Thomas Frank authored a scathing attack on President Obama at Salon.com today. In a piece on the emptiness of the new bipartisan cry for equality of opportunity rather than less inequality of income, Frank provides a succinct summary of the squandered opportunity that is our current President:
The distressing fact is that Obama had perhaps the greatest chance of any president in recent years to smash the barriers that keep the talented from climbing the ladder, and he chose to do nothing. The sledgehammer was in the president’s hands, the nation was cheering for him to start pounding—and he walked away from the job.
For me, it is this more than anything else that has soured me on a man I was reluctant to support, excited to see elected, and hopeful about as a leader. When he refused to prosecute any of the Bush Administration war and Constitutional criminals, I got my first whiff of a man who was not a powerful leader, a man who lacked the backbone and courage we needed at the time, a man less interested in healing the nation than in consolidating his power. The many horrific Bush Administration policies he’s not only continued but in many, many cases extended and worsened just added more dismay to the growing pile of smelly malaise that was building around his Presidency.
Frank makes the clear and accurate point that “equality of opportunity” doesn’t mean what it once did. Today, that phrase means that anyone can make it into the ranks of the 1%, that anyone can succeed in joining the ranks of the ultra-greedy power brokers
Even his signature domestic social policy, the Affordable Care Act, was a disappointment from Day One when he announced, completely without provocation or cause, that he was taking the Single Payer Option off the table before the first words of debate had been uttered. “How could he do that?” I remember asking myself incredulously. “I know he’s not a liberal but he’s a former community organizer for God’s sake. He has the best chance in 100 years — and probably for the next 100 — to put us on an equal footing with the superior systems of every other Western democracy and he’s going to blow it by designing a plan that helps insurance companies, Big Pharma and the medical establishment while tossing the People a few helpful but insignificant crumbs?” Yep, that’s what he did alright.
We need a Progressive President. And 2016 is our best shot in many decades at getting one because the Republicans are sure to nominate a hard-right winger who will disgust the vast majority of the American electorate. At the very least, Progressives need to begin now on a long-term strategy to move the conversation and the agenda in this country leftward, back toward and beyond the center from the center-right now co-occupied by both major parties to one degree or another.