Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Case Study: How not to treat your friends...

Last Thursday evening President Obama attended a fund-raising dinner in Greenwich, Connecticut in a gated-community called Conyers Farm.  It’s been years since I’ve been in Greenwich so I have to believe what I read about the setting.  Glenn Greenwald wrote that the dinner was hosted by Richard and Ellen Richman and the cost to the dinner guests was $30,000.00 a plate.  Conyers Farm, we are told, is a 1500-acre community where Republican Senatorial candidate Linda McMahon also lives. Yes, indeed--small world.  The $16 million dollar Richman estate is on 20-acres quite near the McMahon home.  McMahon’s opponent in the Senate race, Richard Blumenthal, was also at the dinner.  (These gated communities make for strange neighbors and probably quite a few uncommon bedfellows.)
We are told that the evening raised $1 million dollars for the DNC and was attended by high profile folks, such as Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau and wife, television journalist Jane Pauley, as well as film director Ron Howard.  The Democratic candidate for governor, Dan Malloy, was seated near the front.  So with Blumenthal there, too, the two top Connecticut Democratic hopefuls were present and accounted for.
With this high profile group before him, what did the President choose to say?  After some general comments about the sorry state the country was in when he took office and how he’s got a terrific education Secretary and a great health care reform going, he said this: [Here]
OBAMA: Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get — to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed — oh, well, the public option wasn’t there.  If you get the financial reform bill passed — then, well, I don’t know about this particularly derivatives rule, I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with that.  And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and — (laughter.)  I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.)  We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation.
I’ve quoted these Obama remarks from Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake [Here] who was a leading cheerleader for the public option and obviously felt that Obama’s remarks were a stunning rebuke for her hours of hard work for what she had thought was an Obama goal.  It was certainly an Obama campaign pledge.  [Read Obama’s entire speech from another source. Here.] 
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald [Here] was stung by the same rebuke and printed the above passage, too, but he also added a number of important anti-Obama statements from a number of writers on a number of other topics that ranged from the legal rights of Afghan detainees to Obama’s position on same-sex marriage.
These statements and essays are not solely from “the-glass-is-half-full” liberals, but from a number of writers, such as the NYTimes’s Bob Herbert, the ACLU, HuffPost, The Hill, and WaPo.  All represent cogent disagreements on a range of policy issues and all represent points of view from his Democratic base!!!!.  All of the issues need to be addressed or at least acknowledged by Obama and his WH team.  
Laughing at one’s base, however warmly, is not the way to lead, particularly when there are more than 43 million Americans living in poverty and the country is suffering with a 10% unemployment rate.  
The country needs action, not self-congratulation.  We need F.D.R., not George Gobel. 
But Molly Ivins would do...

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