Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize; Award Might Spur Action

All three of you who read this blog voluntarily know that during the presidential campaign last year, I was all about Obama. I stood in line for over an hour just to cast my vote in a blue state, I believed that he would be the change that Washington desperately needed, and I thought he could get the job done. I have been sorely disappointed. In recent conversations with friends of mine, I found out that the frustration I've been feeling is not unique among the progressive crowd.

So when I awoke this morning to a CNN News Alert on my phone saying Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, I thought to myself, "For what?" What, exactly, has Obama accomplished in his first 10 months in office? He has failed to lead his party in the fight for healthcare. Instead, he wants to work with Republicans and their respective crazies (Chuck Grassley, I'm looking at you, you crazy old man) and has thusly sacrificed the most important part of reform, the public option. He and his Democratic colleagues have equivocated, waffled, and downright fumbled healthcare reform and all other progressive initiatives (we'll close Guantanamo, oops, not when we said we would).

Obama has also stated that he personally would like to dismantle the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, the abysmal diktat regarding gays in the military that is the result of Obama's Democratic predecessor's own equivocating and bending to right-wing illogicality. But if you expected him to actually do something to overturn the discriminatory policy, well, you might as well expect Glenn Beck to stop crying.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee has cited his ability to strengthen international diplomacy and his striving towards a world free of nuclear weapons. In reality, Obama is on the verge of increasing troop levels in Afghanistan and he oversees the second largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. I understand that any Democrat would have a good chance of winning this award, as they would have ushered George W. Bush out of office, but this seems a bit preemptive (to borrow a term from the Wolfowitz doctrine embraced by Bush). It's like giving an actor an Oscar before filming starts.

Let's just take a step back for a moment. Obama has a pretty big mandate; we were sick of Bush and his 8 years of follies and we not only gave the country a Democratic president, but we gave the Democrats the House and 60 senators in the Senate. This is not a common occurrence, and what did the Democrats do? Pulled a classic Democrat move and blew it when it came to the most important issue of today: healthcare. But maybe we should have seen it coming, as this is the same party that lost the 2000 presidential election when it was a future (legitimate) Nobel prize winner versus George W. Bush.

The Democrats have everything in place and they are not using it. Instead of talking to and "working with" Republicans who want to spread death panel rumors and all of that, why not just push the legislation through Congress and sign it? The country gave you all those seats for a reason; they're not for decoration. Get on message, get Baucus and the other Blue Dogs in line and let them know they'll be facing tough primaries if they're going to pull the crap they've been pulling, and damnit Rahm, where is that badass everyone was talking about when Obama appointed you as his Chief of Staff? You let him go to Copenhagen without knowing Chicago was a sure thing? Seriously?

I've heard some say, "Wait until his second term, then he'll get his hands dirty." We didn't elect him in 2008 to get things done in 21013. He may not even have a second term if he continues to pussyfoot and not live up to his promises and what we put him in the White House for. Bipartisanship is dead, so as Ernie Anastos might say, stop fucking that chicken. Bush rammed a war based on outright lies we didn't need down our throats, and now Obama can't even get us healthcare reform when we desperately need it. I hope Obama changes his ways and gets serious on getting things done. He ran on hope, but we elected him to eradicate the need for it


  1. I'm sorry, but I disagree.

    Progressives didn't get Obama elected, and Obama recognizes that. I don't know if Obama is a centrist who knows how to appeal to Progressives, or a Progressive who knows how to make himself appeal of centrists, but it's the center that got Obama elected, and he has to honor that.

    The public option isn't dead, not by a long shot. One vote in a Senate committee doesn't sound the death knell. There's a lot more heavy lifting to go before the fat lady sings.

    Am I disappointed in Obama for not overturning "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and not closing Gitmo? Yes. But the man has to prioritize, and just because his priorities line up with ours more than George Bush's did, it doesn't mean that Obama will always do what we'd like him to do, when we'd like him to do it. I disagree with what seem to be some of his priorities. But, then again, I wasn't shrewd enough to get myself elected President of the United States. I honestly never thought I'd see that happen in my lifetime, and it did. So when I get a little too full of myself and get snotty about Obama's lack of progress, I try to step back and think about it. Even if all Obama is is a speech, his speech in Philly about race last summer, and his speech in Cairo about international diplomacy ALONE put him head and shoulders above anything Bush did in eight years.

    Let's not be too impatient. We shouldn't expect for nothing to happen until Obama's second term... but there are still more than three years left in this one!

  2. Hi Diogenes:

    You make some good points, but I do disagree with you on a few of them.

    I don't think that the center got Obama elected. I don't think we can point to one specific portion of the left-leaning electorate and say that it is one sect over the other. Let's not forget that McCain was a centrist conservative and received a good amount of votes considering the damage done by his Republic predecessor.

    While technically the public option is not dead, in my mind it is. This NYT article points out the difficulties in gaining ground on what is considered by everyone to be a problem: healthcare costs. To see Schumer declare victory when the Democrats' plans were embarrassed in the Finance Committee made me think that they're not going to win on the public option.

    While the American population should certainly remain temperate in what we expect from Obama in such trying times, things like repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ought to be a layup. It's an inherently flawed system that only the homophobiest of the homophobes would defend. Obama keeps trying to hit threes with a hand in his face, take a layup or two and get some momentum.

    Is Obama better than Bush? By leaps and bounds, but that doesn't give him a free pass. He made some impressive statements on the campaign trail, now I want to see them come to fruition.

    Keep reading and commenting; it's good stuff.