What Did Obama Mean by Change?

No reporter has ever asked him as far as I know. I don't know if any will ask this time around. What did you mean by "Change" anyway? He ran a whole campaign on it and does anyone really know what Barack Obama meant he was going to change?


I'm in the camp that he hasn't changed a damn thing. People will counter with Lilly Ledbetter. It's a lovely law, but does anyone really believe that's what was meant by the grandiose statement "Change"?

Of course I use Lilly Ledbetter as a symbol. President Obama obviously has more accomplishments than that. He really did change the laws and many people's perceptions on gay rights for example. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is history. The government is no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act. And the President of the United States is finally for gay marriage. But did people really think Senator Obama meant he would change gay rights legislation? Is that what the 2008 election was about?

A little bit of financial reform (which so far has proven to be as ineffectual as progressive critics predicted) certainly doesn't qualify as "Change." Thirty million more Americans insured -- maybe, hopefully, by 2014 -- is a good thing. Is it transformational? Has Washington changed as we know it? Have we gotten "Change"?

Here is the common sense interpretation of what "Change" is -- changing the way Washington works. In fact, this is exactly what was promised, specifically by Barack Obama. He even made a campaign ad about it: http://www.youtube.com/...

That's an example of the same old game playing in Washington. I don't want to learn how to play the game better; I want to put an end to the game playing.

And by God, what have you done to that effect? I would venture to say, almost without refutation, absolutely nothing. Even the most ardent Obama supporter can't in good conscience or sound mental state argue that President Obama has changed the way Washington works. He's just played the game a little better, if you're being charitable on how you keep score on that count.

But here's what should really burn you up -- he hasn't even tried. Not even close. Has there been a single piece of legislation backed by the White House that would stop the way lobbyists or big corporate interests or any special interest groups buy our politicians? In 93% of the cases, the person with more money wins their Congressional race. Democrat or Republican. Obviously the controlling factor is not ideology, party or even votes. It's money. And it's obvious.

And the president has done what to "Change" that?

Nonetheless, I'm insanely optimistic and naïve. So, I say we give him one more chance. But there is no way you should just trust him and hope for the best. He has to actually do something this time instead of just hanging a campaign placard up.

Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky has introduced a bipartisan bill that would amend the constitution to say that money cannot control our elections. Will the president make this one of his top priorities? Will he campaign on it? Will he do everything in his power to pass it if he is re-elected?

If he does, then we should let bygones be bygones. The slate is wiped clean and God bless second terms and the concept of redemption. If the president makes a real effort on the campaign trail to emphasize this as one of his core issues, then progressives should turn out to do everything they can to get him elected, whether it's voting, donating or volunteering. We're not asking for much in return -- just deliver on your original promise.

On the other hand, if he can't even do this, then it's obvious that the Democrats will never, ever help us. It will be painfully clear that they are part of the same corrupt system and have no interest in ever changing it. In fact, they love that system because it is what keeps them in office.

But this is not a decision for me to make. It is for the president. Which way will he go? Will he continue to play small-bore politics? Will he continue his rhetorical games and hope we don't realize that he is being too clever by half? Will he play the same old Washington games and hope to play them just a little better? Or will he actually lead and bring us real change?

Despite all the broken promises and all the cute political tricks, I still have the audacity of hope. I'm just waiting for President Obama to put it out one last time, so we can really go to war against Washington -- all of it. Democrats and Republicans alike. The public has a pox ready for both of their houses and only one man has the antidote. Let's see what he does.

Watch The Young Turks Here and Here


KY-3: Yarmuth (D) up 10 points on Northup (R)

(crossposted at Barefoot and Progressive)

As I've saidmanytimes this year, one of the highlights for this election season will be the hilarious Schadenfreude-Fest that will be the congressional race between John Yarmuth and Anne Northup. John Yarmuth is a shoe-in to win this race by double-digits, which will be Anne Northup's 3rd loss in two years, effectively ending her political viability for many years to come.

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KY-3: Yarmuth (D) up 10 points on Northup (R)

As I've saidmanytimes this year, one of the highlights for this election season will be the hilarious Schadenfreude-Fest that will be the congressional race between John Yarmuth and Anne Northup. John Yarmuth is a shoe-in to win this race by double-digits, which will be Anne Northup's 3rd loss in two years, effectively ending her political viability for many years to come.

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EENR 4 Progress: Don't Look the Other Way

Over the past year a group of Edwards supporters formed what is known as Edwards Evening News Roundup. Now that Edwards suspended his campaign, we're not ending our own. Every Sunday night over at Daily Kos, the same group of Edwards supporters will be posting nightly diaries on the issues of economic injustice. Last night I posted my fist installment, it's about homelessness in America and action you can take now!

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KY-03: Hard to Go After Yarmuth with Fletcher Approval at 24%

Last fall Democrat John Yarmuth upset incumbent GOP Rep. Ann Northup in Kentucky's third congressional district, which she had represented for a Decade despite its slight Democratic lean. Republicans, who have recruited an at least somewhat credible challenger for Yarmuth, are hoping to retake the district next fall, and at least the Rothenberg Political Report and the Cook Political Report (.pdf) list the race among those potentially competitive this cycle.

But looking into some of the crosstabs from the new Research 2000 (.pdf) poll on the Kentucky Governor race I mentioned last night, a real question is raised about the Republicans' ability to play in district 3. According to the survey, Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher's approval rating is 38 percent across the state. In five of the state's six congressional districts, Fletcher's approval rating varies little, ranging from 37 percent in the sixth district (the only district in the state other than the third represented by a Democrat) to 44 percent in district 2.

However, in the third district Fletcher's approval rating sits at just 24 percent, with 74 percent disapproving -- 11 percent more than in any other district in the state. This difference, while on the border of statistical significance given the relatively small size of subsamples, does suggest that the Republican brand in the third district isn't particularly strong at this point. Combined with polling that shows that Hillary Clinton, for one, is quite competitive in the Bluegrass state (leading Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul and narrowly trailing Fred Thompson and John McCain), as is Al Gore (who leads Giuliani in the state, though within the margin of error), and one gets the impression that it's going to be a lot more difficult for the GOP to defeat Yarmuth this cycle than they might otherwise believe (even leaving aside Yarmuth's current $536,000 to $64,000 lead in cash-on-hand over his potential rival).

Update [2007-10-26 16:43:28 by Jonathan Singer]: The headline for this post has been fixed.

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