Does President Obama Deserve a Second Term?
“President Obama’s first term has been a failure not because he has been one of us – which means being a liberal. His presidency up to this point has been a crushing disappointment, because — the fact of the matter is — he has been one of them.”
What do I mean by – “one of them?”
President Obama has failed to break from the mainstream establishment on any major issue of importance. Never mind that he’s been falsely labeled a leftist, a liberal, a socialist, and (gasp!) even a Marxist — preposterous characterizations to anyone with an understanding of what those terms mean aside from all the demagoguery. Fact is, the current Administration has taken virtually no major risks in its first three-and-a-half years and has essentially governed from the political center.
But as is often the case in politics, facts don’t seem to matter. When I confront those who tar and feather President Obama with the “socialist” scarlet letter (as though socialism is automatically a bad thing – see SIDEBAR below), I tend to ask for specific examples of what makes him so. More often than not, the response is silence and a blank stare. Note to conservatives — Just because Rush Limbaugh implies the President is a socialist does not make it so.
SIDEBAR: As of 2012, nations with the highest standards of living in the world tend to be two things — democratic (with multiple political parties and free elections) and neo-liberal/socialist (with universal health care, heavy spending on social systems, infrastructure, and transportation). The ranking of nations varies by source, but Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, and others tend to rank the highest. Writer’s Note: More on this topic in a future blog.
So, give me some clear examples of how President Obama is leading the United States towards (the dreaded word coming) — socialism. Tell you what. Let’s rip a few of Rush Limbaugh’s favorite talking points to shreds right now:
OBAMACARE — The passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” is now more commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” This is often cited at the top of the list of what are termed objectionable actions by conservatives. However, unlike the Clinton Administration’s bold (but failed) health care initiatives in 1993-1994, the Obama Administration caved in from the very first day on the much-anticipated debate about universal health care – a debate which is ESSENTIAL TO HAVE given the unsustainable costs and failures of the current system.
The White House mismanaged the effort from the start, even with the name of the program. I would have characterized the proposal as “Medicare for All” — since just about everyone that doesn’t want old people dying in the streets is actually IN FAVOR of Medicare. THAT should have been the grand marketing slogan for the national campaign to reform the ludicrous charade we call the American health care system – so obscenely expensive. Instead of fighting, instead of using his popular electoral mandate, and instead of working with his own party majority in both houses of Congress from the start, President Obama allowed a hopelessly watered-down version of nationalized health care to be proposed and then re-defined by his opponents. Ultimately, the program that was so celebrated by the Administration and so vilified by opponents will do nothing to bring health care costs down for working Americans.
On the contrary, President Obama’s policies have been terrific news for the uber-rich health care industry (hospitals, HMOs, doctors), the pharmaceutical companies (which are still generating record profits), and especially the insurance industry (which is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of all). Consider that the “success” of this legislation amounts to an unprecedented financial boon to insurance companies since the programs’ primary objective is – not to bring more people under the care of government-managed health care programs – but to INCREASE THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE COVERED BY INSURANCE.
WALL STREET AND ECONOMIC REFORMS – The economic mess that we’re now in will probably plague us for the next decade. It was spawned by Wall Street and a toxic get-rich-quick mentality that’s become so pervasive in the market culture. Yet even with the economic meltdown and the proven failure of the market to “regulate itself” — such obscene naivete — virtually no major legislation has been passed to reform banks, major investment houses, or the markets. While President Obama frequently gets tagged as being “anti-business,” just take a look at what the stock market has down since he took office:
Dow Jones Industrial Average when President Obama was sworn in (January 2009) – 8,077
Dow Jones Industrial Average as of August 7, 2012 – 13,096
For the math challenged — that’s an increase of about 60 percent.
So what gives? Let’s cut through the partisan bullshit, shall we?
(1) FACT: Fortune 500 companies are now making record profits.
(2) FACT: Major banks are now making record profits.
(3) FACT: Big oil companies are now making record profits.
(4) FACT: The nation’s wealthiest people (top one percent of income earners) are making more money than ever.
Does anyone detect a pattern here? Show me an indicator of how the wealthiest sectors of society are SUFFERING under the policies of the Obama Administration. You can’t. The wealthy haven’t had it this good since Ronald Reagan was in office.
Meanwhile, the working class continues to suffer and fall further and further behind. Perhaps all that wealth will eventually “trickle-down” to the little people, as conservatives so freely espouse in their twisted theories. Someone might want to check the pipeline. It sure isn’t “trickling” yet.
So, is President Obama really a liberal? My response is – probably.
But it’s not his personal philosophical liberalism that’s at question here. If he thinks like a leftist, but then instead caters to every whim of Wall Street, the gigantic health care industry, the insurance companies, the big banks, and the oil companies – as the evidence clearly shows – is he really a liberal?
President Obama is a middle-of-the-road chief executive who has failed to advance even one iota of “change” for most Americans. Fact is, it probably would not have mattered WHO won the 2008 presidential election. The situation and conditions in terms of governance and the economy would probably be the same. The economy would still suck. Our health care costs would still be higher than ever. We’d still be the world’s policeman, wasting untold numbers of dollars on blood-sucking wars and foreign entanglements. So much for “change.”
The most disappointing thing about President Obama is not that he’s failed to change America. It’s that he HASN’T EVEN TRIED. He’s demonstrated an utter unwillingness to roll up his sleeves, put on political brass knuckles, and to engage in an old-fashioned street fight for what’s right.
Ooops. A correction — fight for what’s left.