Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Not Our Gang

TPM has a good look at Edward Luce's piece on how the White House is being run.  It is not a loving look, but one I have to agree with from what I have been watching from afar over this last year.

Obama looked to be bringing together a team of rivals to govern this country and advise him.  But what have we got.  Biden seems to disappear, and not having much of anything to do with Congress.  Clinton is in conflict with other advisors and Biden for roles.

And the team from Chicago sits on top monitoring and deciding what is allowable and always there to counter positions that are not in there interest.  Look at all the areas the at Rahm doesn't care for, like civil terror trials, and see how anemic the WH efforts to those ends is.  Look at the WH voice when it came to Health Care Reform, little was said, except when progressives got active and they were slapped down.  This was the crowning jewel for these guys, but what the fuck were they doing the last year.  They lined up deals for industry that also kept them quiet, but made the deal look suspect.  They made a deal with women's groups so thewy would stay out and then did nothing as Stupak pushed his amendment.  Was that the extent of there reach?  It is embarassing.  Which was why I was glad to see Ed Schultz tear into Gibbs over where HCR was  at the start of this year.  Gibbs was unhappy to not see the line being toed by progressive voices on the air.  Where is the fire he showed Schultz when he disagrees with FOX?

TPM and Luce looks at examples like the China trip.
Luce's brief paints a picture of even a well-meaning, policy-focused "Obama the man" being warped out of shape by "Obama the team." Recounting some of the antics during Obama's November China trip, Luce recounts:
The same [dismissal of his key policy advisers in lieu of his political entourage] can be observed in foreign policy. On Mr Obama's November trip to China, members of the cabinet such as the Nobel prizewinning Stephen Chu, energy secretary, were left cooling their heels while Mr Gibbs, Mr Axelrod and Ms Jarrett were constantly at the president's side.

The White House complained bitterly about what it saw as unfairly negative media coverage of a trip dubbed Mr Obama's "G2" visit to China. But, as journalists were keenly aware, none of Mr Obama's inner circle had any background in China. "We were about 40 vans down in the motorcade and got barely any time with the president," says a senior official with extensive knowledge of the region. "It was like the Obama campaign was visiting China."
One wonders why Valerie Jarrett was on the trip in any case. As head of public engagement for the White House, it would seem she should have a rather full plate meeting the demand of the many groups around the United States that want to feel like they are connecting with and being heard by the Obama White House.
And I find it troubling to see the bit that follows where Jarret ran off from the Arab American Institute event on an emergency at the WH, only to be seen shortly later and a trendy restaurant for power brokers.  TPM notes the time Clinton came to AAI, and talked, and interacted, and was almost the last person out of the building.  It is just a difference in governing, and I worry about this clique at the WH.  Where are there priorities, focuses, and interests?  Are they in love with the town, or with the work ahead?

And now where are we?  We got some speeches and steely looks to the Reps.  Good.  But that is about campaigns.  What governance improvements will this lead to?  Is it all to rally the base to vote in November, or will it actually get us needed results?  A good Jobs bill?  HCR?  Climate Change action?  Last year has not left me confident.

Some will say we have to give them (and really him) more time.  I agree he gets 4 years before he is voted on.  I am not one of tose people who in December after the election denounced him for any frivolous reason came to mind. I want to wait and see.  But there must be reasonable returns along the way.  He isn't Santa.  HE isn't coming to us one night and giving it all to us at once, HCR, Climate Change Reform, Equal Rights for all, More Jobs, Balanced Budgets, No debts, and a pony...all waiting under the tree.  Doesn't work that way.  We have had minimum wage increases, Lilly Ledbetter Act, the Stimulus Act, the end of the Global Gag Order, better support for science research, and boost to our international standing, and other action.

But this is how I can visualize how I am feeling.  In this chart we have on the right what we dreamed of.  No more fighting, no war, no racial injustice, rapid environmental.  Never going to happen.  And if that drives you from politics...how is the 3rd grade?

Then on the left is all the good that was accomplished.  IT looks small, but that is compared to what was dreamed of.

The important one is in the middle.  We have a congressional majority.  Not a super majority in the Senate, that was never there.  But we have a majority.  We also have the presidency.  With that you have power.  You have a bully pulpit.  And the obligation to speak and call for action as needed.  That was a very silent podium last year.  And it is on that comparison of the two bars on the left that I do judge Obama and the White House.  HCR could have used leadership, dealing with terror trials needed leadership, more than lukewarm comments, and so many other smaller areas that could have been made active were available, like through that summer.  And what about the filibustering and blockage of appointments?  Where was Obama on this?  Push Reps to discuss there actions.  Make them uncomfortable...last year.

We all thought Rahm was coming in to deal with the Senate and  keep them in line and push back, but I just have to find him strangely unimpressive.  The only ire we have seen from him was the recently revealed comments involving f&*$%#@* r#!^#*$#, and that was to liberals who were getting too antsy to do something.

We hoped for someone like the character of Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, an enforcer pushing things like HCR.  A ball buster who would push back.

Team Obama.

They are all behind and have a lot to make up, I just wonder where they really are trying to go.  And who do they want to impress?

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