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Aiding and abetting the enemy: a response to Hendrik Hertzberg

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In a recent Talk of the Town, The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg wrote
And in the nether reaches of the left blogosphere the epithets flew. Obama is a "sellout." He's a "liar." He's a "Judas," a "fraud," a "corrupt fool." He's a "Liebermanite." (Ouch!)
Was he referring to sites like OpEdNews? Sure seems that way.

The point of Hertzberg's essay was to suggest that the "system" is to blame for Obama and the Democrats' failure to pass substantial health care reform. Hertzberg's reasoning is flawed.

The first part of this paragraph from Hertzberg is spot on:
The left-wing critics are right about the conspicuous flaws of the pending health-care reform--its lack of even a weak "public option," its too meagre subsidies, its windfalls for Big Pharma, its capitulation on abortion coverage, its reliance on private insurance. And there are surely senators and representatives whose motives are base or, broadly speaking, corrupt. But it is nonsense to attribute the less than fully satisfactory result to the alleged perfidy of the President or "the Democrats." The critics' indignation would be better directed at what an earlier generation of malcontents called "the system"--starting, perhaps, with the Senate's filibuster rule, an inanimate object if there ever was one.
The second half is odd. The President is the one who did a backroom deal with Big Pharma. The President is the one who failed to lead (allowing Congress too much freedom to craft a bill). The President is the one who continued Bush's bailouts of Wall Street and who escalated the crippling war in Afghanistan, thereby alienating and disheartening the Democratic base. And plenty of Democrats really are corrupt -- particularly, the Blue Dogs. Hertzberg admits as much in the first half of the paragraph!

Moreover, the President is also the one who chose to look "forwards, not backwards" with regard to prosecuting Bush-era crimes, thereby handing the GOP a great victory which has prevented the public from learning about the depths of corruption and immorality to which the Republicans descended over the last decade.

Notice that I say "the Republicans" and not "Bush Administration". The entire conservative/corporatist movement is to blame for the disasters that occurred. Bush, Cheney, and their immediate cohorts just rode the wave. They themselves are not only ones responsible. Prosecution for crimes such as torture, war crimes, corruption, and politicization of the Justice Department would have set the record straight.

The mainstream news media has been in a state of decline for years, and the public is now confused about the truth. Voters in Massachusetts apparently believed the conservative talking points about Obama and "Big Government" being to blame for the deficits and the recession. Well, no wonder! Obama's incoherent policy of bipartisanship has enabled to Republicans to escape accountability for their errors and to achieve a rebound. Obama is to blame for the loss in Massachusetts.


By failing to turn decisively against the GOP, Obama and the Democratic leadership (Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers, in particular) have aided and abetted their enemies. This point was made in pieces like Rahm Emanuel: We're Not Re-Litigating the Past, How America's Demented Politics Let the GOP Off the Hook for Their Giant Mess and, earlier, Failure to prosecute: why Obama is having trouble passing health care reform

The Republicans continue to do all within their power to thwart Obama's agenda. In response, Obama compromises again and again and reaches out to them. He's getting steamrolled.

In his recent State of the Union speech, Obama took some baby steps towards being more aggressive. But he still wants to work with the Republicans.

Until Obama and the Dems make a clear break with the past, by prosecuting crimes and by telling Americans the whole truth about what's been happening, they're going to continue to lose.

But, as I said, Obama is the one who chose to broker a corrupt deal with Big Pharma. He's the one who chose to continue the Bush bailouts. He's the one who chose to escalate the war in Afghanistan. He's the one who chose to surround himself with Bush era staffers and Clintonite corporatists. He's the one who chose not to lead decisively on health care. And finally, he's the one who chose to hide the truth about the Republicans from the American public.

So, Mr. Hertzberg, blaming the "system" doesn't go far enough. There's a lot of blame to go around. Certainly, the conservative movement deserves the most blame. But the Democratic leadership and President Obama share blame. They had a chance to achieve reform. The evidence suggests they're either stupid or not interested in real reform, or both.

 

http://waliberals.org

DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See http://WALiberals.org and http://TruthSite.org for my writing, my (more...)
 
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Thanks for sharing this. It's good to see this kin... by Roger Shuler on Friday, Feb 12, 2010 at 11:04:18 AM