I certainly don't believe Obama didn't understand what he was facing, but I do think he may have overestimated the lengths to which the GOP and other Democrats would go to to oppose him.
I still support the President and want to believe he is doing all he can to reshape health care so it is available and more affordable to more citizens, resolve the two disastrous ongoing wars and salvage the economy, which is a tall order for anyone. So I am giving him the benefit of the doubt on his strategy so far.
I am baffled though, by the trends of the administration toward the banking industry, big Pharma and the insurance giants, and his selection of people like Berneke and Geithner to stay on when they are clearly connected to the problematic banks that got us into this in the first place.
Matt Taibbi examines these issues in a new article for Rolling Stone which doesn't ease my mind at all. Still, there are many facets to these issues we do not see.
"The White House's refusal to push for real reform stands in stark contrast to what it should be doing. It was left to Rep. Paul Kanjorski in the House and Bernie Sanders in the Senate to propose bills to break up the so-called "too big to fail" banks. Both measures would give Congress the power to dismantle those pseudomonopolies controlling almost the entire derivatives market (Goldman, Citi, Chase, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America control 95 percent of the $290 trillion over-the-counter market) and the consumer-lending market (Citi, Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo issue one of every two mortgages, and two of every three credit cards). On November 18th, in a move that demonstrates just how nervous Democrats are getting about the growing outrage over taxpayer giveaways, Barney Frank's committee actually passed Kanjorski's measure. "It's a beginning," Kanjorski says hopefully. "We're on our way." But even if the Senate follows suit, big banks could well survive — depending on whom the president appoints to sit on the new regulatory board mandated by the measure. An oversight body filled with executives of the type Obama has favored to date from Citi and Goldman Sachs hardly seems like a strong bet to start taking an ax to concentrated wealth. And given the new bailout provisions that provide these megafirms a market advantage over smaller banks (those Paul Volcker calls "too small to save"), the failure to break them up qualifies as a major policy decision with potentially disastrous consequences."
He also sadly observes:"A year to the day after Obama named Michael Froman to his transition team, his political "opposition" has descended upon the city. Republican teabaggers from all 50 states have showed up, a vast horde of frowning, pissed-off middle-aged white people with their idiot placards in hand, ready to do cultural battle. They are here to protest Obama's "socialist" health care bill — you know, the one that even a bloodsucking capitalist interest group like Big Pharma spent $150 million to get passed.
These teabaggers don't know that, however. All they know is that a big government program might end up using tax dollars to pay the medical bills of rapidly breeding Dominican immigrants. So they hate it. They're also in a groove, knowing that at the polls a few days earlier, people like themselves had a big hand in ousting several Obama-allied Democrats, including a governor of New Jersey who just happened to be the former CEO of Goldman Sachs. A sign held up by New Jersey protesters bears the warning, "If You Vote For Obamacare, We Will Corzine You."
I approach a woman named Pat Defillipis from Toms River, New Jersey, and ask her why she's here. "To protest health care," she answers. "And then amnesty. You know, immigration amnesty."
I ask her if she's aware that there's a big hearing going on in the House today, where Barney Frank's committee is marking up a bill to reform the financial regulatory system. She recognizes Frank's name, wincing, but the rest of my question leaves her staring at me like I'm an alien.
"Do you care at all about economic regulation?" I ask. "There was sort of a big economic collapse last year. Do you have any ideas about how that whole deal should be fixed?"
"We got to slow down on spending," she says. "We can't afford it."
"But what do we do about the rules governing Wall Street . . ."
She walks away. She doesn't give a fuck. People like Pat aren't aware of it, but they're the best friends Obama has. They hate him, sure, but they don't hate him for any reasons that make sense. When it comes down to it, most of them hate the president for all the usual reasons they hate "liberals" — because he uses big words, doesn't believe in hell and doesn't flip out at the sight of gay people holding hands. Additionally, of course, he's black, and wasn't born in America, and is married to a woman who secretly hates our country.
These are the kinds of voters whom Obama's gang of Wall Street advisers is counting on: idiots. People whose votes depend not on whether the party in power delivers them jobs or protects them from economic villains, but on what cultural markers the candidate flashes on TV. Finance reform has become to Obama what Iraq War coffins were to Bush: something to be tucked safely out of sight."
Is there any way to find common ground amid such polarization?
Is the country becoming ungovernable (like California is already)?
Politics are much more complex than the public has the patience to fathom, and rarely knows the real story until much, much later. I can't imagine dealing with so many pressures. We've seen what happens when someone trying to make big changes and gets to successful (Read Ghandi, MLKing, RFK, Malcolm X, to name a few).
Not to compare Obama to anyone, but he has made a clear effort to work with all sides even when they weren't willing to work with him to avoid the kinds of backlash that stalled previous efforts to change the direction of the country.
I know he's not naivé, but I don't see that strategy is working. Individuals aligned with corporations will do the bidding of corporations. Period.
It would be natural to assume his own party would support him, which has been spotty at best. The GOP will never cooperate and that is just plain shameful.
with so much against him it is unfair to criticism him alone. Congress and Obama's appointees (who did accept the job to work with him and toward his goals) have their share of respobsibility for the stagnation of things to carry too.