Randy's Corner Deli Library

20 January 2010

Thoughts on Barack Obama's First Year in Office

So I look back at the amount of articles I posted and wrote in 2008 - 565- and the amount that I posted in 2009 - 165 - and conclude that much of it was due to the exciting prospect of electing someone - Barack Obama - who was going to shake things up in Washington, to bring a new culture there in order to bring some common sense and much-needed change in the stultified club that is Washington politics. After a year in office, after the "audacity of hope" triumphed, the joke is on us. What has changed?

Well, Sasha and Malia are adorable. Michelle is the picture of grace. Her husband, however, the one that we traditional liberals put into office to shake up Washington, has been an utter disappointment thus far. He has been far too willing to be "bipartisan", consulting with the "Party of NO", the Republican Party, which has been taken over by whack-jobs to build the consensus he somehow feels he owes to the 47% of the population that didn't vote for him. Bullshit.

We sent Barack Obama to the White House to lead the American people out of a 30 year old delusion that "trickle-down" or "voodoo economics" (a phrase used by George H.W. Bush in the 1980 Republican primaries) and smaller government (which only got bigger under Republican Presidents) was the key to long-lasting economic prosperity and to give Americans someone to be proud of when attending international meetings, unlike the utter embarrassment that was George W. Bush. We expected too much.

What we got was a guy who, schooled in the ways of Chicago-style politics, complete with closed door cattle-trading at the expense of the average Joe and Jane, seems to think he was put into office to get along with everyone, including Republicans who were and are still shamelessly trying to defeat his every move, right to his face. They spit in his eye at every opportunity.

"You LIE!" was the shout at Obama's speech to the Joint Session of Congress by the Neanderthal representative from the great state of South Carolina. They shamelessly and to his face seek Obama's political destruction, and it's as if he was shadow-boxing in his garage in Hyde Park, as if there is no-one to punch back at. The American people gave Obama their trust, faith and hope, and what did we get? A guy whose plate is so full of big-ticket issues that he has lost the forest for the trees. He is a guy whose thirst for knowledge undoubtedly knows no boundaries and who seeks all opinions from everyone, regardless of whether he is initially inclined to disagree. This is the mark of a very smart man, but in the end, he has to rely on his pulse-takers to see that the American people are reeling from unemployment, from a lack of adequate healthcare and doubt about the future, in other words, lacks the ability to lead with the same level of audacity and intensity as it took to campaign. And in that department, he has been a big disappointment. It's as if he doesn't know what to do with the power that is at his fingertips. What happened to change? What happened to hope? I hear it; it's still there, but the patient, the American society, is in the Intensive Care Unit, on life-support. After a year, things feel like they are not in hand, that they are instead spiraling out of control and like a wild horse facing a green cowboy, Barack doesn't know what to do to soothe and tame the animal.

What are the complaints? That he has caved to powerful industries. That he has handed over the country's checkbook to the Lloyd Blankfeins of the world on Wall Street whose only job is to make money off of money, Main Street be damned. He has caved to the insurance companies. He has caved to pharmaceuticals. He has caved to his inclination to send troops into battle in Afghanistan, a country whose terrain and people history has taught us is unconquerable and ungovernable in an attempt to bring Al-Quaeda to heel. It's all a waste of time, blood and money, but at least as to the latter, an argument can be made that if we don't at least try to solve South Asia, the entire Western World could be in bigger trouble than it already is from whack-job Islamists.

Haven't we already lost the war on terror? Look at our society. Al-Quaeda has already caused the American public to live in fear of another terror attack. The W used that fear to invade a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11/2001. Nothing. All lies. But fear is a great motivator and it was and is still being used by those in the seats of power in this country to line their pockets at the expense of those young men and women who sign up voluntarily to protect and defend our country but who in reality were nothing more than pawns in a great game of global Monopoly.

The W established a Department of Homeland Security and a "Transportation Safety Administration" to direct counter-terror efforts, and what do we have as a result? A Nigerian putz with explosive chemicals in his Fruit of the Looms who almost brought down a Delta Airlines A330 from Amsterdam, while the seeming goal of every TSA officer I have ever seen is to make sure that no grandmothers get on board planes with a water bottle or too much shampoo or toothpaste, as if that was the goal in itself. Coordination between governmental departments that are supposed to be on the same team? Dot-connectors? I hear a new major has been started at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in Dot-Connecting.

But it all comes back to the same thing: it's business as usual in Washington under Barack Obama. Democrats have held the reigns of power in Washington since January 20, 2009 - one year ago today - and are apparently too afraid of offending Republicans or other like thinkers to take a stand and suffer the consequences of sticking with the principles that put them there in the first place.

Last night, a safely Democratic seat in the Senate which was occupied by Ted Kennedy for 47 years was lost to a neophyte Massachusetts State Senator whose only business in the halls of Congress would be as a visitor. I'm glad the Democrats lost that seat. Maybe it's just the kick in the ass that party leaders need to understand the big steaming pile of trouble they are going to be in come the midterm elections this year if they do not do what it is they said they were going to do when we sent them to Washington in the first place. If they do not get the message loud and clear, and quickly, then Democrats as a whole -- and the country -- will suffer the consequences come the first Thursday in November. That will be a sad day indeed. Instead of the audacity of hope, it will take audacity TO hope, because fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Politics is said to be the art of the possible. Barack Obama needs to go back to the core principles that he so eloquently enunciated during the campaign and figure out how to turn them into policies and law by whatever means are possible. And that does not mean playing footsie with Republican obstructionists any longer. President Obama: lead or get out of the way. You may not have a choice come November, because it will be Republicans again setting the agenda. We didn't put you in office to have that.

Move your ass.

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