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Web Letter

Your commentary is amazing. You criticize all of Obama's picks, yet you conclude that he is "too smart and perceptive to let this happen." Sounds like you haven't given up on your wishful thinking.

Roger Kenney

Arlington Heights, IL

Dec 2 2008 - 12:55pm

Web Letter

Now that Obama has been elected president, the useful idiots are no longer useful.

tom harlen

Chicago, IL

Nov 26 2008 - 3:06pm

Web Letter

Here we go again. As Act I of "Obama the Centrist" unfolds, all the progressives begin the handwringing, teeth-gnashing and weeping so familiar from the Clinton era. "But he said he was for ch... ch... ch... change... and... and... and this isn't change!"

What exactly is this disease infecting so many Americans on the so-called left? Maybe too many of you in the media establishment are simply too close to really see. There was nothing at all in Mr. Obama's run that would indicate anything other than what you see now merging, yet another creature of Wall Street.

You had opportunities. There were progressive candidates in and out of your precious Democratic party. They couldn't beg, buy or borrow coverage though, can they? These candidates told you he was a wolf in sheep's clothes, did they not?

Mark Deneen

Eureka, CA

Nov 26 2008 - 10:55am

Web Letter

Greider points out that anyone who expected Barack Obama to be a leftist will be disappointed by his choices for the cabinet positions, which are signs of continuity with the Clinton administration, and in the case of Gates, with the Bush administration. I think this is exactly right. Obama will not govern as a leftist, and probably cannot get rid of the center-left elements that dominate the democratic party. However, my response is a little different than Greider's.

Politics is about what we can do on the ground, and not merely about what we can imagine. Obama's power as president of the United States would be seriously compromised without the support of the Democratic Party apparatus that controls the Congress. Likewise, without the center-left adminstrators and politicians who were the foot soldiers of Clinton's government, Obama would have to reinvent the wheel, starting from scratch.

Barack Obama must believe that he can most effectively govern with and not against the expertise, and power, of people like Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emanuel. To defend Obama's campaign promises about change (a word that seemed to have lost all meaning this fall), we would have to believe that Obama sees mobilizing the knowledge, experience and, importantly, the phone-books of the Clintons and former Clinton advisers as the most effective way to further that change.

What looks like stasis in this case (the appointment of Washington insiders) could be the best route to the kind of changes that can be made by this sensitive, intelligent leader in the future. If this sounds overly cautious, I believe the alternative, which is to advocate change as an absolute necessity, on all fronts, from personnel to ideology, is irrational and unrealistic. Ideologies are not invented overnight, and neither can good political help be produced like a rabbit out of a hat.

Taking one more step in the same direction, I would say that Obama hopes to gain an even wider power base in Washington by finding support in unlikely places, including the Republican party. Without knowing any of the details of the case, the plan to keep Gates on in Defense sounds like an intelligent move, since it will reduce the strain on Obama and his people during their transition, and could facilitate their taking command of the military.

The kind of changes that I hope Barack Obama will effect in the next eight years are not the sort of things that can be achieved by a stroke of will. Turning our backs on the people who have made the last sixteen years of government possible would be a fatal mistake, comparable in its lack of realism to the anti-governmental fantasies of the right. To ask Obama not to work with Clinton-appointees or members of the economic establishment is to ask him to be unrealistic, and I believe that is not compatible with his program. In other words, as skeptical as I tend to be, in what has happened so far, I see no sign that we should lose faith in Obama's sober and responsible approach to leadership.

Before we criticize him for moving to the center, we must be sure that an advance on the left is possible. Enough of the outsider politics that denounces our most viable options.

Matico Josephson

New York, NY

Nov 26 2008 - 1:15am

Web Letter

Mr. Grieder's overstates the blame that Tim Geithner bears for the apparent failure of the initial bailout of AIG--Mr. Geithner was neither the ultimate decision-maker nor the primary advocate of the bailout of AIG. Mr. Grieder also overstates his case for the government taking over the US banking system: he may be correct, but that is a guess at this stage of the game, since the most recent model we can look to for guidance is seventy-five years old. The problems that have led to the crackup that has occurred were a long time in building, and are the fault of many diverse parties--Alan Greenspan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Hank Paulson, Christopher Cox, Bob Rubin, Larry Summers, Phil Gramm along with many other Congressmen and Senators on both sides of the aisle, Wall Street investment vank managements, and on and on.

The problems are so broad, deep and systemic that Mr. Grieder's finger-pointing is not helpful. Suffice it to say that there were many authors of the calamity we face, and most of the Wall Street and Government leaders of the last decade have had a hand in it. What is needed now is an honest, humble and intellectually rigorous group of problem-solvers. To restrict that group only to those with no hand at all in Wall Street events of the last ten years would be self-defeating.

Robert C. Carmody

Manhasset, NY

Nov 25 2008 - 8:18pm

Web Letter

What did you expect?

Obama hasn't developed a personal network of competent people. So he makes friends with the Democratic party power brokers, and they tell him to hire Clinton's friends.

