Another in a long line of humiliations.
Monthly Archives: July 2010
A bill came before the House to provide health care to the emergency personnel who responded to the events of 9/11 and suffered respiratory problems because of all the toxins they breathed in during that time. As I understand it, the Democrats made a procedural move so that the bill could come to a vote without having pointless amendments (pork?) added to it. However, doing so required a two-thirds super-majority vote. One hundred and fifty-nine Republicans voted against the bill, prompting Rep. Weiner (D-NY) to do this:
I wish I lived in his district so I could proudly call him my representative. No offense, Rep. Rodriguez.
I am skipping over a lot of things to bring this series of posts to its conclusion. What I had hoped to illustrate was that in a heavily toxic and partisan climate, with the opposition party not the least bit interested in seeking ways to address our most pressing issues, President Obama has done a remarkable job of getting things done.
That said, he did so very carefully and a lot of his major accomplishments have been met with criticism from his supporters for not going far enough. But as I said in the first post, he has had to be careful and the laws passed had to be as moderate as they were because going “all the way” would not have worked in the aforementioned toxic climate. Which brings me to my theory: Obama is looking towards a second term in which he will more forcefully push for a progressive agenda.
Now, it is entirely possible that Obama is not the progressive I think he is and that what we are seeing now is not a “compromised” position, but Obama’s true way. But I have my doubts. So, if he has been cautious as part of a long-term strategy, he has positioned himself to be more aggressive in his second term, assuming he has the numbers in Congress to do so. Which leads me to another shrewd game Obama is playing: letting his opponents get riled up, run around like chickens with their heads cut off, and pretty much make themselves unappealing as a governing party so that by 2012, it is quite likely that he will once again have a Democratic majority in Congress (assuming Republicans take back the House this November, which could be a good thing for Obama and the Democrats in 2012 since the Republicans are in such disarray right now and splintered between the Tea Party types and true conservative ideologues) and the political capital to get more shit done.
By 2012 the economy should be on much better footing than it is now and the Republican party may be even more splintered if things continue as they are. And add the possibility of Sarah Palin as the GOP nominee, or even better, a third-party candidate, and Obama’s chances of re-election look very good. His supporters will come out in droves as they did in 2008 and he will once again get a mandate to govern differently than his opponents would, a mandate that will only be strengthened if Republicans do in fact hold a majority in the House from 2010 on and try to repeal the health care law and the financial regulatory bill, two of the things they have said they would do (sadly, though not surprisingly, I am unable to find their party platform for this year).
So with a win in 2012, which in itself Obama is carefully and shrewdly positioning himself for, we will have another four years of, at the very least, more forward-looking policies. Though it is my hope that Obama has been playing possum and will, once given a second-term and no longer concerned with re-election, progressively confront issues like climate change, immigration, the drug war, and perhaps, re-visit already passed legislation and make it better. I understand he cannot do it alone, and that his approval ratings will matter in 2014, but still, a second term could shore up what history will one day look back on as a transcendent presidency for its times.
I will end by paying homage to the man who inspired these posts, Andrew Sullivan, by sharing his latest thoughts on Obama’s success to this point. Like Sullivan, I think Obama is the best we have; I only hope the best of Obama is still to come.
Interpol is one of my favorite bands and their upcoming self-titled album, their fourth, drops September 7th. They have a couple of songs for purchase on iTunes right now, I think, including Barricade, which they performed on Letterman last night. Here’s the video:
They also have a video for the song Lights, which is a better song. The video is below but beware, you may think it strange.
On NPR’s Fresh Air program a couple of days ago, Richard Cizik appeared on the show to discuss his new evangelical organization that he started in response to his firing from the National Association of Evangelicals. He was fired because the last time he appeared on Fresh Air, he came out in favor of civil unions for gay people and said some other controversial things.
The show was a revelation in that it was the first time I heard an evangelical speak about how counterintuitive (from the perspective of one who puts their faith in Jesus) a lot of evangelical thinking is, and how it is enabled by conservative and republican ideology. On gay marriage:
I said, well, I’m still evaluating and I’m still thinking about this. And so while I haven’t come to a conclusion on that, I am convinced that you can’t deny rights to people based on their sexual orientation. It’s wrong.
It’s even wrong, I think, as Christians to take that position because we should support rights, human rights for all people even when they don’t agree with us, for example. And for example in Uganda, we have to oppose laws that would penalize people.
The Uganda comment is in reference to the law passed there that can go as far as giving people the death penalty for being gay. His views on sex and abortion were also refreshing, and also helped get him fired because of this exchange in the previous interview:
I think finding those who are in trouble, in crisis, helping them through this, and if need be, even supplying what government presently doesn’t do, namely contraception, is an answer to reducing, you see, unintended pregnancies. These are…
GROSS: Wait, wait. I think I heard you say government supplying contraception?
Rev. CIZIK: Yes.
GROSS: That’s got to be controversial among evangelicals.
Rev. CIZIK: Among some it would be, but I don’t think so. We are not, as I have said previously, we’re not Catholics who oppose contraception per se.
And let’s face it: What do you want? Do you want an unintended pregnancy that results in abortion or do you want to meet a woman’s needs in crisis, who frankly would, by better contraception, avoid that choice, avoid that abortion that we all recognize is morally repugnant, at least it is to me?
