What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.

Jul. 5 2009 - 11:04 am | 20 views | 2 recommendations | 9 comments

Barack Obama immediately regrets asking for your help

(Image from uprisingradio.org)

(Image from uprisingradio.org)

It was September 2008, and Barack Obama was still the Senator from Illinois. He spoke to a very appreciative audience in New Philadelphia, Ohio. “If we don’t take our government back, then none of these changes are going to happen,” he said, “I need your help doing it.”

Now it seems President Obama only meant he needed help raising money to get into the White House, and all of those suggestions for progressive reform included in monetary support from liberal groups are really superfluous annoyances, and not the kind of “help” President Obama had in mind.

The Washington Post reports that President Obama is complaining about “liberal advocacy groups” that are attacking the Democrats who are seen as being in the pockets of the private healthcare industry. Obama thinks liberals should instead focus on — I’m not sure — Michael Jackson or Lindsay Lohan. Something that will keep them out of trouble, probably.

“We shouldn’t be focusing resources on each other,” Obama said, “We ought to be focused on winning this debate.” But winning the healthcare debate for whom? If the American people, including the cursed “liberal advocacy groups” that helped get President Obama elected, demand a public option (72% favor a government-run healthcare program,) why is the public option not a serious goal in the healthcare debate?

Furthermore, why are so-called Democrats like Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Max Baucus (D-MT) not fair targets for angry Progressives, who see the representatives as private healthcare cronies?  Ben Nelson has called a public option a “deal-breaker” because such a plan would threaten private insurers, and Max Baucus has raised $2.6 million from the private health care industry and now serves as a prominent figure for  policy debates over health care reform. Yet, instead of attacking Nelson or Baucus for putting the interests of corporate donors above the interests of their own constituents, President Obama is attacking groups like MoveOn.org. 

Like the rest of a majority of Americans, MoveOn’s 5 million members want a public option, according to executive director, Justin Ruben. Unfortunately, in President Obama’s vision of democracy, his supporters were expected to remain complacent Yes-men until his inauguration, whereupon they were expected to shut up, sit down, and let corporate cronyism shape their national healthcare plan.

Specifically, this “rage” coming from the left has been aimed at a handful of Democrats, according to the Washington Post, and includes Sens. Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu (LA), Ron Wyden (OR), Arlen Specter (PA), and  Dianne Feinstein (CA.). Mary Landrieu is in that 28% minority, (which appears to contain only members of Congress and the private healthcare industry) that thinks the public option is a bad idea. 

“I’m not open to it. I’m not open to a public option,” said Landrieu. “However, I will remain open to a compromise, a full compromise. Public option is not something that I support. I don’t think it’s the right way to go.” A compromise, as long as the winner is the private healthcare industry, and 72% of Americans keep their mouths shut.

Landrieu is the co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill from Ron Wyden, which requires the federal government to create a public option in any state that lacks a variety of insurance options (wherever that is.) Many Democrats view this bill as the weakest kind of fall-back plan that will ultimately bury the public option. Meanwhile, Arlen Specter raised (PDF) $7.2 million in health care industry contributions between 2000 and 2008, and Dianne Feinstein finally came out of hiding to state her extremely weak stance on the public option (she supports it, but won’t fight for it.)

With this kind of treatment of the public option (ranging from lukewarm to outright hostile,) it’s no wonder many Americans feel as though the government isn’t representing their interests. Most Americans, including the dreaded “liberal advocacy groups,” that helped get President Obama elected, want a public option and yet the president has fallen into the role of private healthcare industry spokesman.

Instead of representing the interests of citizens, President Obama has interpreted democracy to mean taking citizen cash and then telling them to shut up when it comes time to hear their feedback. 


2 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 9 Total Comments
Post your comment »
  1. collapse expand

    I never would’ve expected Obama to support public healthcare anymore than I would’ve expected him to support legalizing marijuana. Like Chomsky has said, Obama was pretty much a blank slate, and people projected what they wanted to see onto him. I never thought he was a progressive – frankly I don’t expect much from Obama other than to not look like such an asshole (or a crazy religious lunatic) in the eyes of the world. And he seems to be succeeding in that. Other than that, we’ll be lucky if he’s as “liberal” as Bill Clinton.

    Remember the 1996 election, when we were so disaffected that the choice between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton barely seemed like a choice at all (as brilliantly satirized on The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror)? That reality hasn’t changed in spite of the Bush years. I doubt we’ll ever have a viable candidate with a progressive agenda in this country – you’d have to have a major restructuring of the entire economic system FIRST, and THEN you could actually get someone in power who wasn’t a glorified puppet of big business. But how do you restructure the economy without progressive people at the highest levels of government? So it’s a catch-22 as far as I can tell. In lieu of any kind of revolution, all we can do is make as much noise as possible and hope to get enough people pissed off that the “captains of industry” have no choice but to appease us a little bit. I could be wrong but I think that’s the best we can do at this point.

