The Great Disappointment


Barack Obama is approaching one year in office, and I’ll be blunt: Huge disappointment.


My conservative friends predicted this, I suppose, and maybe they’re right. I’ve been happy with some of the things he’s done (primarily in the area if civil liberties) and deeply perplexed by others (not moving faster on Gitmo; ignoring gay rights, Afghanistan troop levels). He ran on some major issues, and he’s ignored most of those.

Yet it is tonight, as I sit here writing this, that my disappointment has turned to disgust. And it’s all because of health care.

If all goes along as expected, Barack Obama will eventually sign into law a health care bill that doesn’t do shit. I don’t like cursing on this blog, but I want my anger to bloom in full color. Barack Obama is about to sign a health care bill that sucks ass and doesn’t do shit.

Remember the public option? The thing that Obama based a good chunk of his campaign upon? Well, it’s gone. Farewell, adios. We Democrats can blame Joe Lieberman all we want (and I have—he’s the biggest snake in a lair layered with them) on this, but that’s letting our president off waaaaaaay too easily. Truth is, Obama talked a big game about the public option, then all but dumped the idea as soon as he won the election. Seemingly overnight it went from imperative to important to sorta cool to—poof! Gone. Instead, the new bill will force all Americans to purchase insurance from private companies at insane costs. And while (Good news!) companies can no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, they can (Very, very, very, very bad news!) charge people with pre-existing conditions as much as they want. Literally, they can invent a price, then hide behind, “Well, we offered coverage …”

Am I mad at the Republicans? Of course I am. Incensed. Across the board, they decided to universally oppose everything the president brought to the table; to make this—in Jim DeMint’s words—his Waterloo. They showed no interest in finding a way to offer health insurance to all Americans; they used terms like “death panels” and “taking away grannie’s rights” to scare off millions of citizens. Their principled stands against health-care reform lacked all principle—make no mistake about it … this was about winning future elections and damaging a president. Period.

And yet, I don’t care. I really don’t. Because we have a Democratic president with an enormous majority in the House and Senate. He had the chance to do this, sans Republicans; to use all that political capital and kick ass. Truth be told, he was blessed with the great opportunity to follow the Bush-Cheney approach to perfection: Pick your important issues and ram ’em down your opponent’s throats. Believe me, I detest Bush and loathe Cheney. But in this area, they were right. The Democrats weren’t going to negotiate with Bush on things like wiretapping, so the White House said, “Fuck it—we’re the powers that be, and this is important. We’ll go alone if we have to—and just try and stop us.”

Obama, however, doesn’t have that in him. He’s a negotiator; a deal maker. He wants to please everyone, even if we wind up with a diluted puddle of crud that tastes like moldy Tang. (If life were just, he would tell Joe Lieberman to f••• off. “You don’t wanna support this bill, in your liberal state of Connecticut? Fine. But I will make certain you never win another election. Ever.”) I had such high hopes for this bill; for people across the nation finally being able to seek medical help, income be damned. I also had such high hopes for Barack Obama, a man with the gift of eloquence and the curse of wimpiness.

In 2008, I voted for a man who was primed to lead.

In 2009, I am led by a man all too willing to follow.

You know what hurts the most? I love politics. Looove politics. Anyone who reads this blog knows it. But I can’t keep having my heart broken. Obama’s inauguration was one of the brightest moments of my life. Not merely because we had a Democrat, or because Bush was leaving, or because he was African-American. No, it’s because he seemed … different. Special. Genuinely prepared to lead. But as Keith Olbermann spelled out tonight in this must-watch dismissal of the president, politicians are politicians are politicians. Every so often someone unique comes along–a John Anderson; a Ross Perot; a Dennis Kucinich; a Ron Paul—and the establishment finds a way to laugh him off the stage; to dismiss him as too crazy; too nutty; too out there.

So what are we left with?

Jack shit.

24 thoughts on “The Great Disappointment”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I’m 24 and Obama was the first political candidate that I was genuinely excited about. Turns out, he’s just like the rest of them.

    Why am I going to vote again in my state where the winner is predetermined?

