before long it will define him.