Sunday, September 18, 2011

Obama and Axelrod Living in a Dream World of Political Plenty

David Axelrod, President Obama's chief political adviser, has achieve the seemingly impossible, by navegating to elect the US's first Black president and by ending the 43-term white male monopoly of the United States presidency.  However, he seems to be living in a fantasy world as President Obama's first term plays out and his re-election campaign gets going, like a car that has been up on cinder blocks for three years.

The Washington Post reported:
Obama campaign officials have rejected descriptions of wholesale disenchantment on the left, but they are following a two-pronged strategy: Play down the disappointment in the media, and pay added attention to the groups that are complaining. In a memo Friday, senior strategist David Axelrod said Obama’s support among key groups remains solid.
Here is a quote from Axelrod, followed by my bullet points of disagreement.  Axelrod told the Washington Post:
“Despite what you hear in elite commentary, the president’s support among base voters and in key demographic groups has stayed strong,” he said. “The base is mobilized behind the president.”
Axelrod is smart, perhaps to say this, but a fool if he believes it.
  •  Blacks' unemployment rate and the poverty rate, led by Blacks, has increased to a fifty-year high under Obama's presidency, which leads to the conclusion that, whether with a Democratic Congress or a Republican one, President Obama simply isn't up to the job for which this base constituency sent him to Washington.  The President says that he will not direct programs toward Blacks, but rather toward everyone who is "hurting."  Everyone who is unemployed and living in poverty is hurting and President Obama has done nothing prevent the chasm he found when he came to office from turning into an abyss.
  •  President Obama's base has not been mobilized since Election Day 2008.  On issue after issue when he could have called his supporters into the streets to bang on pots and pans, he instead "negotiated" with Republicans and the right-wing of the Democratic Party,  and then capitulated on issues of central importance to the American Left and Blacks.   He capitulated to the insurance companies by not insisting on a Government Option insurance plan that all in America could participate.  In doing so, he effectively left the cash register, credit card swiper and insurance bureaucrat entrenched in the interface between the public and health care providers.  That's not change you can believe in.  That's buggery that only insurance executives and their hand maidens in the US Congress can believe in.
  • President Obama was elected with a strong mandate for change.  Although there have been some technical changes, like rights for gays in the military and for women to sue employers when they have been short-changed based on their sex, most of Obama's changes have been . . . forgetable.
  • By announcing that he is mobilizing his base, Obama is tacitly conceding that he ignored and sidelined his base for three years.  He still has a Rolodex, but it has been gathering dust, while many of the names in it represent people who are disillusioned and not motivated, much less mobilized.  President Obama won the Office with massive campaign rallies, but he seems not to have organized any behind the Public Option or behind any of this other initiatives.  For example, Obama may find that many of the students who voted for him from their college dorms are now back living with their parents and not even registered to vote.  With the high unemployment among the young and particularly Blacks, and with Obama unable to offer a credible solution, these voters may not have the energy to vote in 2012.
  • The Left is disenchanted.  We are tired of the endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and with the list seemingly growing by the day.  We are concerned that if the President can send drones and fighter jets to Libya without consultations, then maybe he will secretly do the same thing in Venezuela.  If not, then why does he need seven new military bases in neighboring Columbia?
  • The first bank bail-out organized under George W. Bush, was arguably not Obama's fault, although he could easily have opposed it.  But the hundreds of billions of dollars that flowed afterward are squarely on Obama's shoulders as he meets the voters who lost their houses while the banks were being bailed out.
  • Inexcusably, Obama has billions of dollars already allocated by Congress to bail out those whose houses have been in foreclosure since Obama took office.  Instead of helping those people, Obama listened to the most punitive of right-wing moralists who argued that people who took bad risks shouldn't get help from people who took good risks.  Apply the same principle to auto insurance and no one gets their damages repaired by their own insurance company or anyone else's if they were arguably (but not demonstrably) at fault when their bad luck befell them.
Frankly, I'm sick and tired of President Obama and his banking and finance economic guru-zillas.  I wish Hillary would challenge him, arguing that she could do what he failed to do.  But, Blacks would probably still support Obama, perhaps with even greater energy and Hillary might fail, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars that the Democrats need for the General Election.

So, those of us who intend to vote at all will be forced to support Obama as the alternative to his even worse Republican opponent.  But, one has to ask himself the following:
  • Would a Republican president have or continued as many wars as Obama?  It's hard to imagine how any of them could.
  • Would a Republican president have effectively pardoned the war crimes of George W. Bush, his vice president and those in the Defense Department and CIA who participated in war crimes committed by a Democratic Administration? 
  • Would any other administration see such rampant fraud in the mortgage industry and trading, without massive investigations, a federal grand jury and some indictments?
  • The Left wanted at least some truth and justice commissions and what we got instead were blanket defenses of unpardonable sub-prime mortgage fraud and torture, here and there, under color of law.
  • Would a Republican Administration have fired someone with the creativity, energy and acuity of Van Jones, just because Democrats were grumbling about a chief Republican strategist?  Karl Rove stayed on even though he was reviled by Democrats and feared by Republicans, and hadn't graduated from college?
In 2012, I will vote against Obama's opponent, but I'm not sure that others will bother to do so and I'm not sure it makes any difference.  Could the poverty rate have been higher under a Republican administration?  It never has been since the Great Depression.