It looks like there’s going to be some kind of health care reform bill, but we’re not celebrating. It’s legislation that could have been important and meaningful and instead is a neutered industry-friendly cup of weak tea with a Draconian anti-choice amendment. That Obama would disappoint us is no surprise. We expected it and predicted it during the presidential campaign. And we said we’d complain. And we are. Expecting it, though, doesn’t prevent us from being disappointed and angry he has turned out to be lousy on things that count. He’s not George Bush, we’ll give him that. But no President in history was as bad as George Bush, an outlier’s outlier (not to mention just a plain liar). So not being as bad as Bush is a stupendously low bar to meet. That the Democrats would be crappy was also expected. The worst Democrat is still better than the best Republican, but again, who isn’t? More to the point, the worst Democrats are also stupendously bad on their own. There are a lot of terrific Democrats, but they didn’t prevail, although they could have if Obama had helped. He didn’t.
No one should be surprised. Obama kept his campaign promises on many key issues. On two of the most important — health care and Afghanistan — his positions were the worst of any Democratic candidate and he’s continued to have lousy positions. He and his rascal Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel could have prevented the substandard health care “reform” bill it looks like we are going to get. They didn’t want to prevent it. I think they like it. For us, it’s an open question whether it’s better than nothing at this point. Afghanistan? Anyone could see that was another military debacle waiting to happen. And it’s happening.
All that said, we’re still glad Obama was elected. First, there’s the matter of race, not a small thing in this country. Second, there’s the even worse alternative of a McCain Presidency. Just the thought makes my blood run cold. Most importantly, though, is the Hope issue. I was a sentient adult during JFK’s presidency and he was also a crappy president, a cold warrior of the old school who got us into a disastrous war and accomplished little of substance (compare JFK’s record to Johnson’s; Johnson’s presidency, unfortunately was mortally wounded by his prosecution of the war in Vietnam). Yet JFK’s rhetoric, like Obama’s, opened up the Pandora’s Box of a generation desperate for change. The sixties changed the face of this country and the desire for change unleashed by the Obama campaign can and may well do the same. Much of the change in the sixties came from a Hope that appeared to be unrealized. We’ve got the set-up for a repeat performance (see our pre-election post on this subject, “Obama, JFK and the sixties”).
The anger now developing against Obama and the sizable minority of business-as-usual Democrats might well have lasting effects (the Republicans aren’t even in the picture, they are so crazy). We’ll have to see. If we could tell the future we’d be rich now, and believe me, we’re struggling like so many others. But we’re pissed and going to take it out on Blue Dog Democrats by supporting whatever primary challenges are mounted against them.
Just to be clear about where I stand. I’m a doctor. I support single-payer/Medicare-for-all. I want a quick end to our ill-advised military adventure in Afghanistan. I support equal rights for gays and lesbians. A woman’s right to choose is not negotiable. I want open borders and humane treatment for everyone in the community, whatever their citizenship status.
And I’m going to vote and support politicians who believe likewise and won’t support those who don’t. And I’m really pissed.