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Hostess Cupcakes by Pamela Johnson. Oil on canvass – 64″ X 64″ – 2007
Although some positive changes have been made, and we’re not expecting eight years of poor leadership and corrupt government to be erased in a year, at a time when the public option has all but been extinguished and the bankers made obscene profits by treading heavily on the backs of the working man, we want to see more. And we don’t want to wait. What follows is an email we received from Ralph Nader, who we still think would have made a great president:
The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus (535-475 BC) said that “character is destiny.” He might have added that “personality is decisive.” Where is Barack Obama in this framework?
The venerable historian, James MacGregor Burns, in his book “Transforming Leadership,” drew an important distinction between “transforming and transactional leadership,” and calling Franklin Delano Roosevelt a reflection of the former genre.
Given all the burgeoning crises in the United States and the world, the only global military and economic superpower (albeit in serious deficit straits) needs a transforming leader, when, at best, it has a transactional leader in the White House.
I say “at best,” because President Obama displays an uncanny inability to deal. He is not even anywhere near Lyndon Baines Johnson in that regard. This lack is due more to his personality than to his character.
His is a concessionary demeanor, an aversion to conflict and to taking on entrenched power, a devotee of harmony ideology not because he doesn’t believe in necessary re-directions, but because he does not project the strength of his beliefs and willingness to draw the line—here and no further—as did Ronald Reagan or FDR.
In the shark tank known as the federal Washington, D.C. Obama’s personality projects weakness as someone who does not take a stand and fight, as someone inclined to rely on his rhetoric to explain his withdrawals, retreats and reversals. Some examples follow.
First, the President has been openly for single payer health insurance (full Medicare for all with free choice of physician and hospital) since before he became a politician. His friends included single payer leaders such as the stalwart Dr. Quentin Young in Chicago.
So, instead of starting with “single payer,” he descends to vague policy declarations, asks Congress to come up with a specific bill, while cutting private deals in meetings in the White House with drug industry and health insurance executives.
Now months later, with Blue Dog Democrats emboldened, with his progressive wing angry and starting to rebel, a hoked up insurance bill is having many provisions eviscerated. Once the Republicans smelled his lack of resolve, his wavering on one amendment after another, they became ravenous in their demands and obstructions.