How Do You Solve a Problem Like Obama?
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Of all the talking heads, William Greider comes closest to understanding the real function of the deficit/debt debate for Republicans [“Obama’s Bad Bargain,” Aug. 15/22]. Democrats must understand it in order to save our country.
Greider nails it with: “The president has done grievous damage to the most vulnerable by trying to fight the GOP on its ground—accepting the premise that deficits and debt should be a national priority.” But even this falls far short of what Republicans are really after: profits. Huge, unimaginable profits.
The government, starved by draconian cuts in “expenses,” will be unable to carry out its functions, which will then be privatized, sold off to corporations piece by piece. The grand prizes are Social Security and Medicare. Republicans have told us what they want to do to those programs, but always in terms of reducing the debt and never in terms of the real purpose: profit. Trillions of dollars from these programs would flow to Wall Street, banks and insurance companies, yielding windfall profits of trillions upon trillions, at enormous and debilitating expense to the poor and the middle class. The ruling class will have expanded its wealth and power to untold dimension.
Greider identified the false front Republicans have used to frame this challenge and the gullible acceptance of it by Democrats, but he didn’t show why.
As a liberal, I hate the deal President Obama agreed to. As an American who loves his country, right and wrong, I consider the Tea Party and its adjunct, the Republican Party, unpatriotic and anti-American for hating Obama more than they love their country. That said, when William Greider attacks Obama, I wonder whether he remembers a bill Obama pushed in 2009. It reformed healthcare. It wasn’t liberal enough, to be sure. But what did my friends on the left do? They attacked the bill rather than concentrating their fire on those opposed to healthcare reform. As the left formed itself into a circular firing squad, Republicans spread lies about “death panels.” The Tea Party became, sad to say, a force. For Greider to lament “the fearful possibility of right-wing crazies running the country” isn’t enough. When we contemplate those crazies, the left should look in the mirror.
I thought Obama-bashing was Fox News territory. Too many liberal pundits are singing in that chorus. GOP speechwriters must be collecting anti-Obama clippings to quote in 2012. The Nation shouldn’t be feeding their files.
RICHARD C. BARTLETT
We are bitterly divided, not unlike before the Civil War. But Lincoln had the vision and courage to say that secession simply was not an option. Yes, it led to war in the near term, but it put us back on track toward “a more perfect union” in the long term. Sometimes, strong leadership must trump an intransigent minority blocking the greater good. Obama squandered an opportunity to be a historic president.
Charlottetown, P.E.I., Canada
I find it difficult to understand why the president undermined his ability to bargain. As a fellow Alinsky veteran, I agree that one must negotiate from strength. Obama’s strength was his campaign’s galvanizing of the grassroots via the Internet, together with the fruits of Howard Dean’s hard work in reorganizing the Democratic Party on a local level. In 2009 Obama unaccountably got rid of Dean and the Internet organizers. Had he kept these populist sources, he would have been able to inspire floods of letters, e-mails, phone calls to Congress—a tactic successfully employed by FDR in the radio era—and the 2010 elections would have been a different story.