Thursday, October 14, 2010

The False Narrative of the Crumb Salesmen of the West Wing

October 14, 2010

In these waning, frenzied days before the mid-term elections of 2010, a false narrative has emerged from the White House, put forth by the same spin doctors and crumb salesmen that have already wasted their political capital and with little to show for it.  In this false narrative, the problem with the disappointed (and in many cases disgusted) progressive Democratic base is of their own making, their expectations were too high, and they should stop whining about things because the Tea Party is too dangerous a foe.

How insulting!  In essence, this false narrative seeks to “blame the victim”, adding insult to injury.

Yes, it’s true that the so-called ‘tea partiers’ are largely tools and fools of corporate America, though the very thing they rail against is caused precisely by what those very benefactors practice.  The president is doing little to call them out, instead allowing his handlers to spend his speechifying exhorting his former fan base to “get out there and vote because of [insert fearmongering statements or stale ‘the Change is you’ rhetoric here]”.  Many have replied to the casting calls for these events, and inevitably we’re treated to displays reminiscent of the halcyon days of the 2008 campaign, but there’s a hollowness about it now.  “Change is up to us”…….well, only ONE of us is in a position to make the changes, and we’re treated to such awkward situations like the recent ruling by a federal judge declaring DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) illegal and the Obama administration appealing the ruling!  What can possibly justify this kind of fraudulent behavior, Obama having promised early on that DADT “would be repealed this year” and then failing the required Senate vote?  Apparently an executive order was never issued because it was part of the agreement Mr. Obama had with several senators, whose votes would be crucial to the repeal of the law; so long as he didn’t sign such an order, they would vote for it when it came before the full Senate.  (This was according to Veep Biden in a televised interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.) This indeed happened just before the Senate recessed for the election campaign, and the measure failed.  One would think that if one party broke their side of the bargain, it would free the other side to do what they supposedly were going to do any way.  One would think, but no!  Following the failed vote, was such an executive order – even a moratorium, pending final congressional action – issued?  Of course not!  And to make matters worse, the Log Cabin Republicans (the gay organization) were the ones successful in challenging DADT in court, and won!  Oooh, how awkward can THAT make you feel, Mr. President?

To make matters even MORE vile, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D)-South Dakota admitted that it was Mr. Obama HIMSELF who killed the public option, by sacrificing it as easily as the single-payer system.   Apparently they were viewed by him as one and the same, which will probably be the single most devastating miscalculation that lost Dem majorities in either or both houses of Congress, if in fact they do.  The only saving grace they might have is that the base is galvanized against the stunningly dangerous morons that won many GOP primaries earlier this year.  If the Dems prevail, it will only be because the fear among rational and intelligent people is great enough to get them out to vote against said morons, and NOT because they bought the crumbs sold by the folks in the West Wing.  If the morons get a seat at the table, the narrative is already being prepared that they’ll be “more responsible”. 

In either event, the narrative is false.  I remind the reader that Mr. Obama spoke out in favor of a ‘public option’ during the campaign and throughout the first 5 months of his presidency.  He also spoke out – in fact made an eloquent case – against a mandate.  These were logical positions to take, because even many Republicans recognize the fact that only a robust public option would ever bring down the cost of health-care in this country to the same levels as most of the rest of the developed world.

Besides all of that, a basic grasp of the intent of the Constitution (and yes, spelled out in the preamble) is sufficient to show that the government cannot coerce the citizenry to purchase a product from another citizen or company.  If the government can mandate something, they can provide a public mechanism – so that no-one else (no other private citizen) can profit from another citizen’s required civic duties.  If health care is a private responsibility, it is private…..and the government of, by and for the people should make no requirement as to enforcing one citizen to pay another for an abstract promise to pay for damages to something, especially if that something is one’s own body. 

