Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

My road to becoming one of your supporters was a long one. I was born a Democrat but became disillusioned with Clinton's election. I don't remember why, but I just didn't feel that he was looking out for my interests. In fact, I came to the conclusion that, no matter the party, all politicians would look out for monied interests first and never the common good. With that, my politics took a hard Left, and I didn't vote for years.

That changed in 2004, when I wanted to record my protest against the Iraq war and, registering with the DC Statehood Party, voted for John Kerry. However, last year, having moved to Maryland, I actually registered as a Democrat for their closed primary to vote for you.

I guess I "drank the Obama Aid." I wanted to believe in the "hope" and "change" you constantly spoke of. I knew the grave crises our country faces, and I truly believed that you were the agent of change you presented yourself to be. But now I'm realizing that yours were simply words, and I'm beginning to regret having ever voted for you. And, judging from conversations I'm having and the blogosphere, I don't think I am alone.

We were willing to give you a lot of leeway because you are facing challenges no other President has ever faced. Yet and still, we have stomached disappointment after disappointment these past seven months.

The bank bailout didn't happen on your watch--though you were a strong advocate on the campaign trail. We don't blame you for that. But what you're doing with it now is truly maddening. We tax payers are paying the piper, but you refuse to call the tune. You're not really calling for tougher regulations. Mortgages are not being lowered and restructured and folks are still being foreclosed upon. Bankers are getting back into mortgage-backed securities. And not only has no one been prosecuted nor fired, but they are also giving themselves outrageous bonuses with our tax dollars!

You've spent billions to save GM and Chrysler. Yet, you haven't explained why we Americans, who don't want to buy their cars, want to purchase their stock.

Anti-war activists voted for you because of your opposition to the Iraq war. But now, you're dragging your feet getting out of there (which makes sense) while ramping up operations in Afghanistan (which doesn't).

You're now fighting your own Attorney General's investigations into the torture allegations. And you, the President of the United States of America, the Constitutional scholar, are using the Nuremberg Defense ("They were just doing their jobs"), flying the face of international and American law, to protect torturers.

Environmentalists supported you only to discover that you plan to clean up fewer Super Fund sites than the Bush administration.

Before you supported DC's receiving a representative in Congress. Now you're mum.

And the gay community is rightfully up in arms over your betrayals. Not only do you not support marriage equality, but you've completely back-pedalled on Don't Ask Don't Tell.

We, your supporters, your base, have swallowed entire bottles of bitter pills these past seven months. But we pumped our stomachs quietly because we knew you were saving all that "political capital" for the big fight: health care.

But you really aren't. Are you?

While your supporters were praying for a single-payer system, you were calling Aetna's CEO, Ronald Williams "friend" and shaking hands with Cigna's Edward Hanway. We hear Billy Tauzin bragging that you're making secret deals with Pharma to not negotiate drug pricing. And before you could say, "pre-existing condition," single-payer was off the table.

We then set our hopes on a public option, but Secretary Sibelius squashed that. The public option is no longer an "essential option."

Instead, we hear such canards as "mandates," where we'll be forced to buy insurance but our insurers will not be capped. They can continue to charge exorbitant rates, ration our care, and drive us into bankruptcy, and we'll be forced to keep paying them for the privilege.

Then you spout on about "co-ops." Sure, they've only worked in Minneapolis and Seattle, but if we spend $6 billion to make them nationwide, they will "introduce" a non-profit provider and magically reduce medical costs. Blue Cross is non-profit in many states and Kaiser is non-profit nationwide. They haven't driven down costs. Why would these co-ops?

And why are we hearing about these? In the name of "bi-partisanship"?

You want to compromise in order to get Republican votes? Isn't Jim DeMint, the one who says health care will be your "Waterloo," a Republican? Michele Bachmann, who said they need to "slit their wrists" to insure reform won't pass, is a Republican, too, right? And isn't Mike Enzi, the senator giddy over the things he's getting taken out of the health care bill ... what party does he belong to?

How does one exactly compromise with the same people who are determined to see you fail?

Is it by passing a health "reform" bill that doesn't reform anything and trumpeting it like you actually did something? Will you be like Bill Clinton, hailing "his" (Republicans') welfare reform? Talking about how x people are now off of welfare, acting as though they're now gainfully employed, when really x people are off welfare because you kicked them off of welfare?

