Friday, September 04, 2009

Obama Should "Welcome their Hatred"

I haven't been weighing in that much on the health care debate since so many others have been blogging so effectively about it these past weeks. I thoroughly support universal health care, and like every sane person, realize that the Republicans are opposing it just because it was Obama's idea - and of course to curry favor with their corporate sponsors. If Obama were against it, they'd be for it.

There is no middle ground here - the Republicans will find fault with any proposal the President comes up with. It's time for Obama to give up on his Bi-Partisan Dream and face reality. The Republicans are not going to support his middle ground, they will not respect his wish for civility and honest discourse, and it has become clear that no real change will occur in a bi-partisan way, on any issue whatsoever.

There were several interesting articles in the news recently that make this clear. In yesterday's New York Times, Jean Edward Smith writes,

"President Obama's apparent readiness to backtrack on the public insurance option in his health care package is not just a concession to his political opponents — this fixation on securing bipartisan support for health care reform suggests that the Democratic Party has forgotten how to govern and the White House has forgotten how to lead."...

...and then goes on to compare this attitude to that of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who never made an effort to be bi-partisan in pushing through the legislation that was the foundation of the New Deal. In fact, according to Smith, Roosevelt felt that "majority rule did not require his opponents' permission."

Smith points out that Roosevelt successfully promoted regulatory legislation and other key programs over howls of protest from his opponents and corporate interests. As Smith writes,

"Roosevelt relished the opposition of vested interests. He fashioned his governing majority by deliberately attacking those who favored the status quo. His opponents hated him — and he profited from their hatred. 'Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today,' he told a national radio audience on the eve of the 1936 election. 'They are unanimous in their hatred for me — and I welcome their hatred.'"

President Obama is in a very similar situation to Roosevelt during the Depression. His party is the majority, he was elected with a solid majority of the votes, and the country is ready for a change after eight long years of Republican rule that left the country in a mess. But he hasn't grabbed the opportunity the way Roosevelt did, and this Congress hasn't risen to the occasion as that Congress did.

Many may claim that the so-called "grass roots" protests at the health care forums around the nation are signs that the population is not in favor of the President's proposal to provide universal health care. But as E.J. Dionne points out, the media have not been covering the forums where there was civil discourse and support for health care reform.

"There is an overwhelming case that the electronic media went out of their way to cover the noise and ignored the calmer (and from television's point of view "boring") encounters between elected representatives and their constituents.

It's also clear that the anger that got so much attention largely reflects a fringe right-wing view opposed to all sorts of government programs most Americans support. Much as the far left of the antiwar movement commanded wide coverage during the Vietnam years, so now are extremists on the right hogging the media stage -- with the media's complicity."

So, if it turns out that in reality the public isn't against health care reform and is hungering for real facts, then the President's reluctance to tilt against the forces opposing him are doing that public a disservice.

In Edward Kennedy's upcoming memoir, True Compass, he discusses his feelings about President Jimmy Carter. According to the Times,

"Some of his most critical words are directed against Jimmy Carter.

He said that while they had found common cause on a few issues, their relationship had broken down over health care. He accused Mr. Carter of timidity that had doomed any chance of meaningful health insurance reform...."

Perhaps this "timidity" was due partly to President Carter's deep religious convictions, that he did not want to promote anger and dissent. Similarly, it may not be that President Obama wants everyone to like him, as some have said, but that he truly is trying to "turn the other cheek" and follow his Christian beliefs. But to paraphrase Barry Goldwater, "extremism in the defense of universal health care is no vice." While Obama's efforts toward bi-partisanship and civility are admirable, they don't get legislation passed and don't effect the real change that he was elected to provide.

The President would do well to remember that, while Jesus said "turn the other cheek," he also got angry and threw the moneylenders out of the temple. It's time Obama did the same. Sometimes no matter what your good intentions for peace, you have to fight. Edward Kennedy understood that.

I hope that the President's speech to the joint session of Congress next week is successful in getting his proposals on health care on track and wresting his message away from the GOP and back under his own control. This will be his last chance to push through meaningful reform. He cannot fail on this issue.


Distributorcap said...

obama really fell asleep at the switch on this one.

i said it before and i will say it again - the GOP will never support anything ANY Dem proposes. if obama cured cancer they would reject it

second - the media is NOT OUR FRIEND. the media wants bread and circuses, not bread and existential theatre.

i really dont understand why Obama has this overwhelming need for bipartisan support. oh never mind i do - it is called Rahm Emmanuel - the biggest piece of shit in the administration and the one person dragging the whole thing

Unknown said...

Chica, this is a wonderful post you have done. You might of stayed out of the fray, but once you entered hit a homerun!

Roosevelt relished the opposition of vested interests. He fashioned his governing majority by deliberately attacking those who favored the status quo. His opponents hated him — and he profited from their hatred. ~ Why doesn't Obama, a big reader of history, know this? Why doesn't he follow FDR? It boggles my lil mind that he still thinks bipartisanship is possible. The Rethugs will NEVER go along with ANYTHING he wants..nevah!

Meanwhile, America suffers..and it's criminal to me.

JollyRoger said...

I've said it elsewhere, and I'll say it here; if there is no public option in the healthcare reform packsge, Obama doesn't get my vote in 2012. I'll vote Green, Independent, anything but Obama or Rushpubliscum.

Frankly, I cannot see a whole lot of difference between Obama and the Rushpubliscum he replaced. As Chimpy taught us all, words don't mean much.

Annette said...