I urge you to listen to the whole podcast, or read the transcript. It gives me hope that more and more people of faith are capable of denouncing the hateful and partisan ideology that Republicans have counted on from the religious right for so long. And I like that this man is wise enough to understand that to hate or denounce anyone because of their sex, race, sexual orientation, income or political party affiliation is hardly Christ-like. Is it not the duty of the Christian to follow in Jesus’s footsteps?
I doubt Jesus would support not allowing homosexuals to marry, or an economic system that created the greatest income inequality we have ever known, or repealing a law that provides health care to everyone, or hurling insults of the vilest kind at people he disagreed with. Didn’t Jesus chose to walk amongst the poor? Didn’t Jesus say something about not throwing stones if one is a sinner? Jesus healed the sick, too, right?
Please, correct me if I am wrong.
Before I begin, let me just say that the you-know-whos are criticizing Obama for doing this show and some other things this week instead of going to the Boy Scouts 100th Anniversary meeting, or whatever. Personally, I think it is silly that Obama is doing this show, but it is just a little more silly than if he had gone to the Boy Scouts thing. I just don’t care about such empty gestures. We have serious problems that he needs to deal with. But I digress, on to the show.
10:00 am: The show’s intro makes it clear this is a historic event because it is the first time a sitting president has appeared on a daytime talk show. And as a special treat, Barbara Walters is making an appearance to mark the occasion. I never liked her and I wish she would have stayed at home.
10:01: Four ladies make their way onto the stage, trailed by Whoopi Goldberg who is dressed in something that looks like a judge’s robe. Then she introduces Barbara, who looks quite svelt.Apparently she had heart surgery and the girls are all talking at the same time, asking her questions, complimenting her looks. Briefly chaotic.
10:06: Back from a four minute commercial break and a clip from Obama’s swearing in. Back to set and the girls are all sitting on a yellow couch with a seat open in the middle for Obama. Barbara introduces him and he walks out, hugs and kisses ensue.
10:07: Barbara leads and asks if he thinks being on a show with a bunch of women will help ease some of the criticism he has been getting. Then she asks him if he watches the show, to which he replies: “Of course”. BS.
10:10: Obama recounts the tough stuff he has had to deal with in response to another question from Barbara. But he only gives a generic response. Give him credit though for saying that it is the American people who have had it tough and not him.
10:11: In response to biggest storm of the past month, Obama deftly says the things the media focuses on may not be what is tough for him. He gives the example of signing letters to parents who have lost children in the wars.
10:13: Funny moment, the clearly liberal woman on the panel, Joy, who asks why Obama doesn’t do more to counter Fox News and the like who propagate a false narrative. His response: “That’s your job”. Laughter.
10:14: Elisabeth (young blonde married to former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselback) asks if Obama is frustrated about the country being so divided. He says all he can do is try to set a civil tone, but that the media prefers to focus on the fighting and not the instances of cooperation. What instances is he talking about? Oh yeah, we don’t hear about those.
10:16: Shirley Sherrod question and Obama is extolling her virtues and again criticizes the media for generating a phony controversy and says people overreacted, including in his administration. Acknowledges racial progress has been made, but there is still racism and prejudice.
10:20: Barbara comments that Obama does not call himself a black president, but that is how he is described, and she asks why he doesn’t call himself “bi-racial” and if it would help. Seems like a stupid question to me. Obama is less interested in how we label each other and more interested in how we treat each other.
10:27: Elisabeth, the show’s conservative anchor, asks why, despite his claims to the contrary when the stimulus was passed, is unemployment still so high and why is he boasting about saved jobs. Obama correctly states that when he took over, we were losing 700,000 jobs a month but for the last five months, we have been adding private sector jobs. Elisabeth takes issue with talking about saved jobs and Obama (to applause) says it does make a difference to those people whose jobs were saved. But the bottom line is that we are making progress and it is understandable to be frustrated by the pace. Also gives the auto industry as an example of how much progress we are making.
10:32: Barbara with an Afghanistan comment and question regarding Democrats opposing the funding bill and the Wikileaks disclosure. Obama says the problem in Afghanistan is that Al-Qaeda is free to move between Pakistan and Afghanistan and he wants to give the Afghans the opportunity to develop and stabilize before thinning out troops next year. He says he is not interested in an open-ended commitment because at some point, nation-building here at home has to be the priority.
10:40: Now going to ask Obama a series of “hard” questions. He knows Lindsay Lohan is in jail, doesn’t seem to know about the Mel Gibson fiasco, doesn’t know who Sookie is and thus cannot comment on whether she should run for mayor of Wasilla, he does not tweet, he does not have an iPhone, he has Jay-Z and Frank Sinatra on his iPod, but not Justin Beiber, he is not going to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding nor was he invited, and boys have not yet entered the picture for Sasha and Malia.
On a personal note: Why am I doing this? Probably a big waste of time…
10:49: Back to substance. Whoopi asks, given all the criticism he has faced despite his accomplishments, can he win as president? Obama admits it has been difficult but incredibly satisfying. He goes through what he will be able to claim: insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, no advertising to children by tobacco companies and credit card protections for consumers, to name a few.
10:52: In response to the question of what he wants his legacy to be, Obama says he wants the American people to look back at this time as one in which we tackled a lot of major issues that had been plaguing us for a long time.
And with that, they say goodbye to the President.
When does school start?!
President Obama is appearing on The View this morning and I may just have to live blog it. You may be surprised to know I do not watch The View, though the last haircut I received was at Coronado Barber Shop in El Paso and the show was on while my hair was being cut. Could be a fun hour.