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President Barack Obama listens as Vice President Joe Biden speaks to mayors from cities across the United States, Friday, Feb. 20, 2009, in the East Room of the White House.  (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Isaac Chotiner, of the The New Republic (I know, I know), has written a piece criticizing President Obama for speaking to the American public as if we are children. Now, I don't necessarily buy that line of attack, and all that implies about Obama's supposed narcissism. But I do think Chotiner was right on with this:

It's also, again, the condescension. We know there are other sides to the issue. We know the issue is complex. We know there are slippery slope arguments about drug legalization. But either he doesn't think that we know these things or, more damningly, he must remind us that he knows them, too.

The reason he does this, I would argue, is that he is more interested in telling us how he thinks than what he thinks.

The quote above gets to the heart of my own discontent with Obama and his presidency. He is so cocksure that he thinking things through, that often we don't know what he thinks. Be clear! I couldn't even read the entire New Yorker story because, quite frankly, I'm sick of him. "Well, there is position A, but don't forget about position B and issue A.1. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah." What do YOU really believe on pot legalization Mr. President? And, more importantly, what are you going to do, on the federal level, to combat the racist application of the laws concerning weed possession? And, a tip, don't employ the straw men arguments of prohibition proponents. It's perfectly okay to think things through and give great speeches, but we want, no we need, action and not just on weed legalization, but immigration, the criminal justice system, income inequality, stagnant wages, the environment and so on. You promised in 2008 that this would be the time where the oceans stopped rising. What happened?

This explain both sides of the card gets Obama in trouble occasionally, which is what happened last summer when he uttered these foolish words at the commemorative ceremony for the March on Washington:

Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse- making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination.  
The idea that black people are somehow responsible for the lack of racial cohesion is, of course, absurd. But that sure didn't stop Obama was spewing the rubbish. The President does this because he either has no core, justice oriented, convictions (specifically and most disturbingly on race) and he's trying to hide a moderate Republican agenda OR he merely, along with being President, enjoys being the dispassionate, non ideological observer who has no dog in these fights.

Either way he is not the progressive leader we need during these trying times.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Obama Likes the IDEA of a Moral Compass (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GAKeynesian

    Early in Obama's public career and subsequently I have observed that Obama lacks a compass, but he has and understands the instruction manual for a compass and thinks basically the idea of a compass is very good, if he ever had the time to get around to using one to look forward as to where we're going.

    Events as they materialize are SO clear to him in specificity and he is so adept at seeing what is happening and so eloquent in defining these events and their implications. This is a man whose words will be studied and revered for decades, maybe centuries.

    But life goes by so fast that the direction of history moving forward is indecipherable to him. He is right in every specific, and his relating these specifics to where we've come from is spot on, but he consistently misses that sometimes what is right at the  moment, and historically, is wrong for us moving forward. Is wrong, period.

  •  Who is the "progressive leader we need?" (14+ / 0-)

    Do you remember our last "Democratic" president?

    I remember. I remember NAFTA, DADT, DOMA, big government is over, welfare "reform," financial deregulation etc.

    President Obama is the most effective progressive president we've had since 1982 and possibly as far back as LBJ.

    He's not Bernie Sanders. We know that. But he's a heck of a lot better than Clinton.

    President Obama has also had to deal with record obstructionism. He didn't get a BJ in the oval office and make it worse for himself.

    Who is the "progressive leader we need" that would have beat McCain and Romney? I don't know who that is, and I suspect you don't either.

    And, a tip, don't employ the straw men arguments of prohibition proponents. It's perfectly okay to think things through and give great speeches, but we want, no we need, action and not just on weed legalization, but immigration, the criminal justice system, income inequality, stagnant wages, the environment and so on. You promised in 2008 that this would be the time where the oceans stopped rising. What happened?
    Congress happened. Aside from becoming a dictator and forcing these things through how is he going to get weed legal, environmental bills passed and immigration reformed?

    We dropped the ball in 2010 and we're paying for it. That's on us, not President Obama.

    I think people not dying from lack of healthcare is progressive, but apparently some people would rather have elderly people or the poor die every year so we could score political points and possibly get single payer 20 years from now.

