Having listened to President Obama's speech tonight, I'm frankly underwhelmed. For all his pretty words at the end there about needing to combat the cynicism of the American people in the face of rapacious corporations and lobbyist-driven government, it seemed to me that much of what the president was proposing was in exactly that mold. The gist of his speech was, essentially, "Keep on hoping."
Well, Mr. President, I'm sorry, but that ship sailed quite a while ago. I don't want "hope." I don't want you to "work with Congress"--I want you to get shit done. That's what you were elected to do more than a year ago, and that's what you haven't done much of during your first year in office. I didn't hear much of anything to suggest that is likely to change in your second year--and that is disappointing.
For example, take health insurance reform. Please. I don't give a damn about reforming health insurance, except perhaps to the extent that I would like to see it eliminated altogether in favor of a government-run single-payer system like most other developed nations already have in place. That's such a radical idea that it was first enacted by Prince Otto von Bismarck in 1883. What the hell are we waiting for, pray tell? Yet you want to dither around some more with the crappy legislation that's currently stalled in the Senate--I believe, cynically, because you really are looking to have a legislative accomplishment under your belt, despite your denial that you were.
I don't want you to "work with Congress" to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I just want you to do it--which you could do with a stroke of your pen on an executive order. Then you can go back to Congress and work on getting it repealed. As anybody who knows basic first aid could tell you, first you stop the bleeding, and then you worry about the small stuff. Just do it, Mr. President. You have the power!
The spending freeze you're proposing? Galactically stupid idea--as you've been hearing now for the last couple of days from analysts, economists, bloggers, pundits, and historians. If you want to know why it's a galactically stupid idea, just take a look at what happened after Franklin Roosevelt did something similar in 1937. Besides, if you're looking to save a few bucks and also to bring our troops home, then do the last thing first. We'll save a hell of a lot more money than we will with your half-measure of a spending freeze, and that way, no more of our servicemen and -women have to come home in flag-draped coffins or missing limbs or other body parts.
My chief criticism of your first year in office, Mr. President, is that you've been too timid--and, taking its cue from you, the Democratic Party has done likewise. If you want to mitigate my cynicism (and, more importantly, if you want to get my vote again in 2012), you'll go a long way toward achieving that goal by acting more like you did when you were campaigning to win the office you now hold than the way you have acted since taking that office. Forget the faded pipe-dream of bipartisanship. You can't beat that dead skeleton back to life no matter how hard you try. The Republicans have demonstrated, time and time again, that they are not interested in working with you, no matter what you propose. In fact, I suspect that if you went to that meeting next week with the Republican leadership in Congress and proposed to them a legislative agenda that was lifted verbatim from the 2008 Republican Party platform, they would still oppose it, simply on the grounds that you would get credit for passing it. You can't work with these people, so stop even bothering to try. Just get on with it and get it done!