Friday, March 12, 2010

Where's The Change?

Looking at this president’s promise to change the way things are done in Washington, what I’m seeing is that all he’s done is make the old way, if anything, worse. In the midst of this enormous push to pass the most earthshaking legislation in a century, according to Democrats, he is off on a multi-state fundraising tour. Our troops are fighting and dying overseas, millions of people don’t have jobs, our infrastructure is crumbling, the planet is overheating, and he’s raising funds to help Democrats get reelected. One of the Senators he’s fundraising for isn’t even up for reelection at this point, and another one is a Republican posing as a Democrat.

This “earthshaking legislation” has one big name, but it is a huge basket of small ideas that doesn’t even meet its stated, and limited, goal of “providing health insurance for all Americans.” It doesn’t “provide” health insurance for anybody, it allows them to buy it, and it pays a portion of the premium for less than one tenth of the population. It also leaves five percent of the population right where they would be without the legislation, dying for lack of health care because the “landmark legislation” doesn’t apply to them.

Obama and the rest of the Democrats natter on about “thousands will die every year if we don’t pass this bill.” Yes, and thousands will die every year if you do pass it because of the 15-20 million people you excluded from its benefits for political reasons.

Obama issued an edict outlawing the use of torture. Color me less than impressed by that. We have had very well-defined laws prohibiting the use of torture for more than a hundred years, and his predecessor 43 times removed banned the use of torture in no uncertain terms.

He ordered the closing of Guantanamo. How is that going? If it ever closes, an issue that remains very much in doubt, it will merely move to Illinois.

He ordered the trial of KSM in civilian court. He also ordered the trials of others in military tribunals and ruled that others will continue to be held indefinitely without trial. He also challenged the rights of prisoners at Bagram to have their cases heard pursuant to habeas corpus petitions.

He pursues legislation by dirty dealmaking, cutting deals with special interests including Pharma and the hospital industry, and with legislators; money for Nebraska to get one Senator’s vote for the bill, money for Louisiana to get another, a Medicare carveout for Florida to get another Senator on board.

It is impossible to point to one single thing that Obama has even tried to change. Glenn Greenwald calls it cowardice, but I’m not certain that it is not mere political calculation. Obama is presenting to me a portrait of the typical politician; in it for his own personal power and the maintenance of the dominance of his political party.

This is leadership of the “find a parade and get in front of it” format, which does not require courage, initiative, or intelligence; and it is a terrible waste of the man who was presented to us during the presidential campaign.

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