Manipulating Obama: Moving Left

obama pensive

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The reelection bid of President Barack Obama has posed some interesting dilemmas for those who helped push the change agenda.

The change agenda has evolved into a manipulation agenda, whereby everybody has a new demand for the President.

The new demand is an extension of the old demands of classic “stakeholder” politics; what did the President promise versus what did the President deliver on, with a little “what have you done for me lately” added in.

They represent the segmented politics that either want to continue the change that pushes Obama back in, or be the change that pushes him out.

President Obama cannot escape the realities of voter dissatisfaction around jobs, foreclosures and the economy, nor can he rest his hat on fixing things he had no control over such as the economic collapse, and natural or man-made disasters.

He did catch and kill Osama Bin Laden, and exposed the complicit politics of Pakistan in harboring terrorists, but that has largely been downplayed as a segue to a conversation about not ending the war(s).

At the end of the day, Obama is going to have to look in the faces of his various bases, not those that voted for him because they didn’t have a better choice (they are already gone), but those who really believed in what he was trying to do.

Complicating Obama’s re-election will be those “all or none” manipulators who got more out of this President than they would have gotten out of any other President, but still feel he hasn’t “done enough” or hasn’t done what he promised.

At the front of the line, of course, are the new “Peaceniks,” those who wanted the United States out of Iraq and Afghanistan the day after he was elected. Wars, like most everything else in politics, are engineered. They don’t just “start,” so they’re not going to just “stop.”

Just as the U.S. was engineered into these wars, we’ll have to engineer our way out of these wars. The manipulation here is that the Peaceniks want to say Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan, when the de-escalation of the war in Iraq, and a shifted focus on Afghanistan was what nearly everybody was calling for three years ago. Now that Osama Bin Laden has been caught and killed, we’re supposed to just turn around and come on home. The demand will be unreasonable, but what can another President promise?

Obama is in the same situation with the universal health care “purists.” Passing the first universal health care initiative in 100 years was an accomplishment that has become a curse, largely because of the refusal of all sides to accept that this so-called “Obamacare” was just an incremental step on the long road to comprehensive, quality health care in the United States.

Instead, you have half the nation trying to repeal it, or the other half complaining that it wasn’t what they advocated. To suggest that “nothing at all” was better than “something to start with” is a manipulation of the President’s incremental intent, counterintuitive to Congress’s incremental policy approach and undermines the ultimate victory in the long fight for comprehensive health care reform.


  1. says

    Congress. Congress. Congress. I want everyone to STFU about Obama. It’s Obama this and Obama that and Obama all the time. Congress, Congress, Congress. It’s the opposite of progress and we have an opportunity to make Congress more progressive in2012. But what are we talking about? Obama. The right has made it all about him; too many “progressives” have helped them make it all about effing Obama. Enough already.

    Instead of another vanity candidate, I’d like to see progressives fight hard and win seats in Congress. I’d like them to run for school board and dogcatcher and mayor and county commissioner. There are only about a million ways regressive government is screwing up America, and it’s high time progressives stopped thinking a man is a movement. That was never true. The more we focus on that, the more the regressives win.

  2. Justin Serulneck says

    I love how the author of this article uses the all encompassing term “peaceniks” for those who stand for a greater sense of morality. He is simply incorrect when he says everyone was pushing for Afghanistan at the time of Obama’s election. McCain was after Iran, which would have been worse, but what evidence suggests the populace was for either Iraq or Afghanistan? Certainly those in power, but no, not the populace.

    And the author’s justifications, platitudes. We should just be complacent with whatever we’re given, and quiet our mouths. Why? Because our alternatives are lunatics? I couldn’t imagine a weaker negotiating tactic. It is the “reasonability” of political analysts like this that lead to the slow but sure erosion of our economic, human, and environmental rights.

    What’s neglected in the arguments was the free capital given to the banks. There were no limitations specifying that the capital be used for loaning to small businesses. Obama plain and simple served the bankers interests and the war mongers’ interests. War is not as complicated as it is painted. You put the troops on a plane, leave town, and move onward.

    Further, Obama gave approximately $800 billion in tax breaks to the wealth class in exhange for approximately $200 billion of continued benefits for the lower class, with no added benefits.

    Obama has not given progressives a real voice. He’s “listened” then gone and done whatever high Capital demands. Simple example, where was his support for Van Jones when right wing media attacks progressed? Instead Obama has chosen to support himself with advisors who represent capital interests, executives of Goldman Sachs on the financials and CEO of General Electric on jobs – Goldman Sachs, a bank that pushed for and kowingly profited from the deregulation which caused this distaster, and General Electric, which layed off tens of thousands of workers, choosing to outsource abroad, increasing unemployment.

    The truth of the matter is that Progressives will have to hold Obama to higher standards just in order to reach a less worse situation. We must be willing to extend real consequences in order to get reasonable demands met. It would be insanity not to. Otherwise, the avalanche will continue to slide.

    • Maggy says

      You didn’t read the piece did you. Sad.
      I agree with everything the writer said. And I ama “peacnik>” I also listened and continue to listen to what the Presdeint says. He still is the best guy in DC.

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