Thursday, September 3, 2009


Everything Obama has done politically in his 12 years of elected life has always been about one thing -- the next political step. This is why he voted "present" more than 100 times in the Illinois State Senate, voting neither for nor against a bill more than 100 times. After all if you don't have a record its hard for anyone to run against it.

Now that there are no more political steps, Obama's way of doing things are catching up with him. His constant reversals on torture and torture prosecutions, reversals on the release of torture photos, not having a clear plan on where to send the detainees once Gitmo was closed all unsettled a lot of people. But it has been his mishandling of health care reform that is now blowing up in his face.

His approval ratings have declined more sharply than any president in history and he came into the White House with more good will than any president in history. Of course why any news or polling organization was doing job approval polls a week after his inauguaration when he hadn't yet done a thing is another story. That's why I call it more good will than anything else. But that good will is quickly disappearing among Democrats and independents.

And while people have become more and more disenchanted with him for a number of reasons, this latest sharp drop in the polls can be directly attributable to his ineffective response to Republican lies and tactics on health care reform and more to the point, there is at least circumstantial evidence that the decline can be tied to his short lived attempt at dropping the public option as a political compromise with Republicans which resulted in almost immediate repudiation by the Democratic House leadership, Howard Dean and a number of Democratic House members.

Obama's testing the waters on dropping the public option has undoubtedly cost him both Democratic and independent votes while gaining him nothing with Republicans. And it has undermined both his creditiblity and the credibility of health care reform in general. After all, it wouldnt be unreasonable for people too busy to investigate the issues for themselves, to think that if Obama was ready to drop ithe public option, then maybe its not that important after all.

But the public option is not only the centerpiece of reform, less than 2 months ago a CBS poll showed 72% of Americans favored the public option and 57% were willing to pay higher taxes to get it. CNN had a similar poll with 66% favoring the public option and 60% willing to pay higher taxes to get it. And most recently a CNN Quick Vote showed 80% of the country believed health care was a fundamental American right not something that should be based on ability to pay.

That Obama has turned a proposition that 72% favored into negative numbers is an exercise in incompetence I thought we had seen the last of with George W. Bush. The only thing Obama has going for him so far compared to Bush is that so far his handling of things hasnt killed anyone yet.

The only thing that's changed since 3/4 of Americans favored and wanted a public option has been Republican attacks and disinformation that both Obama and the news media, who would rather report on a good fight than the truth, have been pathetically ineffective in refuting.

Obama has always tried to be all things to all people politically but he is seeing that approach isn't working anymore. The Democratic congress has taken the reins with health care and with the House Democrats saying there wont be a health care bill without the public option and Dick Durbin saying the Democrats will pass a health care bill with no Republican votes if they have to, Obama is on the verge of being irrelevant unless he decides to put on the brakes and join the fight.

Right now no one is looking at Obama as a leader. He gave no direction to congress on health care, had no plan of his own, laid down no markers, drew no lines in the sand. And signalling, even for a day that he would be willing to drop the public option made it worse. And the polls are reflecting it.

Health care will get passed with him or without him since its a congressional initiative and not one that came from Obama. But there is still time for Obama to become a leader and act like one. But not that much time.

If he doesnt take a stand and soon, then he may be headed for another LIncoln Moment. The one that goes " you cant fool all of the people all of the time".


Anonymous said...

"The only thing Obama has going for him so far compared to Bush is that so far his handling of things hasnt killed anyone yet."

Excuse me? You haven't read anything on the war in Afganistan yet? There are soldiers getting maimed and killed over there everyday and it is Obama's War...not Bush's. Why are we even there? Oh, I get the taliban. Pfft....anyone knows, and a President should, that the strongest military in the world can't wipe out an ideology. Yep, Obama's decisions have got some people killed.


Anonymous said...

I said last year that if Obama won he was in trouble because there would be no place to hide.

The problem with being all things to all people as a candidate is that once you are elected you have to make decisions, and every one you make will piss someone off.

Even worse for Obama is he has no principles to carry him through tough times. Buzzwords like "hope," "change" and "competence" are not a substitute for policy.

Marc Rubin said...

