I’ve discussed this issue of Dems Against Obama with some who are very sharp and informed Progressives and subscribe to being very vocal critics of his.

I thought it would be constructive to discuss and examine some of the points that are made by those subscribing to this POV. Additionally, I will not be shy about my criticisms of the Obama Admin but I think the approach to dealing with them is critical to keeping Dems in power and helping the Obama Admin make more changes.

Here are some propositions:

1. Pres. Obama’s image as an agent for big change was an effective campaign tool but not reflective of his true sensibilities.

2. He is an incrementalist at heart and deeply believes that the best he can do as president is to tweak the system, not make big changes.

3. He is too much a politician, it is important to him to be a peacemaker, to please everyone around him. In this way, he feels that his primary objective is to bring everyone together in a positive atmosphere, then they will be willing to work together constructively. He will not acknowledge that the GOP is wholly unwilling to cooperate.

4. By bringing on Rahm Emanuel, Hillary Clinton, Geithner, Summers, Bernanke, he has simply continued the status quo in Washington and continued many Bush era policies.

5. His decisions on handling the banks and TARP as well as pharma and health insurance companies are a continuation of the policies of accommodating corporations first, instead of the people. He has not come out strong and hard against the corporatism that is dominating our nation.

I think many of us can agree with at least one or more of these arguments.

As for me, I am a huge opponent of Rahm Emanuel. He is the one who conceived and implementing the wrongheaded policy of working with lobbyists and their corporate clients in the Insurance industry, to have understandings with them on limitations of the scope of HCR in order to get their agreement not to oppose what they would try to pass.

As is quite apparent, the give aways to HC Corps that Rahm championed,  such as greatly increasing the time it will take for a drug to be sold as a cheaper generic, the continued ban against importing cheaper-priced drugs from Canada and other nations, the continued ban against the government being able to negotiate bulk rates for drugs and the lack of commitment to the Public Option and other items that would benefit the public at the expense of corporations…did not result in these slimeball corporations keeping their promises.

They took all that Rahm wanted to offer them then like the weasels they are, went behind everyone’s back to finance the CoC’s attack on HCR and many other entities propagandizing against  HCR so they could have their cake, eat it then grab away everyone else’s cake too.

Rahm was also behind letting the Congress work everything out without  direction from Pres. Obama which continues to this day, an AP article yesterday stating that Dems are urgently looking to Obama to give them some direction on how to accomplish what he asked for in his SOTU address.

Rahm had one raison d’etre, to get bills through Congress. He was the guru, he was the genius, this was what he knew better than anyone.

And he destroyed this current opportunity with his DLC coziness with corporations and his incompetence at not recognizing that unethical HC corporations…are unethical. Unethical people don’t keep promises and Rahm, who believes he is the smartest on the hill, wasn’t smart enough to  figure that simple one out. Nor did he add 1 + 1 to figure out that the Senators the Insurance Companies owned, such as Lieberman, Nelson, Baucus, etc. would have their strings pulled too.

Where is the accountability for this debacle? Rahm should be fired for his utter failure. Now some may say, “How is it a failure, we got farther than ever and bills passed in both houses of Congress?” My POV is that we had the strongest fastest horse in the race, being cheered on by most of the crowd and yet, with Rahm at the reins we ended up out of the money.

Had the realities of passing HCR been accepted at the outset, that there weren’t 60 votes in the Senate and that no matter what one was promised by the lying weasels at HC Corps, they are lying weasels who would never act ethically if it was against their own interests, HCR could have been strategized to have been passed a long time ago.

The difference in this attempt at HCR is that the nation was powerfully behind it like never before, it was a mandate in the election. So comparing it to other times in the past is apples and oranges. It took massive incompetence to undercut this attempt which was already so close to the finish line before it began.

All of that said, I am anxious to hear the new strategy from the WH and Congress on getting HCR passed and am hoping that lessons learned will help make it happen.

On another of the propositions, I too was disappointed when Pres. Obama surrounded himself with DLCers, Clinton-related folks and corporate people as decision makers. I am not a fan of HuffPo’s obsession with attacking Geithner but one can fairly say that Geithner’s track record is not a distinguished one in terms of doing what’s best for all, not what’s best for banks. Neither is Summers for that matter.

