Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pres Obama's 100 Days: Everyone Agrees... Good Start, Needs To Be More Liberal

I could sit here and discuss all of the things that President has accomplished in this (very) early stretch of his presidency... passing a stimulus bill, expanding children's health insurance coverage, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (the latter being holdovers from the last Congress), beginning the process of closing Guantanamo and ending the Iraq war, reversing some bad Bush-era policies on stem cells and carbon emissions and other issues, diplomatic overtures. Or the things he has yet to accomplish... an exit strategy for Afghanistan, figuring out what the hell to do with TARP, health-care reform, real climate change action (beyond cap-and-trade proposals), taking a real stand on controversial issues like gay marriage or the war on drugs, other big issues. But I won't because, a) those issues have been exhausted elsewhere (one example), and b) I think that the tradition of grading a President based on the arbitrary 100-day mark is kind of stupid.

So instead I'll write about the topic that is endlessly fascinating me lately... the slow mental unraveling of the conservative base in America. As the tea parties showed, they are mad as hell and they are not gonna take it any more!! Except they're still trying to figure out what "it" is. They know they hate Obama and that he's destroying America, but they're unable to explain why without going on insane rants about forged birth certificates and secret Muslims and socialism and FEMA concentration camps. (And let's not even get into the Republicans in Congress who are voting against Obama on everything so they can run against him as a do-nothing President in 4 years.)

They no longer have consistent positions on anything of consequence. For instance, ask them these basic questions and watch them dissemble like crazy.

(Give 'em time... they'll figure it out-- ??-- eventually)

One interesting side aspect of that has been that so many of their complaints about Obama seem to be that he hasn't changed enough from the Bush-era policies... despite their endless defending of Bush, if they even acknowledge his presidency existed at all. The first time I noticed this phenomenon was months ago when Rush Limbaugh-- who's been the ringleader of this circus-- cited the bank bailouts as a reason why he disapproved of Obama. This was said not only before Obama was even sworn in, but also with no acknowledgment that the bailouts were the design of President Bush and Henry Paulson. And you would not believe how pissed Limbaugh is at Obama for lying about why we went to war, or the housing bubble, or his failure to save New Orleans! Fascist!

I've been spending (way too much) time debating conservatives on LJ communities and keep seeing this time and time again. Here's one guy (when he's not arming himself to defend America from the socialists) giving President Obama faux-shit over his maintaining of some of Bush-era CIA programs... when, in theory, he should be praising Obama for that. Or this guy who stated that "it's obama who wants to do away with civil lilberties." When pressed for an example, he cited a news story noting that 'President Barack Obama has already provoked controversy by backing the continued imprisonment without trial of enemy combatants in Afghanistan and by limiting the rights of prisoners to challenge evidence used to convict them.' So, once again, the anger is that Obama is failing to fully end all of the horrible, destructive policies that Bush set in motion years ago. Now I completely agree that is the biggest failure thus far of his presidency... but do they? Again, asking them to answer that will elicit no rational response.

Still, it's nice to know that, in theory, all of America agrees that to become a stronger President, Obama needs to become more progressive and to move even further away from the excesses of his Republican predecessor.

As Paul Krugman said of the Specter move, the political schizophrenia on the right "is not good for American democracy– we really do need two major parties in competition. But I’ll settle for getting that back after we get universal health care and cap-and-trade."

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