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President Obama and the Democratic base:

Is there method to his madness?

Original post date 12-31-09


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I and many others who voted for him in the 2008 election have found ourselves disappointed, frustrated, and appalled by Obama's apparent unwillingness to bring much actual change to America-- which is what we all thought he was promising during the campaign.

Instead, it could be argued that Obama has kept in place much of Bush's awful policies, and continues to defend many of them against court challenges, to this day. Plus, he seems to have been practically criminally negligent in regards to influencing the recent Congressional debates on healthcare reform-- at least so far as supporting a public option or Medicare buy-in for citizens, or significantly lowering the costs of premiums or drugs for the majority of us are concerned.

Yes, I think it would be fair to say that a great many of us aren't merely disillusioned with Obama-- but pissed at him.

But maybe there's a method to Obama's madness.

For it's usually smart to lower the expectations others have of you as much as possible; that way when you surpass them, you look good. If you don't surpass them, well, you already had people not expecting too much. I've often done this myself with family, friends, job bosses, customers, etc.

So maybe Obama's been purposely sticking our noses into his pseudo-Republican stool-like behavior now, in the whole damn first year after his election, in order to establish a really low basement floor of expectations from the Democratic base. Then, in the second year he figures to surprise and please us by moving at least a little to the left (from the decidedly conservative position he currently occupies, favoring big business over all else). Then in the 3rd year, he'll go still more left; and in the 4th year, more leftwards than ever before (maybe even enough to match the nail on FDR's dead pinky finger). Thereby recharging our enthusiasm for him and his policies towards the end of his first term-- and seeking to emphasize much more robustly his differences with Republicans-- just in time for the election.

This seems to be the only way I can sensibly explain his behavior to this point. For otherwise you'd have to conclude he's either lost his mind, or wasn't nearly so smart as we thought when we voted for him. Because if he continues on in his present course without change (a pun that works here), he'll have no chance at all in the next election-- and might even have the nomination taken away from him by a Democratic challenger (thereby establishing another historic Presidential first, perhaps).

Indeed, I see hints that the worst aspects of the present healthcare reform bill might be gradually addressed a piece at a time over the next several years, in some manner which will avoid many of the obstacles Republicans were able to throw into the original deliberations. Plus, the Republicans have screamed all along that they were afraid Obama might do just this.

So maybe there's hope yet for those of us wanting to see real change, as opposed to mere smoke and mirrors inadequately shielding an apparent extension of past Bush policies in most areas of government. Maybe Obama's showing us the worst possible scenario now, in order to better leverage our appreciation and enthusiasm later, when he (and the Democratic Congress) needs it most: the next Presidential election.

However, that still leaves lots of lesser Democratic Congress folk in dire straits in 2010: unless Obama can somehow make it look like they are responsible for his leftward shift in 2010-- and those Congress folk and Obama provide some welcome actions of some sort for the benefit of the base. But just what those actions might be, I don't know. Unless it's tax increases on the rich, plus some significant defense cuts...but they'd have to handle it in some way so as to give the GOP as little ammo as possible for attacks...like billing it as cutting the deficit maybe? But all that's another story.

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