(NOTE FROM JOHN: I keep forgetting to put the necessary caveat before posts like this, for the lesser minds out there. Joe and I raised nearly $50,000 for candidate Obama, and we came out in defense of him, and against Hillary, long before candidate Obama had a chance in hell of defeating the inevitable Hillary. So spare us the “you never liked him anyway” garbage. We liked him before it was cool. Which makes our criticism and disillusionment all the more important.)
There’s no such thing as ten dimensional chess, and our president is not a vulcan.
During his health care forum yesterday, President Obama gave his usual pep talk about how during the campaign everyone thought he was down and out. But like the tortoise and the hare, slow but steady Barack Obama won the race.
And it’s all very cute. And all very wrong.
Barack Obama was in serious trouble last July and August. John McCain had launched a serious of “celebrity” ads, mocking Obama as more puff than substance, and, I think, taking a bit of a swipe at his manhood as well. It was the first attack by the Republicans that was actually starting to take hold, starting to do real damage to Obama, and Obama’s response was nowhere to be found. Like Michael Dukakis twenty years before him, Barack Obama kept forging ahead, like the good geeky professor, while John McCain continued to beat the crap out of him.
Finally after the Netroots exploded at candidate Obama – almost exactly a year ago today – fretting that he was endangering our best chance at the White House in a decade, and after top donors then picked up the ball and privately slapped the campaign around, the Obama campaign discovered their inner cojones and fought back, hard.
Barack Obama didn’t win the election through the strength of his subtle, non-combative personality. He won in large part because his supporters finally forced him to fight back like, as the expression goes, a man.
So when I see President Obama try to assuage Democrats’ concerns about his presidency, and his meek performance to date on issues ranging from the stimulus package to health care reform, by telling us it’s all part of the same grand plan he had for the election, I worry because I know first hand that the grand plan is a myth. Obama didn’t win the election by being cool and collected, aloof and obtuse. He won it by finally engaging the enemy, mano a mano, and showing the American people that he had a spine, that he actually stood for something, and was willing to fight for his beliefs.
Now back to today.
President Obama, and some of his supporters, would like you to believe that the erratic cacophony, and repeated caves, that are his “strategy” on health care reform are all part of some grand plan, so complicated, so incredibly smart, that mere political mortals like you and I could never even begin to fathom its brilliance and breadth.
Yes, that’s one possibility. The other is that top Obama aides Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina have decided that it’s politically expedient to chuck the president’s various campaign promises and run for the middle, since “the left of the left” has nowhere else to go.
Occam’s razor teaches us that when presented with conflicting, theories to explain a situation, the simpler theory, with the fewer assumptions, is usually true.
What’s more plausible?
That President Obama is actually for the public option, but is actually playing us: trying to so enrage the left as to motivate us to beat the bejeesus out of him, plummet his approval ratings, and brand him as weak and spineless in the eyes of the public, all with the secret intent of making us make him do the right thing, giving him the grassroots support he needs to pass the best health care reform bill possible, including the public option and even single payer, just like he promised?
Or, that yet another Washington politician made a lot of promises and then sold us out once he got into office?
But putting the logic aside for a moment. Let’s look at the facts.
Was flip-flopping on FISA, saying he’d lead the filibuster against it and then actually voting for it, eventually part of some grand secret scheme to actually kill the FISA bill? No.
How about when he flip-flopped on…
Off shore drilling.
Immediately withdrawal from Iraq.
Forgoing public financing.
The DC handgun ban.
Eliminating military tribunals.
Releasing torture photos.
Gay rights across the board.
Handing 40% of the stimulus package to useless GOP tax cuts.
Caving on the public option.
There’s a lot more, but those are some of the more memorable moments in which Barack Obama went back on, or caved, on some very public issues. In which of those cases was the cave not a cave at all, but rather part of some secret plan to actually win the issue in the end, and win on the particular issue that he seemed to have caved on?
President Obama has never played ten dimensional chess on a single issue. When he’s caved in the past, he actually caved. There was no grand plan. There was no super secret double back flip fake to pull out a win in the end. He simply caved on a promise for political expediency and those who supported that promise lost.
There is no such thing as ten dimensional chess.