  2. Agree, Jeff. Obama has been a gutless, spineless bowl of jello , initially in the “spirit of bipartisanship” and God only knows why now, as the Repubs have continually spit in his face at every opportunity. He just takes it and says “Sir, may I have another.” I feel this was our last chance to save the best parts of our country, and this chance is in the process of being squandered. Right now, I feel total disgust for our elected representatives. Anyone who actually believes our congressmen, senators, and president are currently doing the work of the people is an idiot.

  3. I’m in the same boat as Joe. I’m not a gigantic Democrat, I voted for Bush in 04 (sorry), but I was really caught up in Obama. He felt like he was my candidate. My friends and I even volunteered some. I did it for the shirt, but I still did it. I’m disappointed that things have turned out this way. He pretty much gave a Bush speech last time out, and he hasn’t changed things much. Health care was the issue I really got behind, and he neglected all his principals on it like you mentioned. Great article Jeff, you are one of my favorite writers.

  4. Sorry, one other thought. To the self-proclaimed conservatives, teabaggers, independents, etc. who will now gleefully gloat-don’t bother. It’s your people who lit the fuse to blow up this country.

  5. Grow up. I am so sick and tired of hearing about how Bush and Cheney got things done.

    They got tax cuts and war resolutions, which only an idiot with a career death wish filibusters.

    The two major things they accomplished were the Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind.

    The Patriot Act was passed while the Twin Towers still smoldered and Bush’s approval rating was above 75 percent. NCLB had Ted Kennedy on board.

    Bush wanted to privatize Social Security and the Dems blocked him, using many of the same threats that Repubs have now. Can you imagine what would have happened had Social Security money been in the stock market around September 2008?

    The “liberal” media was all too happy to let the “death panel” thing take hold, because most reporters want to see Sarah Palin naked and will follow whatever she says. So, blame your fellows, Jeff.

    The second the GOP decided they were going to filibuster anything, Obama and Reid had to get 60 votes. That’s the way it is, kids.

    And to do that, they had to bend. And they knew it all along, which is why you even heard of a public option. They needed something to give up.

    Progressives need to learn that they aren’t the only ones who think they are right. And people don’t just agree they are wrong because you stamp your feet and pout.

    Grow up. This is big boy politics and Obama has gotten further than anyone ever has.

    And don’t ever bring Olbermann again. If you doubled his salary and contract, he’d gleefully go to Fox News and spout the other side.

  6. The TARP and stimulus plan–as flawed as they were–almost definitely saved the economy, while investing lots of dollars on green technology which will jump start a brand new industry. He’s de-emphasizing the war on Iraq, he’s trying to close Guantonamo, he helped pass a hate crimes bill (remember the deeply homophobic, maliciously titled Defense of Marriage bill that Clinton signed?), and he has helped craft nuclear nonproliferation agreements with Russia-while enlisting their aid against Iraq. Meanwhile, he’s done his best to ease the world’s antipathy toward us which will pay off for generations.

    So there’s all that.
    On the health care front, this bill is better (maybe a little bit better, but better) than nothing and while he should have been more involved in steering a better bill from the start, that sort of hands-on bill doomed Clinton’s efforts. Again, I think he could have been savvier politically in trying to get the public option passed, but I don’t think it would have made a difference. It’s hard to get expand healthcare in this deeply paranoid country. Clinton never got this far; not even close.


    Politico has a great piece too. There were 13 — THIRTEEN — Dem senators expressing “deep reservations” the Medicare buy-in, inclduing Al Franken and Russ Feingold.

    If all 13 had been against it, not only do you not have 60 votes, you don’t have 50.

    Doctors and hospitals were set to open fire on the plan, and Obama needs them badly.

    This isn’t going to get fixed in a day, nor with a single bill.

    Again, GROW UP.

  8. Uh, how about Obama’s blind refusal to do anything about malpractice reform? Because that’s what made this country great, lawyers running rampant. What a joke. That’s when I knew he was just another politican…

  9. I never thought I’d see the day. But it is here in black and white. Unfortunatly, it is disapointing. I for one, am tired of the lies, from all parties. We do however, need to keep voting and keep researching. Hopefully we’ll get it right one of theses days. But hold on boys, this ride isn’t over yet.

  10. Obama has never led anything in his life except his own campaigns. It wasn’t just conservatives who pointed this out, it was other Democrats too before Obama won the nomination. Obama can sell t-shirts, but not much else.

