Do It (For) Yourself

The Bush tax cuts for the rich are now the Obama tax cuts for the rich. As we wait for the Great Recession’s double dip, as the smart economists (Hello, Paul Krugman!) tell us we need more government spending to offset the consumer spending that just ain’t there, Congress today sends a bill to Barack Obama that will reduce government revenue by $858 billion dollars.

When Mr. Obama announced the tax deal he’d made with the Republicans last week, he took pains to chastise Americans on the left to… well, to STFU. I’m one of those Americans. There’s this meme going around (Thanks, David Axelrod!) that disgruntled people on the left are poor sports and are undermining Mr. Obama with our criticism.

Really? I don’t think so. Yep, I’m to the left of the president and unsatisfied (vocally, at that) with his performance. But because Mr. Axelrod and the Democratic moderates seemingly have no ability to listen, they misunderstand the nature of the complaints (at least mine).

I’m not PO’ed at the president because his actions fall to the right of me, politically. I’m PO’ed because his actions fall to the right of HIM politically. It’s not ideology; it’s competence – or more precisely, the lack thereof.

I knew (or thought I knew) what the country was getting when I voted for Barack Obama. I was wrong. I knew what the country was getting when I didn’t vote (I couldn’t bring my self to do it) for Bill Clinton. I was right (or shall we say, correct).

Bill Clinton was a sleazy triangulator. No one had any illusions about that. He was (and is), however, a master politician. He took his positions based on what his wet finger in the wind told him would be popular.

The bill of goods Mr. Obama sold us was that he was a breath of fresh air – a smart, dedicated worker who could unite after eight years of division. The he got in office and proved to be a chief executive who can’t execute. First, he reinstated the architects of the Wall Street meltdown to “solve” the problem and in the process let the worst actors off the hook. Then he resolved not to repeat Mr. Clinton’s health care fiasco, so he let Congress get the crap beaten out of it for months before offering to lend a hand that was too little and too late and sold us out to Big Pharma in the process. Now the Federalist Society… er, the federal courts will dismantle what he thought was his major achievement. His energy policy of more drilling and nukes is straight out of Cheneyville, he’s cowered on civil rights for gays and lesbians, done a volte-face on civil liberties and tends to give all his bargaining chips away to the GOP BEFORE negotiations begin.

Mr. President, forget fighting for my agenda. Fight for your own.

I’ll admit, having to contend with the Tea Party and the ramifications of Citizens United and Rush and Glenn and Rupert ain’t easy, but at least no one has accused your wife of putting the hit on her former law partners – yet.

Nothing that’s been thrown at you is any worse than what Mr. Clinton was dodging and parrying and he made the Repubs look like chumps four days a week. And yes, Mr. President, I believe in my heart that you are an eminently decent man in ways Mr. Clinton is not. You will never let us down the way he did with his personal failings. (Good thing, too. You’ve got your hands full without the adultery.)

I’m sure you see this coming, but it’s true. You remind me more and more of Jimmy Carter, another decent man who just couldn’t seem to figure out how to do the job he’d been hired for. Mr. Carter’s done great things in the years since his tenure, but when I think of “post-Carter presidency,” I don’t think of what happened to him in those years. I think of what happened to us.

© Mark Floegel, 2010

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