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I haven't made a political post in a long, long time.

I'd make one now, except just thinking about it depresses me. I was not happy about the results of the midterm, needless to say... and I am even less happy, if possible, about this "compromise" that Obama has made with the GOP on taxes. From where I sit, it smells more like capitulation than compromise. Give a lot, get almost nothing.

Obama is the most intelligent president we've had since Jimmy Carter... and, sad to say, he is looking more and more like Jimmy every day. A good man, but not a good leader. At least not so far. He doesn't seem to have the stomach for a fight. We need another FDR, another JFK, another LBJ. NOT Jimmy II. (And, yes, I know, Obama has accomplished some important stuff. But so did Jimmy. Camp David accords, remember?)

Yeats was writing about his own time in "The Second Coming," I know, but sometimes I think he was prescient:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And could that rough beast whose hour has come round at least be... Sarah Palin?

No, please. Tell me that's just a bad dream. Somebody wake me up.



Dec. 15th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
Look, I'm pretty much on your side with everything you believe in politically, but this friendly fire coming from people on my own side aimed at Obama is insane. He bought jobless benefits for people who really need them with this compromise, something he had no chance of getting otherwise. He also promised to work bipartisanly and takes that promise very seriously. I think its one of the reasons he was elected.

I can see the argument that he doesn't like political fighting, but if I had to point at a reason for that, its likely he's still shell shocked over the stuff he had to deal with in the health care debate. And I'm not just talking about the purveyors of lies on FOX news, I'm talking about the people who stopped paying attention the second the public option was gone, as if this wasn't a debate that had been going on for 100s of years and everything was going to change automatically.

I say, cut Obama a break, give him a bit of leverage and a chance to recover for a spell, then see if he's willing to throw some punches.
Dec. 16th, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
Me, I'm waiting to see what he does when the deadline for extending the debt ceiling looms. I can buy the argument that he was using this opportunity to extract as much as he could from the lame-duck Congress. The big showdown is still to come.
Dec. 16th, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)
He bought jobless benefits for people who really need them with this compromise, something he had no chance of getting otherwise.
Yes, this is very true.

He also promised to work bipartisanly and takes that promise very seriously.
Maybe he has, but up until now he has utterly failed to control his party into doing the same. When they didn't need the votes from the other side of the isle they weren't interested in what the other side had to say or suggest anyways.

I think its one of the reasons he was elected.
It really is, and I hope that now that there is a balance in washington we get some really good, bipartisan legislation moving.
Dec. 16th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
Uh, Really?
What about all those town hall meetings floating the idea of health care reform to crowds? Or the bipartisan working groups that worked on that bill? The fact that the public option was gone completely from the final package? None of that qualifies as bi-partisan compromise?

As for balance. . . Even with a minority the Repubs were perfectly willing and able to stall temporary unemployment benefits increases until they got some MAJOR concessions on taxes. They already have all the leverage, now you're saying that more authority to them creates "balance"? Really?
Dec. 17th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Uh, Really?
The Public option was gone completely from the final package because the blue dog democrats believed it was fiscally unsound. Remember, this was done during the time the Dems had 60 votes, so all they needed to do was get their own party in line. I believe it was a democratic senator from Nebraska that would not budge on the public option and only recanted on the bill as it is when they earmarked a hospital to be built in Omaha as part of the legislation.

I'm sorry but you're just going to have to hope that they snuck enough teeth into the current legislation to put insurance companies out of business in 5-10 years, necessitating a government takeover as I don't see the socialization of medicine coming anytime soon in any other scenario.
Dec. 16th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
Obama lost my undivided support when he started escalating Bush era privacy concerns and such that he promised to scale back or get rid of.
Dec. 16th, 2010 04:28 am (UTC)
"He bought jobless benefits"
Not exactly, though that's a common myth.

This bill continues to allow the unemployed to collect up to 99 weeks (though not always that many, it depends on their state of residence). If/when those weeks are up, then those people become reclassified as not seeking employment, drop off of the official statistics, and receive nothing. In the middle of the worst job market in at least 80 years, this bill does zero to help people in this group.

Some of these unemployed people (some of who call themselves the "99ers") have been ineligible to collect benefits since as long ago as April. I have seen their numbers estimated at 4.8 to 5 million people. But as those currently receiving benefits are unable to find jobs and hit the (up to) 99 week maximum, then their numbers will continue to grow weekly.

The lack of help for these people in this legislation was one of the Democrats' biggest objections to this bill, though this objection was widely ignored by the mainstream media. The American people might genuinely have little to no sympathy for this group and might not care if more and more of them fall into increasingly dire straits that will lead to an increase in homelessness (and probably suicides and other negative consequences as well). But we as a country are not even discussing this question, as so few people are paying enough attention to the current circumstances as to even know that this is an issue.
Dec. 16th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
Re: "He bought jobless benefits"
Most of what you're saying is true, but I have two points of contention. First, that this was a major issue for the Democrats. It wasn't. Certainly it was never as big an issue as the estate tax concession. There's a reason people have not really heard about this, the Dems never made it a talking point.

Second, the issue with the classification of not seeking employment versus unemployed is not new, its actually a fairly old statistics debate (and its a debate we've been on the losing side of for a while). But the reason the Dems won't make a deal out of it is because then they look like they're responsible for even larger unemployment numbers. If they fight for reclassification, no one will understand why unemployment spiked from 10 to 16 percent, but they'll see it happen.

Its cowardly, I know. But I do take the Jon Snow approach with this. What he did to protect Mance's baby was abominable. But what do you do? Risk a large amount of people or risk everyone? Knowing you're fighting a losing battle?

