Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Must-read Robert Borosage Column

Posted by Fraulein

Robert Borosage, the very smart and insightful co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, has written a must-read column for Huffington Post today. Borosage sums up where we stand today regarding reform on a number of fronts, from health care to the financial system, and, in my view, paints a pretty accurate picture of the risks we face if these reforms fail. It's worth reading the whole thing, but among the points worth noting:

Despite all the fantasies of the rabid right, Obama is moderate by temperament, creative at compromise. He is, as one of his White House staff described him, a "raging minimalist." He really does believe you put everyone around a table, have a "civil conversation," find areas of agreement and move forward. He does believe that everyone -- from billionaire hedge fund operators to insurance company CEOS to conservative legislators -- will in a crisis put the country first.

But he and his reform program are getting mugged. He's taken on the most powerful private interests in America -- Big Oil, Wall Street, the insurance and drug lobbies -- and they are winning. Republicans, despite the shattering of their conservative shibboleths, have chosen, with lockstep unity, obstruction over compromise. And too many Democrats have shown themselves more beholden to the private interests that pay for their campaigns than the public interest the president of their own party invokes.

This is precisely my fear at this point. In pursuit of some fantasy of bipartisan compromise, the Obama administration is backing itself into a corner from which there might not be an easy escape. Borosage continues:

We are witnessing a harrowing test of our democracy. America is a big, bustling and entrepreneurial country. We pursue our own passions and pursuits, are jealous of our freedoms, and begrudge governmental intrusions. But in a crisis -- faced with depression or war, our history tells us, many become one. We join together for the common good.

But will that happen this time? Will the Republicans join with the Democrats "for the common good"? My fear is that the Obama administration is being awfully optimistic, waiting for this to happen. If the Republicans were to put country above party now, let's face it, it would be the first time. It's just not likely to happen. So then what? Will Obama call them out on it?

With George W. Bush, flawed in a million ways as he undoubtedly was, many people rallied around him because he gave off the air of being "a strong leader." And this, to me, is what we desperately need at this moment in our history. As Borosage says:

Middle income Americans lost income over the last decade, for the first time since we began keeping records. Financial speculation drove the economy off the cliff. Catastrophic climate change is already melting the ice caps. We cannot afford another lost decade. If reason cannot prevail, angry people will increasingly look for a strong man to get something done. And that could make the teabaggers look like a tea party.

What do you think--is Obama up to the challenge?

1 comment:

NowhereMan said...

He has to do a lot of arm twisting which he has so far refused to do.In order to change Washington, he has to take control.I'm talking about the people in his own party.Fuck the republicans!Health care is the number 1 domestic issue along with the economy.I'm going to hold him to his speech before the joint session of congress.