Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dear President Obama: Please Wise Up

Mr. President, I know you've heard Sarah Palin's disparaging "man up" challenge. You can ignore that one, I think.

What you need to do is "Wise Up." There is a real world out here, and you aren't getting it. There are real people out here, and your advisers don't represent us. There are real voters out here, and they will vote for your primary opponent(s) if you don't somehow wise up.

Repeat after me. "The Republicans are not my friends." Say it again. Now with more emphasis. The Republicans are not your friends. The conference you had with the Republicans yesterday was sweet and sickening. You are fawning all over people who hate you, who have maligned you, who have declared you the enemy, who have even compared you to Hitler. And you make nice with these guys?

And even before negotiations over the budget begin, you start off with a unilateral giveaway. You freeze the salaries of your middle class employees for two years. You know that won't do one thing for the deficit. Not one. It will make the deficit worse. That's right. Now you have every government employee scared to death. First a salary freeze, then their jobs. And you having cut waste in the bureaucracy far better than Bush ever did! Now these government employees are going to hoard their resources. They will cut back on spending. As a result, companies that rely on them as customers will have to lay off workers. Less money will be collected in taxes. The deficit will go up.

You are a smart guy. You know this. Yet you did this anyway? Who are you listening to anyway? Are you sure they are your friends? No, sorry, you do need to listen to Sarah Palin after all. Man Up, Mr. President. Man Up and Wise Up. Who are you supposed to be fighting for anyway?

You wimped out on Don't Ask Don't Tell. You delayed action, and delayed action again. You allowed a study that would come after the elections. Now the Senate Republicans, your new friends, are going to filibuster it. And you will tell us you'll keep trying? Nonsense. You are the Commander in Chief. If you can't get rid of DADT, you can order a change in the procedures for how DADT is handled. That way unless there is actual sexual harassment by an officer or serviceman, they will not be discharged. Wise Up, Mr. President. You think we don't know these things? You are losing your base.

You kept Bush's generals. Bad idea. They helped get us into the war. All their advice would be to keep us in the war. Wise up, Mr. President. Even as you were discussing withdrawal, General Petraeus was saying we'd be in Afghanistan between 20 and 50 years!

Health Care? You are already offering to compromise to undo what you compromised long and hard to get. Wise Up, Mr. President. Sure, the Republicans won lots of Democratic seats -- the Blue Dogs' seats in particular. The Blue Dogs were the Republicans in Democratic clothes.

Every time you compromise with Republicans, they move the criteria and pretend you haven't compromised at all. So then you compromise some more. And then more and then more.

So instead of a single payer system, you compromised for a public option. Then you compromised the public option away. You still wind up saving money on paper, but nothing like what would have been saved by the single payer system. And insurance companies can still game the system, deny certain treatments, etc. because that is what insurance companies *do*. Insurance companies are there for themselves to make a profit. A single payer system would have been there for the people.

Financial reform? Well you got your agency, which the Republicans intend to defund. But it doesn't nearly have the teeth in the law to make financial predators behave. You had your banking people as advisers in your administration, and they did what they were supposed to do -- they represented the banks, not the people of the United States. That's right. The Recession, "technically ended", threatens to become the Second Great Depression in part because you listened to the banks instead of the people. Wise Up, Mr. President!

Do you know what your compromises have done? They have turned you, a Progressive Democrat, into a Moderate Republican. Technically that is as bad or worse than the Blue Dogs. And the Republicans still hate you. Remember, they are going for the kill, and they have said so. When will you Wise Up, Mr. President?

You know what you should have done yesterday? You should have looked at Mitch McConnell, who said his primary goal was to make you a 1-term president, and told him either to play ball or see every one of his pet ideas go no further than your desk. You should have congratulated Boehner for becoming the Speaker of the House, and then told him that if he didn't do some real compromising and leading, you would parade him around in contempt in the Bully Pulpit each and every single day.

You should have told the Republican Senators, "OK, you want DADT? I am the Commander in Chief, and I make the rules for applying the legislation. Here they are. Now unless someone is convicted of sexual harassment they can't be discharged from the military." You would have so many GLTB people in the military serving honorably that they couldn't change it the policy back to persecution status without destroying the military, even if they won the next Presidency.

You should have fired Petraeus when he talked about a long, never-ending engagement in Afghanistan. Yes, he wants to win where Russia lost. But you promised, and you are failing to keep those promises.

You are the President. You have the nation's pulpit. You are the Commander In Chief. You can do these things. You can parade your victories, denounce the nation's enemies, and order your troops.

You know, Mr. President, I voted for you. But if a bright and committed Progressive comes along to challenge you, one who has stood up to Republicans before, I might well vote against you in the primaries. Although I am afraid you will never wise up, I certainly have. The Republicans don't compromise. They don't even reason. They lie, they spin, they pull you along, and they make you feel like you have won a victory when they run away with the prize.

This can't go on, Mr. President. We can't have four more years of wimpy leadership and promises lost.  Wise Up to your enemies, and Man Up to the challenge, or you are doomed for a single term and all your hard work undone.