The Charlie Brown presidency

Two pieces of news caught my eye prompting me to write this diary:

  1. The Republicans filibustered the Defence Appropriation Bill of 2010, essentially killing the Dream Act and also blocking the repeal of DADT.
  2. On the eve of a key element on the Health Care legislation being implemented, the insurance companies across multiple states have dropped their child only policy, rather than comply with the new law.

Although taken by themselves, these two facts are just outrageous, what makes them sadly comical are the responses from the administration.

Here's Joe Biden on Rachel Maddow show:

Rachel Maddow: So, we’d be looking at, best case scenario for repeal, would be sometime in the spring.  With the-- with the policy under such intense scrutiny, that study underway at the Defense Department, progress being made both in the courts and politically, why not suspend the discharges of people under the policy now, pending that Defense Department review?  Why keep kicking people out now while all of this movement is happening towards ending the policy?

Joe Biden: Because that is the compromise we basically had to make to get the votes to finally repeal it.  In other words, everybody’s looking for, in my view, if I could just wave a wand, it would just be flat repeal.  No one else would be able to suspend it.  And everyone who was suspended, would be able to come back if they wanted to.

But the truth of the matter is, we had to build a consensus for this.  Working very hard on the telephone.  Calling people (UNINTEL).  And everybody’s looking forward to the orderly elimination of this law.  I would prefer it not be orderly.  I prefer it just end, boom, done.  But that’s why that hasn’t happened.  It’s resulted in us getting over 55 votes, I think we’ll get 55 vote, to flat repeal it.  And to send a statement to the country and to all the world that a majority of the elected members of the United States Congress and the President and Vice President of the United States think this is a bad policy.  That’s why-- that’s why it’s played out through the legislative process the way it has.

So DADT could not be shelved by executive order, or be repealed by reconciliation, because the administration was seeking a consensus with Republicans  and embattled conservative Dems like Blanche Lincoln (Tim Kaine, how does that flushing sound of money going down the toilet sound?) to repeal DADT in congress. This after the acrimony of nearly every fight in Congress so far, be it Health Care, be it the Financial Regulation, Credit Card regulation etc etc.

Then I read the news of the insurance companies dropping the child only plans. The same insurance companies that were enshrined by this new law and being delivered 30 million new customers by a government authorized legal mandate. The same companies that got their way against any meaningful oversight of their premium rates, the same insurance companies that got their henchwoman Liz Fowler to kill public option, or for that matter any other meaningful competition. But what is pathetically comical is the response from the administration:

But officials of the Obama administration said the move contradicted a letter from the leader of one of the insurance industry's most important trade groups after the law's adoption in March. Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, expressed support for the law's provisions concerning children with preexisting conditions and promised to "fully comply" with them.

"We expect [insurance companies] to honor that commitment. Insurers shouldn't break their promise and turn their backs on some of our most vulnerable Americans," said Jessica Santillo, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services.

So we have an administration that is willing to get duped again and again and again by the same set of people, be it Wall Street financiers, who after getting the most outrageous bailout for irresponsible gambling have the temerity to complain about regulation, or the insurance industry, and as always the Republicans. So how does the administration react to these setbacks? Predictably by deriding it's base as the "professional left", or for "griping and groaning" at swanky clubs and expensive fundraisers, places to which much of the base will never have access to, or as the current economic climate goes, even dream of having one.

Which brings me to this remarkable question by one person from the base Ms. Velma Hart:

Quite frankly, I’m exhausted. Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the man for change I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I’ve been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people and I’m waiting, sir, I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet. While I thought it wouldn’t be a great measure, I would feel it in some small measure. I have two children in private school, and the financial recession has taken an enormous toll on my family. My husband and I joked that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives. And quite frankly, it’s starting to knock on our door and ring through that that might be where we’re headed.

And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer honestly, is this my new reality?

This the question that we all want to ask. We are exhausted from defending you from daily attacks when you make the same stupid mistakes over and over and over again. We are exhausted of reading reports that you don't want to take the fight to your detractors, but rather stay on your high pedestal of bipartisanship and prepare for your re-election. We are tired of your professorial pontifications and trying to rationalize with the crazies and ask them for a plan(??)!! In the end Digby sums up the frustration of the base the best:

They have a huge majority and the White House and they are left holding kabuki votes like today's DADT show and tell and rather than making the Republicans look like big meanies, they end up making it appear that the crazies have the upper hand again. And when that happens a lot of Dems just tune out, avert their eyes, preferring to look to more personal concerns and withdraw into their own projects and pursuits.

