Author Archives: Carlo Scannella

About Carlo Scannella

IT security worker bee, coffee fanatic, foodie, moleskine fan, media studies grad. Runner. Not a great runner, though.

Obama Letdown Watch — Final Post

Obviously, this blog has not been updated in quite a while. Which makes it much like many other, if not most blogs…they start off strong, enthusiasm abounds, but, over time, the spark fades, the updates become less frequent, and the blog becomes another dead end street, a micro-statistic on a Google Analytics dashboard.

But rather than just let it wither, it seemed better to write up one last post, on the eve of the 2012 campaign, with the President’s numbers in recent opinion polls not looking all that great, and explain why we’re no longer keeping the Obama Letdown Watch updated.

What was particularly frustrating about the two and a half years we spent on this blog was documenting the slow and steady march Obama took towards becoming just another politician. This began with the FISA vote — the primary reason we got involved with the Obama campaign and started this blog — and continued in so many areas, from GITMO to climate change to Executive power and more. It became tedious, and depressing, to see this. We found it difficult to find the energy to write what become a never-ending list of areas where he really did exactly the opposite of what he said he was going to do as President.

But even more than specific campaign promises, which we all know aren’t realistically kept, what was most frustrating that, back in 2008, we had the idea, the possibility, that we may have found someone who wasn’t the typical politician. Someone from the outside (or as outside as a somewhat-newly-elected Senator could be…) who might be able to stir things up in Washington enough to change it.

Turns out, one of two things are true: Either Obama wasn’t the guy to do it, or it just can’t be done.

Because what has not changed in the last two and a half years is what’s referenced at the top of every page of this blog: the business as usual of Washington goes on.

So, for those reasons, this blog has simply faded out.

But we’ll end on a brighter note. Obama did a lot of things right. He did make progress. He’s got a laundry list of accomplishments that he’ll be able to bring out for the debates, and television commercials, and the campaign stops along the way.

He’s got our votes still. But it’s disappointing that it won’t be a more enthusiastic one.

– CS and JJB

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DADT

Credit where credit is due, the Democrats got this done. Here’s the President’s statement:

Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend. By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.

As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.

I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done. It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly. I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.

 

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Transactional Presidency

Marshall Ganz in the LA Times has maybe the smartest summation I’ve read on the Obama Presidency, in the wake of last night’s election results:

In his transactional leadership mode, the president chose compromise rather than advocacy. Instead of speaking on behalf of a deeply distressed public, articulating clear positions to lead opinion and inspire public support, Obama seemed to think that by acting as a mediator, he could translate Washington dysfunction into legislative accomplishment. Confusing bipartisanship in the electorate with bipartisanship in Congress, he lost the former by his feckless pursuit of the latter, empowering the very people most committed to bringing down his presidency.

Seeking reform from inside a system structured to resist change, Obama turned aside some of the most well-organized reform coalitions ever assembled — on the environment, workers’ rights, immigration and healthcare. He ignored the leverage that a radical flank robustly pursuing its goals could give a reform president — as organized labor empowered FDR’s New Deal or the civil rights movement empowered LBJ’s Voting Rights Act. His base was told that aggressive action targeting, for example, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee — where healthcare reform languished for many months — would reflect poorly on the president and make his job harder. Threatened with losing access, and confusing access with power, the coalitions for the most part went along.

Finally, the president demobilized the widest, deepest and most effective grass-roots organization ever built to support a Democratic president. With the help of new media and a core of some 3,000 well-trained and highly motivated organizers, 13.5 million volunteers set the Obama campaign apart. They were not the “usual suspects” — party loyalists, union staff and paid canvassers — but a broad array of first-time citizen activists. Nor were they merely an e-mail list. At least 1.5 million people, according to the campaign’s calculations, played active roles in local leadership teams across the nation.

But the Obama team put the whole thing to sleep, except for a late-breaking attempt to rally support for healthcare reform. Volunteers were exiled to the confines of the Democratic National Committee. “Fighting for the president’s agenda” meant doing as you were told, sending redundant e-mails to legislators and responding to ubiquitous pleas for money. Even the touted call for citizen “input” into governance consisted mainly of e-mails, mass conference calls and the occasional summoning of “real people” to legitimize White House events.

Disappointing, but we unfortunately saw some of this coming.

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Times Catches Letdown Fever

From this upcoming weekend’s NYT magazine, a look at the, ahem, letdown that’s been the Obama Administration:

But what is striking about Obama’s self-diagnosis is that by his own rendering, the figure of inspiration from 2008 neglected the inspiration after his election. He didn’t stay connected to the people who put him in office in the first place. Instead, he simultaneously disappointed those who considered him the embodiment of a new progressive movement and those who expected him to reach across the aisle to usher in a postpartisan age. On the campaign trail lately, Obama has been confronted by disillusionment — the woman who was “exhausted” defending him, the mother whose son campaigned for him but was now looking for work. Even Shepard Fairey, the artist who made the iconic multihued “Hope” poster, says he’s losing hope.

The article is up, but, just on principle, I’m waiting until Sunday to read it.

Old school.

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Extreme

Aren’t liberals so angry and extreme???

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

Healthcare reform becomes a law today.

The liberal in me thinks this falls short of where we need to be, that it’s a giveaway to the insurance industry (whose stocks led the rally on wall street yesterday), that without single-payer it won’t change the fundamentals of the health insurance business, that it’s essentially the same plan the Republican party offered up in the early 1990s, or the same plan Mitt Romney signed into law in MA.

The pragmatist in me, though, knows this is a big win for President Obama, and the Democrats. The optics on this are huge — it’s a win, and in American politics, winning is what matters.

More importantly, after eight years of an administration whose “accomplishments” were bombing a country that did nothing to us, and torturing people, we finally have a government whose first major accomplishment is providing a safety net for our fellow Americans. Not perfect, but a start.

Credit where credit is due: This is a big win for President Obama.

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There Is No Such Thing As An Independent

This, via Ed Kilgore, via digby, is essential when it comes to politics:

The general consensus is that of the 30% to 40% or so of Americans who call themselves independents, no more than ten percent are independent voters in any meaningful sense of the term. And “pure independents” are also less likely to vote than partisans.

This is important for a whole lot of reasons. For one thing, the idea that “independents” are a third force in politics positioned in some moderate, bipartisan space equidistant from the two parties is entirely wrong.

Who knew this? Karl Rove, for one, a factor that played heavily into the way the Bush Administration played politics :

In late 2000, even as the result of the presidential election was still being contested in court, George W. Bush’s chief pollster Matt Dowd was writing a memo for Rove that would reach a surprising conclusion. Based on a detailed examination of poll data from the previous two decades, Dowd’s memo argued that the percentage of swing voters had shrunk to a tiny fraction of the electorate. Most self-described “independent” voters “are independent in name only,” Dowd told me in an interview describing his memo. “Seventy-five percent of independents vote straight ticket” for one party or the other. Once such independents are reclassified as Democrats or Republicans, a key trend emerges: Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of true swing voters fell from a very substantial 24 percent of the electorate to just 6 percent. In other words, the center was literally disappearing. Which meant that, instead of having every incentive to govern as “a uniter, not a divider,” Bush now had every reason to govern via polarization.

The myth of the independent voter…

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