Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Conciliator

I have been so confused about the President I thought I had voted for, and the President we apparently got.  So I have thrown myself into reading about candidate Obama, and have learned that we actually got the guy who ran.

Barack Obama believes in reconciliation.  The "not a blue America or a red America thing" -- he really believes that.  Just as we all heard ad nauseum about Lincoln's "team of rivals", initially through the admirable research and writing of Doris Kearns Goodwin, and then after Obama's election, as we liberals were dealt one shocking Obama choice after another.  The first shock I recall was the Rev. Rick Warren, who represented none of the social ideals that Obama claimed he would defend.

Then there were the bizarre appointments and attempts at appointments:  Timothy Geitner, Judd Gregg, Lawrence Summers, please stop me.

Obama, I believe, was in his element during the Beer Summit, bringing together a police officer who had definitely overstepped his authority and the African American victim of that act for what must have been an extraordinarily awkward command performance.

When I hear Barack Obama attempting to find common ground with people who have clearly and repeatedly not just disagreed on all points but called for his demise, I think of his two incredible daughters, for whom reason and compromise has no doubt worked much better than it ever could with his political adversaries.

What it comes down to is priorities.  For Barack Obama, reconciliation is more important than winning.  However, it is apparently also more important than doing what is right.

In the remaining two or six years of Barack Obama's administration, I believe we will not see the following:

We will not see the United States become a wholehearted participant in restoration of the environment.  Nations with as many hopes as I had have been just as confused by Obama's unwillingness to take matters in hand and fight for measures to reverse the effects of global climate change.  Those of us who believed Obama could lead our economy to the forefront of environmental technology will be greatly disappointed.

We will not see a lessening of the chasm that separates the rich from the poor.  That our President sees us as hostages, and bargains away our future because he is afraid we are in danger, gives me chills.  There are reasons why we do not negotiate with hostage takers.  The fallout from this sellout will be huge.  President Clinton figured out that sometimes it takes calling their bluff, and not beling too afraid of the consequences to stand up to bullies.

We will neither see great gains in regulation of industry, nor certainly an era of corporate responsibility.  The most important result of the Wall Street bailout was not that we got our money back; it was that our government allowed itself to be used by corporate bankers, who used us happily without condition, without a promise to change, without shame.

We, the American people, Congress, corporate America, the nations of the world, heard the rhetoric and believed we were not only getting a President with strong ideals, but with the strength to stand up and fight for those ideals.  Instead, he left us stranded, from Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders, to the small business owners looking for real relief, to those of us who will not have affordable health insurance, or a living wage, or hope that our children will live better than us. 

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