Anyone with ideas to the contrary learned this week that Barack Obama cannot walk on water. But even if he could, it would do no good, not so far as his opponents are concerned. Characterized endearingly as 'our first black President,' signing one seemingly right wing authored initiative after another, Bill Clinton certainly never aroused any Republican affection. No, for peccadilloes that might have easily been overlooked in the past, that however hurtful to his family, hardly reached the enormity of deceiving the world into an unnecessary war, he was impeached. Let this be a warning to the President, even were he to cause manna to fall down from heaven, make the least false step and the same is in store for him. Many will loath him just for existing, no matter what.
Considering it took Franklin Roosevelt a decade and a world war to set things right, one might understand if the country's first black president were to be a bit petulant these days. After all, sullying his community organizer authenticity, with a sordidly unfair but effective stimulus bill, he did save the nation from an international Great Depression, and with nary a word of thanks. Partly that's because, with 10 percent unemployment and record millions of projected foreclosures, for many his accomplishment seems to be a far less marvelous feat than it actually is. Only having lived through the last Great Depression could many fully appreciate how much worse things might be now.
True, as Paul Krugman for one, suggested and as China has demonstrated, there were different ways to handle a package to avert disaster. But eager for success the President and his pragmatic advisers formulated a way, too alluringly profitable for Wall Street and its minions to reject. Having accomplished this remarkable, flawed, but essential thing, then virtually every other attempt of their 'make nice' bipartisan governance has met with disdain, if not indeed with utter contempt. And still it had appeared as if the shrewd and unflappable President would prevail. Notwithstanding offending all manner of the Democratic faithful, his monumental bid to realize health-care reform, 100 years in the making, seemed within days of realization.
It matters little who is to blame for Tuesday's debacle, which saw the late Senator Edward Kennedy's 'safe seat' lost to an affluent, but truck driving, Republican-voting firebrand who's a professed Independent. Although, a la John Edwards, his looks are sufficiently good to cause one to keep one's prurient eyes, expectantly open, it's surely of no consequence that Senator-elect Scott Brown posed naked in a magazine as no woman or African American could have without catastrophic consequences.
What matters is where do we go from here? What will President Obama do now? After so much effort, angst, energy and good will that were freely lavished on health-care reform, surely he doesn't mean merely to retreat? Yes, in the media one has heard the President's pronouncements, how, "the people of Massachusetts have spoken..." Only, inasmuch as there was no exit polling, do we really know what they meant, and precisely who or what it was that dissatisfied them?
As Massachusetts already enjoys reformed health-care, was it a protest of an inadequately liberal and cost-saving reform effort nationally? Or alternately, would disgruntled Democrats and 'Independents' simply prefer that our millionaire President drive a truck too? Maybe it was fear of an intelligent woman or that the President was actually born abroad, that distressed those effecting this changed alliance in New England, or that he'd institute "death panels," or free terrorists, or that he's black?
Whatever their worry, their leader says he hears them, but what of me, or of those like me? Didn't we contribute $5-$25 five times and more online in our enthusiasm, not for an entirely remade world, devoid of dirty deals with greedy bankers and elected officials, or even single-payer health-care, but for a world with the realistic hope of a more equitable shake, where health-care, housing, education and credit were more affordable and non-discriminatory?
We admire, respect and appreciate President Obama, even aware of his closeness to financiers, his fondness of Arugula, his enrolling his daughters in a private, not a public school, or even one of the union-busting charter schools he champions so illogically. The President avers that "the same mood that swept me into office, swept Scott Brown into office." This is as untrue as President Clinton's finger-wagging contention based on his relative placement and position vis-à-vis Miss Lewinsky.
"Yes, we can," was the hope-filled mantra that accompanied Obama's assent. We hoped for what we had come to despair of ever achieving, that we could change the world as we knew it, for the better, and in our lifetime. Contrast that hope, with the shrill, panicked fear of changes, big and small, that elected Brown. And speaking of fear, loath to allege such a shortcoming of a President who has so squarely faced being the prominent target for martyrdom that he and his family present, one is still compelled to ask what is he so afraid of...winning?
Reagan had high unemployment, Bush never had a super-majority in the Senate, but mostly they did as they pleased. In a more homogeneous land, regarding a more pure administration, one that disdained subterfuge, one could understand a reluctance to push through health-care reform by any means necessary, save consensus, the one method sure to fail. Left or right, such pursuits will assuredly not win the President any friends.
Moreover, Obama was right the first time. Stressing how pleased people would be once they learned the reality of his health-care reforms, he was on the mark. In all of its transmutations, his plan is cheaper than what we have now, people could get coverage despite having heart disease or other pre-existing conditions, and if they lost their job, they'd retain coverage. Death panels, rationing far in excess of what insurance companies impose today, and raised taxes on the middle class, were all deliberate lies meant to inflame worry and uneasiness.
What's imperative now, is for President Barack Obama to do what he has heretofore seemed reluctant to do, to emphatically stand up to the people telling lies and inciting distrust, to stand his ground. Only having done this, will he ever have an opportunity to create new jobs and have a second term...to keep hope alive.
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