However, if health care is also a PUBLIC responsibility, then the rules change.  If the government feels compelled to step in and legislate rules and regulations regarding an element of private commerce, then it by definition is in response to a PUBLIC need, thereby making it a public responsibility, one the government must take care of in some manner.  What has prompted this, finally, after over a century of failed progressive political efforts to provide for a universal health-care system?  Sky-rocketing costs, that’s what.  We all know this; costs are high because more and more people have to avail themselves of the emergency room because they can’t afford insurance, as that’s the only way they’ll get any care.  As the pool of those with insurance shrinks, the cost for each of them spirals upward quickly, so that now the average insurance for an individual with pre-existing condition or family with no pre-existing condition is higher than their monthly housing cost, whether they rent or own.  (That’s not including food, etc; just lodging.)  Something is certainly wrong with this state of affairs!  

But the problem politically isn’t so much that Mr. Obama didn’t deliver a bill with a public option, it’s the fact that he didn’t even stand up for it after July 2009, when he stopped using the phrase altogether.  And why is that?  Because he had made a deal with the American Hospital lobbying association (AHIP) that in essence assured them that a public option for health-care would NOT be in the final bill.  Even as he was asked about this at a town hall with Harry Reid, and he turned to Reid and said “what about it, Harry, do you have the votes?” and was told, “If you help round them up, Mr. President”.  What a charade!  They knew all along there wouldn’t be a public option, as they had agreed to it!  We didn’t even get the soul satisfaction of a public display of courage and fight, instead just caving under assumptions without any opportunity for confrontations.   Later, quietly, Mr. Obama had Rahm instruct Reid, who instructed Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who instructed individual senators, not to even call for a vote on the public option on the floor of the Senate.

So why does he not simply tell the truth on this?  Why doesn’t he tell the truth on DADT?  Why no Executive Order even now?  Why appeal the ruling that basically outlawed DADT?  What recourse do victims (and survivors) of the illegal surveillance by the Bush Administration have?  When will the culprits of that administration start being held accountable, anyway?  For the illegitimate rush to war in Iraq, for complicity in the banking scandals and the housing bubble, for the use of torture, the list goes on.   Real accountability; not one based on vengeance, but not some bland announcement of absolution for all crimes committed when the citizens haven’t even been allowed to see the admission or evidence of the crimes!  What on earth were they thinking; by acting so magnanimously stupid, or stupidly magnanimous, they took the sins from the shoulders of their predecessors and put them squarely on their own shoulders.  There IS a cost when you do that, which wiser heads would have seen coming, but these crumb salesmen apparently did not. 

All in all, some of us are now weighing in the balance a decision between supporting candidates that in many cases failed to live up to their promises, or actively stood in the way of the announced agenda of their party and the administration; or ‘sitting out’ the mid-terms by silently showing the same amount of enthusiasm for Getting Out The Vote as the politicians they’re asked to support showed for the campaign promises they ran on.  I point this out because few progressives are actually choosing between voting for ‘tea party’ GOP candidates or their own corporatist Democrats; the same holds true for the opposition.  Few disgruntled conservatives are deciding between Democrats and Republicans; they showed in the primaries that they favor the pro-corporate, anti-establishment morons who at least throw rhetorical bombs… the very least, it gives spiritual sustenance (the media calls it ‘red meat’) to those who actually believe what their political champions promise. 

The true narrative, once allowed to emerge, will show that Mr. Obama was both too insecure as to how much he could manage to accomplish with the mandate he ran on (and won with), and too cozy with the corporate interests he likes to campaign against but feels comfortable with servicing.  One point that illustrates this is his friendship with Eric Whitaker, who often travels with him on Air Force One and is a frequent guest at the White House.  Mr. Whitaker also happens to be an executive vice-president of the University of Chicago Medical Center, which despite his background as director of the Illinois Dep’t. of Public Health from 2003 to 2007, is a private enterprise.  While there is nothing wrong with that, and while he’s earned well-deserved kudos for his efforts in extending health care to the minority communities of Chicago, it’s a fact that his bread is buttered now by private, for-profit corporate interests.  A true narrative would have Mr. Obama “coming clean” about his decision to sacrifice the public option in exchange for AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying organization representing over 1,300 companies providing health insurance coverage to Americans) foregoing a planned expenditure of up to $150 million in anti-reform advertising.  A true narrative would NOT have allowed the public to have labored under the misconception that it was the ‘no’ votes of a handful of Democratic senators that should bear the blame.  To my mind, that is a monumental LIE that Mr. Obama has perpetuated, which is why he had that “deer in the headlights” moment when he took the misnamed “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010” out on the road to sell as an accomplishment and a young man in the audience at the Univ. of Iowa challenged him during his sales pitch with the cry, “what about the public option??”, to which he stuttered a reply “We couldn’t get it through Congress; no need to shout, young man”.  Well, I’m thankful to that ‘young man’, whoever he is, for having the courage to stand up and say “this emperor is wearing no clothes; where are they?”. 

