Friday, August 21, 2009

Obama the Anti-Bush: Er, How's That Working Out For You?

I'm having fun today picking on the airheads at Firedoglake, so let's continue with Eli's post, "The Anti-Bush, Or Bush Lite?"

Almost three years ago, way before Barack Obama was even the Democratic nominee, Michael Tomasky wrote a column titled "Obama the anti-Bush," presciently predicting that Obama's bipartisany oppositeness to The Worst President Ever would be a huge asset should he run for president. A year later, Paul Krugman even more presciently referenced that same column while exhorting Democrats to be more like Bush ...
I guess Krugman warned Dems not to play nice and succumb to the false allure of "bipartisanship' ... they should, in a word, be "Bush-like."

So how's that working out for you guys? Not so great, eh?


Obama has shown little fire and little urgency, standing on the sidelines while Blue Dogs and Republicans stall Dawn Johnsen and whittle his campaign initiatives down to nubs. On healthcare, his support for the public option is fickle and unconvincing: He says he wants the public option, he prefers the public option, yet he was perfectly fine with letting Max Baucus stall it so that the teaturfers could turn Democratic town halls into armed madhouses. He made it very clear that he's willing to jettison the public option to pass something he can call healthcare reform, and backtracked (slightly) only when the Progressive Caucus refused to roll over as planned ...

President Obama took office at a moment of great risk and great opportunity, with the winds of recession and broken government in his face, and popular support and huge congressional majorities at his back. The situation was tailor-made for a president who is the Anti-Bush on policy and Bush Lite on politics, who would battle to roll back everything Bush did wrong. What we got was President Broder, who values bipartisanship above all else, and still believes that the party that drove America off a cliff is worth listening to. How's that working out for us?
Not so great, it turns out. Responding to Krugman's latest whiney essay this morning, the New York Times has published some letters to the editor, "Unease About Obama, From Liberals":

To the Editor:

Re “Obama’s Trust Problem” (column, Aug. 21):

Thank you, Paul Krugman, for so perfectly expressing the feelings of this progressive. I defended Barack Obama, despite his relative inexperience, during the primaries because I believed that his open style of governance was the best route to sound policy. I didn’t expect that this approach would result in the almost complete abandonment of core commitments, whether it was about torture, habeas corpus or health care.

Sadly, I am becoming edgy about how deeply he holds those commitments. While I won’t switch sides, in 2012 I will be far less willing to devote time and money to the Obama campaign than in 2008. I don’t think I will be alone in this resistance. At a minimum, I will be looking for a display of personal integrity and respect for all the progressives who were his deepest and most loyal supporters. It is indeed time for change.

Martha Holstein
Chicago, Aug. 21, 2009


To the Editor:

Difficult times require strong leaders willing to act with courage and conviction — in short, to lead.

Barack Obama the candidate was charismatic, intoxicating and destined. President Obama has been cautious, compromising, even pusillanimous.

Presidential elections test likeability. Presidencies test leadership. We shall see.

Robert Ouriel
Los Angeles, Aug. 21, 2009
There are three more letters at the link.

See also, Greg Sargent, "
Major Factor In Obama’s WaPo Poll Slide: Drop Among Dems, Liberals," and Glenn Greenwald, "Has Obama Lost the Trust of Progressives, as Krugman Says?" (Via Memeorandum.)

And to answer Greenwald: That's a big, duh, at this point ...

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