There was a huge window when Obama was elected, to make sweeping changes to the financial structure in this nation, the majority of Americans were behind him on doing so. Instead he supported the more conservative approach of rebuilding and strengthening of the existing, unjust system. That window has closed now and it’s a terribly disappointing missed opportunity.

And as for this continued bipartisan approach, I am very frustrated. It almost seems like there is a bubble of denial in the WH, they just refuse to accept the actual dynamics of reality. The GOP has one strategy to winning back the Congress and the WH, stop anything good from happening while Obama is president.

Here too, I can only hope that this renewed push for bipartisanship is cover for soon ignoring them but I thought that before, after the Stimulus bill and was disappointed to see it continue through the HCR push.

Now, as to the issue of how Dem party members respond to their disagreements and disappointments with what has transpired under Obama, I agree that we should always be vocal at protesting actions that run counter to our principles however the degree and approach of that protest does make a big difference.

When Bush was president, there was no other choice for dealing with a president who didn’t give a shit what the people had to say, we needed to be loud, aggressive, attacking and unyielding.

I don’t agree with that approach to Pres. Obama because I think it does not take into account the blowback.

The blowback is what happened in MA. Being pounded by attacks on Obama from the Right and a segment of Dems too, Dem voters were discouraged and de-energized and didn’t turn out to vote. And a Teabagger was elected that destroyed passing HCR. How short sighted was that?!

So the net result of aggressively attacking Obama is to give aid, comfort and support to the GOP and Teabaggers.

Those fervent about aggressively attacking Obama and his Admin for issues I see as totally valid, seem not to have learned from the MA election where this path leads.

Yes, those protesting often have valid points but as the saying goes, the operation was a success but the patient died. What’s more important, aggressively expressing oneself on what one sees as wrong or avoiding a worse situation where far more wrongs will occur?

Will having a GOP controlled Congress and a President Palin or President Romney give those aggressively protesting now more of the America they want or less?

Short term vs. long term perspectives.  By not making their criticisms constructively, are such Dems not serving the same end result as the GOP attacks? Damaging Obama and feeding the anti-government/incumbent fervor?

For me, this is the huge difference, this is why I see virulent attacks by Dems on the Dem Party and Obama ultimately self-destructive.

Even if one agrees with every proposition above, even if Obama truly believes in only making incremental change in this nation, in such a scenario the only choices we have are incremental change or a return to Bush era corporatism with no positive change for Americans.

Again, at worst the choices are:

a. Incremental change that helps Americans.

b. Escalation of corporate control and domination over Americans.

What none of the Dems who attack Obama so fiercely have been able to express is that there is any other possible choice than the two above and that their lack of support for a. is in fact a boon for b..

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My biggest complaint is this: He promised transparency. But, he never qualified WHAT was going to become transparent. I see that as a lie of omission. He never really intended to make the administration truly transparent. It appears that he is deciding for us what should be transparent.

Here’s a few of the reasons for my assertion.

* Geithner: We all want to know exactly what he adds as an adviser. Yet, after all this financial damage and distrust, we have no information as to WHY he was vetted for the position. And we all are asking why he is still there.

* East Asian conflicts: Why, exactly, are we continuing a seemingly loosing battle? Nothing worth noting. Only the reports from the ground. And those reports look bad let alone the budget nightmare this is creating.

* Too big to fail: Where is the main street help? Personally, I’m going under and I don’t see it. So, from a transparency perspective, why is that? Where is the main street support? What’s blocking that reform exactly?

* Foreign policy: Where is the official foreign policy doctrine that we have never had? Ever. If he is making big foreign policy decisions, then there must be documentation guiding his decisions. Or is there? (NOTE: One of my biggest beefs with Republicants)

FYI: I acknowledge that I’m missing some information. Or better stated, the information has successfully been obfuscated from reality by really bad mass media decisions.