A true narrative would acknowledge that the ‘reform bill’ was in essence no different than the one originally proposed by Sen. Bob Dole as an alternative to “HillaryCare”, the failed 1994 attempt by the Clinton administration to finally achieve affordable health care for the then-45 million uninsured.  Or any different than the GOP plan put forth by Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts that was actually signed into law in that state.  A true narrative would acknowledge that in many ways the new law is an attempt to shore up a failed business model that seeks to profit off of people’s need for health care, rather than one that seeks to provide a healthier citizenry.  It would explain how the logic Mr. Obama used in the 2008 campaign against mandates was no longer applicable, since the Act includes such a mandate.

Continuing on regarding other broken campaign promises; a true narrative would explain exactly why Mr. Obama cannot bring himself to sign an executive order that would at the very least put a moratorium on any future discharges of gay and lesbian service personnel, since the evidence shows that the military hasn’t been living up to their end of the arrangement by not asking.  Rather, they’ve actively gone on witch hunts, provoking widespread fear among gay service personnel that anyone aware of their private sexual preferences could ‘out’ them – rewarding tawdry snitching at the expense of millions of dollars worth of training recruits whose only ‘crime’ was in their choice of which gender’s genitals they prefer to spend private time with.

Finally, the issue I find personally most important because of my own circumstances; that would be the issue of illegal, warrantless surveillance by the gov’t. of private citizens.  In the campaign, Mr. Obama knew exactly how to appeal to the Democratic base on this issue, because it rankles many that the gov’t. under Cheney/Bush actively engaged in such activities, snooping into the private lives of its citizens and in some cases harassing them (as is true in my own case) by using agencies that may or may not have even been aware of the true nature of exactly WHY they were being called upon to scrutinize certain people.  The blanket explanation of “9/11” is hauled out to cover these instances of “national insecurity”, but the critical thinkers among the truth-seeking citizenry know that simply having a muslim friend is no reason to tap their phones or have them followed.  A true narrative on this issue perhaps can’t be truly told at this time, but mark my words; in the very near future, earth-changing events will occur that the crumb salesmen of the West Wing are already braced for, though they can’t tell the public they ‘know’.  For viewers of the NBC fictional series “The Event”, which is tapping into the reality behind the illusion most of us are bamboozled into thinking is ‘reality’, I would point out that unlike the characters in the series, the President and Vice-President actually DO know what the coming ‘Big Event’ is.  I’m sure it consumes much of their time actually, with many plans being hatched and put in place so that when the cataclysms begin in earnest, the public won’t panic unduly and undo the thin veneer of civilized behavior we try to maintain.  At the very least we should expect that the plans of the Bush administration to force the populations of endangered cities to “shelter in place” have been replaced with more humane plans, perhaps to relocate or evacuate them to the FEMA refugee camps (not to be confused with their intended purpose under Bush to have them serve as either ‘work camps’ for the servant class or ‘concentration camps’ for the those unable to provide the expected level of productivity).  However, these are much more dicier issues, because less than a few thousand Americans know with any certainty about the coming cataclysms that will culminate in a poleshift sometime in our very near future.  For most, who are naively clueless and trusting of the media and government, the earth changes and “climate change” are attributable to the Coverup paradigm known as “Global Warming”, which puts the blame on the common man’s too-large “carbon footprint” as well as industry’s excessive carbon emissions – which has led to the false premise behind so-called “Cap n’ Trade” legislation.  Republican lawmakers are actually right on this issue, though for the wrong reasons.  In fact, many rank-and-file Republicans, distrustful of modern-day government, correctly sense that there is something innately false about the claims of the “Global Warming” crowd, they simply don’t realize the real truth behind the false claims. 

