Obama Pays The Price For Impotence

The upset results of the Massachusetts US Senate special election are being widely dissected by pundits looking for explanations and ramifications coming out of this election. The obvious culprit  is “Obamacare” but as with most things in life, the explanation is not so singular. However, make no mistake: President Obama bears nearly full blame for the debacle last night in MA.


I endorsed Obama but wasted little time tearing into him for appearing too deliberate and calculated during times of financial crisis even before he took office. While many will point to the epic health care reform battle as the key turning point (and the fact that Republicans managed to gather public support by defending MEDICARE borders on a comedy of errors to rival any Bush-ism), Obama made key mistakes long before the special election. The most egregious of these was to steadily demoralize his fervent support base with constant back-tracking on election promises and actual change.

The most glaring blunder was Obama’s failure to put the wood to Wall Street. Speaking from a realpolitik view, Obama should have chopped Wall Street heads whether or not those heads deserved to roll — the American public would have supported a nice lynching and Republicans would have been hard-pressed to defend the bankers and their brethren. Instead, Obama made a decision very early in his administration to continue Bush’s financial sector policies for the most part, partly due to the fact that much of Obama’s campaign money came from there — thus, my post in June of last year, calling the new President the same as the old one. Now, of course, Wall Street is headed for record bonuses despite 10% unemployment and Obama cannot deflect the blame onto W. Bush — at least during the twilight of Bush’s administration, both Wall Street and Main Street truly felt the pain. Under Obama, Wall Street flourishes while Main Street flounders. This is now Obama’s cake and the voters in Massachusetts made him eat it last night.

Other moments come to mind: muddling his domestic agenda, pathetic grovelling for one Republican vote on the budget package, kowtowing to the autoworkers union during the GM/Chrysler bankruptcies, walking back the public option on healthcare reform — just a general sense of weakness. Time after time, he reminded those who supported him, like me, that he could not live up to his promise of change, despite the relatively low expectations we have of politicians. Of course, these same demoralized supporters got the call to rally for Coakley once the Senate seat appeared in jeopardy and I am sure many like myself ignored the calls, leaving Obama to flail in the mess he helped make.

Despite the still large majorities in Congress, the path for Obama looks perilous. Ted Kennedy was instrumental in helping Obama win the Democratic nomination and Obama pays back the favor by losing Kennedy’s seat? The message to any Democrat is that no one is safe now and you can not count on Obama’s popularity to help you in an election. Good luck getting those legislative votes now. And if Obama’s agenda gets bogged down any further, he will be staring at a tough 2012 re-election campaign, especially with a demoralized support base.

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2 Responses to “Obama Pays The Price For Impotence”

  1. Brian Says:

    I’m enjoying your article and agree with nearly all of your positions taken within it but I must say that your ‘lynchIng’ imagery was very poorly chosen. I’m furious at both Obama and the bankers but that metaphor presses upon an American historical wound which I’m afraid is still quite tender. I was horrified of your choice in that instance.

  2. Davy Bui Says:

    Hi Brian, thanks for the comment. I understand where you are coming from and frankly, the historical context of lynching never entered my mind until you mentioned. After reading your thoughtful comment, I tried to use a different word/phrase but after a few minutes and even looking up synonyms, I decided to keep the word because it fit exactly what I wanted to convey.

    Being a bleeding heart progressive, I don’t disregard these sentiments easily. But at the same time, I and many others do not view Obama as the “black President” — he’s simply the POTUS to us and honestly, it’s tiring to continually deal with race when discussing Obama. For non-African-Americans, there are so many important issues that dwarf the state of race relations — 10% unemployment, deficits as far as the eye can see, dysfunctional government/corporate system, health care, etc.

    Being a minority, I have been subjected to discrimination in the past, even though Asians are supposed to be the model minority. Of course, the historical plight of African-Americans dwarfs those of other minorities so I am not trying to compare. But Obama himself knew that he could not become a symbol of race relations. If the American people thought electing Obama meant 4 years of constantly discussing race, we would have picked someone else.

    Besides, isn’t the whole point to pick the best qualified person regardless of skin color vs. special treatment because of their skin color? Do I need to use a special dictionary when lambasting the President just because he’s black?

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