A Letter to President Obama

I concur.

This is a letter written on the day that Obama brought down the hammer on banks and the day after Ted Kennedy’s seat went to a nobody who posed naked for Cosmopolitan magazine.

Re-posted from Posted Without Comment a DailyKos diary.

Dear President Obama,

As someone who has been active in Democratic politics for decades and as someone who supported and worked to elect you both to the Senate and the presidency, I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I have been by your performance.

From your selection of staff (Rahm Emanuel), and cabinet members and advisors (Geithner, Summers, et.al.), you have chosen to surround yourself with those with deep histories of favoring corporations and Wall Street over the average citizen.

The result is now clear to see: a year of work on your claimed biggest priority, health care reform, going down the drain. How sad and embarrassing, not to mention devastating, to those millions needing health care and to the Democratic Party and our hopes for 2010.
Your lack of leadership on the health care effort came back to bite you in a very big way. And your lack of urgent response to a banking and financial system run amok — a system that has consistently favored big money interests over those of the average citizen — may prove to be the undoing of both you and the party.

Your rhetoric today on breaking up the big banks may be too little, too late. You surrounded yourself with Wall Street sycophants who, apparently, insulated you from the anger that has been bubbling up from the streets for months.

It makes me sad to have to write this letter to you, but my disappointment is profound.

I hope you begin to understand the real pain people are experiencing in our country. And I hope you begin to see that the average citizen needs a voice — and an advocate — in our government.

The big money interests have increasingly dominated the policy machinery of government, much to the detriment of our democracy (made only worse by today’s Supreme Court decision granting additional campaign money powers to corporations).

And instead of stepping up and stopping this malignant spread, you and your team have embraced and even encouraged it.

I guess I’m not only sad and disappointed, I’m disgusted.

Count me out of your corner for 2012. If I had wanted more corporate-centric Clintonism, I would have worked to elect Hillary.

Perhaps you’ll change. But I’m not holding my breath…

Bob Johnson

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  1. #1 by Kevin Owens on January 21, 2010 - 9:05 pm

    I feel the same way. Mr. Obama is a brilliant man with a lot of good ideas, but for one reason or another he’s not effective at getting them done. I wish he’d show some backbone and just do it.

    He’s the President of the United States, for heaven’s sake! He can do whatever he wants.

  2. #2 by brewski on January 21, 2010 - 9:06 pm

    It isn’t often that I agree with much, ok anything, in the DailyKos. But finally lefties are waking up to the reality that Obama was full of crap when he gave all those speeches about Changing Washington. It is too bad it took some people 14 months to come to that conclusion. I don’t want to say “I told you so” but I told you so.

    So I am pretty much in agreement with this post except for Cliff’s usual warrantless snide remarks. Brown is no less of a “nobody” than Obama was in 2004. In fact he is much more of a somebody than Obama was then.

    As for the “Ted Kennedy’s seat” label, I think the voters of Mass would disagree.

    And if his wife doesn’t have a problem with him posing nude in Cosmo, then who is anyone to judge?

  3. #3 by brewski on January 21, 2010 - 9:18 pm

    Just an objective comparison:
    Barack Obama approval ratings 1 year into presidency = 49.8%
    GWB at same time = 80.5%

  4. #4 by Cliff Lyon on January 21, 2010 - 9:19 pm

    Brewskag,

    You “told us so” what? That Obama would not be able to accomplish his progressive agenda?

    I think the only thing you were telling us is that Obama would be a failure because you cant stand the fact that you and your brother’s Commander and Chief is a Black Man.

    You certainly dont support his agenda so, progressive criticism of Obama is not exactly the same as your hopes and dreams for Obama.

  5. #5 by Cliff Lyon on January 21, 2010 - 9:20 pm

    I’m sorry Brewster. That probably went right over your head.

    Never mind.

  6. #6 by James Farmer on January 21, 2010 - 9:31 pm

    brew:

    The stock market was at best flat during Bush’s first year in office, while it skyrocketed during the same time frame for Obama.

    Didn’t anyone ever tell you to be careful with statistics? Most receive that admonition in the second grade. Where were you, then?

  7. #7 by Larry Bergan on January 21, 2010 - 11:35 pm

    Can anybody tell me how the rest of the Court voted on the corporate election money thing? Especially Sotomayer.

