Brad Reed's blog
This article originally appeared at Alternet.org
Barack Obama told Oprah last year that he deserved a “B+” for his first year in office. If he were being more honest, he’d give himself a “C.”
I’ve been willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt simply because he is not George W. Bush. The Bush presidency was a Haley’s Comet of badness, the sort of presidency that America can survive only because it occurs once every 80 years. The only historical events comparable to the Bush presidency are Herbert Hoover’s and James Buchanan’s.
All the same, Obama has not had a stellar start. In fact, I’d argue that the most disappointing part of the Obama presidency so far has been its ordinariness. Despite a lot of initial progressive hype, Barack Obama campaigned as an establishment Beltway Democrat and so far has governed no differently.
“Centrist” Democrats opposing a government-run public health insurance plan have seemingly forgotten the first rule of crafting public policy – namely, that the policy should be popular with the public.
First, some background: because both the Obama White House and Democratic leaders deemed a single-payer system too politically risky and difficult to implement, they settled on a mandatory insurance plan that would provide government subsidies to Americans who couldn’t afford to buy health insurance on the private market. The insurance companies generally favored this scheme because it would guarantee them tens of millions of new customers who had previously been priced out of the market.
Even though mandatory health insurance is essentially a way to pay off private insurers in order to attain universal health care coverage, most legislators don’t simply want to hand them a blank check. This is why progressives have insisted on a public option to compete with health insurance corporations.
This article also appeared at Alternet.org
One curious consequence of the Democrats’ electoral triumph last year has been the rise of Glenn Beck, a right-wing populist whose daily ravings on Fox News have helped inspire the anti-government “tea party” rallies across the country. In a lot of ways, Beck’s popularity reflects the current emotional state of American conservatives.
When they ran the entire government just a few short years ago, it was fashionable for conservatives to tune into braying, overconfident bullies such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Now that they’re totally shut out, however, they’ve found solace in the conspiratorial and weepy Beck, who stokes their fears that shadowy elements within the government are plotting to end freedom as we know it.
The irony is that Beck is only really opposed to big government when Republicans aren’t controlling it.
Republicans are winning the debate on health care reform right now because they’ve spent months telling Americans that Barack Obama is plotting a government takeover of health care that will kill your grandmother. To counter these lies, Democrats have spent a lot of time nervously insisting that they aren’t supporters of euthanasia.
From this perspective it’s easy to understand why, despite holding the White House and larger majorities in the House and Senate than the Republicans ever enjoyed in their heyday, the Democrats are getting creamed on what is supposed to be their signature issue. Simply put, the Republicans have run a smart campaign against health care reform by using consistent, hard-hitting messages that fit neatly into 30-second sound bites.
How Proponents Of Perpetual Warfare Are Shaping Our Discourse
If the media coverage of the Iranian elections has taught us anything, it’s that the neoconservatives have held onto their megaphones in the mainstream press. For those of you unfamiliar with the neoconservatives – or neocons, as they are often referred to – they’re a clique of right-wing foreign policy ideologues who think the use of American military power is always justified under any circumstances. The endgame, as neocon Max Boot put it, is to have American troops occupy the “troubled lands” that “cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.” The neocons’ one real attempt at implementing this doctrine so far has been in Iraq, where our country has been fighting for more than six years to take out Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction stockpiles.