Franken, what exactly are you looking for more transparency about? I think this administration has provided more than any other. 🙂

Transparency: The Tale of the Tape
Posted by Norm Eisen on January 27, 2010 at 12:05 PM EST
Now that the Administration has served for more than a year, we are starting to see real progress on the openness and transparency front. For the most part, we have gotten high marks in this area, but we take exception to the views expressed in a Washington Post story today.
The Post acknowledges that, in his first full day in office, the President directed federal agencies to become more open, including by applying a presumption of openness to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. The Post questions whether these policies are having a real impact.
The numbers demonstrate that they are. Contrary to the Post’s assertions, the amount of litigation is already declining. The Department of Justice found that 22 fewer FOIA cases were filed in 2009 than 2008. And agencies are making more voluntary releases of information. The Department of Justice granted 13 percent more FOIA requests in part in 2009 than it did in the last year of the previous Administration, and granted 5 percent more in full than it did in the previous year. Those are meaningful increases that illustrate the impact of the Administration


I think that the stay-at-home instead of voting Dems have retained the d


Part 5 — last one, I promise.

I couldn’t agree more that progressives need to learn how to disagree without making an enemy of the people they disagree with. That’s a very bad trait. And that’s the level of rhetoric we have coming from progressive writers and broadcasters. Except Rachel Maddow. She is the shining light of integrity — she can disagree, stand her ground, and remain respectful.

But the way Krugman goes bouncing back and forth is almost comical. One day he’s the president’s best buddy, the next day he’s ready to spit on his shoes. With people like David Sirota and Glenn Greenwald, it’s a constant harangue. HP is just absurd. The negativity doesn’t help push progressive causes. It just poisons the atmosphere, makes people forget about what HAS been accomplished, and gives voters the mistaken idea that there’s something noble in staying home on election day.

I guess I’ve gone on for a rather long time, but this is a really important topic. I’m not sure what we do about it. The disagreement isn’t the problem. It’s the disengagement.

I’m constantly sending emails to progressive commentators about tone and perspective. And I think some people are beginning to get it. I heard some commentator say that he and progressive colleagues get a lot of mail complaining about tone, and that they actually sit around and talk about it. So it’s not a lost cause. HP will never change, but Thom Hartmann has made some major adjustments — and he’s an important voice in all this. He finally gets that all the negativity just keeps people at home. And that worries him. So he made a change.

Think this might be a good topic for a writing campaign?


Nellie – I really think you hit the nail on the head with this one!! While it’s important to be aware of what is happening in your Party and agitating for change from within the MOST important thing is to reach out to folks who are wavering about voting! You can agitate for all the change you want within your Party but if people don’t turn out to vote you’ve lost!! It’s not the President you should be going after – it’s fairweather liberals/progressives who will stay home come the next election. Those are the people you have to persuade that change IS happening, that the last 8 years will not go away overnight, that if they don’t turn out to vote for their Democratic candidate they will be bringing back more of the same old same old, that even if they have to hold their nose and vote for a Democratic candidate they should do so – the change they want WILL come but not if the Republican party gains power again. That should be, IMHO, the one and only thing that the ‘left’ should be working on right now. To achieve change is a long term goal – and that will never happen if you lose the next election and the one after that and the one …………..


Great points, Mightywoof. And if I could add — people could become precinct captains, get involved in recruiting progressive primary challengers. Politics is all about the nitty gritty. If people are angry, there are plenty of constructive ways to channel that anger into things that will benefit everybody.


Totally agree. I have stopped looking and listening to some progressives, because of all the negativity. Ed Schultz is a good example, who has lost all credibility as far as I’m concerned. Intelligent discourse should create an environment that leads to meaningful dialogue, not total disenchantment. As adults we have to be able to negotiate, compromise and be flexible. If we choose to negate these traits, we become as extreme in our thinking as the teabaggers.


Agreed, darlenelee. Discourse should also lead to action and engagement. When progressives start to feel they can make more of a statement by doing nothing, we have a real problem.

Especially when that’s exactly what corporations and conservatives want progressives to do… nothing.