    • collapse expand

      True, but it’s important that citizens remain aware that their political parties have been hijacked by corporate interests, which is why the Democrat and Republican parties look so similar. Only by supporting third party, progressive candidates, and demanding publicly-funded election can they hope to break the monopoly corporations have on the “democratic” process.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    There’s no catch-22 here at all, mikepierry. All there is is a stubborn, zombie-like following of the two major parties. It is self-defeatism at it’s worst.

    So many people say they voted for Obama – or Gore, or Clinton, or Bush, etc. – because the candidate they really liked wasn’t “viable.” VIABLE? What the fuck is that?!? Just how viable can a Nader, Paul, or other alternative be if those who agree the most with their positions won’t even vote for them? This whole “viability” thing is just a piss-poor excuse used by those who can’t stand not voting for a “winner”! It also means that people don’t think their favorite candidate has the ability to convince others if given the chance.

    I’ve often heard it said that things would have been different, “if only those Nader voters wuld have gone for Gore in 2000.” I say – BULLSHIT!!! In reality, things would have been different if the Gore voters would have gone for Nader! Some problems really do have simple solutions. If the problem is the system controlled by the two major parties – then the solution is to stop giving those parties’ candidates your vote – PERIOD! If you continue to vote for the D’s and R’s, you are the problem and you should probably sit down and STFU!

    • collapse expand

      A good point, though it’s difficult to hear the views of third party candidates when the major networks don’t permit them airtime during the debates (and third party candidates aren’t all billionaires like Ross Perots and Michael Bloombergs, who can purchase commercials.) Publicly-funded elections would ensure a level-playing field for all ideologies and platforms. That way, we’d actually hear some exciting, fresh perspectives.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Also a problem if your party is not registered in all 50 states. Means you have to make up for it in thousands or more in the other states. I find it hard to believe that regulations favoring a two-party system is not a major factor. I think that the Americans would be like the Germans if they suddenly had candidates from numerous parties who got even the bare minimum of exposure with pocket change of government funding. I cannot imagine them still just going for Democrat and Republican with most an overwhelming plurality.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          I wish to add: People forget that the Populist party was getting so popular that the Democrats hatched a plot to destroy it by feigning a desire for mutual merger, and succeeded, without paying a price for it. To imagine that a third party could become so disruptive to the two party system and yet be crushed despite rapidly growing support, never to recover, tells me that it is more than a lack of will involved.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    Interesting article, I just wish Progressive’s would have a better understanding of how the game of “Politics” works. First of Obama NEVER said what you have stated here. Basically he is saying be patient,let the process take it’s course, kinda a like a Baseball manager sticking up for the guy who is in a huge 0 for 30 batting slump. I am very P.Od at some of these Senators that are against Public option, but each day we are hearing about someone who has changed there mind, and the Bill is NOT even written yet. So save your bullets for another time, let the process work itself out. Do you really think that Obama would be stupid enough to turn his back on a huge chunk of people that helped put him in office?? I don’t!

    • collapse expand

      Basically he is saying be patient,let the process take it’s course, kinda a like a Baseball manager sticking up for the guy who is in a huge 0 for 30 batting slump.

      Actually, that’s what he never said. He never said, “Let’s be patient guys. I’ve got a master plan,” and what’s dangerous is to assume that President Obama is doing what’s best for the American people (instead of what’s best for the private healthcare industry,) and then we will somehow magically end up with a public option. To grant that much trust to a man, who has thus far proven himself to be a centrist moderate, would entail a shocking amount of naivety.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
Log in for notification options
Comments RSS

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

Log in with your True/Slant account.

Previously logged in with Facebook?

Create an account to join True/Slant now.

Facebook users:
Create T/S account with Facebook

My T/S Activity Feed


    About Me

    I co-host Citizen Radio, the alternative political radio show. I am a contributing reporter to Huffington Post, Alternet.org, and The Nation.

    My essay "Youth Surviving Subprime" appears in The Nation's new book, Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover beside esssays by Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Naomi Klein, who I'm told are all important people.

    G. Gordon Liddy once told me my writing makes him want to vomit, which is the greatest compliment I've ever been paid ever.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 453
    Contributor Since: May 2009
    Location:New York, New York

    What I'm Up To

    • In The Nation’s New Book


      Check out my article “Youth Surviving Subprime” in The Nation’s new book beside essays by Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Naomi Klein.

    • Citizen Radio

      I co-host the biweekly political-comedy show, Citizen Radio. It’s like CNN, but with more swearing. Citizen Radio covers the stories that the mainstream, corporate media ignores. Past guests include: Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, Ralph Nader, Tariq Ali,  Janeane Garofalo, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, and more…

      Go to wearecitizenradio.com and click on the iTunes logo to subscribe to our podcast for FREE. Also, join us on Facebook

    • +O
    • +O