  8. #8 by Larry Bergan on January 22, 2010 - 12:21 am

    OK, Kennedy voted in favor of corporate free speech. So did Roberts and Scalia. If Scalia voted for it, so did Clarence. I assume Alito voted in favor.

    Stevens dissented and I assume Ginsburg did too.

    I’m not sure how Souter voted.

    HAPPILY, Sotomayor voted in favor of the people, but it seems to be too late to save our society.

    Looks to me like another one of those damned 5 to 4 things.

    As somebody on another blog whom I respect said, “It looks like we lost WWII.

  9. #9 by anonymous on January 22, 2010 - 12:25 am

  10. #10 by Larry Bergan on January 22, 2010 - 12:50 am

    Oops! I guess Souter isn’t in the court any more. Here’s the rundown:

    For unlimited corporate free speech:

    Roberts
    Kennedy
    Alito
    Scalia
    Thomas

    Against:

    Stevens
    Ginsburg
    Sotomayer
    Breyer

  11. #11 by Richard Warnick on January 22, 2010 - 7:29 am

    From a comment on Matt Yglesias’ blog:

    What difference at all is there between Obama 09 and Bush 07, on any issue of substance? Obama talks nice, but Guantanamo is still open, he’s defending in court most of the executive power grabs Bush put in place, we’re still in Iraq, we’re escalating in Afghanistan, the cover-up of US torture continues (and if you think the CIA isn’t laughing at Obama while they’re beating up terror suspects today, you’re awfully naive and trusting. Obama has shown that he’s far too scared of controversy to do anything to rein in the military or the CIA. They can do what they please no matter what he says, secure in their knowledge of his utter political cowardice). We’re still shoveling money to bankers with zero accountability, and health care reform is dead.

    If they were trying to destroy the Democratic party, they couldn’t have done a better job of it.

    Bush lost the 2000 election, took office anyway, and acted like he had a huge mandate to swerve hard right and put the pedal to the metal. He went full speed for eight years, ignoring flat tires and a grinding noise coming from the engine.

    To bring us back to where we started, President Obama has to apply the brakes, fix the car, turn it 180 degrees, and race back to the left for eight years. While the Republicans and DINOs put up detours and roadblocks. But I don’t see it happening.

  12. #12 by Uncle Rico on January 22, 2010 - 7:52 am

    At the risk of repeating myself, Ralph Nader was right: tweedle dee and tweedle dumb.

  13. #13 by brewski on January 22, 2010 - 8:52 am

    Cliff,
    I am quite proud that my brother’s commander in chief is a black man. Not that it should matter. I am not as race-consciious as you. You will never get that.

    “I told you so” means I told you so that Obama was not who he said he was. I told you that when he picked Johnson to lead his VP search committee, and then he picked Biden as his VP, and then he picked tax cheats and lobbyists for his administration, when he signed a bill with 8500 earmarks, that all this horseshit about changing Washington was one giant lie.

    And you bought it like a shopoholic at Filene’s going out of business sale.

    I am in favor of a single payer plan and a carbon tax, so your charge that I didn’t support Obama’s agenda is another laughable lie.

    Got any other easy ones for me? This is too easy and I’m still on my first cup of coffee.

  14. #14 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 22, 2010 - 1:38 pm

    Kevin–

    I hope someday you can become president so you can learn that you have to choose between being a butthead and being a wimp. Some people have too much respect for the office to be buttheads. I, for one, am ambivalent about Obama. I’m glad that he doesn’t halt the gears of progress so he can waltz his agenda through, but I’m upset that he doesn’t learn to work in tandem with them, or make them work for him.

    Really, though, is he facing what Bush faced? Bush had a war to capitalize on, which war was at the peak of unpopularity when Obama took office, yet still demanded resolution. A year after Bush took office, he was riding the wave of public sentiment–a wave, I remind you, which took no effort on the part of Americans or Bush to generate. Obama’s wave was contingent upon a mythology of results, and even normal results are much harder to come by. Funny how the people and the Congress jump behind the president when 3000 die but won’t do the same when tens of thousands dead from lack of proper healthcare.