Nellie and darleneslee — Well said, both of you. I could not agree more. I have reached the point that I can’t listen to the vicious bashing any more. I’m perfectly happy to read and consider a real argument like Adlib has done here. Even if I disagree with a point, I disagree with respect and high regard. As for the bashers and hyperbolic attackers, whose arguments are couched in name-calling and nasty personal attacks against those who disagree — I never even get to the argument. Once I see that it’s just a personal attack, I stop reading.


Amen, nellie and darleneslee.


Part 4

I’m in total agreement with you about tone. And expectations.

I get a little annoyed with people who want the president to tear into Republicans. There’s a Republican audience out there who is willing to give this man a chance. Not every Republican is a Limbaugh Ditto Head. And I think the president is always cognizant that he needs to reach out to those voters — centrist Republicans and Independents who helped get him elected.

What he has started to do — which is great — is show those right-of-center voters that no matter how hard he tries to work with their representatives, it’s their representatives who are blocking progress. I think that’s very smart.

So Dems should give up on that criticism. The president should be civil and make a credible show of bipartisanship. As long as he gets things done.


Part 3

I’m not sure I would say that health care reform was close to the finish line when Obama took office simply because the public supported it. We had entrenched corporate money in congress and an industry willing to spend $1.4 million every single day to prevent this legislation from passing. So I don’t think we were any closer at the beginning of the process than we are now. It was going to be a struggle — as it always has been — and it will be a struggle until the president signs the law.

As you say, we never had 60 democratic votes in the Senate, because we had people like Lieberman — who lied to Harry Ried — Ben Nelson, Max Baucus, Blanche Lincoln, and Evan Bayh, whose wife sits on the board of Wellpoint and makes millions from that seat, who are not eager to see a health care bill pass. As soon as the Senate Finance Committee started to stall in the summer, the strategy should have changed. That was a clear sign the senate was going to try to stop the bill.

So, just because the public is enthusiastic about a policy doesn’t mean congress is motivated to do anything about it. And the public didn’t really start making noise until the summer, when they had to push back against the Teabaggers and their corporate sponsors.

HCR still has strong public support. Polls in MA indicate that the protest vote was about health care, because people in that state want a public option and were annoyed with the senate for removing it from the bill. Senators knew how the public felt about that part of the plan. They didn’t care. They still don’t care. I think there are senators who would rather lose a senate seat and stay cozy with their insurance sponsors, than pass this bill. Look at Tom Daschle, who we all consider a great guy. He’s now a health care lobbyist.

So the deck was stacked against passage. But I think it will pass.


nellie, speaking of Daschle, check out Richard “Dick” Gephardt!!! He was a sainted one for the Union members and progressives, when he was in Congress. Two guesses what he is now? Good article in “The Nation a few months ago. Ticked me off! I want my vote back!


Adlib, This is what I call moving the discussion forward!

I agree that the apparent chasm between “big change” and “incrementalism” is at the crux of the anger some liberals feel toward the president. In my mind, health care reform is a “big change.” A lot of libs are still complaining that we should have dismantled the existing system and gone for single-payer — which would presumably be easy by expanding Medicare to everyone. I think that’s the most ideal plan too. However, considering the amount of trouble they’ve had with this “incremental” health care bill, which doesn’t dismantle the existing system, how can anyone possibly believe that a single payer system would pass the house and senate? I think that would require an even bigger change — getting rid of the existing house and senate and starting over from scratch. That’s not going to happen and neither is single payer at this time. The most realistic plan is that we can do what happened in Canada — they started with a co-op system in a single province, proved that it worked well and it evolved to a single payer system. That’s incremental.

I think the other issues on Obama’s domestic agenda are also “big change” — a climate bill, clean energy, high speed rail, repeal of DADT, stimulus.

I’ve tried to think of a major modern leader who has implemented “big change” without having a bloody revolution, and the best I could come up with is Gorbachev. He was basically a dictator and so was able to do whatever he wanted. Obama isn’t a dictator.

