Barack Obama immediately regrets asking for your help
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.