Well, the health care crisis is too grave--with its already exorbitant costs and the Baby Boomers hitting their 60s. We don't want that kind of "reform" now. We don't want a Clintonian Republican-in-Democrat-Clothing "victory." We rejected the Clinton legacy during last year's primaries. We denounced Republican policy in '06 and '08. If you give us those, if you present us with anything less than the public option, you will have failed.

This will, in fact, be your Waterloo. The Republicans will be emboldened and ride roughshod over your every subsequent proposal, knowing they can defeat it. The Blue Dogs will run for cover and contemplate switching parties. The Liberals will be so disgusted, they'll no longer listen to you. And your base will forever regret their mistake in voting for you. You will become the most ineffectual one-term president in US history.

And you will have deserved it. You were elected with 53 percent of the vote. You have a 20-seat advantage in the Senate and a 60-seat one in the House. Yes, some polls say that support for the public option has dipped from 62 to 53 percent. However, the AARP recently released a poll saying almost 80 percent of Americans favor some form of public option; they just don't know what form it should take. In the face of those numbers, you if you fail, you will absolutely prove that you don't even deserve the one term you've been given. Presidents have gone to war with less support.

Your failure will prove that you simply do not possess the courage to occupy the position you're currently holding. Lincoln had the courage to wage total war against the South. Truman desegregated the armed forces in the face of massive opposition. LBJ lost his party the South to pass Civil Rights legislation. Even W. had the temerity to "cherry-pick his facts" to invade Iraq.

But you are buckling before loud-mouthed, Tea Party opposition, who never has and never will vote for you. You cower before Republicans who don't have the power to stop you. You cringe before Blue Dogs who clearly don't know which party they belong to. Worst of all, you are eschewing popular support and the common good to appease the monied interests of the insurers, AMA, and Pharma. The hell with the millions of Americans being bankrupted, denied care, and denying themselves care as long as Ronald Williams, Edward Hanway, and Billy Tauzin are happy?!

However, if I am wrong and you actually do have the courage, then get out there and fight for the public option. Explain to the people what it will do for them, for others, what it will cost, and how long it will take to fully implement. Tell us the truth. Preach to us about the moral and fiscal imperative of health care reform.

Say, yes, some insurers may go out of business with the increased competition. But those who survive and the new insurers who spring up will be more efficient and more responsive to our needs. to help allay their fears, throw the Republicans a bone and allow health care portability and make insurance regulation national instead of making them comply with each state's different regulations. Tell them that that will only increase competition and drive down costs.

Ignore the Tea Party. They'll never vote for you. They are not your base. Forget the Republicans. If they're not on board, throw them into the Boston Harbor. They will suffer for not voting for the public option in subsequent elections.

Throw in Max Baucus while you're at it. He's in the insurers' pocket and will only obstruct all efforts. And get these Blue Dogs in line. Rahm Emmanuel brought them into the world, and he can take them out. Remind them that if they want to be Democrats, they need to vote Democrat.

But, most importantly, get ... the ... public ... option ... passed!

If you don't, you will prove yourself too weak to hold the Oval Office. You will have abandoned your voters. You will prove to be yet another politician who only cares about his powerful campaign contributors. Who cares not one whit about the common good. You will tragically pave the way for Mitt Romney in '12.

And we will not be sorry to see you go.

Bill Campbell


Alisande said...

Well said, Bill!

Politicians are pretty much all the same, though, and he was by far the lesser of two evils.

Sandy Asirvatham said...


Paula said...

Be sure to tell him to read the Health Stories package on your blog.
I hope you're going to email this to him. I wouldn't wait for him to find your blog.

btchakir said...

You've summed it up REALLY well, Bill. Now I hope he reads it.

Tengrain said...

Well said, and so necessary to say, too.



boukman70 said...

Well, not like he'll read it, but Paula made me email this "open letter" to the White House. It exceeded their word count. So, I gave them the link.

I guess that counts as civic duty, right?

willis said...

wow......don't know what else to say. I'll be back to read it again because great thoughts like these never soak in with me on the first pass. Thanks Bill!

Cujo359 said...

I've never trusted Barack Obama. He always struck me as the con artist he's turning out to be.

In regards to that first comment, politicians aren't all alike. Many are exactly what they appear, good or bad. Compare words to actions, and you'll avoid the next Obama. Stay on the lazy course of assuming they're all the same, and the bad ones will win.