No seriously, I'm asking! I'd love a good answer to this question! Cuz I don't think anyone has one.
Dec. 16th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
Re: "He bought jobless benefits"
How long are we, as a nation and as a people, supposed to support those who do not have a job? I certainly do not want anyone to be jobless or homeless. But 99 weeks? That's 23 months. Almost two years.
Jan. 12th, 2011 01:55 am (UTC)
Re: "He bought jobless benefits"
And in this economy... it's not that unusual. Brutal, but there it is. I would be totally on board with some form of workfare for these folks--hire them to work on infrastructure projects or something. But failing that, the least we can do is keep the lifeline out.
Dec. 16th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'm with you, Celticblood05. Obama basically just got the GOP to agree to second stimulus.

Can anyone say that's not the most awesome piece of negotiating jujitsu they've ever seen?

Politics is compromise and Obama is doing it correctly. Am I happy that the gov't is going into debt to give billionaires tax breaks? No. Am happy that the UI benefits got extended, which will have a real economic boost for all.

I'm 39 and Obama is easily the most effective president I've every seen.
Dec. 17th, 2010 10:05 pm (UTC)
Devil's Advocate Anyone???
"I say, cut Obama a break, give him a bit of leverage and a chance to recover for a spell, then see if he's willing to throw some punches."

Pardon me, but WHAT?!?! He's the first sitting president in recent memory to have a full majority in both the house and the senate (as in - no filibusters, no blocking, no nothing by the minority parties) for two full YEARS after he entered office. He also entered office as one of the most popular presidents with the media EVER, right up there with Bill Clinton and JFK. Obama had more leverage than anybody could generally dream of at that level. The fact is simply this: Obama can't lead his way out of a paper bag. Period. He's not a leader. He's a bright guy, a great campaigner, and he can deliver a pretty speech to a room full of donors. However, he's finding out the hard way that it's easier to win the office than to actually do the job, and make no mistake, the job of the President of the United States is to LEAD the nation. No, Obama had plenty of leverage. It is leadership that he absolutely lacks.
Dec. 18th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
Re: Devil's Advocate Anyone???
Yeah, its easy to point to the largest majorities and say that because he had those he should be successful. But I have to argue that such a narrow view point doesn't take into account the drawbacks of the Dems big tent approach. There's a reason that a radical group of conservatives took measures to start purges in their own party. They know American politics go in cycles and they want their next electorate to be people they can count on. The Democratic political movement has always done the opposite, welcoming all coalitions. In some ways, the Democrats are like a coalition party you'd find in a Parliamentary system. We're a body of many different single issue groups and when you prioritize one of their issues you diminish others. That's why the Dems have a reputation for devouring themselves.

It makes leading this party a difficult job for anyone.

Obama is also only the third president to live in the 24 hour news cycle, and I'd argue only the second to live through its full rise to prominence. You may argue that he was the most popular with the "Media" ever, but the big dog in the Media (bigger than the rest combined) is Fox and I think you'd agree he wasn't exactly popular with them at any point.

Obama used his leverage to gain health care reform that people have been talking about since Teddy Roosevelt, and he did it fighting half of his own party. No one, including the Republicans up to the last week before it was passed, thought it was possible. Excuse me, but yes, I'm still very impressed with that. But it was an expensive buy that cost him supporters even amongst those who wanted health care reform because of the public option debate. And it cost him supporters in both Gay Rights and Immigration coalitions because that issue took precedence and political capitol away from their own.

So now, half way through his term, the same thing happened to Obama that happened to Clinton. The Democrats ate themselves over their own issues and the Republicans reforged themselves into a cohesive unit. I think (as crazy as it sounds) that no longer having the blue dogs to fight with may give the Dems a stronger, more cohesive identity assuming Reid Pelosi and Obama can patch up their differences.

You're discussing an intangible quality in leadership though. And its very difficult for me to prove that he is a good leader (though I do feel its a bit too easy to label him such.) He is, however, very pragmatic and has experience building and rebuilding coalitions. Give him your support (at least outwardly against Republicans) and he might surprise you.

All I can say is there's thus far no one, from either party, I'd rather be running my country.
Jan. 7th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Devil's Advocate Anyone???
To be more precise, due to the deaths of Senator's Kennedy and Byrd and the subsequent appointments and special elections to fill their seats, and the challenge to Senator Franken's election which delayed his being sworn in by six months, the Democratic Caucus in the Senate only had a filibuster-proof majority for 96 days that the Senate was in session. Even on those 96 days, they only needed one member of their caucus to split or abstain to eliminate that 60 vote majority. In a caucus that includes Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Blanche Lincoln amongst others, good luck to any leadership holding that group together in support of a truly progressive bill.

I wish they had been able to pass more progressive health reform personally, but that said, I was impressed (bordering on amazed) that they were able to pass anything at all given the history of the issue for the past 100 years or so and the hyper-partisan climate in the senate at the time.
Dec. 21st, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
While I agree with you about the flack he is getting is unfair. I feel the frustration. Obama made a politically smart move for himself because most of the frustration in this country is focused around D.C. not getting anything accomplished. The Flack comes from those of us who wanted a victory for the dems, or perhaps more importantly for the left. This was a winnable fight, Republicans were not going to give up the top tier tax cuts and we could have dragged it out and given them the tax cuts eventually but for a whole lot more. We should have called their bluff but Obama decided faith in government and getting the economy going were more important. I respect that but at the same time am super tired of the Democrats acting like everyone is playing fair when they are really the only ones.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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