  11. Also, Jeff, give it a rest with the “the Republicans opposed everything Obama brought to the table” shtick. Everything he brought to the table ran counter to their political beliefs and ethics – of course they opposed it. Likewise, the Democrats opposed (quashed, really) all of the measures that Republicans suggested, even if Obama paid lip service to them in his press conferences, such as tort reform, easing of state regulation monopolies, etc.

  12. Jeff, you are correct that Obama is the real disappointment, rather than Harry Reid or Lieberman (both of whom I was never that ‘appointed’ with in the first place). I always knew Obama was a centrist Democrat in the Hillary Clinton mold (and if Hillary was president now, I don’t think the health care bill would end up being any better than it’s going to be now, either). Politicians have never been my heroes, because they’ll always, to a man or woman, let you down in the end. But our government will ultimately have to answer for the continuing decline of the republic.

  13. Ugh. I really didn’t have time for this today, but a friend of mine pointed me to your blog. I read through, and commented on a few already, but this one is just asinine.

    First of all, you referencing Keith Olberman, is like a Republican referencing Sean Hannity. If you want to be taken serious, you should never mention Olberman again.

    I don’t know you. I’ll start there. I don’t know what you do for a living, and I don’t know your life situation or background. However, why on earth should the government provide yet ANOTHER health care program? They already have Medicaid and Medicare. Some states have their own programs such as MediCal in California, and believe it or not, they are ALL GOING BROKE. Doctors are complaining about the system(s), how they’re not able to give the care needed to patients, how services are going unpaid for, etc. Why would ANOTHER health care program be any different?

    Take a look at this from the doctor’s point of view. A large portion of them have already made it clear that they will leave their profession and/or close their practice if this bill goes through. Prospective medical students will choose not to go to school because they can’t justify the cost benefit at a lower salary rate.

    Have you even considered tort reform? This bill considered it… and made it a point to tell states that IF they draft legislation capping medical malpractice lawsuits they will NOT be eligible for federal funds! ONE of the reason health care costs have skyrocketed is the amount of insurance doctor’s have to care because everyone is lawsuit happy and trying to get rich quick. Let’s get that under control and then we can make progress.

    Lastly, I have CHOSE to live the last five years without health insurance. I carry major medical in the event that something drastic were to ever happen, but that’s it. Believe or not, you can actually go into a doctor’s office and get treated and use a thing called… MONEY… to pay for your services. It’s a noble concept, but they will actual accept it. I take care of myself, I try to eat right, I work out, I take preventative measures against illnesses, and I’ve been just fine. Let’s talk personal responsibility, then we can talk health care reform.

  14. What exactly are you wanting, Jeff?

    Reconciliation? OK, but that’s the nuclear bomb. You’ll get a public option, but you’ll get nothing else. Even quite a few Dems are uncomfortable with that, because they are smart enough to realize they won’t always have the Senate.

    I am so very sick of the perfect slamming down the good.

  15. Here is my impersonation of Jeff and other progressives who are pouting now:

    “I wanted single-payer with chocolate syrup!”

    “Obama was supposed to be the mix of Dumbledore and Jesus. How come he can’t fix this?”


  16. i dont have time to refute all of points that jim brown said he didnt have time to mention but did anyways, but i do have time to say that he is confused on many of his points and wishes he is able to one day reevaluate his warped perspective. esp the one about doctors leaving the medical field if the bill goes through. that sounds like it comes straight from glenn becks mouth.

  17. Jason,

    There are counties in this country — I’m from Illinois — that literally have no OB/GYN services because doctors can’t afford to be in business.

    I personally have mixed feelings, because if a doctor’s negligence or incompetence injured my baby or my wife, I don’t actually know if there is a dollar figure I wouldn’t sue for.

    On the other hand, I think it is a real issue.

  18. Classicist…I’d like to meet you one day. Just so I could punch the smug look off your face.

    I’m not a violent person, but you just rub me the wrong way.

    You are the kind of guy that complains about illegal immigrants while “employing” a few Mexican house workers looking for a Visa.

    The next intelligent comment you make will be your first, regardless of what you tell yourself.

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