We seemed to have entered an era where there is this group think of that no matter what you think of President Obama, in reality everybody needs to get in line and make sure that they follow whatever the President says because we are heading toward an election. And I simply don’t agree with that.
It seems like there is always an excuse of, it’s such a hard job, so progressives have to give President Obama all the breaks.
Martin Sheen recently said, “It’s unrealistic. I wonder how many of those progessives [meaning the ones that are criticizing him] are black? How many of those progressives understand historically what happened?”
So does that mean only Cornel West can criticize the President? That you have to be black to be able to do a progressive criticism of the President? I don’t think that that makes any sense at all, and that’s a needless injection of racism into this issue when it does not belong there.
Here are some things that really concern me. Recently I read in the news again about how they might be bringing back the “grand bargain”. Do you remember what this is? This is basically the Simpson-Bowles Commission that the President asked for and has been lobbying for and has wanted to do all along. But do you remember the downsides of that?
First of all, in this so-called grand bargain on the budget, they would do three times as many spending cuts as they would do so-called tax increases. Now as a progressive, why in the world would I be in favor of that? That’s a terrible ratio. We already cut spending to the bone; he’s going to cut three times more than the tax increases. I don’t agree with that. I don’t care that we are heading toward an election. That’s the wrong plan. And in fact it doesn’t help his election chances at all; it would totally hurt him.
Now here’s more downsides of the grand bargain. It cuts social security. It cuts medicaid. It raises taxes for the poor. It raises taxes for the middle class. That’s where your tax raises are. And it lowers corporate taxes. To which I say, hell no.
I am not going to get in line for that. It doesn’t mean that I prefer Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or any of the other clowns. No one is saying that. But I am not going to sign onto something because the President is running for re-election. Hell no. I hope to God that they don’t do the grand bargain.
Now when you look at President Obama in his entirety, it’s a complicated picture. There’s definitely been upsides. Let’s talk about the upsides for a second.
They did healthcare reform. I have my concerns about it but it’s at least 50% good and it was a big, big effort.
There’s some defense spending cuts. I would love more but there is some.
On women’s rights, I actually think that he has been terrific: fair pay act; affordable care act.
He stopped torture. He has been terrible on civil liberties otherwise. But he did shut down the black sites that the CIA was running and that stopped torture.
He saved the auto industry.
There was a stimulus. It could have been larger, but it had significant effects on unemployment in bringing it down.
Obviously he killed Osama bin Laden which was terrific.
And he finally got rid of don’t ask don’t tell. Again, that’s very, very good.
But you also have to look at the downsides. And let me give you a quick list of that as well.
He was very easy on the banks.
At the same time he was hard on whistleblowers: not just Bradley Manning but corporate whistleblowers and other security interests whistleblowers.
On civil liberties, honestly, I thought that he was a disaster. National Defense Authorization Act, that allows for arresting U.S. citizens and giving them indefinite detention, which is terrible. Warrantless wiretapping continues. Drones on U.S. citizens, where he killed them without any due process.
Domestic spending cuts have been significant, dramatic.
The war on drugs. He started out great in the first few years and then he turned around and doubled down on the Bush administration policies, busting dispensers in the states for no reason.
And on immigration reform he has been horrible. He has deported more people than George W. Bush did.
And then my main beef with him, nothing on campaign finance reform, nothing. He was supposed to change the system.
So don’t have people tell you that you got to bow your head and go along.
So if you are a progressive, Obama supporters will tell you because we are heading into an election, you should not criticize the President. But it’s maddening to me that President Obama constantly goes to the right and it doesn’t help him politically.