Senator Ben Nelson
I wanted to post this again. I think that it is important for us to understand that Obama has made some mistakes but isn’t the wimp that some Dems are saying that he is.
Because Matt Damon is a star who continues to turn out hits and he is a progressive, when he criticizes the president everyone seems to take notice. In a recent interview he said, “You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would’ve been, in the long run of the country, much better.” So, in a nutshell, the problem with Obama’s presidency is he simply caved on every major issue. This is the sentiment that many progressives bring to the table. The progressives who voice the sentiment state that Obama clearly had a mandate from the people. The Democrats saw a majority in both the House and the Senate in 2008. Therefore, the Democrats should’ve been able to run the table on a whole host of progressive issues.
Although it is nice to say that all President Obama had to do was “lead” and all the Democrats would simply fall in line, in reality, this simply isn’t true on multiple levels. First of all, if you’ve ever been to any democratic meeting, there are a whole host of opinions and agendas. If you have twenty Democrats in a room and you try to decide the pass a resolution stating that clean streets are good, this is a difficult thing to achieve. It isn’t that all Democrats wouldn’t support the idea; they do. The problem is achieving the idea. Some would argue that we need to say something about environmentally friendly street sweepers. Others would bring up the fact that city workers who clean the streets don’t have adequate benefits. Another group would argue that the money being spent on clean streets should be spent on something else that would benefit more people. I’m not making fun of Democrats. I’m pointing out the reality of the situation. Just a few years ago, I was asked to moderate a discussion on some topic (I can’t remember what the topic was). I thought the discussion went rather well. Almost everybody seemed to participate. Almost everybody who wanted to talk seemed to get their two cents in. Afterwards, I had several people come up to me with criticisms – the chairs should’ve been arranged in a circle, everyone should have a microphone, why did we have a moderator at all? There were several more.
Finally, the reality of these massive majorities was that they really weren’t massive at all. There were a significant number of blue dog Democrats who voted with Republicans on financial issues (which severely limited the size and scope of the stimulus package) and military issues. For example, closing Guantánamo Bay. This issue seem to be pretty clear-cut. Almost all progressives agreed that Guantánamo Bay needed to be closed because it no longer served any useful purpose. The Obama administration wanted to avoid having any facilities that were designed to circumvent American law. Yet the Republicans, along with blue dog Democrats, vigorously opposed closing this facility. Somehow, these terrorists had superhuman powers and could not be controlled or housed in any of our maximum facility prisons. Our court system, according to conservative thought, was simply too inadequate to convict these hardened terrorists. (This line of thinking ignores the fact that our courts have tried and convicted many terrorists already.) Remember the healthcare debate? Several conservative Democrats in the Senate single-handedly prevented any serious consideration of the public option. (Max Baucus, Mary Landrieu, Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson come to mind.) Now, tell me how “leadership” was going to fix these problems. What exactly was Barack Obama going to do to make the Senators change their minds? Bribe them? Oh, and remember President Obama was doing this in the face of fierce opposition from conservatives, the Tea Party and the mainstream media. I think, for the most part, he did the best job he could given the adverse circumstances.