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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Because Barack Obama fell in love with Wall Street
Posted by Jill | 5:14 AM
Bob Herbert is the latest to weigh in on the opportunity squandered by the Obama Administration as a result of its mad love affair with the Pentagon and Wall Street, forsaking all others:
Mr. Obama and the Democrats have wasted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity handed to them in the 2008 election. They did not focus on jobs, jobs, jobs as their primary mission, and they did not call on Americans to join in a bold national effort (which would have required a great deal of shared sacrifice) to solve a wide range of very serious problems, from our over-reliance on fossil fuels to the sorry state of public education to the need to rebuild the nation’s rotting infrastructure.

All of that could have been pulled together under the umbrella of job creation — short-term and long-term. In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Obama’s historic victory, and with the trauma of the economic collapse still upon us, it would have been very difficult for Republicans on Capitol Hill to stand in the way of a rebuild-America campaign aimed at putting millions of men and women back to work.

Mr. Obama had campaigned on the mantra of change, and that would have been the kind of change that working people could have gotten behind. But it never happened. Job creation was the trump card in the hand held by Mr. Obama and the Democrats, but they never played it. And now we’re paying a fearful price.

Fifteen million Americans are unemployed, according to the official count, which wildly understates the reality. Assuming no future economic setbacks and job creation at a rate of 200,000 or so a month, it would take more than a decade to get us back to where we were when the Great Recession began in December 2007. But we’re nowhere near that kind of sustained job growth. Last month, a measly 41,000 private-sector jobs were created.

We are in deep, deep gumbo.

The Obama administration feels it should get a great deal of credit for its economic stimulus efforts, its health care initiative, its financial reform legislation, its vastly increased aid to education and so forth. And maybe if we were grading papers, there would be a fair number of decent marks to be handed out.

But Americans struggling in a down economy are worried about the survival of their families. Destitution is beckoning for those whose unemployment benefits are running out, and that crowd of long-term jobless men and women is expanding rapidly.

There is a widespread feeling that only the rich and well-placed can count on Washington’s help, and that toxic sentiment is spreading like the oil stain in the gulf, with ominous implications for President Obama and his party. It’s in this atmosphere that support for the president and his agenda is sinking like a stone.

Employment is the No. 1 issue for most ordinary Americans. Their anxiety on this front only grows as they watch teachers, firefighters and police officers lining up to walk the unemployment plank as state and local governments wrestle with horrendous budget deficits.

And what do these worried Americans see the Obama administration doing? It’s doubling down on the war in Afghanistan, trying somehow to build a nation from scratch in the chaos of a combat zone.


t’s not too late for the president to turn things around, but there is no indication that he has any plan or strategy for doing it. And the political environment right now, with confidence in the administration waning and budgetary fears unnecessarily heightened by the deficit hawks, is not good.

It would take an extraordinary exercise in leadership to rally the country behind a full-bore jobs-creation campaign — nothing short of large-scale nation-building on the home front. Maybe that’s impossible in the current environment. But that’s what the country needs.

I'm not one of those who saw Barack Obama as the leader of some great liberal Renaissance. I found out everything I needed to know about Barack Obama in 2004 when Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones sought one Senator that she needed in standing up in refusal to certify Ohio's 2004 election results after massive reports of disenfranchisement of black and elderly voters -- and Barack Obama sat on his hands. Yes, he was a new Senator, but what a statement that would have made -- and he refused to make it. That was the first sign that what we were dealing with was someone who would always go along to get along, and that is the president we have.

The problem is that we have a Republican Party that is completely and utterly toxic to a healthy nation, let alone an unhealthy one such as we have now. It is a party that stands for superstition over science, greed over compassion, ignorance over knowledge, war over negotiation. It is a party of four-year-olds that throws a tantrum every time it doesn't get everything its own way, and it's abetted by the helicopter parents of the media, who have never once criticized these crybabies who simply cannot even behave like adults, let alone statesmen. Certainly Barack Obama has been a disappointment, if not on an ideological level (for he was always a capitulating centrist), then for his utter fecklessness in dealing with an opposition party that made clear early on that it would never regard his presidency as legitimate. But as we head into a midterm election, it's hard to imagine that today's Republican Party, riddled as it is with the likes of Jeff Sessions and Louie Gohmert and Joe Barton and Michele Bachmann and Sharron Angle and -- need I go on? -- can be regarded as a credible alternative. And yet, those are our choices this fall: a party that has completely sold its soul for Wall Street scraps, and one that would turn us into a hideously ironic social Darwinian theocracy.

It's too bad so much of the tea party rage seems to be thinly-veiled racism, for underneath the crazy, the tea partiers and disenchanted progressives have more in common than they think.

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