Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
-- William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"
Another day, another indication that there is no apparent liberal cause or principle for which Obama will fight. Peter Daou:
First, some context: I’ve been insistent that the fundamental problem for President Obama and Democratic leaders is a lack of moral authority, a pervasive sense among the electorate that they don’t have the courage of their convictions:
Over the course of two years, President Obama and the Democratic Party achieved a remarkable feat: they passed significant, in some cases historic, legislation, yet managed not to tell the America public what they stood for and why they stood for it.
What’s worse, elected to be the anti-Bush, Barack Obama took page after page from the Bush playbook, on war, civil liberties, gay rights, executive power and women’s reproductive rights, among several other things. A perfect example is the shameful spiking of the BP spill, a craven political ploy that backfired terribly: as Democrats were getting trounced at the polls, BP was reporting a return to profitability.
No one can deny that the Obama White House and Democratic leadership racked up important accomplishments during the past two years, but voters don’t care what you do if they think you don’t stand for anything.
I keep hearing the retort that it’s all about jobs, that if the unemployment rate were 6%, Obama would be riding high and none of this would be an issue. I don’t buy it.
All things being equal, when you cede your moral authority, when you telegraph to the public that you won’t stand your ground in defense of your principles, when you allow your opponent to step into the vacuum and frame your actions for you, you lose the connection to the people, you squander the ability to explain your actions, to buy time when things are going poorly, to earn trust during hard times.
Drew Westen, author of "The Political Brain" and professor of psychology at Emory University, wrote this a year ago:
Leadership means heading into the eye of the storm and bringing the vessel of state home safely, not going as far inland as you can because it’s uncomfortable on the high seas. This president has a particular aversion to battling back gusting winds from his starboard side (the right, for the nautically challenged) and tends to give in to them. He just can’t tolerate conflict, and the result is that he refuses to lead.
We have seen the same pattern of pretty speeches followed by empty exhortations on issue after issue. The president has, on more than one occasion, gone to Wall Street or called in its titans (who have often just ignored him and failed to show up) to exhort them to be nice to the people they’re foreclosing at record rates, yet he has done virtually nothing for those people. His key program for preventing foreclosures is helping 4 percent of those “lucky” enough to get into it, not the 75 percent he promised, and many of the others are having their homes auctioned out from right under them because of some provisions in the fine print. One in four homeowners is under water and one in six is in danger of foreclosure. Why we’re giving money to banks instead of two-year loans — using the model of student loans — to homeowners to pay their mortgages (on which they don’t have to pay interest or principal for two years, while requiring their banks to renegotiate their interest rates in return for saving the banks from “toxic assets”) is something the average person doesn’t understand.
And frankly, I don’t understand it, either. I thought I voted Democratic in the last election.
And so we get to the crux of the matter: If Republican leaders stand for Republican policies, and President Obama, our Democratic leader, sees his job as embracing those positions (so no one gets angry at him), exactly who stands for Democratic values in the Democratic leadership? The Blue Dogs get their way far too often, but the Progressive Caucus doesn't get much help.
Nancy Pelosi is about the only one who consistently stands up for Democratic values, despite being the target of a steady stream of right-wing abuse -- not to mention the latest pet project of Chris Matthews, who's seemed to make it his personal mission to keep her out of the leadership. If she loses the leadership fight, we won't even have her.
Yoo hoo, Mr. President? How about those of us who voted Democratic?
When you feel as though you have no representation, why vote? It wasn't liberal bloggers suppressing the turnout -- it was the Obama administration's reluctance to fight for working people. How many times have we heard this president say he "opposes" something -- and then turn around and endorse it?
Sitting out an election is a mortal sin in my family, yet my son admitted he didn't vote this time around.
"I tried to talk myself into it, but why bother? I don't see any real difference anymore. All that money for bankers, but not to help people out of work," he told me. He works in retail: "No one has any money, no one's spending and I'll be really surprised if I still have a job a year from now."
It's the first election my 34-year-old son has ever missed. If ever there was a sign that's something wrong, that's it.