    So, while I agree that Obama is doing a fairly poor job so far, I have to point out that your tongue-in-cheek joke about the endless power of the presidency is wrong–whether you meant it sarcastically or not. When Congress won’t back the president on legislative issues, it’s hard for him to compete in popularity or effectiveness with a president whose influence primarily derived from his role as unitary commander-in-chief. But even if he’s a poor performer, how much worse a performance can you expect when you lock him in a box?

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  15. #15 by Larry Bergan on January 22, 2010 - 4:23 pm

    Obama as much as hints he’s going to do something about the bankers and the stock market plunges. How can he deal with these bastards without causing our society to melt?

  16. #16 by Kevin Owens on January 22, 2010 - 7:05 pm

    Dwight –

    I meant literally that the President’s political power is practically limitless. He could easily invoke the Patriot Act to arrest any congressmen or judges he disagreed with, incarcerate them in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without charges or a trial, and threaten to do the same for anyone else who dares oppose him. All he has to do is call them domestic terrorists, and it’s legal, and they won’t get a chance to dispute that characterization in court.

    That strategy, of course, would make him a butthead.

    • #17 by Cliff Lyon on January 22, 2010 - 7:31 pm

      Kevin, When you say “he could easily” you invoke Bush. Did YOU vote for Bush? Allow me. Yes you did. Your record is clear.

      Now, WOULD HE? No Kevin. You are a freaking hypocrite and if I were your wife, you wouldn’t get any for a year.

      The only “butthead” is the guy YOU voted for. You are REALLY a Pathetic Hypocrite.

  17. #18 by Uncle Rico on January 22, 2010 - 7:24 pm

    I meant literally that the President’s political power is practically limitless. He could easily invoke the Patriot Act to arrest any congressmen or judges he disagreed with, incarcerate them in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without charges or a trial, and threaten to do the same for anyone else who dares oppose him. All he has to do is call them domestic terrorists, and it’s legal, and they won’t get a chance to dispute that characterization in court.

    W’s legacy.

  18. #19 by Kevin Owens on January 22, 2010 - 9:57 pm

    Yes, I voted for Bush once, and regretted it. Have you never made a mistake when you were younger?

    The only “butthead” is the guy YOU voted for.

    Yes, I agree. George W. Bush turned out to be a terrible president. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite. Your personal attack was unwarranted and mean.

    • #20 by Cliff Lyon on January 23, 2010 - 6:49 am

      Hi Kevin,

      I’m sorry. Too often I read cynicism into the words of conservatives and people who voted for Bush (Your comment #16).

      I hope you will consider moving past skepticism to overt support for President Obama.

  19. #21 by Kevin Owens on January 22, 2010 - 10:08 pm

    Also, let me clarify that I am not seriously advocating that Mr. Obama fight dirty. I appreciate his thoughtful restraint, but there must be something he can do besides talk the talk.

  20. #22 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 25, 2010 - 9:17 am

    Kevin–

    Somehow I don’t believe that Congress, complicit as they have been in W’s legacy, would sit by when one of their own is threatened. They may be passive to the imperial presidency when it doesn’t harm them, but I think they might challenge the president if he goes that far in imitating Caesar. Even then, it doesn’t seem like the Republican majority is going to sit by the way Democrats did during Bush’s reign. 70% of last year’s bills were filibustered, including pretty much every single one that Obama uttered a word to promote. They want him to fail, and the imperial Congress can go a long way to trip up even the most nimble of ideas.

    Still, though, I agree that he should be able to do something. Of course, it could be said that he is doing something, but what happens when he does? When the EPA begins to establish new rules to produce the same kind of emission-cuts that cap and trade is supposed to produce, they come into focus as the biggest, baddest representation of totalitarianism the world has ever seen. Whether pushed by legislative appeal or executive order, Obama’s attempts are facing literally unprecedented legislative and cultural blockades.

    You and I both come from a culture that sees the American executive as “the most powerful job in the world.” Just remember that being more powerful than a third of Congress still qualifies you as the most powerful man on Earth, but there’s another two-thirds that, collectively, are more powerful than you alone. During Bush’s reign, there were many of us who wanted an impeachment, begged for one–who wished that the actions of his advisors would be taken before the Supreme Court, and his before Congressional Tribunal, because we knew that such were the only ways to challenge and defeat his agenda. The fantasy of so powerful a man that he can’t be stopped is antithetical to constitutional law, and it just takes the Legislative and Judiciary asserting themselves to make it so.

