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Relax, he’s just the President

Tina Dupuy has an excellent article entitled “The Enthusiasm Gap or He’s Just a President” that speaks to one of my pet peeves. It is bad enough that the right-wing is (semi-successfully) painting Obama as a socialist, fascist, foreign-born, Muslim sleeper agent. But it doesn’t help that the left-wing is depressed and disillusioned. So disillusioned that they will probably stay home this November rather than vote, even if that means that rabid tea party candidates take over Congress. It is ironic that the right wants the left to be disillusioned, since it seems to be their only chance to take back Congress. That’s why they keep tossing out crazy attacks against Obama, even if the accusations don’t have any basis in truth.

Dupuy points out that in order to be disillusioned, at some point you had to be illusioned — you had to believe in an illusion, a falsehood. Maybe you believed that Obama was a radical progressive liberal who was going to fix everything immediately, instead of the moderate centrist he always said he was. Maybe you are blaming the slow pace of change inherent to our form of government on him. After eight long years of Bush, people were hungry for someone who could change everything in his first few weeks in office, as if by magic.

PolitiFact is keeping track of Obama’s campaign promises, and by their reckoning Obama is doing pretty good. He has already kept 121 of his campaign promises, compromised on 39, and broken 22 of them. There is still time to do even better, as 240 promises are “In the Works”, although there are an additional 81 that are stalled.

Some of the promises broken are not a big surprise, like his inability to introduce comprehensive immigration reform into Congress in his first year of office. But he did remove all combat brigades from Iraq, established a credit card bill of rights, reformed the financial sector, closed the “doughnut hole” in the Medicare prescription drug plan and required insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, fully funded the Veterans Administration, made US aid to Pakistan conditional on anti-terror efforts there, changed Homeland security funding from a pork-laden boondoggle to being based on risk, reduced nuclear weapons, promoted democracy in Cuba, made presidential records more accessible, reformed student loans and expanded Pell grants, increased funding for national parks and forests, promoted arts education in schools and increased funding for the NEA, expanded AmeriCorps, reduced pay discrimination, banned gifts from lobbyists to executive employees, raised fuel economy standards, invested in alternative energy, and invested in public transportation, increased funding for the EPA, and reversed restrictions on stem cell research. Not shabby at all!

But somehow, people are too busy screaming about some inconsequential mosque at ground zero to hear about that important stuff.

UPDATE: Obama just appointed Elizabeth Warren to start the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is excellent news, and should make the left very happy. It has already pissed off at least one Republican Senator.



  1. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    It has crossed my mind that perhaps some people think that in order to have REAL change, things will have to get so bad that the progressives might be willing to take to the streets. I don’t agree with that tactic, but it DID get rid of Tsar Nicholas II (Caution: ironic statement!)
    Unfortunately, it might take longer to right the damage than anyone could possibly imagine!

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
  2. Don wrote:

    I too am disappointed in the befuddled disillusionment expressed by so many. I love IK’s point about needing an illusion from which to create disillusionment. There have been times over that last 20 months that I have been pretty disappointed.

    For instance, the health care discussion never looked at the option of universal health care as practiced in many countries around the world. Well, okay, there was a lot of screaming about how bad health care is in Canada and Great Britain (based on a number of metrics, a very large lie, I might point out, but I digress), but no real discussion of either the concept of universal care nor the various ways in which it is practiced.

    I was hoping the Obama administration would be able to expand the discussion on a wide range of issues. Perhaps this was an illusion, but I’d class it more as a hope. That hope is now gone – gone a long time ago when it became clear that the opposition’s strategy was one of obfuscation and deceit. One manufactured or over-exploited actual crisis after another smothering attempts to truly look at issues in an analytic manner. Yeah, I’m disappointed, but not disillusioned.

    @Patricia Andrews: You’ve made a great point about folks actually wanting the US to sink further into the mire in order to prove their point that the current administration, and the Democrats in general, can’t govern. This isn’t new in politics, but it may be at an all-time, and, I think, rather cynical high right now. At the same time, there are a lot of pretty illogical folks listening to a lot of irrational tripe and believing enough of it to warp their perspectives even more.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
  3. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I’m probably in the same boat as Don. I’m happy with what has gotten accomplished. What I’m not happy with is:

    1. Ignoring campaign promises about promoting open books, open discussions, and thoughtful governance. The fact that someone from the administration got fired based on an edited video is absurd. I’m tired of feeling like the government is appealing to the lowest common denominator.

    2. Not being more direct in countering idiocy/lies from the right. I get being political and tactful, but a lot of this stuff needs to be directly confronted by our leaders and simply said, “that is a lie.”

    3. The authorization to kill an American citizen without a trial. This is one of the most terrifying things I have heard of in a long time, and I didn’t see it get a lot of news coverage…but then I don’t watch a lot of news programs as it is. I reckon it is OK because the dude is an alleged Muslim terrorist so rights be damned. From time to time I read “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden and shake my head.

    4. Too much pandering to the republicans. I understand that he ran on a platform of crossing party lines, bringing America together, and other sorts of fairy dust…but he should have realized what the republican strategy was early in the game and just said “Ok, screw you guys then, we’ll do what we want.” It is not good enough to have a majority and not pass legislation that WE ELECTED YOU FOR because you are trying to appease the people that we did not elect, no matter the reasons. We put you there to kick ass and take names. Period. If America doesn’t like the direction you are going, they’ll tell you come november. But at least have the guts to stick with your own plans.

    Anyway, that is my basic laundry list of complaints at the moment. Fortunately for the dems, it is still miles shorter than my complaints against the republican party. Or the tea party. Or the “rich-first, poor-later” party. Whatever they are calling themselves these days.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Permalink
  4. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    Interesting comments. Do you ever find yourselves wondering if anyone takes a “civics” class any more???

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
  5. Richard wrote:

    Had Obama simply appointed Elizabeth Warren (as many progressives wanted) instead of doing polls and attempting to toss it into the strategic hopper, many of us would be happier with him. As it is, she’s only an interim head so he’s chickened out again by not formally appointing her.

    He never pushed universal health care when he had the numbers to push it through and instead, the discussion about healthcare eventually came up with memes like “death panels.” Of course, it’s a lie but he helped create it by leaving the issue open for too long.

    His lack of decisive leadership is the problem. Yes, he’s done a lot but is allowing others to undermine him at every turn as he over-strategizes very decision.

    He missed a huge opportunity to deal with unemployment and our disintegrating infrastructure by not attempting to put together a modern day WPA or CCC.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  6. E. L. Makela wrote:

    Am I wrong in my belief that whoever
    gains the title of President of the
    United States deserves respect, the
    support of loyal Americans, and
    ideas for improvement rather than
    critical, disagreeable and sometimes
    false comments? Give the President
    a break already!!

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  7. Don wrote:

    E.L. Makela – Sad to say, that no longer appears to be the way things operate.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  8. BTN wrote:


    Respect, yes, although Obama doesn’t always get that. But then again, neither did Bush.

    Support, no. One of the best things about most Western countries is the ability to openly disagree with the government without fear of imprisonment (or worse). Of course, parts of the Patriot Act were a (over)step in the wrong direction in this regard.

    Totally agree on Warren. Obama is in bed with the banks, as far as I can tell, especaily with Dimon and JP Morgan. Warren’s role would give her the power to mold the CFPB into something useful and effective for the average consumer. However, without someone truly in the Consumer’s side to run it, that power is no good (see Federal Reserve, SEC, etc.). I think this is just a smoke screen, but will wait to see if she gets the big chair later.

    Friday, September 17, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink