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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Placing our hope in Obama's ability to change himself is precisely the problem. The Democratic Party has already been destroyed from within. We voted for Obama because we wanted to believe that the possibilities that once seemed so real were still alive. Obama skillfully packaged this longing while being savvy enough to know whom he actually served. Many progressives, on the other hand, chose to cling to our illusions that genuine social change was possible under the current power structure and the shattering of our illusions accounts for the bitterness of so many progressive articles about Obama.

It feels like we're locked in our seats on a train flying like a bullet toward a new age of slavery and superstition. If the only political options were the ones recognized by the American political system, then perhaps the despair shown by many progressives would be justified. But I don't believe it is.

There are alternative political possibilities, but to realize them the first step is to abandon the obsessive focus on Obama. The roots of this crisis go a lot deeper than the lack of leadership of one man, even the president.

The focus on the failures of the Democratic Party masks a continued faith in the American system. Some of us believe that the American people are great enough to reinvent their system of government and that is exactly what's currently needed: to recognize that the system of government founded 200 years ago was flawed in ways that can no longer be fixed and to accept the challenge of creating a new system of government based on fulfilling human needs and recreating a flourishing human and natural ecology.

Boyd Collins

Houston, TX

Jan 23 2010 - 12:02pm

Web Letter

William Greider writes: "Now we will find out what the man is made of--either a true political leader or just another show horse."

Now? Now we will find out? Has the past year meant nothing? If anyone is still in the dark, is the choice between "a true political leader" and a "show horse"?

How about an incompetent, shallow, unprincipled, war-mongering, obsequious self-promoter? I don't think "self-promoter" and "show horse" are the same, because a there is a trainer or groomer behind a show horse. Obama's self-promotion is just part of his being a narcissist--a condition that explains his willingness to have other people suffer and die.

Alvin D. Hofer

St. Petersburg, FL

Jan 21 2010 - 5:53pm

Web Letter

Although William Greider's correct in most of his assessment here, he's quite mistaken in considering that Obama has a choice of a awaiting a second term to change his polices. Obama's not going to have a second term.

His presidency is widely seen, except among the deeply committed true believers, as a massive failure!

We have the Republican wins in Virginia, New Jersey and now Massachusetts to prove the American people have rejected Obama's Marxist/Chicago gangsterism philosophy of government.

In addition, Nancy has acknowleged she hasn't the votes to pass O's so-called healthcare reform bill.

It's clear as rain that the Democrats are going to take an awful pasting in November, and as did the Republicans in '06 and '08, they'll deserve receiving a bloody nose.

William Livingston

Galena, KS

Jan 21 2010 - 3:36pm

Web Letter

Some are advising Obama to move toward the center, while many on the left are urging an aggressive move to the left. I'd like to suggest that Obama (and the Democrats) take another look at one promise Obama repeatedly made before any move decision is made. That promise is the transparency promise. He needs to start over and keep this one; otherwise, his left or center move will be less likely to be accepted.

It has deeply bothered me and many others how easily he pitched that promise into the trash can. He always has a lie or a reason about why his promises don't need to be kept. I'm thinking here of the highly publicized promise to have health negotiations on C-SPAN. If he had kept that promise, none of the Senate leaders would have been comfortable publicly bribing Nelson or the unions. When the public saw those bribes (right before the Massachusetts election!), support for the plan quickly sank. So yes, it might have been more difficult to negotiate on C-SPAN, but the public would not now be so against the idea.

So if promoting transparency was a good campaign tactic, why is it a bad governing practice? The answer is that it is still a good idea, although now almost totally forgotten. Obama (and the Dems) must decide to keep that promise as a foundation for whatever move to the left or center he makes. It should be easy to see that an unstable principles foundation will not support a move to the left or right or even an attempt to stay the horrible course he now holds.

Joe Turner

Santa Fe, NM

Jan 21 2010 - 1:41pm

Web Letter

As a conservative (more libertarian, actually), I occasionally read The Nation to try and understand how the other side thinks. You and I differ greatly on many, if not all, issues. However, you have written one of the most honest and bravest assessments of Obama that I have read to date--this writing should be published in both the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal. For you to say, "On Sunday, I listened on the radio to Obama's soaring speech at Northeastern University and remembered again why his oratory first took the nation to the mountaintop.... His diction was loosely colloquial. He dropped the hard g's to get down with the folks. Too little, too late, I figured. He is still masterful, but this is performance, not substance. People grasp the difference between the two. This gulf will imprison Obama as a stereotype for weakness, a joke on late-night TV, if he doesn't change"--is truly amazing. Many of us on the right believe that Obama is pure rhetoric and will say anything, with or without substance, to try and get what he wants. Whether or not that is true, I believe if he follows your advice and uses your tactics, he will ultimately be successful (from the liberal point of view) and be re-elected in '12. Thanks.

John Fallon

Grandview, TX

Jan 21 2010 - 12:57pm

Web Letter

Barack Obama has been a big disappointment from the day after he was elected. I remember the arrogance he exhibited with his base when we objected to his choosing Rahm, Tiny Tim, Larry, Axlerod and a few others. The American people wanted our country back--and it has continued to slip further and further away since the new regime came to Washington.

