Endless Curiosity

May 31, 2010

Obama is Pathetic

Filed under: Economics, Politics — Alec @ 6:00 am

Obama is Pathetic. I say this with a lot of love because I’m a Democrat through and through. But he’s handed crisis after crisis and what does he do?  Stands aside, studies, intellectualizes, thinks. What he doesn’t do is take advantage of the crisis. But, as Maureen Dowd said, “Presidencies are always about crisis management.”

Economist Paul Romer said in 2004, “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” a sentiment echoed by Rahm Emanuel when he said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” But Obama wastes crisis after crisis.

Whatever you think of Bush, he took advantage of his first big crisis to push through tax cuts for the rich and to invade Iraq. If it hadn’t been for 9/11 Bush would probably have been a one-term President who got little accomplished. The rich and powerful have constantly used crises to achieve their goals – just read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine if you want to be scared.

Sometimes, occasionally, it works the other way and progressives take advantage of a crisis, resulting in programs that benefit the masses, not the few. FDR used the crisis of the Great Depression to push through the New Deal, of which Social Security is one of the two most popular programs in the country today. LBJ used the crisis of Kennedy’s death to push through his Great Society legislation, of which Medicare is the other of the country’s two most popular programs. (Perhaps a progressive President needs to be known by his initials to be effective. Let’s hear it for BHO!)

Obama was elected in part because of the financial crisis. He found a nation where millions of people were feeling despair over losses of jobs, losses of health insurance, losses of homes, and losses of security they had worked years for. Millions more were feeling anxious and insecure over the possibility of such losses, and most people were angry that the government was bailing out the very people who caused these problems. Not only bailing them out, but allowing them to give themselves bonuses in the millions of dollars.

So what could Obama have done with this crisis?

He could have immediately pushed for extending health coverage to everyone, without the crazy insurance scheme we still have. “Medicare is one of the two most popular Government programs in this country. It removed from tens of millions the fear of poverty caused by health problems. So many people now are facing financial ruin because of loss of health insurance as part of job losses that I have decided to extend Medicare to all people. We want Americans to be healthy, not worried about their spouses and children.”

He could have pushed for immediate financial reform. “Banks will not be allowed to gamble with your money, risking your jobs and your houses, and everything you have saved for. All bets made by banks and financial institutions will be done transparently, on the open market. You will have an opportunity to see what your financial institutions are doing with your money. We want jobs for the people, not million dollar bonuses for the bankers.”

He could have made the bailout of the auto industry contingent on agreement to dramatically increase fleet miles-per-gallon over the next few years.

He could have got us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. “We can no longer afford the pointless wars that the previous administration got us into. We need the money here, to help Americans. Intelligence is what prevents terrorism. The previous administration was given information about the 9/11 terrorists but chose to ignore it. They were told that Bin Laden was planning on attacking America but chose to ignore it. We will heed the information from our intelligence services, because this is what will keep us safe, not spending trillions of dollars in nations that pose no threat to our national security.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The current crisis is Deepwater Horizon. Obama could have used this to articulate the need to get off our oil dependency. “Our dependency on oil funds the terrorists who attack us, and spoils our magnificent lands and coastline both for us and our children, and our children’s children. I am requiring that all car manufacturers double the number of miles per gallon that their cars and trucks within the next decade. I am requiring that all companies that provide you with electricity get more than half their electricity from non-oil and non-coal within the next decade. If America could get to the moon within a decade, we can surely accomplish these far easier things.”

Part of the problem is that Obama seems to care about bipartisanship, about wanting everyone to like his policies. Perhaps he even wants people to like him. Maybe it helps to be a child of privilege like FDR and Bush; it seems to give people the confidence to ignore what others think and to demonize your enemies. And that’s what Obama needs to do – demonize his enemies. Attack them, constantly tell the American public that the Republicans are on the side of terrorists, of the bankers, of the oil companies, of the rich and powerful.  I’ll end with a quote from a campaign speech FDR gave in 1936.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.

1 Comment »

  1. This is a really interesting post. I have not kept up too much with the US since I left, but it seems like crisis after crisis keeps happening and nothing is getting fixed. Such a bummer because I’m such a fan of BHO (ha!) but I highly doubt he’ll get re-elected, sadly enough. Another funny point is that FDR did do SS which was great at the time…but look at it now. It’s not really what it used to be. Sad.

    Comment by Nikki — June 1, 2010 @ 1:14 am

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