by Ben Cohen
Robert Scheer on Obama's infuriating behavior in the three vital areas that could very well define his Presidency:
A president has only so much capital to expend, both in tax dollars and
public tolerance, and Barack Obama is dangerously overdrawn. He has
tried to have it all on three fronts, and his administration is in
serious danger of going bankrupt. He has blundered into a deepening
quagmire in Afghanistan, has continued the Bush policy of buying off
Wall Street hustlers instead of confronting them and is now on the cusp
of bargaining away the so-called public option, the reform component of
his health care program.
I do hope that Obama has some sort of long term strategy to extricate the U.S from Afghanistan, seriously re-regulate the financial system and reform healthcare. But his insistence on making the most incremental of moves and negotiating away major elements of reform before he actually starts negotiating is hampering his image as the President of 'Change' and 'Hope'.
The sad part is that Americans are finding out who really controls policy - and it isn't the politicians. The special interests have such a strangle hold on the government that anyone who gets in can no longer affect any real reform. We know for a fact that the politicians framing health care reform are almost exclusively whores of the insurance industry, and the public are essentially helpless to influence the back room deals they are conducting. As the healthcare debate moves forward, the original elements of reform are slowly being removed, and soon enough, we'll end up with a plan that could have been written by the Republicans.
Unless Obama does something to radically change the perception that he is bowing to corporate interests at the expense of the public, he will lose progressive support. And that could cost him his Presidency as he will need them to beat the Republicans in 2012.
Obama has the potential to be a great President. He is a tremendously gifted orator, a brilliant strategic thinker, and, I still believe, a progressive at heart. He just needs to show some of the fortitude he showed during the primaries and stand up to the status quo. Easier said than done, but then his legacy is riding on it.