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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/29/12

Are You Suffering From OLS (Obama Letdown Syndrome)?

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Do you feel Angry? Frustrated?  Cynical? Hopeless?  If your politics lean liberal/progressive, you are not alone with these nagging symptoms. You may be suffering from Obama Letdown Syndrome (OLS).

Obama Letdown Syndrome emerged soon after the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.  From the November election until then, progressive Democrats appeared excited, hopeful, even giddy at times. If you fell into that political category, you likely noticed a spring in your step, a smile on your face, a warm feeling that hope and change were imminent.

For eight long years you endured BSS (Bush Shock Syndrome),  an acute discomfort fueled by pre-emptive overseas wars and uncompromising class warfare against America's working class and poor.

But the clouds parted and the sun shone through on the November morning when President Barack Obama won the 2008 election. An Obama presidency was positively exhilarating to Democrats: a young likable minority president promising peace and justice, and a fundamental change in the way Washington does business.  Your fantasies turned to visions of daily perp walks by Bush Administration officials and Wall Street banksters, of rich people paying higher taxes, the opportunity for overdue peace dividends, and all kinds of  exciting liberal and progressive scenarios.


And then something unexpected happened.  Obama Letdown Syndrome broke out within days after the president moved into the White House. The first symptoms flared up when President Obama picked many questionable appointees for key economic and defense posts. It turned out that many of the same people from the Bush Adminstration who played important roles in the collapse of the world economy and the failed wars and foreign occupations were hired back. Familiar names like Summers, Geithner, Gates and Petraeus jumped aboard the Obama train, causing great worry to supporters expecting real change in government.

Progressives began to suffer intense abdominal pain when it became apparent President Obama not only wasn't going to suggest single-payer health care reform, he wasn't even going to fight for a public option. He seemed more interested in keeping the insurance and pharmaceutical companies happy than in meaningful reform.

Like many progressive Democrats, you slept fitfully when Bush Administration torturers were let off the hook, when the Patriot Act was extended, when Wall Street criminals enjoyed their usual obscene bonuses, and when Bush's tax cuts for the rich were extended. You no doubt developed throbbing OLS headaches when the President began caving in to Republican leaders in Congress, often before negotiations even started. He expanded the Afghanistan War, failed to close Guantanamo Bay, increased drone strikes in more countries, ignored constitutionally mandated civil liberties, and supported offshore oil drilling and nuclear power plants, giving only lip service to concerns about climate change.

Sometimes you have OLS briefly go into remission whenever the President gives one of his stirring speeches, and you tell yourself, now he's starting to get it.  But invariably the symptoms return with a vengeance when his actions once again fail to live up to his rhetoric.

OLS turns chronic when the realization strikes your brain: Barack Obama is not a courageous fighter for progressive causes. It worsens when you figure out he is just one more in a line of Democratic Party presidents and politicians whose paramount goal is to get elected and stay in power.  If you were expecting him to wage war against wealthy corporate interests and heartless Republicans, and fight to restore the American Dream".well, you should know by now it isn't going to happen.

What is the prognosis for Obama Letdown Syndrome? Sadly, no cure is on the horizon. His populist rhetoric will gin up as the next election draws nearer, but the results, win or lose, will undoubtably disappoint you. When the dust settles after November, 2012, the real power in America will still reside in the boardrooms of giant multi-national corporations and in the offshore accounts of multi-millionaires and billionaires. A cure could conceivably come in the form of an uprising among the 99 Percent, an Occupy America movement that can't be ignored by the owners of America, but that is a long shot.

It is more likely OLS will continue (perhaps under a different name). If radical change does not come, American liberals/progressives will have to learn to live with this debilitating infliction--and hope it will be covered under what's left of ObamaCare.

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Arlen is a writer/blogger living in Monterey, CA. His political blog is He also wrote a quotation quiz "What's Your QQ?" at the Monterey Herald for 9 years. see

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