Thanks to all who wrote in during the last two weeks that the F1200 newsletter was on leave. During that time, our most active members continued to meet with and plan for an upcoming pre-midterm election "mixerpalooza” that we’re planning with five other local Democratic and progressive groups. Separately, we’ve been developing and pitching the Constitutional Amendment Reality TV show, and organizing our crew for an upcoming educational outreach to conservative groups.
Meanwhile, the Newsletter “bleat” was happy to remain muted for the last two weeks as the President stepped forward ever more assertively to see through his own trademark legislation. At a certain point, it was clear that the legislation would go forward on the leadership of the President and the House, rather than on our deathless phonebanking.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported that this more aggressive and assertive President had strong encouragement from Nancy Pelosi who rejected the “kiddie care” (her term) that the President’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, preferred.
While the legislation is hardly the package we had hoped for, even some of the bill’s most ardent progressive critics believe this could be an important start toward real reform.
But there's another upside: For those of us who came to view the dragged-out HCR process as a lower priority to more pressing economic issues, the last two months signaled Obama’s maturation into his Presidential role. With his stellar academic credentials and considerable presence, Barack Obama has had the misfortune, if you will, of success in his adult life followed by more success in his adult life. But like many first-term Presidents, his initial year in office was a different experience.
In the aftermath of the Coakley defeat last January, our young President has enjoyed the golden opportunity afforded only to those who, if you will, screw up. And as those of us outside the bubble of White House advisers have been urging for the past year, the “cool and diffident” approach wasn’t going to cut it in a crisis.
Thus, his more active role since the Coakley loss was instructive on a variety of levels:
1. It showed his base that he wasn’t so out of touch that he wouldn’t fight;
2. It was a necessary and welcome display of authority;
3. It was a necessary lesson for the President himself – as The Economist Magazine pointed out in the wake of the Coakley defeat, the President himself had not made an effective and consistent argument for reform; he had not campaigned sufficiently in its support; and he appeared unwilling to use the powers of his office. In short, he didn’t appear willing to fulfill the responsibilities of a President in a time of crisis.
So for yesterday’s “start”, let’s raise a glass to Nancy Pelosi, and to the President. And, in a nod to the “wisdom of crowds”, why not toast the voters of Massachusetts, who put a stop to the “business as usual” that had been enforced by the President’s inner circle? (That inner circle should be dismissed for failing to communicate to the President that the message was being lost as the rest of us sweated it out at various town halls all summer and fall.)
I have occasionally signed off with “Keep the faith.” Given the past year, I want to be more specific: “Keep the faith in your collective goals” – but continue to hold your elected representatives’ feet to the fire. Lost in the last-minute drama of yesterday’s vote, and in the circus-like right-wing antics that can only be sustained when strong Democratic leadership is missing, is one simple reality: yesterday’s victory should never have taken this long, been this close, or traveled so far from its initial goal.
In the meantime, thanks for hanging in there.