Which brings me back to my original analogy: this administration will forever be "Good Ol' Charlie Brown", always trying to make everyone happy, always getting duped by the same people, "How long? All your life, Charlie Brown, all your life".

Tags: Velma Hart, DADT, obama, administration, Health care (all tags)



Velma Hart

I only watched it once, but what I got from it stuck. The minute she breaks into a very sincere criticism, Obama breaks into a big ass grin and nearly starts laughing while looking away.

I'm more than ready for the primary to get Obama out of the way.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-09-22 01:35PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

The only problem here is who is the viable alternative now? We either have a replay of the 2008 battles, or we get someone who is willing to take the mantle of progressive leadership. I don't see anyone from that end. Is Howard Dean considering another run?

by tarheel74 2010-09-22 02:46PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

Warner, Bayh, they both will likely sit on the sidelines until '16.

Dean hasn't made any indication, but I do believe he's thinking about it.

If Feingold loses, he may decide to run.

What about Brian Schweitzer?  He's obvioulsy got '16 on the mind. He would likely blaze it up and could win too.

There are a lot of people with '16 on their mind, and that election likely begins the planning and scoping and all in a mere 26 months from now. The question is, does any of them want to move it up to being live and full-scale within about 8 months, at the latest, from today.

To me, its obvious that Obama is a one-termer. Ohio makes it plain to see. He's vulnerable from the left in a primary. I can't imagine that someone who wants the job doesn't take the opporunity, because at tle least it gives a leg up on '16.


by Jerome Armstrong 2010-09-22 03:15PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

Never underestimate the stupidity of the opposition. To give an example, one reason Tony Blair survived for so long as PM, was not because labor was doing great, but because the Tories were doing horribly. The New Labor got kicked out as soon as a viable alternative emerged. The only thing going for Obama is that there does not seem to be any viable Republican alternatives now.

As far as the list of Democrat goes the only person who might be able to get the base to turn out for him is Brian Schweitzer. Warner' sentae record has been tepid. Maybe he will do better later on, but who knows. But I don't see Bayh posing any threat whatsoever. Russ Feingold probably won't run.

by tarheel74 2010-09-22 04:42PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

How are you so sure that Feingold is a probably not?  Given he has the fire in the belly, they never get rid of it, and he's a maverick-- it seems right up the alley for what he would do next. Because if Russ loses, its 100% the fault of Obama.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-09-22 06:50PM | 1 recs
RE: Velma Hart

If Feingold loses, which looks more likely everyday it will be highly unlikely that he will run for President, he just does appear to be the type. I would personally love to see a principled man like Feingold run for the highest office.

I agree with you on your second point. The season looks extremely toxic for Democrats and reflective of poor leadership in the Senate and WH. Unfortunately, the losses in the House will be because a lot of these people stuck their necks out and pushed this President's election agenda, only to get shafted later by the WH. It is so depressing that I stopped counting. Frankly if the Democrats are able to maintain even the slimmest margin in the Senate it will be a miracle.

by tarheel74 2010-09-22 07:00PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

Most all of Democrats losses will be 100% Obama's fault. 

by Kent 2010-09-22 08:02PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

There is plenty of blame to go around. Tim Kaine, one of the most inept DNC presidents in recent memory. Chris Van Hollen, when was the last time you heard of him? We definitely need a complete reform at DNC.

by tarheel74 2010-09-22 09:16PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

Obama appointed Kaine to the DNC.  The DNC was in fine shape under Howard Dean before Obama messed it all up.  Chris Van Hollen is actually the only competant leader of a campaign committee in Washington.  Menendez at the DSCC is a moron and Kaine sucks too. 

by Kent 2010-09-22 09:25PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

Yeah I forgot Menendez, sorry for that.

by tarheel74 2010-09-22 09:34PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

The ConDems are the problem.  We were riding high going into last year: popular president, huge majorities in both houses of Congress, swing state Republicans had already started retiring (e.g. Gregg, Martinez, Voinovich, Bond). 