I’m not sure what kind of “big changes” you are looking for. I can think of a few radical changes that would be great: Trust bust anything that is “too big to fail.” Outlaw offshoring. Tax the banks to hell and back. Tax the billionaires at 90%. Cancel the friggin wars and disband the military and let the Chinese be the world’s cops (we may not like that one too much). Hire the French to come and tell us how to set up our new health care system. I suppose Obama could have come in and proposed all these things. That would have been big change and I know I’d probably be pretty happy with it. But I’m also absolutely certain that most of the country would not. Even though the chart that KQ put up yesterday was pretty shocking, I’m also guessing it’s right on. We libs are a minority. We’re lucky to have a majority in the house and senate right now — and I’m pretty sure that the only reason we do is because Bush was such a mess.

All of which, I guess, makes me grateful for what we’ve got — instead of angry about what we haven’t got.


Nice post, e’cat.


Part 2

I’m in complete agreement that Rahm was a mistake. He is too DLC. He’s not of the same temperament as the president. More than that, his job is to get the president’s big ticket items accomplished, and he is failing at that task. He seems to be creating more controversy than progress.

Where I part company a bit is criticizing Obama for bringing in Clinton people. He’s trying to fill positions with experienced, competent people who can hit the ground running — in other words, people who have done these jobs before. So of course, the last Dem president we had was Clinton, so we get a lot of Clinton folks. If the last Dem president we had were Carter, we’d get a lot of Carter folks.

He has brought in a fair number of people from his own circle, which I think is very good. And he’s brought back Plouffe, which I think was critical — and a very wise decision.

But as for seeing a lot of Clinton people — I don’t know who else we would expect to see.


Nellie, maybe we at PPOV should shout “RAHM SHOULD RESIGN”, which makes much more sense than ignorantly calling for Biden’s resignation.
What a joke that was and I for one am so glad that the balloon boy got the headlines that week.


I have to agree with you about the Clinton people, with the exception of Summers. They had the experience, and many of them were pretty good people.

But I really want to respond to your first comment. I know we have had this discussion before, but i feel a little unprepared, because I said I would research specifics form Obama’s campaign that made him sound like a progressive. I’ve just been working on too may other projects to get around to that. 🙁

The best I can do for now is to paraphrase Michael Moore when he was on Tavis Smiley a few months ago. He said, look at this guy’s background: He came from a middle class background that was way off the WASP radar. He was multicultural from birth. He worked hard and shone at Harvard, and then, instead of becoming a Wall St. fat cat, he teaches, and becomes a community organizer! Those all speak to someone who is positioned to be a liberal, if not a radical. And I cannot accept the assumption that the Left, who were so inspired and enthused by that candidate were not paying enough attention to notice what a centrist he is.

I know none of my points are hard facts– and I still want to find you solid examples– but for now that’s all I’ve got.


We do have an ongoing discussion about this. 😉

I disagree w Michael Moore. I’m not sure what his reasoning is to come to that conclusion. A person can have Barack’s kind of background and still be a centrist. I would even argue that this is exactly the kind of background that leads someone to be a centrist. I know a lot of people like this, and they are, for the most part, centrists.

I think progressives have come to think of centrists as conservatives or corporatists — and they’re not. They’re usually socially liberal and fiscally conservative. But the main characteristic, I think, is that, they believe in attacking problems with mixed strategies — some leaning left, some leaning right.

The moment Obama said “clean coal” on the campaign trail, I knew he was not a progressive. When he talked about Reagan being a transformative figure — that’s a clear sign that he’s not a progressive. To my way of thinking. Reagan was a criminal, what with Iran Contra.

When he said — we can’t go for single payer because there’s no way to pass it in this climate — that was typical of a centrist.

He said he would increase troops in Afghanistan. That is not the progressive position.

In education, he supported vouchers and achievement testing. He challenged the teachers’ union.

He said he did not support same sex marriage, although he said he would end DADT and DOMA.

He repeatedly said we need to move beyond left and right, that both sides had good ideas. He puts himself in the center with that statement.

So there were plenty of signs, in my opinion, that he was a centrist. If I think of more, I’ll post them.


AdLib — a very thorough and thoughtful piece. So much so that I need to respond in segments.

Part 1

The first thing I’m thinking about is that we all have our own notion of what “change” means. And that’s problematic. For me, change meant ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, ending DADT and DOMA, getting health care passed, enacting a comprehensive renewable energy plan, and regulating businesses again.

