Obama Has Betrayed the Progressives Who Got Him Elected -- So Now What Do We Do?
Though he's barely over six months into his first term, President Obama faces a critical time. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, support for Obama is dropping, and Greg Sargent theorizes this is due to waning support among Democrats and liberals.
Sargent's theory makes sense. Ask any Democrat or Progressive why they voted for Obama, and you're likely to hear a range of grievances extending from he's better than Bush to Nader wasn't on the ballot, but others say things like he said he'd bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, or he promised healthcare reform.
Clearly, liberals expected big things from their new, exciting President. However, as so oftentimes happens in the world of politics, pragmatism and triangulation sucked the air out of Obama's audacious hope. While the new President made plans to draw down troops in Iraq (plans that include tens of thousands "residual forces,") he surged in Afghanistan and approved the use of 17,000 additional troops. Meanwhile, Obama remained silent on the issue of mercenaries including the scandal-ridden Blackwater even though "private contractors," the pretty euphemism for "private soldiers accountable to no one," now outnumber troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Another moment for Obama to prove he wasn't lying during campaign season approaches now that Senator Feingold has called for a flexible timetable to bring troops back from Afghanistan. Since Obama repeatedly stated during the primaries that the goal in Afghanistan was to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden, surely he will be open to the issue of timetables since a targeted assassination doesn't require the same troop levels needed to occupy and "rebuild" an entire country. A majority of Americans now see the war in Afghanistan as not worth fighting, according to a Washington Post/ABC news poll. No one seems interested in polling Americans about Iraq anymore most likely because the responses can so easily be predicted. The wars are lost and unpopular. The occupations are pointless and destructive. It's now up to President Obama to join the consensus and end these futile wars.
The President's behavior on the other progressive hallmark, healthcare reform, is equally abysmal. Obama's shameful conduct has been well-documented, including the White House's agreement to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government's leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada, and the agreement not to pursue Medicare rebates or shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D, which would cost Big Pharma billions in reduced reimbursements. In exchange, PhRMA agreed to cut $80 billion in projected costs to taxpayers and senior citizens over ten years, mere pocket change to the booming industry over a decade-long projection, which makes it unlikely the cuts will significantly help citizens or ever actually happen. It's almost like the number was plucked from thin air to give the appearance of PhRMA's concession so liberals wouldn't completely lose their minds.
The popular single-payer model vanished almost immediately from the healthcare reform debate, and was replaced by the "public option," an entity no politician bothered explaining to the American people, who remain confused and miseducated about what it means. It's no wonder that myths spread quickly, culminating in the famous town hall blowouts. The mainstream media and politicians snickered at the screaming crowds, implying citizens are somehow too stupid to understand what's really going on.