    When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

    by PhillyJeff on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 08:47:42 PM PST

    •  You're Right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GAKeynesian, VirginiaJeff, enufenuf

      About the last Democratic president of course. I can't dispute that. And Obama is better than the Clintons on a host of issues, but Barack Obama is not a progressive leader. Surely, you know that.

      He didn't lead on marriage equality, instead he followed the public opinion polls. He hasn't led on the ending the perpetual state of war, in fact he has expanded it, especially for the people who live in Yemen and Pakistan. And he hasn't led on immigration deportations. He can defer deportations (until, or if, immigration reform gets done) for the thousands of people his administration has deported at higher rates than any previous president. And don't even get me started on criminal justice reform and income inequality or the redistribution of wealth. He has done close to nothing! And he did do nothing when his party controlled both chambers of Congress. And what about the voting rights act? Obama releases a statement following the ruling and then does nothing.

      This not leadership! And it certainly isn't progressive leadership.

      Also---the healthcare bill is as good as was possible. Even though the Obama White House wanted to do it piece meal at first, until Pelosi said no. So that's a dirty cheap shot to accuse people of wanting to allow some folks to die. I give him the benefit of the doubt on the possibility of the healthcare reform bill.

      •  Whether he "led" or not, he got things done (13+ / 0-)
        He didn't lead on marriage equality, instead he followed the public opinion polls.
        DADT and DOMA overturned on his watch. Marriage equality is spreading. Maybe he didn't "lead," but he got it done. I'm happy with his progress.
        He hasn't led on the ending the perpetual state of war, in fact he has expanded it, especially for the people who live in Yemen and Pakistan.
        He removed combat troops from Iraq and is belatedly I admit getting troops out of Afghanistan. A lot of connected people wanted those wars to go on forever. I consider that leading. Yes, I agree with you he has expanded actions in Pakistan and Yemen.
        And he hasn't led on immigration deportations. He can defer deportations (until, or if, immigration reform gets done) for the thousands of people his administration has deported at higher rates than any previous president.
        He's tried to lead on the DREAM act and other things. Perhaps he could just suspend all deportations. You're calling on him to lead on immigration reform itself and there's not a ton he can do while Republicans block it even while saying they need to pass something or die as a party.
        And don't even get me started on criminal justice reform and income inequality or the redistribution of wealth.
        What can the President do on these issues? He's starting to come around on marijuana. He doesn't set sentencing guidelines as president. He can't unilaterally redistribute wealth in this country. He's offered help for people with student loans for instance. People are getting better and cheaper healthcare so they don't go bankrupt if they're sick.
        And he did do nothing when his party controlled both chambers of Congress.
        He did nothing? You said he didn't lead on LGBT issues. DOMA and DADT were overturned. Now he did nothing. He got HCR passed when presidents have been trying for 50 years. He got a lot of other stuff done. I dont' need to list all of it here.
        And what about the voting rights act? Obama releases a statement following the ruling and then does nothing.
        Again, what do you expect the PRESIDENT to do about the Voting Rights ACT. Yes ACT, as in passed by congress. Obama / congress. He's enforced the voting rights act as much as he could and now certain sections were overturned by the courts. He can't just ignore a Supreme Court decision.
        This not leadership! And it certainly isn't progressive leadership.
        Which person, who would have been elected in 2008 or 2012 would have shown leadership, progressive leadership.

        Because in my opinion Obama has shown more progressive leadership than we've seen in a while.

        It's not as progressive as I'd like, but it's a start. I'd love to see where we could be in 10 years if progressives try to build on this presidency instead of tear it down and give up like in 2000 and 2010.

        When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

        by PhillyJeff on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 09:13:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure where you get your various facts, but (7+ / 0-)

        let me take on one of these. In terms of the healthcare law. You seem to want to indicate that the President wanted to pass healthcare piecemeal and Nancy Pelosi stopped him. Wanting to pass a bill piecemeal in and of itself does not denote lack of leadership. it might just be a way of getting a vote through a stubborn obstructionist opposition. Still, having said that, and as it relates to the Affordable Care Act, it is inaccurate to state the President wanted to pass the law piecemeal.