"Excuse me? You haven't read anything on the war in Afganistan yet? "

Excuse me? Will you invest in a calender? The war in Afghanistan, blown by Bush because of his stupid invasion of Iraq started in 2001 and if Bush hadnt been such an imbecile and fought the war we should have fought we wouldnt be there now and we would be losing.

Every American death in Afghanistan now and since 2001 goes on Bush's ledger.

Anonymous said...

myiq2xu is right, Marc. While it is true Bush started the Afghan war, Obama campaigned on making it the primary theater for the fight on terror and then when he got into office he sent more troops there. This is now clearly Obama's war and any new deaths - and there have been many since Febuary - is blood on Obama's hands.

bert in Ohio

Anonymous said...

"The only thing Obama has going for him so far compared to Bush is that so far his handling of things hasnt killed anyone yet." Well, except for those 95 Afghanis Nato forces blew up the other day. Oh wait, they don't count. Now that it's Obama's war, the left just can't get enough of third-world blood.

Annie said...

That's interesting, with Obama , we are still at war, with no end in sight, Gates is still in charge, but it's all still Bush's fault.

That explains why the once celebrated Cindy Sheehan has become invisible in the professional anit-war press as she tries to hold Obama's feet to the fire.

If Cindy still set up her camp outside Bush's house ,
perhaps she might get coverage again instead of crickets.

Marc Rubin said...

"but it's all still Bush's fault."

75% of it Bush's fault. 911 is Bush's fault for ignoring 8 months of terror warnings and dismissing terrorism as a threat till we got hit which is why we are now in Afghanistan in the first place.

The other 25% is the press' fault for being lap dogs and letting this imbecile we had for a president get away with it for 8 years.

As for Afghanistan, unless someone can show the Taliban isnt going to be the breeding ground for terrorists that protected Bin Laden in the first place, and they are no threat, they need to be defeated. Had Bush not been the idiot that he was and had he gone after them in the first place instead of Iraq we wouldnt be there now.

As for Obama,he doesnt have a clue as to what he's doing. He does what the military tells him. He is a Democratic version of Bush but cant be blamed for all the ineptitude and incomptetency of Bush and Rumsfeld which the country is still paying for.

Roz in NJ/NYC said...

Re: Afghanistan. Like the others who have posted, I must disagree with you, Marc.

I would liken this situation to Vietnam. While Kennedy was the one who initially put "advisors" there and then a small number of troops, it was Johnson who escalated our involvement, eventually sending half a million. Thus, it became Johnson's war.

Similarly, Bush put troops into Afghanistan and routed the Taliban while not capturing bin Laden; however, he very quickly abandoned all interest in Afghanistan in order to invade Iraq. That abandonment has now led to the Taliban's resurgence.

Unfortunately, the only promise Obama made during the campaign that he has kept was his intention to increase troops in Afghanistan. Thus, it is now Obama's war -- not Bush's -- and Obama is responsible for any and all deaths that occur on his watch.

Marc Rubin said...

"...I would liken this situation to Vietnam"

Viet Nam was based on a completely flawed geopolitcal theory called The Domino Theory whereby if one country in southeast Asia fell to the communists they all would fall.
First the theory was nonsense and second the war was a civil war between north and south and not the Soviet inspired war that motivated our involvement. We had no business being there.

We have every business being in Afghanistan and it was right that we went there right after 911. The problem was Bush taking his eye off the ball and going into Iraq for no good reason.

Unless someone can show that the Taliban is no threat to us and they are not a breeding ground for terrorists we should defeat them.

If someone can show they are no threat to us I would agree its time to get out.

Anonymous said...

How about the fact that Obama started bombing Pakistan his first week in office? That surely is on his plate.

Using drones to bomb villages and killing hundreds of civilians is what Bush probably would have done, given more time, but it isn't him doing it. Obama started that one.

I consider expanding Bush's Afghanistan war to be Obama's decision. And a bad one.

Anonymous said...

Obama blows.

Anonymous said...

The dems control both houses. The repubs cannot "obstruct" anything. Most of the public does not want THIS reform. This isn't about health care reform it's about government control. Kill these bills.