The one that galls me the most is keeping Gates on as SecDef. Obama stormed to the head of the line, vowing to get us out of Iraq quickly and change Bush's failed Iraq policy. So what does he do? He adopts Bush's Iraq policy and keeps his Secretary of Defense.

"Change we can believe in"? My ass.

George McGovern

Chicago, IL

Nov 25 2008 - 7:36pm

Web Letter

I am an 80-year-old political junkie, a liberal Democrat who basically buys into all the agenda items that "progressives" advocate and long for. I am also a faithful Nation reader and, finally, I respect William Grieder's opinions.

Having said all, that I am getting really annoyed at the progressive angst being unfurled here and on the web before Obama even takes office. The "progressive agenda" is somewhat like "the Kingdom of Heaven": greatly to be desired but capable only of a "best approximation" in real life, given the basic limitations of a self-interested human nature.

Let's just take Geithner and other "old Clinton hands" and ask whether or not they might just be capable of learning from past mistakes and changing their minds in accordance with changing circumstances. Why not give them the benefit of the doubt on how they will perform under a different Democratic president who manifestly has a lot going for him?

Disgruntled progressives could not or would not have elected Obama, who was, after all, the last Democrat standing in the primaries. My guess is that only Dennis Kucinich would have been the favorite choice of progressives--all the "correct" policies and none of the leadership qualities that go with being president.

Frankly, a lot of progressive purists are sounding like Chicken Little to me. "O My God I knew Obama wouldn't be what we needed and hoped for." For Pete's sake, can't we at least wait until he is inaugurated and takes office and actually has the responsibility for righting this badly sinking ship of state before we start harping on all the reasons why he is going to be a huge disappointment?

Conservatives and "center Democrats" have had thirty years to screw over the American psyche with their warped and dangerous ideology and reckless policies and it will be difficult for any new Democratic president to straighten things out even in eight years. I think we have a right to expect that in four years the country will be in way better shape than it was left by Bush and that Obama will be easily re-elected with a Democratic Congress and keep going on changing the political oxygen we breath. There will still be disappointments. The goal of perfection is nice to shoot for but foolish to expect fulfilled completely.

Take it from an old progressive Democrat: Lighten up. Americans have done the right thing and elected Obama. Now let him do his job for a few months before you start panicking.

David Cook

Menomonie, WI

Nov 25 2008 - 6:57pm

Web Letter

All significant change has always come from "Washington insiders" (Lyndon Johnson) or extremmely "political" presidents: Lincoln, FDR. "Outsiders" cannot truly make a dent: Jimmy Carter. The changes that BO is making are significant in terms of re-establihing the basic foundations of effective government and financial policy. Without those foundations, there's nowhere positive to go.

Allen Bourque

Ashland, MA

Nov 25 2008 - 5:10pm

Web Letter

Greider says, referring to the financial crisis: "The black hole is too large even for Washington to fill."

Possibly true, and we shall see...

But that same is definately the case with the questioin of healthcare costs, and is the reason that any universal system, public or private, is a guaranteed disaster.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Nov 25 2008 - 4:29pm

Web Letter

This is exactly why I did not vote for Obama. I knew he was going to win, but I listened to him speak, during debates and at his rallies. He talked a lot of change and moving past the status quo, all the political rhetoric one expects on the campaign trail, but I knew then as we are seeing now, that it was mostly rhetoric. He never wanted to end the wars, just shift the players around. He never spoke of the poor working class and the poverty in this country, he only spoke of the middle class and on taxing those who made over $250,000. But because (and rightfully so) no one wanted to extend to W.'s third term, the majority of Americans jumped on board of the Democratic party bandwagon to beat McCain. It was all on blind faith though. Even groups like moveon.org who pushed so hard for Obama to win, they never really told the supporters what he was truly about.

As for the bailouts now and Citigroup, who stand to get a $300 billion bailout, for those of you unaware, they recently paid the New York Mets $400 Billion dollars to have their new baseball stadium call CITI Park! Do you see who our government decides to bailout! Meanwhile home owners all over this country are still losing their homes. But it's okay to bailout banks and insurance companies who go on excessive vacations (more than once already and working on their third bailout, AIG) and paying astronomical fees to have their name brand plastered all over baseball stadiums. It's okay for our government to bailout Wall St. companies that are still paying their CEOs insane amounts of bonus money! These are the groups and groups of people who are obviously important to our government, but not the American taxpayers who are becoming poorer and poorer, losing their jobs and ending up on the streets!

No matter who you voted for, we can not let this continue to happen. I am willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, right now, even though he might as well be the Clintons at this point, but We the People need to make sure we do not drop the ball yet again! We have to be vocal critics of this administration. We have to speak up and speak out against any and all injustices that continue. We the people need to make sure the promise of Change that so many of you voted for was not just political rhetoric to win an election!

Let's all hope for the best, but let us not just sit there watching from the sidelines, let us all play an active role in helping this country move forward in a peaceful and economically sound direction.

kristofer PASSAGGIO

http://enemyartistkristofer.blogspot.com<br />North Hollywood, CA

Nov 25 2008 - 4:29pm

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