A quick summary of why I never got on board with ObamaMania and why, at its top dollar best, our political system today can produce a reformer about as radical as William Howard Taft. Shorter title: This is why we are so fucked.
News item, July 13, 2011: "Immelt: Obama jobs council devising plans for job creation." General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt was the logical choice to serve as Barack Obama's "jobs czar" – who knows more about creating jobs than the CEOs of large, multinational corporations?
News item, July 25, 2011: "GE Moves 115 Year Old X-Ray Unit to China." See? Look at all of the jobs he created. In China. By closing something that has been in Waukesha, WI for more than a century. To "tap growth" in China. And these aren't the kind of pull-the-lever-on-the-kick-press jobs that we keep being told are fated to go overseas because they involve no skill. These are exactly the kind of high-tech buzzword jobs that Obama won't shut the hell up about, excepting the absence of "green" in the description.
This. This is why Barack Obama is a failure of colossal proportions and why I don't want to hear any of the half-assed excuses about how everything that has happened to him is the fault of nasty Republicans, stupid voters, and the like. He's a failure because despite what many of you managed to convince yourselves in 2008, he's just another smiling face in a long line of corporatist whores that have rotted what used to be a somewhat liberal party from within and left us with a political system offering little but the illusion of choice.
For the last decade, many people who study political participation have speculated that 1996 and 2000 might have been the nadir of voter turnout and interest in politics in the U.S. The 1996 election in particular was contested during a strong economy between two candidates no one much cared for. Increased turnout was observed in 2004 and again in 2008. I can't wait to see 2012. We're going to see campaigns spending previously unfathomable amounts of money in an effort to fire up voting bases whose attitudes toward the candidates range from boredom to white-hot anger.
Tell me something: where is that wave of energy and enthusiasm that swept Obama into office in 2008 going to come from in 2012, with the President owning two wars that didn't end (plus a third that just started), the Teabagger austerity agenda that he endorsed wholeheartedly, and supporters already resorting to arguments of last resort like, "Well, he's better than the alternative." On the Republican side the nominee will either be a semi-sane candidate who the base will hate (see: McCain) or a lunatic for whom sane people will be too embarrassed to vote. That record voter turnout in 2008 could turn into record lows in a single election cycle.
Aside from the half-assed health care reform that he allowed insurance companies to write, what has Barack Obama accomplished to encourage – or even mildly please – his core supporters? The Immelt appointment as Jobs Czar and the vignette about GE's job growth plan for China is a good representation of what Obama is all about: repeatedly, naively believing that untrustworthy people – Teabaggers, John Boehner, CEOs of companies that pay no taxes and employ 60% of their workforce outside of the U.S. – will work with him "in good faith" if he uses a lot of soaring rhetoric and asks them nicely enough. He seems fundamentally incapable of realizing that these people do not like him and do not care about his interests or those of anyone but themselves. And so they break it off in his ass, not occasionally but every single time.
The alternative hypothesis is that he fundamentally agrees with a corporate, Wall Street friendly version of liberalism (aka Moderate Republicanism) or, even worse, he is essentially a Manchurian Candidate right-winger. I find that possibility so disheartening that I prefer to believe that he is stupid.