The Obama administration has been unable to create jobs for everyday people, while keeping the people on Wallstreet in theirs. They have been unable to craft a viable healthcare program for the average worker, while guaranteeing big profits for the insurance industry--which the American People already own. He has continued to keep war-profiteers engaged while continuing to waste Americas valuable resources.

It appears that the egotism of President Obama and his administration leads them to believe that they are the smartest people in the room. I concur with you they should all be fired. He and his administration are a bunch of losers, and I can't wait to vote the Congress out in November and the Obama administration out in three years.

edith thomas

Jamaica, Queens, NY

Jan 21 2010 - 12:07pm

Web Letter

It's all about jobs right now. Poorly done healthcare reform, cap-and-trade, massive deficits, apology tours and Nobel prizes are not the way to prosperity. This may be a novel concept, and I'm sure no one has ever thought of this before, but here goes. If people don't have jobs, none of the other things matter.

Explain to the guy that lost his job and can't afford Christmas presents for his kids how this healthcare reform bill is going to help him pay his bills. Tell him how to explain that to the kids, when they don't understand the concept of Daddy having no income. Tell him how to explain that, when he has to look into their faces and tell them there are no presents this year.

Tell the soccer mom that is trying to take three kids to practice, with gas nearing $3/gallon, how cap-and-trade's skyrocketing energy prices are going to help her. She'd like to find a part-time job to help out with the bills, but the jobs have all dried up.

Explain that to the families that almost lost loved ones, because while you were on your apology tour, emboldening our enemies, they were planning to blow up another airliner, on Christmas. Or to the families of the Ft. Hood victims, whose deaths could have been prevented had we not been so politically correct and pulled a terrorist off of active duty.

How can you possibly think this is about anything other than jobs? People with no jobs don't spend money. In an economy like this, people with jobs don't spend money because they are afraid of losing their jobs. After not focusing on jobs for the first year of your presidency, now you realize that it's time to worry about jobs? Spending money on your Wall Street friends, who made huge profits at our expense, putting us so far into debt that we may not be able to recover, and now you think it's time to think about jobs. You were they guy that was supposed to have a first-rate intellect, so how is this not obvious to you?

Maybe it is obvious and you don't care. Maybe you are intentionally trying to make the "crisis" worse, so you can drive us further toward socialism. You have created an environment with so much uncertainty, everyone is paralyzed by fear. No one will spend, no one will invest, and now most people are in bunker mode, waiting for the storm to pass. You complain that "banks aren't lending." Most people and business I know don't want to borrow. If possible, they are focused on paying down debt. The stimulus certainly hasn't helped; "we'll have 9 percent unemployment without it, but with it we can keep it at 8 percent." You did well with that one; you managed to keep unemployment at 10 percent, so far.

You ran your campaign as a centrist. Unfortunately, only about 47 percent of us saw you for what you were in 2008. The rest of America is now opening their eyes.

Keep waking up. Keep learning what is really happening. Educate yourself about the issues and the candidates. Read the Constitution--one of the greatest documents ever written. Volunteer and donate if you can. Made calls on behalf of candidates and issues. Get out and vote! This is how democracy works, but we have to be engaged, active participants! It started this week with Scott Brown in Massachusetts, it continues in November all over America.

Greg Schmidt

Bethalto, IL

Jan 21 2010 - 10:35am

Web Letter

All of the recommendations made by Greider in this article are sound and doable. It's not to say they will all pass, but even trying and failing will demonstrate that it is the Republican Party that stands unflinchingly for hurting the average guy. I want to see a Republican filibuster of a bill to lower drug costs! Getting bogged down in hopeless compromise and pretending that you still stand on principle just makes voters despise you.

Do you remember Bush II joking to a wealthy audience that his constituency was "the haves and the have-mores"? Why aren't the Democrats running that clip over and over again? Unless they try at least some of the things that Greider is talking about, the inescapable conclusion is that they answer only to that same constituency.

Paul Bigioni

Pickering, Ontario, Canada

Jan 21 2010 - 9:09am

Web Letter

Excuse me, but Obama and the Dems made the deal with the drug companies to prevent re-importation of drugs. And the Dems in the Senate opposed repealing the antitrust exemption.

If you want a good model bill to build on, then it's Wyden-Bennett.

Steve Swofford

Chicago, IL

Jan 21 2010 - 7:38am

Web Letter

Think of this as a gift. A gift given by the GOP without their knowledge. Because if this does not wake up the liberal base, what does? Losing a seat held by the most liberal senator for forty-seven years, in the most liberal of states! Come on! That is the real no-brainer!

But if history has taught us anything, it is that you have to show the voters you really, really mean business, so much so that you're ready to put your own political head on the block, and only then can you get enough voters to sacrifice for the common good and vote for change.

So the question is whether this president is a fighter. We don't need a new speech, we need action. Action we can believe in!

Steven Wensley

Chapel Hill, NC

Jan 21 2010 - 7:22am