Monday, January 18, 2010

Coakley vs. Brown: The Real Wake-Up Call

Google’s Blogspot, which hosts this column, has a wonderful analytical tool that allows me to track the number of visitors to this site, as well as their locations. (A special hello, by the way, to my regular reader in San Francisco. Hello, Liverpool! And you there in Islamabad—thanks for stopping by!)

Thus I know that in a normal month, my blog gets between 300 and 400 “hits.” A few of you comment regularly—for the most part, those who disagree. Those comments are always interesting and welcome. But these remarks are intended for the rest of you—the silent majority who most likely regard yourselves as Democrats or progressives and may tend to agree with much of what I have to say.

My question for you—and for Democrats/progressives/liberals in general—is this: What the hell’s the matter with you people?

A year ago, our country elected a new president who promised to reverse policies so many of us found abhorrent in the last administration: a pointless war in Iraq, torture of inmates in secret prisons, an economy in free fall, reversal of decades’ worth of environmental protections, and an arrogant attitude of superiority that left America few friends among the other nations of the world. Remember?

President Obama has accomplished much of what he promised, and more. And despite all the conservative and religious extremists in Congress who have done everything in their power to block his every move, this president has had greater success in getting Congress to enact legislative changes than any other president in recent history.

So what does he get for his trouble? Constant criticism, not only from the right but also from the left—from fair-weather do-gooders and erstwhile supporters who either aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in this country or just don’t get it.

In yesterday’s Huffington Post, for example, Robert Kuttner characterizes the Coakley-Brown contest for the U.S. Senate as a lose-lose situation for the administration, blaming Obama personally for the fact that it may not be a cakewalk for the Democratic candidate.

Mr. Kuttner is one of many who’s been lambasting the president for allowing compromises to be made in the interest of passing a health care reform bill which, if not perfect, will at least be a considerable improvement over the status quo. It’s Fox News-style populist anger-mongering—and Mr. Kuttner’s not alone. Instead of recognizing that good politics equals compromise and supporting the president we elected, plenty of liberals are crying foul because they can’t have everything their way.

We elected this president precisely because he’s a skilled diplomat who’s often able to bring about consensus. Now, a year into his presidency, he’s criticized by the right for being too liberal and by the liberals for being too far right.

Any Democrat/progressive/liberal who thinks he or she can do a better job than Obama of rebuilding America, restoring its values, and moving it into the 21st century is welcome to run for public office. Good luck. But meanwhile, those of us who believe in much of what the president believes in should try being part of the solution and not part of the problem.

The apparent loss of steam among Democrats in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a wake-up call, all right, but not for Obama. He’s doing just fine. It should be a wake-up call for all those who believed in what he stood for a year ago and still stands for. But if all you plan to do is vote once every four years and then complain the rest of the time, well . . . don’t blame Obama for the things that don’t get done. And brace yourselves for Bush 3.


Six said...

The real problem is that people like you see everything through a blue or red lens.

In this particular case, I see it less a report on President Obama - who I happen to believe has let us down on most of his major promises - and more of a report on what a dirtball Coakley is. IF somehow Brown wins, which I doubt he will - but if he does, he is a one-termer at best. Coakley is just absolutely awful - politicians like her in particular scare me when it comes to protecting essential liberties and rights. On a scale of 1-10 - its a vote between a 1 and a 4. In this case, you have to take the 4 regardless of the D or the R next to their name.

Citizen Jane said...

Hi, Six,

No, I think the real problem is cultural: a desire of Americans to focus only on what they don't like rather than on what they do. Americans--left, right, and in the middle--enjoy being angry. (Libertarians simply cut to the chase and stay permanently pissed off at anyone who has anything to do with government.)

As a counselor, I know that free-floating anger is unhealthy, for individuals and for relationships. As an educator, I know it's counterproductive. We preach positive thinking to our kids, but adults in this country rarely choose to practice it.

Coakley, like the rest of us, is human. But at least she pledges to vote yes on something instead of no on everything.

Idna said...

There's a new face in town (DC)!

A message to Obama-Pelosi-Reid: Can you hear us NOW?

What fun watching MSNBC and CNN tonight. They didn't have a crying towel big enough.

Citizen Jane said...

Well, my dear, if events in Massachusetts inspired you to turn off Fox for the evening and watch "fair and balanced" mainstream media, I guess there's truth in the old adage, "Some good comes of everything."

Now that we know you can turn to those channels, stop by more often--if only to gloat! (Might I also recommend the networks--they cover events in the real world, too.)

Six said...

Last night at the same time I was watching the concession and victory speeches - the 'networks' had on American Idol and The Bachelor. Yay networks! (sarcastic) Personally, I wasn't staying up until 11pm to catch the news...

Idna said...

Six, I was also just about to say that no network news were on at that hour ... but you even let us know what WAS on. Thanks, now I know what great intellectual programming I missed. No wonder we can ignore the networks.

And Jane, the events of last night did not inspire me to TURN OFF Fox news. I just merely checked out what was going on at the other channels ... for a little comic relief.

BTW: Why do you assume that Fox is my only source of news? (just a bit insulting) And that I need to turn it off and watch the ones that push your propaganda? (typical Dem philosophy, always telling people what they should be doing)

Question: Why do you Dems fear Fox so much? If Fox is so completely out in left field, why are it's numbers growing by leaps and bounds while the other so called news channels are losing viewers?

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