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Obama Gets Exactly What He Wants, Almost Every Time

As we come to a close on this session of Congress and the new, Tea Party infused batch of crazies prepares to take over and do as much damage to the country as possible, it’s worth noting what this can teach us about the current political dynamic in the United States, which I will attempt to summarize:

President Obama gets precisely what he wants, almost all the time.

Don’t believe me? Try to name a major policy initiative that Obama wanted that he didn’t get. Note: one he *actually* wanted, not one he said he did.

–President Obama did NOT want a public option in his so-called healthcare reform bill. We didn’t get one. He lied to Congress about supporting one, but we know for a fact that he had traded it away months previously.

–President Obama did NOT want drug reimportation allowed under HCR, and when it looked like it might pass, his administration sabotaged the measure, at considerable taxpayer expense. Remember those higher prices whenever you get a script filled at Walgreens.

–Obama, also known as President Fierce Advocate, did NOT want DADT repeal initially, and so it languished, despite another of his patented public displays of support, until the gay rights lobby made it so painful for him that he DID want it, and then, when he needed a victory to validate his so-called liberalism, he was able to make it happen within *days*

–Lest you forget how much his administration hates gays, they passionately defended DOMA by comparing a state’s authority to refuse gay marriages to the authority to refuse to acknowledge incestuous marriages or child marriage.

–President Obama did NOT want to empower unions or any other major Democratic power center outside of his own party, and so Unions in particular have gotten the shaft, repeatedly, throughout his administration. (brutal pay-cuts at the American Automakers alongside loans to foreign competitors, attacks on their healthcare premiums under HCR, a total lack of support for the Employee Free Choice Act, the new trade deal with South Korea which will cost us over 150,000 American jobs, etc)

–President Obama hates Social Security with a white hot passion. When the Congress refused to create a ‘Deficit’ Commission exclusively designed to cut it, he created one on his own, and stacked the deck with people who shared his dream of destroying or at least crippling the premiere social safety program in the United States. When the commission still couldn’t come to a consensus, he set up a ‘tax deal’ that cuts billions out of Social Security’s revenue stream, to be paid for out of general revenue, which for the first time makes Social Security part of the deficit problem and opens it up to be cut by the new, Teabagger Congress.

–President Obama hates the poor and the middle class. Sorry to break this to you, but he does. Hence his administration’s heinous to the point of absurdity implementation of HAMP, a program that was supposedly created to help struggling homeowners, but in fact was nothing more than predatory lending backed with taxpayer funds. Hence his support for Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, two of the men who are most responsible for the current economic disaster that has destroyed so much of the American middle class. Hence this newest tax cut ‘deal’ which actually raises taxes on 1/3 of American workers; the poorest third.

Yes, that’s right. President Obama is about to raise taxes on the poor, so he can cut taxes on the rich. It also shuts out public employees who don’t pay into Social Security because they have a different pension system.

–Speaking of, President Obama loves the rich. Loves them. That’s why his new tax cut deal, the one that raises taxes on the working poor, slashes them on the rich and further lowers the estate tax.

–President Obama is literally taking food from poor childrens’ plates to make a crass political point. Ie, to fund a shiny new school lunch program that is amongst his wife’s pet projects, he slashed funding for food stamps. Next year TANF, the federal successor to welfare, also gets steep cuts.

–President Obama loves torture and loves war. He continues torture to this very day, including the torture of Bradley Manning, who dared to expose some of the crimes of both the Bush and Obama administrations. President Obama has consistently refused to prosecute war criminals and torturers, and now American crimes, if they are to receive any review at all, will have to be tried in foreign courts. He has escalated the war in Afghanistan even though his process stands absolutely zero chance of success and the Taliban gain ground day after day, year after year. He’s also greatly expanded the undeclared war in Pakistan and launched a shadow war in Yemen.

–President Obama loves assassination and frequently employs assassins. That’s what you call firing a missile from an unmanned vehicle into civilian populations in a country we are not at war with, btw. It’s not a ‘battle’, and it’s certainly not war. It’s assassination, execution without trial, also known as murder. It doesn’t make a bit of difference that the assassin uses a predator drone.

–President Obama hates immigrants, wants to get rid of as many as he can and doesn’t care how much it hurts the Democratic Party. This would be why his administration is objectively worse on deportations than Bush, or why despite public promises to the contrary he never once made immigration reform a priority.

Now that we’ve established that President Obama hates Social Security, the poor, immigrants, the middle class, unions, health care recipients and loves war, assassination and the wealthy, we should be able to make some predictions about the next two years:

–Obama will go to the mat to cut Social Security. Expect cuts, or even the complete dismantling of the program. Obama hates it. It has to go. Social Security is his white whale.

–Obama will further weaken unions. It might be with more free trade deals, it might be by simply letting their membership fade away over time as it has for decades.

–Obama will slash social any and all social spending he can get his hands on, allying with the Tea Party to do it. Expect more cuts to public assistance, welfare, anything that helps keep people off the streets, in part so that he can keep getting money for his assassination robots in Pakistan and Yemen. The current tax cut deal explicitly leaves Tea Party whackos the leverage needed to cut back all the stimulative spending, such as it is, early next year. This is by design, not accident; Obama and the Dem leadership together have decided to hand Republicans the lever to ‘force’ them to do what Obama wanted in the first place.

