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President Obama is, alas, all talk and no action

November 24, 2010


I would love to play poker with President Barack Obama.
I could sit there all night, never holding anything better than a pair of deuces, but I would bluff and raise, raise and bluff, and he would just fold his hand every time, allowing me to rake in all the pots. Republicans caught on to this early in his presidency.
I didn’t vote for Obama, but he has been an inspirational leader and I like a lot of things he says he wants to do. But therein lies the problem: he is all talk and no action. He proposes good, sometimes great, initiatives then he seemingly abandons them. He leaves it to an unreliable Congress to do all the heavy lifting and as a result he lets them decide what the final result would look like, which often isn’t within shouting distance of the vision he first put forth. To this point, he has utterly failed to stand up and fight for virtually any of the good ideas he has put forward.
He is, alas, a gutless wonder. When the going gets tough, Obama is nowhere to be found.
The centerpiece of his campaign was comprehensive health care for all with a public option to provide the kinds of coverage that many private insurers refuse to offer. While the congressional debate over health care dragged on for months, the President who proposed it was serenely above the fray, leaving the bully pulpit completely unattended. Practically the first thing he did once he actually stuck a toe into the health care debate was sell the public option down the river.
One reason many of Obama’s actions are so unpopular is that not only does he have knee-jerk opposition from Republicans and the conservative right, but he also disappoints his own supporters by selling out so often and so quickly. They end up voicing their disapproval as well and their negative numbers get lumped in with the Republicans’. His low popularity comes almost as much from the disappointed left as it does from the mad-as-hell right.
The man had a mandate; he was elected with 53 percent of the vote to Republican John McCain’s 46 percent. But he never stepped forward and used it and as a result it has now dissipated into thin air, right along with his Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and his 60-seat Democratic cushion in the Senate. The enormous political capital he came in with is completely squandered.
If he had fought for a public option for health care, if he had challenged the big banks that went right back to handing out overly lavish bonuses once they got their fingers on bailout money, if he had let the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for homosexuals die rather than filing an appeal after a court found it unconstitutional, he would have kept that largely youthful coalition that swept him into office energized and motivated, and he probably would not have gotten his backside handed to him in the midterm elections. Instead, that coalition was as absent on Election Day as Obama was during the health care fight.
If he doesn’t stand up for himself soon, if he doesn’t stand up for the issues he ran on and for the people who supported him, he will be a one-term president, remembered only for his ineffectiveness and ineptitude, the James Buchanan of the 21st Century.
How long is it going to take Obama to realize he is beating his head against the wall by trying to come to a consensus with the Republicans? Earth to Obama: The Republicans are not going to compromise with you. Both incoming House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have come outright and said it, if Obama wants to compromise with them, he can do so by coming over to their side, in effect, by agreeing with, or at least surrendering to, them. They are not going to budge an inch to meet him anywhere near the middle.
Obama should get it through his head: He could have a cure for cancer and the Republicans in the Senate would filibuster it and Republicans in the House would vote it down.
It is happening again with the Bush tax cuts.
Obama absolutely has the winning political argument here: make the tax cuts permanent for all Americans earning less than a quarter-million dollars a year and let them expire for those above that cut-off point. Letting those cuts expire for the millionaires and billionaires would mean letting the tax rate increase by a crummy 3 or so percent on their income above $250,000 in a given year, up to the rate they were at during the Clinton administration, a time when the rich were doing quite well for themselves, thank you very much.
He should show some gumption. Obama should take that argument to the public, and demonstrate that he has the guts to draw that line and enforce it. Not only would he win the fight, not only would his government get to cut the deficit and fund many of the other programs he wants to implement, but his popularity rating would shoot back through the roof.
Make the Republicans stand up and say: “NO! We’re not going to allow the middle class to have a tax cut unless millionaires and billionaires get an even bigger tax cut.” Make them stand up and say they are willing to borrow $700 billion dollars from the Red Chinese so we can give the top 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans tax cuts of six figures or more annually.
Instead, Obama has already sent out strong signals that he is going to cave on this one, too.
Mr. President, put up your dukes and have this fight. It is one you can win. It will show your Democratic base that you are willing to fight for them. It will show independent voters that you are willing to fight for SOMETHING. And it will show the congressional Republicans that you are not going to let them push you around and bully you out of the things you want to achieve as president for the next two years or more.
Looking for compromise and consensus is all well and good, and it would be a fine idea if it were possible. BUT IT ISN’T POSSIBLE!
The president and congressional Democrats can compromise and give in all they want and the Republicans are just going to stand there and say, “That’s fine, what else are you going to give us?”
If Obama is going to go down as a one-term president, he should at least go down fighting.

Finally it happened. Finally!
I always wondered what it would take to make Americans stand up and say “Stop!” to all the indignities and inconveniences we are subjected to in the name of security these days, especially at airports.
It turns out that what it took was having our private parts handled by strangers. That, apparently, is where at least some of us are willing to draw the line.
The brave words of John Tyner are reverberating in airport terminals around the country: “You touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” I grant you, it’s not “Give me liberty or give me death,” but it will do for the present situation. And unless I miss my guess, someone is going to write a country song with that line in it real soon.
Instead of being pre-emptive on terrorism, our Homeland Security system is hopelessly re-active. It is always responding to the last threat: someone tries to smuggle liquid explosives onto a plane, and days later we can no longer travel with shampoo in our luggage.
Some idiot tries to light a bomb in his shoe and instantly we are shuffling through airport security lines in our stocking feet. The latest guy has a bomb in his skivvies, so now we are getting our privates groped. I fear the day a terrorist tries bringing a bomb on a plane inside a body cavity. What is it going to be like for the rest of us to fly the friendly skies after THAT? But I can already picture some moron being interviewed on the TV news saying, “If bending over and spreading my cheeks is what it takes to be safe in the air, then that’s what it takes.”
Other countries get passengers safely on and off airplanes without giving them the Oriental Massage Parlor experience. We should be able to as well.
But don’t expect a big civil disobedience demonstration of people opting out of the full body scan that photographs your privates in lieu of groping them.
Nobody is going to delay their trip to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving to make a political point. We should, but we won’t.