Great post lady.. I think you are spot on and make more sense than most.. Thanks for putting your 2 cents in.

Christopher said...

Candidate Barack Obama supported single payer -- essentially the expansion of Medicare to cover all and eliminating the 80/20 gap.

This is logical, contains costs and gets the for-profit insurance industry out of healthcare picture.

Then, President Obama dropped his support for single payer and backed the public option. Not perfect but a solid alternative to the for-profit insurance game and something I could live with.

But somewhere along the way, he ceded control to the Congress to write the reform bill for him and most troubling and disturbing of all, backpedaled from requiring a Congressional vote BEFORE the August recess.

And the drip, drip, drip of stories of secret meetings with the CEOs of insurance and Big Pharma -- the meetings minutes not made public.

Why is the president obsessed with singing kumbaya with the other side of the aisle? Obama is acting like a senator and not a leader with a mandate and political capital to wield. He is like Sally Field, "you like me, you really, really like me," when we need an LBJ who shoved his face in the faces of GOP obstructionists and shouted them down.

Now, Obama is secretly huddling with Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe to try and woo her support for the perfectly dreadful "trigger." If we get healthcare reform with a public option at this point, I will be surprised because I think the president has lost control of the debate.

libhom said...

It is difficult to imagine anyone watching corporate media coverage of healthcare honestly denying the fact that those media outlets have extreme rightist bias.

Comrade Kevin said...

Part of this is because the media is chaos and is looking for the easy story. The easy story is the freak show being pitched by these uninformed right wingers.

There's no way to negotiate with people who believe Obama to be the source of all terrible things and this is something he is going to have to understand. It's a tough lesson to learn, but bipartisanship is impossible when your opposition believes you're Satan. Refusing to promote anger and dissent is what we all need to do right now to sort of de-escalate the nastiness, but this shouldn't hamstring our efforts towards reform, either, as you pointed out.

TomCat said...

Great job, Maui! If you remember said long before the election that there can be no bipartisanship with the Repuglicans.

GOP-Speak Dictionary
Bipartisanship = We get everything; you get nothing.

Great to see you, along with other familiar faces. :-)

Kamil said...

Great post...all true. But I have to try and contrast Roosevelt's era with this one. Obama had two foundations of his candidacy: a call for competence from the previous administration and a call for unity to the country. His election represented not just a call for change in policy but also in mindset - the mindset of opposition as enemy. To put it simply Roosevelt was charged with fixing the government and Obama believes he has to fix the government AND unite the country. This is a noble goal, outside of the realm of politics, and perhaps its naive. But its clear that the President believes that if change is not reached in a bipartisan way it won't last. I don't think that's true and even though I commend his commitment to trying to bridge the divide, the utter militancy of both the Right and the GOP seems to suggest that, at least for now, uniting the country is at odds with fixing its biggest problems.

enigma4ever said...

everyone said what I already was thinking...dcap hit it all...esp about rahm the turd and obama needs to give up the bipartisian issue...

you were right to mention Roosevelt- sadly the media did support him-- our media does not support obama or THE people- and they are so busy peddling corporate influence they have ruined any coverage of meaningful or educated discussions...or even the HUGE pro-reform rallies....

I don't know what will happen- but it is up to all of us to jam WH phone lines...and sadly I don't know who Obama is listening to- but he needs to listen to the ppl 77% WANT AND NEED HCR...

themom said...

I feel that our president has tried to hard to create a bipartisan bill. Enough is enough. We won the election and the majority of people have it's time for our representatives to vote. Obama needs to try a hard fisted attack on this major, necessary issue - and now!

Fran said...

"If Obama were against it, they'd be for it. "
is a great perspective.

Instead of all this circus--- mob scenes at rallies & pussyfooting around the issue (no offense to Baxter!), we REALLY need a Lion's ROAR.

I'm tired of the polite, condescending conversations while people are lying & conjuring up notions of death panels & grandma dying.

I want the president to rant & roar.
Pound the damned podium.
Speak the truth.
I wish just 2 topics were on the table-

(Son;t say thins like you are reading to a 1st grade class... raise your voice & show some anger & spine!)

1- Don't be fooled by the smoke & mirrors.
These politicians are on the take, getting millions to literally sell their votes.

By banding together, we force the insurance companies to stop their collusion on pricing, and ripping us off. Their for profit game is over with public option.

2. Announce that ALL Federal government insurance plans will be changed to whatever plan they come up with.

Because right now, this insurance debate (circus), is not something that directly effects those who are voting. Part of the problem is the us & them element.

Who here thinks they would be so flippant about it if it was THEIR OWN & their families' asses on the line?

They really have to stop tap dancing around the truth-- and what the hell with the blue dog element?

They will lose their job so fast the next election, their heads will spin.

TomCat said...

Fran, I love your #2 solution.

D.K. Raed said...

Obama doesn't even need to look as far back as FDR (although he should, for inspiration, study the 2nd State of the Union FDR gave, 1936). He only needs to look back to W who never cared about the opposition, whose mantra was my way or the highway, who ruled the country as if 51% meant 100%.

What Obama doesn't seem to grasp is that while it may be possible to get a few people who hate him to go along with him on a few small issues, they will never support him on the big important issues. So what he has to decide is if he will allow his Presidency to become dominated by a few small ideas (which certainly does not sound like Candidate Obama to me).

I'm awaiting Wednesday 9/9/09 with great anticipation!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

What a well-done post. I really appreciated the comparison to FDR.

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian, I am watching this whole debacle with great interest. I mean who the hell opposes health care for all?