Transformation? – Forget About It

Posted on March 5, 2010 by

There are lots of “big picture” reasons to be disappointed with – and depressed about – President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Above all, being out-maneuvered by Republicans, who were able to block or enfeeble virtually all meaningful reform while – at the same time – engineering, mobilizing and exploiting voter discontent to gain traction for their own cause.

Now we’re again left with a salvage job which will, at best, result in very marginal and questionable health care and financial reforms.  In the meantime, the Administration and Democrats will be tied in knots over what should be simple matters of presidential prerogative such as executive branch, agency and judicial appointments.

Even Obama’s more noble and impressive efforts like the State of the Union speech or his handling of the health care summit don’t change the impression of a likable but ineffectual president unable to confront or control the forces around him.

This is brutally painful for me to face and admit because I believed that Obama’s political instincts, intelligence, character and discipline – which won the campaign – would carry over to the presidency.

Didn’t happen.

In my mind, it’s not just that he wasn’t “progressive enough.”  I was more than willing to defer to the president’s judgment on certain issues if he could expand the Democratic base to socially-conservative voters with an affinity for economic populism.

Instead, our opponents are capturing that constituency.

In Sen. Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, the fact that the Republican won the union vote is appalling and frightening.

Of course, we’ll hunker down and support the Democrats and this president.  And sure they’ll be some gratifying policies around the edges.

But for those of us who wanted Obama to trigger and personify a “transformational” era…

…Forget About It.

Comments (3)


  1. Toby Higbie says:

    Lou: As you know, the big transformations don’t happen top-down. We need a movement to change the political dynamic on the ground. Maybe yesterday’s Day of Action to Defend Public Education is the beginning of that? I hope so.

  2. Gilbert Newman says:

    Hi Lou,

    The Democrats fear of losing office impedes their effectiveness and resolve to fight the good fight. That sort of behavior will guarantee they lose their seats! Bayh, Dorgan, Dodd are all calling it quits and that could mean more Republican Senate seats. The Senate is where the impasse is at its worst. I think a great deal of the problem Obama faces is the media’s dishonesty – they don’t inform the public effectively about the issues. It’s hard not to feel dispirited in these times!

    Thanks for your commentary.

    Gilbert (in Washington again)

  3. Alan K. says:

    Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 11:29 AM

    Subject: Re:

    Hi Lou:

    That must have been a hard piece to write. So many of us share the disappointment of a President and Democrats who can’t win the political skirmishes. The Republicans can’t govern but they know how to win elections. Democrats know how to govern but can’t (generally) win elections.

    The fact that the Republicans have bounced back from life-support gives credence to the Democrats inability to sell their message of hope and promise while laying blame squarely where it belongs for our present malaise.

    Worst still is the outlook for 3 more years of a tepid administration in the midst of some of our greatest challenges.

    So many of us are so deeply disappointed and appalled that we have to listen to a renewed Republican message that is as repugnant and rapacious as ever.

    We failed in educating the electorate to recognize the lies and profoundly anti-Democratic message behind the patriotic façade of the Republicans. They are against the majority of the people and are out to sabotage the government so that it can once more be turned over to the robber barons as it was at the turn-of-the century. They’re winning, we’re failing.

    And the war on the middle class is eroding the very essence of Democracy. The goal of the other side is the establishment of a fascistic, theocratic, plutocracy.


    The politicians would not welcome Harry back.

    Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

    The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

    When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an ‘allowance’ and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

    After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.

    When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.”

    Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”

    As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

    Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale. (sic. Illinois )

    Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!

    I say dig him up and clone him!!

Leave a Reply