But then the ConDems showed their collective ass, dragged out healthcare reform, climate change legislation, etc., dragging down Obama's/Democrats' poll numbers, destroying Democratic messaging, disenchanting the people that voted Democratic (while Republicans became fired up from both their apparent victories and rage at even the suggestion of HCR, ENDA, etc).  The ConDems did this same shit with Bill Clinton.  So, the ConDems have to go.  Even if it means losing seats. 

by TheUnknown285 2010-09-23 12:44PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

ConDems are the problem but only in the Senate. Obama being an ex-Senator, defers a lot to the way Senate works. However, where he and the Senate majority leader fails is keeping waffling senators in line by any threat necessary. Do you think Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson etc. would vote repeatedly against Democratic interests if the DSCC or the DNC said, you only get campaign funds if you vote the way we want you to? They don't. These people know that they can say and do any damn thing they want and the administration will not just stand by them but also prevent others from doing anything about it (remember Rahm and his "f-ing retarded" flap when progressive groups were targeting Ben Nelson and other conservative senators). There is complete breakdown of leadership in the Democratic caucus, that is the real problem.

by tarheel74 2010-09-23 01:06PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

Oh, I agree.  It's long past time for Democratic leaders to quit enabling the ConDems just as it's long past time for the Democratic electorate to quit voting for them.  But I think the ConDems deserve the first axe stroke.

by TheUnknown285 2010-09-23 01:33PM | 0 recs

He won't be viable if he loses re-election.  He could only get at most 55% in Wisconsin against a weak candidate.  I don't think the Dem base will warm up to him.

But if somehow Feingold comes from behind and wins, he would be viable.  Schweitzer is intriguing, but coming from Montana, he'd be in a huge name rec hole.

Also, who can recover the Midwest and PA for the Dems?  Right now PA, OH and MI looking brutal for the Dems, and they'll have a lot of difficult seats to hold in '12 and '14.


by esconded 2010-09-23 12:07PM | 0 recs
RE: Feingold

PA, OH, MI, to the list you can add Nevada, Colorado, Florida and even New York. It is very bleak and dismal out there.

by tarheel74 2010-09-23 01:08PM | 0 recs
RE: Feingold

Its not Feingold's fault if he loses in the worst year for Democrats since 1894. 

by Kent 2010-09-23 02:46PM | 0 recs
Why dont we start a "Draft Dean" or "Draft Feingold" campaign?

The only way we are going to get a real Democrat to run is to draft them ourselves. 

by Kent 2010-09-22 06:30PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

I don't think it's so obvious.  If the election were held today, of course it would be a rout.  But two years of a Republican Congress will be as helpful to him as it was to Bill Clinton, and after spending a quarter billion dollars on his reelection race, I think Obama will be a two-termer.

by Vox Populi 2010-09-22 09:59PM | 0 recs
RE: Velma Hart

Obama is what the problem is here.  As soon as we get rid of Obama, the Democratic party will recover.  Four more years of Obama will be what finally kills off the Democratic party. 

by Kent 2010-09-22 10:09PM | 1 recs
RE: Velma Hart

There is some truth to what you say. However, there is a distinct problem here, and that is the present incarnation of the Republican party is bat-shit insane. I mean they actually celebrate the vapid road-map of Paul Ryan as some sort of grand idea. They are that terrible. Combine that with the lunatics that will come to Congress and you have a net loss for the Democrats.

Where Obama lost out was by being Charlie Brown, and I am dead serious here. When the health care bill was stymied, instead of watering down the bill further he should have brought back the original house bill, that was a good bill and it has some teeth to it. In the end what you got was something no one is fond of, partly because it is so convoluted. And that can be said of nearly every bill. In the end I am a firm believer of passing difficult legislation by simple majority if necessary and later campaigning to extend it. That is what happened with COBRA, and that is what's happening with the Bush tax cuts.

by tarheel74 2010-09-23 10:46AM | 0 recs
The problem

The party will lose big in November, that much seems likely. However, its not all Obama's fault. Its the fault of the Democratic controlled Congress and Senate who overreached and let power corrupt them absolutely. Its the congress that instead of doing the work of the people, chose to do what they wanted to do, not what american wanted. They spent and spent and spent and spent....and the results are clear. The economy is a mess. Their solution, more taxes, more regulation. Havent these liberal idiots figured out why manufacturing has left america? Its simply because the cost of doing business in America isnt worth the effort. Until we stop punishing manufacturers with excessive regulations, until we stop taxing entrepenuers for being entrepeneurs, we wont see manufacturing and jobs return.

And, until liberals realize that taxes and excessive spending and entitlements only lead to economic disaster, nothing will change. The party is going ot be massacred because it failed to recognize that the majority of america is centrist, as well as fiscally conservative.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-09-22 10:29PM | 0 recs
RE: The problem

Then why did you vote for Obama?  He campaigned as a "big government liberal" and yet people are acting like he didnt.

by Kent 2010-09-22 10:34PM | 0 recs

I wasnt voting for the John McCain of 2008 or that nitwit Palin. Also think back to all of Obama's talk about a new tone in washington, no healthcare mandates, helping the middleclass....he has done the opposite of what he said he would do.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-09-23 12:00PM | 0 recs


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