Archive for August 10th, 2009|Daily archive page

No Roosevelt After All

Roosevelt famously said to a group of political activists:  “I agree with you.  I want to do it.  Now make me do it.”  Many of us have taken that dictum and applied it to Obama, thinking that hard work and dedicated political activism are necessary even when you have an ally in the White House.

But apparently President Obama doesn’t want us to “make him do it”. Not if the Chief of Staff’s behavior is any indication of the Chief Executive’s wishes.

I knew Rahm was a hard-ass, but I thought, when he decided to work for Obama, that he would become more of an equal-opportunity hard-ass. If I assume that Obama is a “centrist,” then the man whose job it is to be his whip hand ought to be giving at least an equally hard time to the Blue Dogs and conservative senators as he does to the left wing of his party. Especially since it’s the Blue Dogs and conservative senators who have been opposing Obama on both health care reform and climate change legislation from the beginning. These legislators apparently have little concern even for preserving the President’s political capital, much less for the platform that Obama ran on. After the shenanigans Max Baucus has been pulling in the Finance Committee, excluding a number of important Democratic senators from his discussions while sequestering himself with Mike Enzi, Chuck Grassley, Olympia Snowe, Kent Conrad and Jeff Bingaman, you’d think that Rahm would have chastised him on behalf of Obama. Or, if it’s too difficult to square off with a powerful committee chair, how about going to the Blue Dogs, many of whom Emanuel got elected, and using his clout to sway them to the President’s side? After all, Obama has said repeatedly that he wants a robust public option as part of his healthcare plan. Big news flash: it’s not the progressives in the party who are disagreeing with him. The people holding up his plan are the Blue Dogs in the House, and people like Baucus in the Senate.
But no.   Apparently Emanuel’s tenure in the Obama White House hasn’t changed his penchant for bullying liberals, whether they support his boss’ political program or not.  I don’t normally cite Politico, since I think they’re pretty much the NY Post of political journalism, but when both Politico and Firedoglake report the same story, I figure it’s probably true.  Click through if you want a description of Rahm’s rant.

In a moment of sheer political brilliance, Rahm has decided to attack the people who are fighting *for* Obama’s plan. The people who take time out of their days to go to really fun town halls full of ranting “birthers.” The people who are going to the mat for the President against people who give their kids signs like this (thanks to JR from DKos). Yeah, these are the disloyal ones, Rahm. These are the traitors who aren’t toeing the party line. Why? Because they dare to run ads against Democrats. Of course, the ads are being run against Democrats who have been stonewalling the President’s agenda for months now. But Rahm wants us to stop criticizing them. Sit down and shut up.
Of course, Rahm can’t be blamed without some blame accruing to Obama. I don’t believe for a second that he’s acting in opposition to Obama’s wishes. So the question becomes: what gives, Mr. President? Do you want to intimidate the people who support your agenda? Who are fighting for your agenda on a daily basis? You *did* ask us to fight for change at your side. Now your hired man is trying to swat us down for doing the very thing you asked us to do. Clarify this for me, please.