President Obama: The Shine (and the Thrill) is Gone

obamachangeLast year when I was supporting Hillary Clinton’s run for the Democratic nomination, many of my friends and family were ardent supporters of Barack Obama. I had many impassioned discussions with them. I posted many times, and heard from many of you who supported Obama. I said then what I still believe: He is too inexperienced in  the world of politics, and (1) I am afraid he will depend on his advisors too much, and (2) he has not been on the national scene long enough for us to know if he truly believes the things he says.

At the time, many of us Clinton supporters were accused of being jaded, of not being able to recognize a “new” politician. (Some even called Obama “progressive”! And to them I say, where were you when Dennis Kucinich was in the race?)  How is the “new” and “progressive” president Obama treating gay Americans? By refusing to honor his campaign pledge to overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and now, by supporting the Defense of Marriage Act as some sort of fiscally responsilbe thing to do. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has instituted equal benefits for gay State Department employees, extending benefits to their same sex partners. Clinton has done more the LGBT community that so loyally supported Barack Obama than Obama has done as President.

In February 2008 things were getting hot between the Clinton and the Obama supporters. In June 2009, I find myself saying the same things about Barack Obama, and I’m tired of writing the same things over and over again. So indulge me while I repeat  this post which I wrote on February 20, 2008:

I don’t know when it happened, but apparently I’ve turned into one of “them.” You know, the party poopers. The grownups. The ones who tell you not to sit too close to the t.v. The ones who correct your grammar. The ones who tell your child to stop running in the store. The ones who say “Someone’s going to put an eye out.”

Now don’t get me wrong, when I was younger, I was a complete idealist — as I’m sure Hillary Clinton was, too. I grew up “inside the beltway” and have been fascinated with politics my entire life. I campaigned at my elementary school for George McGovern when I was eleven. My first presidential election I voted for John Anderson (yeah, remember him?!). I’ve been to peace rallies, no nukes rallies; I’ve ridden on a bus for 15 hours to march on Washington.

When I was seven years old I was in the car with my mom when we heard on the radio that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot. I will never ever forget how upset she was at that news.

I tell you all of this because I want you to understand: I want to have a better world. I want peace. These are core values of mine. The thing is, I have learned in my years of involvement in all of these causes and issues that there are some realities in how things get done.

Yes, there’s the adult speaking again. The party pooper raining on the Obama parade. But here’s the reality, folks: this country is screwed up! We are closing in on 4,000 American dead [ed. note: it is now 4,312] in a war that no one here even pays much attention to any more — a war that was begun under false pretenses. Our economy’s down the toilet, gas prices are out of sight and oil companies fight off every effort to develop true renewable alternatives. We have troops in Afghanistan fighting and dying, and we’re consumed with the latest “scandal” on the campaign trail. America has become a nation of toddlers: “Ooh look! Something shiny and bright! I want it!”

What’s behind that shine, folks? I am afraid that it’s as thin as some pretty foil — all shine and no substance. So call me an old fart if you want. I call it growing up.

I continue to support Hillary Clinton as the most qualified candidate to take over the White House. She wants all the same change that Obama speechifies on. The difference is that she has the experience and the understanding to take on the challenge of bringing about that change. He does not. She will be able to lead, he will not. He will rely on advisers and confidantes, and where have we seen this before? For the past 7 years George W. Bush has overcome his “inexperience” by bringing in Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc., and what has happened?

So don’t waggle shiny things in front of me, Sen. Obama. I outgrew that a long time ago.

And today, I read this from CBS News, and I have never been so sorry to have been “right” about a hunch:

In hindsight, perhaps, it should be no surprise that Mr. Obama is shying away from this front in the cultural wars. He broke faith with liberal supporters over warrantless wiretaps, the repetition of the Bush administration’s arguments on “state secrets,” and the continuation of the Bush administration’s indefinite military detentions of terrorism suspects.

The surprise should be that some supporters seem to have confused a politician’s campaign promises with his actual policies.

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10 comments

  1. I am equally disappointed in President Obama’s backtracking on gay rights and compromising on a number of his other campaign promises. However, to your point, only Dennis Kucinich would have probably followed through on his campaign promises – and he’s the only one who stood up for gay marriage during the campaign. Hillary, while well-qualified, might not have done anything differently than Obama; neither of them supported gay marriage, only civil unions, during the campaign. And I can’t help but think she would have been willing to compromise on things as well if they were politically inexpedient for her.

    Sadly, it is nearly impossible to elect someone truly progressive in this current system of two-party government. There is too much money behind the mainstream horses during these two-year races, and not enough for the long shots. I don’t know what the solution is.

    I do know that it is better that Obama won than McCain. He has done some things that are positive, especially for the environment, etc. Not as far reaching as we may like but certainly in the right direction.

  2. I too supported Clinton’s run for the White House and for many of the same reasons you outline here. We will never know now of course, but I think she would have done a hell of a job as our first woman president. I think there would be times when she’d compromise to get things done and that I would be disappointed as a result BUT I still think she is much more progressive than Obama ever has been or will be. Nevertheless, I voted for him in the general election and will still support him. I will also try to apply pressure when I think he’s falling down on the job. I don’t like the expansion of the wars. I don’t like his handling of national security matters.

    Great post! (and re-post)

  3. Of course Obama is a better president than John McCain would have been. That is why I voted for Obama in the general election. That’s not the point. In fact, that’s a distraction.

    The point is that Barack Obama the candidate made many lofty promises to us in the liberal progressive and the LGBT community. And since being elected he has done exactly the opposite of what he promised us he would do.

    Change? Hope? If anyone thought I was cynical about American politics last year, I guess I have reached a new level. Mauigirl, you’re exactly right about the 2-party system. I guess it’s time to start electing Green Party folks from the ground up and maybe in the next generation there’s a chance for real change in this country.

  4. It’s going to take building from the ground up — Dr. Dean’s 50 state strategy, county by county, congressional district by congressional district, to change things in DC.

    What bothers me most about Obama is the way he waffles or plays it safe when there’s absolutely no reason to. I can understand being pragmatic, but there’s no excuse for stupid. He knows perfectly well that there’s a large contingent on the far right that’s going to despise him no matter what he does, so why bother to cater to their prejudices?

  5. He has done some things that are positive, especially for the environment,

    I’m not sure what part Obama’s EPA approving the mountain top open mining projects is positive for our environment. He betrayed the environmentalists that have fought the MTM. He promised them before the election that he would not allow this destruction. Suddenly…he goes back on his word. Surprise Surprise.

  6. Great post! I’ve said this in comments on other blogs and sites, so pardon the repeat… that Obama was a better choice than McCain or that the Obama administration is better than BushCo is – as you said SueJ – not the point at all. I have just as much right to be pissed at a Democratic president who backs down too quickly on issues that matter to progressives as I have to be pissed at a Republican president who was never going to do anything progressive in the first place. The result is the same: same wars, same DADT, same DOMA, same bailouts, same lack of reform, same injustice.

    Like Nan said, he backs down when he doesn’t even have to. If this is what we get with Dems controlling the WH and Congress, then what’s the point? Yes, it was and would be worse with the Repubs in charge. But it’s hard to be satisfied with “marginally better” than the other guys.

  7. I find the administrations stances on many issues, let alone DADT and DOMA to be… pathetic. ridiculous.

    Clinton has done in the State Dept. what Obama can’t seem to wrap his head around- promote fairness and equality while doing a great job.

    Obama is far better than McCain. But we need to continue to hold his feet to the fire. this is ridiculous.

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