    Isn’t it sad that the Legislative has finally asserted itself once real progress is beginning to be made?

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  21. #23 by cav on January 25, 2010 - 9:45 am

    Somehow I don’t believe that Congress, complicit as they have been in W’s legacy, would sit by when one of their own is threatened. They may be passive to the imperial presidency when it doesn’t harm them, but I think they might challenge the president if he goes that far in imitating Caesar. Even then, it doesn’t seem like the Republican MINORITY is going to sit by the way Democrats did during Bush’s reign. 70% of last year’s bills were filibustered, including pretty much every single one that Obama uttered a word to promote. They want him to fail, and the imperial Congress can go a long way to trip up even the most nimble of ideas.

    D. fixed yer typo.

  22. #24 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 25, 2010 - 9:49 am

    Oh, thanks, cav. Sorry about that.

  23. #25 by cav on January 25, 2010 - 9:56 am

    D’nada.

    Even then, it seems like it’s all just one mushy middle that pulls to the right if left to its own devices. Grr.

  24. #26 by cav on January 25, 2010 - 10:10 am

    Chi Di, from the eschaton board puts it this way:

    i do not subscribe the the naderite analysis… (tweedle-dee v tweedle-dum)… that said, the problem as i see it has to do with the permanent class of democratic insiders, fundraisers, and consultants. Susie Madrack was just talking about how all thinking people agree: republicans lie, and go back on their word, and are blatant in their greed for wealth and power, and their unconcern for social justice of any kind that is not christo-theocratic. anyone who doesn’t understand this, and operate accordingly, is one of two things: an idiot, or a future republican. far too many dems are in that latter class. when i say “future republican,” i don’t necessarily mean today’s dems will join the thug party (altho that has and can happen) so much as i mean they long to be part of the financial elite, and see their work in the dem party as a stepping stone to that. right now, the financial elite are very clear about what one has to do to please them, and increase your chances of being brought into the Franchise. and today’s dems are very good at that, which as Rmj is pointing out, mostly consists of shitting all over the dem base and hollowing out the party’s core principals.

    so my logic is that a lot of the upper dem establishment has to be permanently associated with failure, and removed by revolt at the level of the state and local parties. they seem to be working on that right now. i would love to be a fly on the wall at some MA party meetings this month. i bet there are a lot of angry people at them, who are sick and tired of being told they must follow ineffectual strategy from dem elite in the Village.

  25. #27 by Larry Bergan on January 25, 2010 - 3:07 pm

    cav said:

    70% of last year’s bills were filibustered, including pretty much every single one that Obama uttered a word to promote.

    I found out an astonishing fact on Terry Gross’s NPR program today. I had always wondered why I keep hearing about Republican filibusters and don’t seem to see them on C-Span.

    The reason is…

    They don’t even need to filibuster anymore: all they need to do is THREATEN to filibuster and the Democrats back down.

  26. #28 by cav on January 25, 2010 - 3:54 pm

    Larry, that para came from Dwight, I was just correcting a typo.

    But you are correct, the filibuster prompts the Nukular option and that is the only fear that is REALLY fearsome.

    I’d love to see all the slimy rightards trying to read the phonepook on the senate floor at three a.m. when the phone begins to ring. Jeez, what crap.

  27. #29 by Larry Bergan on January 25, 2010 - 6:10 pm

    That explains the boldness of your comment cav. I had never seen that before from you.

    I have a question, because I think I may have misled somebody about the Republicans, and, believe it or not, I hate to do that, but was it Bird or a Republican who read from the phone book?

    Tell me it wasn’t a Democrat. Pretty please.

  28. #30 by cav on January 25, 2010 - 6:29 pm

    I did Italics for Shane.

    I’m trying to get the big, graphical ‘block quote’ going, maybe you could offer a tip, perhaps?

    It may have been Byrd…but it certainly was bird-brain!

  29. #31 by Larry Bergan on January 25, 2010 - 7:09 pm

    Apparently Bob/anybody hasn’t figured out the block quote thing either.

    By the way: where is Bob?

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