Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anyone Who Had a Heart

I’m a news junkie, but I don’t pretend to know a lot about the legalities and procedures of political process.  That said, after watching the President act like a school principal trying to negotiate with rival teen gangs over the last few weeks, I am more dismayed than ever.  I understand that with the Republicans having the majority in Congress, and the Tea Party’s Rasputin-like power over those Republicans, Mr. Obama has had to walk some fine lines.

But from up here in the bleachers, it’s seemed like he gave up the game before it even began.  From what I’m able to understand, the budget/deficit-raising deal that’s currently on the table – and which the über-conservatives still aren’t happy with – doesn’t seem to do much about increasing revenue (still no higher taxes for the “job creators”) and seems to do a great deal of spending cutting, including the benefits that millions of older, sicker, poorer Americans depend on to survive.  Yet the President seems happy, because he got the gangs to work somewhat together.  It’s all about his mission to be bipartisan by any means possible – and perhaps necessary – but I’m still left dazed, confused, and feeling mightily betrayed.

Given that the President is also running for re-election in the midst of all this, it’s no surprise to me that the old Dionne Warwick hit, Anyone Who Had a Heart, has been swimming through my aching head.  Lest you don’t know or remember the lyrics, here’s how it starts out:
“Anyone who ever loved could look at me
And know that I love you
Anyone who ever dreamed could look at me
and know I dream of you
Knowing I love you so
Anyone who had a heart
Would take me in his arms and love me, too
You couldn't really have a heart and hurt me,
Like you hurt me and be so untrue
What am I to do?”

Mr. Obama’s official campaign arm, Obama For America, seems to have settled on the first of what I imagine will be several campaign slogans.  On the OFA homepage, a photo of a smiling, charming Obama has the tagline: Are You In?   You can click the box that says Yes, I’m In! and select the ways that you can Get Involved Today!  And if you Google search for OFA, you’ll see the sentence “Barack’s hair is greyer, but he’s still fighting!”

Someone on the President’s campaign team, or his post-Emanuel chief-of-staff, or Michelle, has to tell Mr. Obama in a way he can hear that we in the core base that put him into office (the aging hippies and lefties; the unprecedented number of young people and minorities) are not happy.  We’ve spent three-and-a-half years waiting to see the commanding, outspoken, counter-Washington-culture Candidate Obama emerge from the non-communicative, ever-compromising, Republican- Lite President Obama, but he hasn’t come out.

I’m among the folks who will vote for Obama again, because I know the alternative will be unthinkable and I’ve had a lifetime of voting for the lesser of two evils.  But the people who fell in love with him and his hope and promises of change, believed that a true progressive/liberal Democrat was going to be in Executive power for the first time in decades.  These people – those who may not have voted for years or ever voted before – need an explanation from Obama before he can rely on them to traipse to the polls again.

They need to understand the reasons behind his turn of face; why he put bipartisanship ahead of accomplishment, particularly in his first two years when the Democrats held both houses of Congress; why the country ended up with such sloppy, complicated, way-in-the-distance health care reform with no public option and no significant challenge to the corrupt health insurance industry; why financial reform is virtually toothless; why women and their health and freedom were thrown under the bus; why the vast majority of the already-insufficient stimulus money wasn’t spent; why nothing special or important was done for blacks and other minorities; why he hasn’t proposed FDR-style public works programs to lower unemployment and increase the quality of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure; why he has remained closed-mouth about the union-bashing going on from coast to coast; why he couldn’t get the Democrats all reading on the same page.  In essence, why did he change?!

We all know that Obama stepped into an unanticipated mine field when he took office, that Bush trashed the country like a drunk rock band in a fine hotel; that the extent of the national debt and deficit were unprecedented; that the economy was literally on the verge of collapse; that he was then confronted with a Great Recession that rivaled the Great Depression and still isn’t really over; and that he has been treated with an intensity of disrespect that no white President has ever experienced (no, not even Lincoln).  It’s because we know all this that there hasn’t been angry protest, even rioting, in the streets.  But he can’t just turn around now, all glib and folksy and homeboy and ask us Are you in?  He’s not prepared for the answer.  And we’re still waiting for answers from him.


Anonymous said...

Excellent as always..

Crosby Kenyon said...

Is there really anything new to be learned when it comes to politics?