–Speaking of overseas wars funded with money we need at home, expect them to expand. Since we can’t win in Afghanistan, in Nixonian fashion, Obama has to expand the war to somewhere he thinks we *can* win. Will Pakistan be the new Cambodia? Hard to say. Someone’s got to eat some serious civilian casualties as we head toward the 2012 elections though.

–We will be in Afghanistan until 2012, guaranteed. If Obama is re-elected, we will be there until after 2014, maybe forever. He loves that war too much, and has staked too much on its ‘success’, to stop throwing away blood and treasure on it. Someone would have to make him stop, and that’s not going to be Republicans.

–Health Care Reform may or may not be dismantled, but it doesn’t really matter. Obama wanted two things out of HCR: 1) to avoid real reform of the medical industries and their profits (because he is a Reaganite and loves corporations more than people) and 2) to avoid having to pass any real Democratic priorities (like immigration reform, DADT [at that time], environmental regulation, climate change, etc.) He got those objectives, and if the Republicans take his bill apart, he can campaign against them screaming about sick kids without healthcare (you know, like the ones whose families won’t be able to afford the outrageous copays under his plan) You wouldn’t believe the number of flyers with airbrushed actors playing sick kids I got from Dems in the last election cycle; they think this issue is a winner for them, and want to use it again and again and again. A winning policy doesn’t give them cheap election ads, so single payer never stood a chance; better the Republicans play-act as the bad guys.

–There will be no real action on Climate Change. At all. Period. See, President Obama doesn’t want action on climate change because it would hurt large corporate interests, but he needed to stall until he had a Republican Congress to block it. Now he has that, so mysteriously, the US and China hammered out a meaningless compromise at Cancun just recently. Doesn’t matter; the Republicans will play the bad guys and block any implementation of meaningful climate change legislation (cap and trade or carbon tax, doesn’t matter) and the deal will fall through or amount to nothing. As he wants it to. Meanwhile, expect Obama to help dial back any other common-sense, lifesaving regulations (as he is already doing with smog and incinerators)

–Since the Gulf really is filthy and full of poison, it will turn out that the food that the Obama administration pushed to get back into supermarkets by greenwashing BP’s response was poisonous, carcinogenic, full of oil and heavy metals and suchlike. (Actually, this is already proving true) It won’t lead to any significant environmental reforms though.

–More tax cuts for the wealthy. I mean, this one’s so obvious it’s a gimme.

That’s the agenda for the next two years, I’d say. More death all around, more war, less money for the poor and sick, more for the rich, no action on climate change, health care reform failing either because his plan stays in effect (and sucks) or because it’s torn apart, and anyone who’s been eating Gulf seafood? I’d get good life insurance before the rates go up.

You might be asking yourself, “Why? Why is he doing this?” (unless you’re a rabid Obama diehard in which case you’ll sound a lot like this video).

There seem to be two arguments about that. The first, as articulated by Matt Taibbi recently for Rolling Stone, is that Obama is an unprincipled flip-flopper, a bad leader with few, if any, core beliefs:

I contrast this now to the behavior of Barack Obama. I can’t even count how many times I listened to Barack Obama on the campaign trail talk about how, as president, he would rescind the Bush tax cuts as soon as he had the chance. He stood up and he said over and over again – I can still hear him saying “Let me be clear!” with that Great Statesman voice of his, before he went into this routine – that the Bush tax cuts were wrong and immoral. He said more than once that they “offended his conscience.” Then, just as he did with drug re-importation and Guantanamo and bulk Medicare negotiations for pharmaceuticals and the issue of whether or not he would bring registered lobbyists into his White House and a host of other promises, he tossed his campaign “convictions” in the toilet and changed his mind once he was more accountable to lobbyists than primary voters.

This idea that you can’t be an honest man and a Washington politician is a myth, a crock made up by sellouts and careerist hacks who don’t stand for anything and are impatient with people who do. It’s possible to do this job with honor and dignity. It’s just that most of our politicians – our president included, apparently – would rather not bother.

The second, articulated below by Ian Welsh, and which I’m think, sadly, to be more correct, is that Obama in fact has principles, albeit evil ones, and the current state of affairs is *precisely* what he’s wanted all along:

He’s a Reaganite. It’s what he believes in, genuinely. Moreover he despises left wingers, likes kicking gays and women whenever he gets a chance and believes deeply and truly in the security state (you did notice that Obama administration told everyone to take their objections to backscatter scanners and groping and shove them where the sun don’t shine, then told you they’re thinking of extending TSA police state activities to other public transit?)

Let me put it even more baldly. Obama is, actually, a bad man. He didn’t do the right thing when he had a majority, and now that he has the excuse of a Republican House he’s going to let them do bad thing after bad thing. This isn’t about “compromise”, this is about doing what he wants to do anyway, like slashing social security. The Senate, you remember, voted down the catfood comission. Obama reinstituted it by executive fiat.

If the left doesn’t stand against Obama and doesn’t primary him, it stands for nothing and for nobody.

Regardless of what goes on inside Obama’s head, the larger proposition is undeniable: Obama is a bad man. Anyone who would torture and murder without trial is a bad man. Anyone who would clusterbomb Yemeni civilians is a bad man. Anyone who would accept a peace prize while escalating hopeless wars he knows cannot be won is a bad man. Anyone who would steal food from starving kids to rack up a cheap political victory for his unelected wife is a bad man. Anyone who wants to destroy Social Security, a wildly successful public program that has rescued millions of elderly people from poverty and want? A bad man.

You get the idea, and over the next two years, America’s going to get yet another object lesson in governance by bad men.

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