All told, the electorate has been bamboozled and treated to shell games, the marketing of 8% reforms as 80%, and the progressive base of the Democratic party blamed for their own lack of enthusiasm as if somehow their unhappiness has more to do with unrealistic expectations and a tendency to 'whine', rather than the more truthful appraisal which would clearly show that they are unhappy to have exerted so much effort on behalf of a man who promised 'change you can believe in' and who delivered crumbs - devoid of even half-hearted attempts to show courage and the vigorous use of the bully pulpit that the presidency affords.  Does that mean the base will go out and vote for the morons and dangerous dimbulbs who promise to take us back to kindergarten in the Stone Age?  Of course not.  Does that mean they will stay at home on election day?  Probably not, because most loyal Democrats won't fault their own congressman or senator for the failings of the corporate tool the president has shown himself to be, but it DOES imply that they won't make an effort at GOTV beyond their own, personal vote.  (Which is unfortunate, because heroic progressive fighters like Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and and challenger Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania might suffer as a result.) Why should they?  Can you sell a hollow program to casual Democrats or independent voters that you no longer find believable yourself?  Exactly.

What the base is missing is what they thought they were fighting for in 2008 - someone who said what they meant and meant what they said.  It's not so important that all promises were kept or not; what is important is that the 'change agent' is perceived to be actively and purposefully pursuing them, and doing so with the promised transparency required for the full faith and trust the majority of the electorate has bestowed upon him.  FDR was extremely popular for the 'fireside chats' he initiated, where he sat down and talked to the American family with respect, which in turn he was rewarded with reciprocally.  Today, the usual Saturday radio address (and now YouTube video) is a perfunctory affair, with the president woodenly reading a prepared speech.  Rarely does such an address make news.  Even when the president addresses the nation from the Oval office on a week-night, with the major media networks dutifully broadcasting the event, news is rarely made.  Sometimes during a presidential press conference news is made - but not usually what's intended.  What we have needed to hear from this president is NOT the mea culpa aired this week in his interview by the New York Times, in which he muses he was "too focused on policy and not on P.R."; such a claim shows he STILL hasn't gotten the message.  We don't want a 'change agent' that makes empty promises just to get elected, then gets into office and turns strictly into a pragmatic wonk; we want the P.R. to flow concurrently with the policy.  "My fellow Americans, I know I assured you that I would only support a reform of our health-care system if it included a public option, but the brutal truth is that a few of our Democratic senators will not support a bill containing such a program, so I am reluctantly forced to drop it from our proposed legislation, since you all know that we Democrats are in the majority in both houses of the legislature and we shouldn't need any Republican votes - despite my never-ending effort to let them play a role in the process of healing our country."  No, we got nothing like that, and why would wouldn't have been the truth, anyway.  Or how about this; "My fellow Americans, I know I have promised an end to the odious policy known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but the truth is that an executive order would prevent the Congress from passing a law that would permanently repeal it, due to an agreement we have made with certain senators".  That too wouldn't fly, because that too isn't realistically true - despite Veep Biden's avowed statements to the contrary.  This list could go on and on, but you get the point.  The simple truth is we aren't being 'let in on' the most pertinent conversations we should be aware of, and that's why the base is so dispirited this year.  To sum up:

No, Mr. President, we will NOT sell your tepid crumbs as the change you promised we can believe in, because crumbs do not half-a-loaf make.  We are NOT comparing you to the Almighty OR the alternative; we are comparing you to what you presented yourself to be when we first hired you.  Just because the Tea Party is threatening "2nd Amendment remedies" for not getting their way is no reason to forget who put you in power and why.

That said, I would hope that every common-sense citizen does SOMETHING positive to change the current state of affairs.  I would urge anyone who agrees with this opinion NOT to give in to the impulse to punish the administration by not voting for their congressman or senator (unless they are on record against the common-sense progressive agenda Mr. Obama ran on in 2008, in which case write-in your vote for Mickey Mouse or Bozo the Clown if you must).  But don't stop there; keep hammering your legislators on the phone, in emails, on Twitter, or good old-fashioned snail mail.  MAKE YOUR VOICE BE HEARD.

© 2010 by Don Deppeller

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