Coping with Obama – and Smog

Posted on September 3, 2011 by

Almost everyday, I’m angry, disappointed and frustrated by something I hear or read about Barack Obama. 

I suspect there are millions of progressive and activist democrats across America with a similar experience. 

Today, for example, I was depressed by the news that the administration is rolling back smog standards.  

It’s a very familiar pattern.  The white house announces a significant policy retreat, environmentalists are appalled and republicans claim that the action doesn’t go nearly far enough. 

As we await the president’s jobs speech Thursday, progressive pundits are desperately urging, imploring and begging – yes, we’re down on our hands and knees – the president to be bold. 

But, at the same time, we’re preparing for the worst: 

We know the president is going to capitulate.  We just want something – anything – we can work with. 

What we’re facing politically is very difficult.  But more than that, it’s emotionally draining and painful.  Like tolerating a great personal loss, you need enormous internal discipline just to get by. 

It’s easier to simply focus on how awful it will be if  Perry, Bachmann or Romney is elected. 

So my coping-with-Obama strategy the next 14 months may just boil down to loyalty and respect for the man, a flicker of hope and overriding fear. 

To many of you, I know this sounds pretty pathetic.

If we win in 2012, there’ll be relief but how much redemption? 

And f we lose…? 

I don’t want to think about that.

Comments (10)


  1. Hal Masonberg says:

    I’m afraid I have to agree with you here, Lou. I felt like I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt for a very long time Even respected his choice to be the better man, stick to his promise to be bi-partisan, but my ability to maintain hope has been greatly diminished. I still believe Obama is a good man with good intentions. He has even done some remarkable things while in office. But he has not stood his ground in the way I would have expected. As to the reasons why, they are truly beyond me. I am not in his shoes. But I cannot deny disappointment. And concern. Though I denied it for a long time.

  2. Irene Fertik says:

    You hit the nail on the head, and then ouch!!! Hammer it home, baby!! What else can we do, but grin and bear it.

  3. John Bachtell says:

    Yes, he needs to show greater leadership on these issues. But the labor-people’s movement needs to grow as well. The groundswell of grassroots activity for jobs, I think, along with the dismal jobs creation figures, is prompting Obama to take further steps. The more action, the more he can be moved. But building the grassroots movement, especially in the areas dominated by the Republican rightwing and to help change the national discourse, is essential.

  4. Bebn Sears says:

    Yes Lou, I know how you are feeling right about now.
    I can relate to that.
    But I also think John B. above makes a powerful point. Indications around the country are that people’s organizations (labor, civil rights, health care for example) are starting to move and sort of take things into their own hands. If the President and his advisors see this happening, they might get the idea that they have to move more boldly on the burning issues that are consuming the people’s attention, such as jobs in the first place. For instance, various groups have rallied every week recently outside the downtown Phila office of freshmen Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) urging him to act on jobs, health care. And it’s not always the same people. This past week the crowd was over 100, the biggest yet. Toomey, of course, is one of those you probably had in mind when you mentioned the awful alternatives. He squeaked into office in PA last November and was recently appointed to the “super commission” on the debt by the Republican leadership. Of course, he has not responded to the protests. The point is that people keep coming back!!

  5. you are slow, Lou

    i had serious doubts about Obama even before he was elected, when he chose drug warrior Biden has his henchman and running mate

    and i knew Obama was hopeless and changeless when soon after election he announced his cabinet

    i truly hope Obama loses re-election (which is not the same as hoping the Repubs win it)

  6. Bill Thomas says:

    Lou, well said. Put me down as another Disappointed Democrat– the President’s positions are endlessly centrist and he is a terrible negotiator. The letdown from this latest reversal of position is typical. I feel as if he has let the air out of us– all puns intended.

    Yet when I look across the aisle at that group of malcontents– many marginally qualified– who are running for President on the Republican side, I begin to think about how hard all of us are going to have to work to see that Obama is reelected. I will swallow my disappointment, weigh my options, and then get behind the President. If we can’t convince Bernie Sanders to run, Obama is my man.

    • bill says:

      I agree. He gives in so easily. I know he’s smart, focused, all of that. I know that his goals are significantly better than the rabblerouser Republicans can imagine. But he seems to think that reasoning with the playground bully is always the way to go. Even kids know that’s not true.

  7. Bill Zeman says:

    I would be totally dismayed if I hoped for progressive power exercised from the top down. But history shows this is not how it happens. The social rights movements of the 1950s thru the 1970s were caused by a massive groundswell of people demanding change that moved the legislation and the culture to the left. In the summer of 1963 alone there were 1463 different protests for civil rights in the American south.

    The New Deal was Roosevelt and the power elite moving to the left in response to society literally falling apart at the bottom. Farmers were destroying their food while people were starving in the cities. In 1936 and 1937 workers took over 477 different factories across the nation. The sit down strike was so effective that the government made it illegal in 1939, but gave the unions many other concessions to make up for taking away our best weapon. This enabled the workers to build a massive increase in unionization that lifted all workers up and created a strong middle class.

    The Progressive Era of 1902 to 1914 only came after 24 years of massive people’s movements in the late 1800s. In 1878 the workers took over the railroad stations across the country and were only driven out by the army and police at the cost of dozens of dead laborers. There were many epic strikes in the 1880s and in the 1890s people got so desperate that they formed massive “industrial armies,” and marched across their states to the capitals and demanded jobs. The largest of these was called Coxey’s Army, a peaceful army of around 100,000 unemployed men which formed in 1896 and marched on foot from St. Louis to Washington DC and presented a raft of legislation that would have created jobs. The cops beat up Coxey and arrested him and Congress voted down all the legislation and sent the workers home. The workers peacefully dispersed, which says a lot about the quality of our people.

    The point is that change does NOT come from the top down. It comes from the bottom up and it can take decades to actually take effect. So I do not watch Obama too much. I look for signs of the people getting radical and I do all I can to foment them.

  8. bill says:

    If he wins in 2012, his style won’t change. Neither will the results.

  9. Rey says:

    Okay…first of all, I agree Lou! Next to those that are talking about Labor issues as being his focus…I am not quite getting why he could not make the stance in both arenas that reflect his voting base. Finally, why are we still acting like we as progressives should elect Obama just because the roster of Republicans are a bunch of Twilight Zone Freak Characters that Ryan Seacrest could take down in a Presidential race. We should seriously start to talk about organizing support for a Sanders, or Kucinich run.

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