Friday, April 16, 2010
That Black Guy in the White House
I still have my issues with this man. First and foremost is his decision to continue Bush/ Cheney policies of arbitrary detention of terror suspects. I think it is only a matter of time before some future president from either party decides to designate his opposition as terrorists and send them all to Gitmo. He is way too soft on the financial industry. I realize that he will have to fight tooth and nail to get any kind of financial regulatory reform through Congress, but I think nationalizing a few over-sized banks and selling them off would have been a good start. I remain mystified by Obama's reluctance to be more aggressive about the unemployment situation. A 9.7% unemployment rate is a major and dangerous problem, and I'm startled that official Washington seems so indifferent to something that could potentially be a mortal threat to all establishments.
I think Obama in his heart of hearts is a center-right politician. He didn't lie to us about that. He said so quite clearly throughout the 2008 campaign. While I'd love to see him be a more partisan fighter for a progressive agenda against the reactionaries and the crazies, I do see the reasoning behind his conciliatory approach to politics. The President is supposed to represent all the people, not just his voters or cronies. Yes, the country is deeply divided between people who hold fundamentally different visions for what is right for the nation; but, we all still have to live with each other, and work together even if we hate each others' guts.
I think already he has accomplished a lot in his first term. The health insurance reform bill is a Rube Goldberg contraption twisting itself into all kinds of pretzels to please competing interests. But, it will improve life for millions of people and put real limits and regulations on the increasingly predatory practices of big insurance providers and the healthcare industry. This is the biggest piece of progressive legislation since Medicare in 1965. What sold me on it was not Obama or Nancy Pelosi, but Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. Those evil bastards tried twice to cut off coverage for Michael and myself. Soon, they will be properly regulated and no longer exempt from anti-trust laws. For the first time, Empire Blues will have to compete in a truly open and competitive insurance market. I'd prefer to see them try to compete with Medicare (and fail). Maybe someday they will.
Another area where he has accomplished much with little notice is in nuclear arms reduction and securing nuclear stockpiles. The new START agreement and the new international resolutions on securing nuclear materials will not lift the threat, but they are big steps in the right direction toward a more secure world.
Finally, he's written lots of checks to the gay community that haven't yet cleared the bank. This new executive order expanding medical rights for gay couples is very short of what he continues to promise the gay community, but it is a major step that will mean a lot for couples.
He's a lot less than the champion of progressive causes that I would prefer, but he is doing some really solid work that makes me glad I voted for him, and that I didn't let the other guys win by default yet again. Victory, like defeat, has its consequences. I like having tangible policy results instead of noble lost causes for a change. Besides, all these crazy old white people frothing mad at him makes me think he's on the right track.
Posted by Counterlight at Friday, April 16, 2010