BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
Why is President Obama Losing Momentum in the Polls?
President Obama is beginning to lose the politically essential enthusiasm of many independent voters. The primary reason for that is that he seems to be deviating from the message that got their support in the first place. During his campaign, candidate Obama promised "A Change that We Can Believe in," but now, President Obama's vain attempt to appease the GOP is only serving to water down the very change that he promised, and America expected.
We embraced Obama because we understood that many of the problems in this country was a direct result of the logjam caused by the endless feuding between the far left and right fringes of American politics. We had the sense that Obama wasn't a partisan player, so middle America rose up, put race aside, and selected him as a refreshing change.
And as president, Obama is indeed a refreshing change in that he's neither liberal nor is he conservative. He's a pragmatist, so unlike most, his thinking is not distorted by a one-size-fit-all, pre-chewed and regurgitated ideology. He assesses every issue on its own merit, and he bases his decisions on what he believes is in the best interest of America as a whole.
But ironically, it is that very pragmatism that's currently undermining his efforts.
Political pragmatism has led President Obama to mistakenly believe that the best way to resolve the nation's problems is through reaching out in bipartisanship to the Republican Party. That sounds good in theory, but it can only work if the Republican Party is acting in good faith, which it isn't.
The Republicans have no interest in bipartisanship - especially if it means helping to resolve America's problems. Their only interest is in undermining Obama's presidency, serving their corporate contributors, and stoking the flame of division among the social fringies in the Palin\Limbaugh wing of the party. Clear evidence of that is apparent in Sen. Jim DeMint's (R, S.C.) comment indicating that if they can block healthcare reform it will break Obama - never giving a thought to the negative impact that would have on the families of millions of jobless Americans.
So the president's good will is being used against him, and based on the latest polls, with increasing effectiveness. The Republicans are using his attempt at bipartisanship to water down his initiatives to point where they're close to meaningless, then voting against them anyway after he's compromised in an attempt to accommodate them.
The president's accommodating nature is allowing Republican nihilists to have their cake and eat it too. First, they're sabotaging his bills with so many amendments that they're rendering them ineffective. Then, if the initiative is effective, they claim that the only reason it worked was due to their amendments. But if it's ineffective, they tell the American people, "See, we told you he didn't know what he's doing."
As a result, the polls show that many Democrats and independents are becoming increasingly weary with what's beginning to look like Obama's incessant catering to the whims of the right. Many of the president's supporters are now openly saying, we might as well have a Republican in office if he's going to give them everything they want. And it's becoming harder to argue that point with each day that passes.
In spite of the fact the every member of the administration has sworn an oath to uphold the constitution, the Obama administration is doing a better job of protecting Bush and Cheney from accountability than they did for themselves, and it's absolutely unconscionable.
The Bush/Cheney regime mounted a blatant assault on the United States Constitution, caused the death and injury of thousands of American troops and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, and they committed war crimes so heinous that they have all but destroyed the reputation of the United States throughout the world - and all for the purpose of political and financial gain. So why are they walking around with impunity?
While one might argue that the president fully intends to address this issue, along with the matter of sexual bigotry within the military, his economic stimulus and healthcare reform is under attack, so it's simply impractical to also alienate the Bush apologists and homophobes at this time.
I don't think that argument stands up. The class of people who represent the homophobes and Bush apologists are going to be hostile to the president's initiatives regardless to what action he takes, or fail to take. So by failing to promptly address the mandate that got him elected, he stands to lose his base of support without gaining a thing. And further, if the GOP were kept busy trying to protect the Bush/Cheney legacy, they wouldn't have the time to distort the president's healthcare reform at their leisure.
But most importantly, President Obama is a constitutional scholar, so he should know better than anyone that it's not up to him whether or not these men are held accountable. Their accountability is dictated by the rule of law, and either a nation believes in the rule of law, or it doesn't. Thus, by turning his back on his responsibility in this matter, Obama is setting a precedent that tells the world, and posterity, that in America the powerful are above the law, and the rule of law is secondary to political pragmatism.
By taking this position he's placing the future of this nation in serious jeopardy. If Richard Nixon had gone to jail for Watergate, and Ronald Reagan had joined him for his excesses during the Iran/Contra affair and flooding our inner cities with drugs in order to finance it, the Bush administration wouldn't have dared to engage in the criminal activity that they engaged in.
The only reason Bush and Cheney felt free to mount an assault on our constitution is because a precedent had been set with Nixon and Reagan that the powerful was above the law. Now, with President Obama talking about "looking forward," that precedent threatens to be set in stone. If that becomes the case, what can we expect from the next generation of demagogues?
So it's understandable that the polls are beginning to show that many Democratic and independent voters are beginning to question the president's approach to this matter. It's nothing close to a change that we can believe in. As they see it, it is one thing to be a nice guy, but it is something altogether different to completely ignore the rule of law - even in an attempt to be pragmatic.
As Neville Chamberland learned after his warm and fuzzy moment with Adolf Hitler - it never pays to kiss a snake.
Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.