        I know, you said the Obama White House, when making your  argument that the President wanted to pass the law piecemeal, and so, in your estimation, the President didn't lead.

        In fact, it has been noted by Nancy Pelosi and others like Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic that the President lead in passing this law. Others wanted to pass the ACA piecemeal, but this was not the intention of the President:

        All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort. Now, a decision point had come, according to several people who were in the room. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he couldn’t keep telling reporters that there was progress on reform when, in fact, it plainly wasn’t happening. Counselor David Axelrod, who viewed health care as a political graveyard, presented a stark view of the president’s falling poll numbers. Axelrod didn’t argue that it was time to abandon comprehensive reform, but Vice President Joe Biden and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel did. Make a quick deal that would extend insurance coverage to parents and children, they urged, and put off broader action until later. Neither man had substantive qualms with comprehensive reform. They simply saw it sucking the political life out of the new presidency, just like it did to Bill Clinton more than a decade ago.

        The President went on despite recommendations by his advisors and the fact that he was getting beaten up in the polls:
        Obama had come to view this debate as a proxy for the deepest, most systemic crises facing the country. It was a test, really: Could the country still solve its most vexing problems? If he abandoned comprehensive reform, he would be conceding that the United States was, on some level, ungovernable. Besides, several aides recall him saying, “I feel lucky.”

        After the meeting broke up, a few of his advisers milled in the hallways outside the Oval Office, pondering the prospect of taking up such a high-risk strategy because the president “felt lucky.” As one of them later told me, “It was like, holy shit.”

        Of course, we know how this narrative concludes, with Obama sitting in the East Room, inscribing his signature onto the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010—completing a quest that eluded Harry Truman and a trio of his successors.

        http://www.newrepublic.com/...

        This is what Nancy Pelosi said at the passing of the ACA:

        We would not be here tonight for sure without the extraordinary leadership and vision of President Barack Obama. We thank him for his unwavering commitment to healthcare for all Americans. And this began over a year ago under his leadership in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act where we had very significant investments in science, technology, and innovation for health reform -- healthcare reform.
        http://www.americanrhetoric.com/...

        Your intimations are incorrect.

    •  I was going to write a comment here (3+ / 0-)

      But you've already done a through job of rebutting this illogical diary so instead I will merely say thank you.

      Der Weg ist das Ziel

      by duhban on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:17:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Remember the last President with "convictions"? (13+ / 0-)

    So cock-sure of himself (with Cheney's hand thrust through the opening in his back) that we invaded the wrong country and knocked around there until 5,500 Americans — and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis — were DEAD... after taking his eye off the ball at Tora Bora.

    Took the "pondering" Obama to punch bin Laden's ticket.

    This critical thinking thing must have you disoriented, out there in Kneejerk, USA.

  •  He's not running again, you know (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GAKeynesian, duhban, doroma, terrybuck

    So, there's that.

  •  I'll take this "pondering" left-leaning POTUS ... (15+ / 0-)

    ... over your caricature of a "progressive leader" any day.

    I prefer leaders to be introspective, consider multiple sides and angles to all issues.

    And if you believe that a conservative president (as opposed to a "progressive" prez) would push for repeal of DADT & DOMA, highlight income inequality, call universal health care a right and push for a progressive tax code, then you surely have no idea what you are talking about.

  •  He is the don't rock the boat President. (0+ / 0-)

    Everything he did on gay rights, he followed public sentiment.    His pot position is another follow.  

    Obama doesn't lead.  He compromises, takes dives, and rides the wave of public opinion;  but he never leads unless he's declaring war or droning someone.  

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 05:13:23 AM PST

  •  This diary is the road MOST traveled, adds (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dodgerdog1

    nothing to this blog, and I'm sorry I even skimmed the turkey.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 07:48:01 AM PST

  •  "The System" is set up to not allow (0+ / 0-)

    anybody other than this to reach the level of POTUS (regardless of party affiliation).

    Not sure what the solution is, there really doesn't seem to be one.

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