Obama Re-election: We’re Not Working Out Issues Anymore

olympia snowe

Senator Olympia Snowe

Readers: if you can and if you care to, please point your browser to President Obama’s official re-election website.We’ll get back to that site, momentarily.

Now, did you catch the first few minutes of The Rachel Maddow Show on February 29th, the day after the Michigan and Arizona primaries? She argued that the big news of that day was not who had won either of those primaries, which the media had hyped as being so-o-o-o important; but was instead Olympia Snowe’s announcing that she would not seek re-election the United States Senate.

Rachel played video of Senator Snowe’s describing (apparently) halcyon days of yore; specifically, back when Bob Dole ran the Senate. According to Snowe, “[Bob Dole would] say, ‘Go into my office and work it out.” The retiring Senator then delivered her punchline, saying:  “And that’s the point: We’re not working out issues any more…”

Now, Readers, it seemed to my ear that Senator Snowe drastically understated her “point”. If I were giving up her Senate seat just because so many of “My Friend from [other state]” Senators had made “working out issues” intentionally impossible, I certainly would have included enough “oomph” in announcing my decision to make it a real production. I’d shout it out so that print media would feel comfortable including as much emphasis as their software would allow, and attributing it to me, as in “emphasis in original”, so that writers and editors would feel comfortable quoting me as having said: WE’RE NOT WORKING OUT ISSUES ANY MORE… See the difference? You can practically feel the increased volume.

At this point, go to President Obama’s official re-election website: barackobama.com, and click on “Issues”.  Please notice that “We’re not working out issues any more” is *not* listed among the top seven issues.  I ask myself over and over, how can that be? How can that “point” cause enough of a problem to lead Senator Snowe to give up her seat, and at the same time not be counted as an “issue” at President Obama’s re-election website?

Unfortunately, I have been asking it over and over again for almost four years, beginning back in 2008, when we were all working so hard to get Obama elected Preident the first time. Putting my Bushspeak-to-English Dictionary to good use, I tried to draw attention to dangers inherent in “misunderestimating the division thing”. To do so, I quoted from an NPR interview with then-88 year-old Bertha Means, an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention, from Texas if I’m not mistaken.

Means said, “We can’t solve the problems of our time unless we can all get together.” It was not clear whether she was speaking of unity only in terms of Democrats, or in larger terms: of all Americans. But the importance Ms. Means placed on coming together was unmistakable.

Somehow, OFA-2008 out-ignored “OFA”-2012. As I noted back in 2008, pamphlets provided by OFA-then for the purpose of informing volunteers of Obama’s positions on “the issues”, listed 32 “issues”— with none of them responding to either Means’ 2008 question or Senator Snowe’s 2012 question.

robert letcherAnd even if field workers argue[d], as one [had] to me, that the problem is not properly an issue; rather, that it is more of an underlying theme or approach. I’m not sure that Means would appreciate the fine distinction. Furthermore, I doubt that that field worker would refer in public to Senator Snowe’s action as a fine distinction.

So, Hey!, President Obama, p-lease pay attention! This issue won’t go away by not talking about it. Please take Senator Snowe’s position seriously. You could begin with the fact that this is the first time in my memory that I’ve agreed with a Republican. It’s not that I’m special, either; just that I might not be alone among your supporters who find themselves in that unusual position.

Bob Letcher


  1. Jdesy says

    From the point of view of a Buddhist, this piece focuses on what may be the most important issue in life itself, transcending politics and affiliations – working together, working it out, in the spirit that we are one. We are certainly one world, as the climate change that is sweeping extreme weather everywhere, should tell us. And we in the US are on one island together.

    • Bobl1234 says

      Jdesy  thanks for commenting.  I am not optimistic about prospects for the human project: “Compassionate Capitalism” is even less likely than “Compassionate Conservative”, the latter of which George W Bush clearly misoverestimated the implications of.  


      • Jdesy says

         Agree. The very nature of capitalism is dualistic – that is, as Buddhists use the word, competitive and I-centered. It’s an economic system that has its uses, but also seems to carry its own doom.

  2. Mariesumner says

    I think America is under a trance by this administration, Obama is not for this country at all.
    I am tired of hearing, congress is to blame. Obama had himself, house, and senate for 2
    Years. He could have passed and done anything. The problem with this country is, we don’t
    want to work. We want to be handed everything on a silver platter. Also, if we can have
    Cell phones, and other luxuries, we can also pay for birth control. If this new healthcare bill
    Is so wonderful, why are we having waivers, for the most powerful companies. We have too
    Many people who would rather, be on unemployment benefits, than work. Also we have
    Many Americans, who think it’s our place to feed them. We need a mandate, if your receive
    Government funds, you take a drug test every month. Also if you get unemployment, you
    Have to go work somewhere for that money,like a homeless shelter. Wake up America
    We have to work and support ourselves……..

    • Bobl1234 says

      Mariesumner, I appreciate your  taking time to comment on my essay, though I think that your comments mistake argument from assertion for argument from reasons.  For example, you assert, “Obama is not for this country at all.”  Such a sweeping assertion!  How well do you know Obama?  Are you really claiming to know him well enough to make so sweeping a statement as “not… at all”?  What do you mean by “not for the country”, and who appointed you to be “The Decider”?   I don’t see any indication in what you wrote that you have thought about this central question,  You can assert anything you want–say, “2+2=17”–but you can’t be very confident that action pursuant to such an assertion  about the sum of 2 plus 2 that you, Mariesumner, are yourself “not for this country at all.

      I would like to end by MISQUOTING you, but only off by a bit:  wake up, Mariesummer… and learn how to make reasoned arguments.  You can’t just assert convenient claims.


  3. says

    I can’t believe Mr. Letcher asked this question.  Our president has reached out for Republican collaboration but they have slapped his hand away blatantly stating that they will not even cooperate or compromise on anything that will give Obama credit for curing our problems.  He has done the compromising by instilling conservative stands into all of his legislation and still they obstruct even legislation that is basically noncontroversial in nature.
    Is it any wonder that he is not waiting for them to move foreward?

    • Chuck Comisky says

       I think that you miss the point of the article, and that is that Obama is not bringing up the issue and naming it – not working it out.  Yes he has tried countless (too many) times to compromise on big issues.  But  I believe that Mr Letcher is concerned that the Dems have not made it an issue.

      • Bobl1234 says

        Mr. Comisky:  Thanks for commenting.  I wrote for two reasons.  You got one spot-on; namely, that Obama and Dems haven’t named the problem as such–and that THAT amounted to missed opportunity.

         My other reason was historical; namely, to provide institutional memory by adding my personal experience of four years ago: It has been lost opportunity for that long–and there is no clock timing it.

        bob letcher


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