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Blind by Choice

November 25, 2010 by L.Teresa (not verified), 4 years 39 weeks ago
Comment: 112

Mr. Baron...
No disrespect intended, but... do you suffer from the modern condition of ADD/Attention Deficit Disorder?
You are "sounding off" much in the same way as a wife who feels abandoned for golf! You may disregard the accomplishments of this Congress and Administration as much as you want, but you are only showing how deeply you hurt at not being appreciated. After all, you rewarded this man of color with your vote, and now he won't do what you tell him! He won't cater to you or the opposition! How ungrateful...but more importantly, how dare he! I know... you couldn't possibly be prejudiced. We don't need to waste time on that outrageous concept. So let's try to connect a few dots, even though we may not acknowledge the same punctuation marks as "dots".
Mandate? May I suggest that: There was no mandate! There was a massive anger vote against the previous insanity and abuse of power! President Obama knew it then and knows it now. He understood it even more when he saw how easy it was for the extremely radical and racially motivated claws of the Tea Party to "catch on" and thrive. Do you actually believe that the white power establishment was going to allow a man of color to "correct" anything that has been implemented by 400 years of white history? Mind you, this is founded on self preservation more than any malicious intent...but reality is just that... REAL!
In this political climate, he almost has to allow himself to be kicked around and bruised, before he can stand up to the bullies on both sides of the aisle. If he stands up too soon, he will be slammed for being arrogant and drunk with power ("tyrannical regime"?). He can't allow himself the luxury of a white man's Presidential response, can he? Its almost as if the American voter is mad at him/herself for having fallen for the beer drinking scenario that was painted by those who dumbed down the presidency to fit the candidate. Now, when a descent, smart, and sober individual stands before us... he's not to be trusted or honored or respected, because of how delinquent the previous one was!
Political capital? That was spent on the Health Care effort because he knew he wouldn't have enough left if he waited. It was the signature legislation to build upon, and he grabbed it when he knew he the beginning. He could not control or force the economic fluctuations in the same way you can't rush a full-term pregnancy, so he allowed the mood swings and the discomfort to play themselves out. The Recovery Act was not politically expensive because it was THE chance that Republicans would have to show that both presidents would be treated equally while insuring big business TWO chances at "raking in" new blood transfusions without feeling the pain of a hangover! The Republican Minority Leader's tearful plea for passage? That wasn't for support of the President! It was for support of the Banks! The President, on the other hand, knew he couldn't win support from Republicans for individual State Budgets, construction projects, and low income assistance efforts, without a Bail Out to the corporations. The President bet on the Republican's theory of evolution and survival of the fittest...they will always save the species that they pick to survive and succeed...big business. The President carried the rest of the country to the goal line, won the first half, and demonstrated that both could be supported!
The President was also very aware of how soft his support was in Congress. C'mon! Do you actually believe there was ever a Super Majority? With the "Blue Dogs"? The President HAD to step back and let the Congress fight for the agenda each step of the way! Even though he was still accused of forcing the proposals through! A real testament to the masterful leadership of Pelosi and Reid! The numbers we have now are more reflective of the country's pulse...which is why the Senate remained true to the President.
I fully expect that the President will stand tall when the economic recovery is more palpable, and not dependent on the 'politicos' to watch his back. The greed of American capitalism will "cave in" and begin to hire and expand in the same way the Baseball and Football and Golf empressarios did when there was money to be made from athletes of color. Business will give up bullying when they see that time is more productive when building a new economy instead of feeding a bully that only makes noise without producing anything of value.
A reawakening to this man's leadership and brilliance will occur when voters realize that the bullying has gone on long enough. He has taken everything that the opposition has thrown at him. Americans have a historic profile of responding to and supporting the underdog. The President has been a witness to this and has experienced it personally. The man is not allowing this public scourging without a purpose. Remember the nomination process and campaign against the Clintons! Have faith!

Obama, All Talk and no Action!

November 25, 2010 by Jeffo46 (not verified), 4 years 40 weeks ago
Comment: 111

I have to agree with Jim Baron's article concerning Barack Obama. He has to go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever, besides Jimmy Carter. Take for instance, when Mexico's president Felipe Caderone was here months ago, he was slamming the U.S. and our policies. What did Obama do, did he defend us and tell Calderone to "hey pal you're a visitor here, shut up!" No he didn't! Rather, him and his Democratic pals in congress sat back and actually had the nerve to agree with this idiot. I was appalled when he did that. This is suppossed to be our leader? Then he wants to have negotiations with Iran, who for years have been trying to destroy us, and still have 2 American students imprisioned? Why hasn't he made a more concerned affort to get them out of there? He should be telling them, you have 2 of ours and if you don't let them go, we're going to be sending a few missiles your way! That's how you negotiate with those terrorists. I made the mistake of drinking the Obama Kool-Aid and helping to elect him into office. He never should have been elected IMO, because he was not ready for a responsibility like this and nor did he have the experience for it.

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