So I’m not disappointed. Part of the problem is that we project onto Barack Obama our own expectations, whether he articulated those expectations or not. I continue to believe he ran as a centrist, with very specific policy targets. I see him dealing with those targets.

Like you, I’d rather see Howard Dean in the WH than Rahm Emmanuel, I’d rather see Krugman as his economic adviser than Summers — whom I can’t stand — but I wasn’t surprised by either of those appointments.

Okay. that’s it for that point. And I’ll come back.

Nice article. Very thought provoking.


Adlib, if you read any of my posts about Obama, especially after the SOTU Address, you know that I agree with you entirely. I agree with you assessment of Obama and more important, with the fact that a resurgence of the Right is unacceptable. The critical question remains: How to push for the policies we want without becoming destructive to the Democratic Party? I’m stumped. What we really need is a community organizer!

I think we must continue to write and call our representatives when we feel an issue is important. And I think polite protests/marches are important too. I am thinking of the kinds of protests I used to do when I was involved with the anti-war group Women in Black. We simply wore black clothing and stood in silence. While that obviously doesn’t work for all issues, I feel it is the sort of protest that makes a big statement, without any rhetoric at all.

I also think a letter writing campaign to news outlets is important. And because Obama is so reasonable, I would like to think a reasonable approach would appeal to him more than vitriol. Anyway, that’s all I can come up with, but I have real concerns that these will break through the noise.



One Q…have you watched or listened to today’s Q & A session between President Obama and the Republican Caucus?

If you have, I would like to know what you think. If you haven’t, please do, and I still would like to know what you think.

One more thing…several of us here took this test @ http://www.politicalcompass.org For me personally, I wound up in the general vicinity of the Dali Lhama and Ghandi.


Hey Boomer, I finally did the test and ended up in the same area as you — a bit to the left of them. Not too surprising — they’re probably both homophobes.


I wound up more left and more libertarian, too — Wouldn’t you have expected the Dalai Lama to be more libertarian?


I agree that Rahm has got to go and after reading this from wikipedia, I don’t understand the reasons he was ever placed in such a powerful position.

After serving as an advisor to Bill Clinton, in 1998 Emanuel resigned from his position in the Clinton administration and became an investment banker at Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort), where he worked until 2002.[29] In 1999, he became a managing director at the firm


By bringing on Rahm Emanuel, Hillary Clinton, Geithner, Summers, Bernanke, he has simply continued the status quo in Washington and continued many Bush era policies.
I think they said that about both Lincoln’s cabinet, and FDR”s “$1 a year men”

2. He is an incrementalist at heart
Name me one social program was not done without being incremental.

He is too much a politician, it is important to him to be a peacemaker
And you would rather have a Unitary Executive-The President is always right?
(ex: Nixon, Reagan And SHRUB)

More later….


Bito, I would like to point out that there are variations between a Unitary Executive and an Obama-type peacemaker. I think that is a false choice.

How about being a good negotiator by starting at what would be ideal and then arriving at a middle ground? Or incorporating ideas from the Republicans when they don’t ruin the legislation, but at the same time sticking to a set of rock-bottom principles? Maybe one could say that when the opposition uses incendiary rhetoric and straight-out lies about you, you are justified in calling them on it publicly– that’s not being dictatorial, is it? And when the opposition in effect goes on strike against the government, is it being arrogant to shun them and their policies, instead of pretending everything is collegial? All I’m saying is that, to me at least, Obama has not behaved as if the Republicans are bordering on sedition– not even as if they are doing much more than playing politics. At some point, some of us want at least the satisfaction of knowiing our president is as appalled as we are.


Cher, will we know in our lifetime how much or how little Obama was/is a negotiator? Just recently the tapes of how much LBJ worked behind the scenes to get medicare passed. We knew so little. I was replying to Adlibs preface to his point.
“He is too much a politician, it is important to him to be a peacemaker”

Those are not my words. Those were AdLibs. Those were the choices given to me.
I feel he is being a peacemaker/negotiator. AdLib seems to think otherwise.
I gave the choice. I may be mistaken(nothing new 🙂 ). I will re-read his point and yours.