Tell The Nation: Obama at One | The Nation


Tell The Nation: Obama at One

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Obama Isn't a Fighter--He's a Liar

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I contributed donations to his campaign and believed his rhetoric. I voted for him because I felt that he was a man who was trying to stand outside of the establishment and to see what Washington could do for America by looking at Washington from outside the boundaries of the capital from a citizen's perspective. Instead, he surrounded himself with the establishment. He has done everything to help out the corporations. Economically, he gives American tax money to Wall Street without conditions and does it through back channels.

I've heard a lot of people try to blame it on Geithner, but Geithner works for Obama. Obama picked him, and you can't tell me that Obama has no idea of the underhanded back channels that Geithner is using to funnel as much money as possible to Wall Street. If Obama is so smart, how can he not know this? He taxes the banks, which will just be pushed onto the customers, instead of taxing the bonuses like England and France did. He knows these options and purposely chooses against them.

With healthcare, he actively worked against the public option that he promised us. He gives American tax money to the pharmaceuticals so that they won't work against the bill. He is mandating that Americans purchase private insurance without regulating their prices. There are plenty of empty houses on the market. I have access to them. I don't go out and buy them all because I don't have access to them; they are on the open market. I don't buy them because I can't afford them.

He has shown no sign of being a champion of the people and hasn't fought for the people. He didn't even talk about "rolling up his sleeves" and working to get healthcare done until after the Senate came up with a bill. He isn't a fighter.

In hindsight, if I knew then what I know now, that I would be getting an establishment insider, I should have chosen one who was at least a fighter. If I could go back I would instead voted for Clinton. At least she has a pair.

Obama has shown that he is a "Blue Dog" and that he is more worried about helping the corporations than the American middle class. He isn't progressive at all. He hasn't even begun to set up the green jobs and change in industry that he promised us, and isn't giving the progressives anything because as Rahm Emanuel feels, we'll always be there for the Dems. who are we going to chose... a Republican?

Well, if this is what the next three years is going to be, in 2012, I have chosen. Since Obama isn't working for me, one of those that worked for him, then in 2012, he can do it himself.

Scott Jahner, 31
Jacksonville, FL

Some Advice from Europe: Do Not Compromise

Looking at Obama's first year from the viewpoint of an American who works in Europe much of the year, I can say that his marks are considerably higher from a European point of view than they are at home. This is remarkably similar to the situation when Bill Clinton was in office.

The willingness to have a meaningful dialogue with allies, to listen as well as lecture, especially when the American president has a full command of English, was a breath of fresh air. The shrill, hyperbolic tone of the Republican opposition struck a highly negative chord, especially in Germany, where so much of the rhetoric of the Republicans in Congress and their right-wing media arm of Fox "News" reminded the Germans so much of what happened to their country when such people were allowed to attain power almost eighty years ago. This, in itself, is not an assessment of Obama, but his willingness to stand up to it did not go unnoticed.

Indeed, if there has so far been any kind of low point to Obama's first year, it is the disappointment that he appeared to bend over backwards as a gesture to an opposition that was clearly not in the slightest inclined to compromise on its hard-line positions. Obama is not at fault for extending a hand to his opposition, but he is expected to cease extending that hand when fingers start getting bitten off. Bush (i.e., Cheney) used every trick in the book, whether legal or merely questionable, to run roughshod over a minority Democratic opposition.

Obama, on the other hand, seems reluctant to use powers at his disposal to act in accordance with a large Democratic majority in both houses in Congress. There is great hope that he will use these powers decisively in the next year, not only to shore up his own support but also to underpin those members of his own party up for re-election this November.

The healthcare reform movement seems to have gotten stuck in some kind of mire, with special interests practically lining up at some proverbial cashier to buy off those legislators they deem susceptible to such sway. Their willingness to be so brazen about it, along with their apparent success, is troublesome, to say the least. On the other hand, the economic stimulus seems to be bearing fruit, and although this will never be fast enough to those out of work and without benefits or stricken by catastrophic illness, it is slowly but surely proving its detractors wrong.

The biggest disappointment was allowing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's personal animosity for Howard Dean to exile Dean from his coveted position as secretary of health and human services. The country had perhaps no one else with the perfect combination of dedication, expertise and experience to fill this position. Obama, fairly or unfairly, and though he owed Dean his fairly smooth sail into office in 2008, owed Dean no obligation to appoint him to HHS, but he certainly owed it to the people of the United States to have such a uniquely suited individual in that position. That Dean was shut out of that position for what seems to be a petty vendetta is a black mark on Obama's record that is in no way mitigated by the fact that Emanuel is most likely the guilty party. If Obama is the place where the buck stops, then this was ultimately his call, and I think he blew it.

Other than that, I think that if Obama would pay a little less attention to the shrill extremes of his opposition, and a little more to the kind of people that worked tirelessly, and for free, to get him into the Oval Office, I think he'll be fine. Still, that is one big "if."

Marc Emory, 57
Dallas, TX/Duesseldorf, Germany

No Policy Reform? Buena Suerte, Obama

Obama's election was a signal of hope within moments of great despair. The neoliberal economy was resulting in a social quagmire for the great majorities of the US population. The highest moment is yet to come, but healthcare reform is a step in the right direction.

The greatest disappointment is how slow this administration has moved to get rid of the most infamous policies of the past administration, especially in foreign policy. For example, it seems a cold-blooded attitude--their silence over the Gaza Massacre and their veto over the Crimes of War report in the UN.

Policy toward Cuba, Haiti, Honduras and Puerto Rico are stagnated in the cold war era, which is preposterous. Obama is slightly to the left of Clinton, but far right to Jimmy Carter's era. It appears that those who worked so hard to get Obama elected--organized labor, center-left grassroots organizations, etc.--have been paid with a cold shoulder when advancing their principal political objectives. Buena suerte, Obama.

Rafael Arroyo Mercado

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