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article imageOp-Ed: Faux-Bama, a disappointing year in the White House

By Sean O'Flynn-Magee     Jan 20, 2010 in Politics
Dear President Obama.
Do you remember, a year ago, when millions of Americans stood in the cold, warmed only by their joyful tears, to witness your historic inauguration?
You promised us change we could believe in and we wholeheartedly believed you. We believed that a new era was beginning and that nothing could be worse than Dubya.
How much difference one year makes. There hasn't been any change, except maybe in our belief, which has dwindled as you begin to look more and more like the men who came before you. I know your job is hard; nobody ever said that it would be easy. But you said so much, promised us so many things, and yet you've done so little.
The sad state of the economy is not your fault. But you ran as a man of the people and promised to clean up Wall Street. Instead, you signed a gargantuan stimulus package that rewarded all the wrong people and punishing those who voted for you. You appointed an economic team comprised of ex-bankers from CitiGroup, Goldman Sachs and the Hamilton Project (a neoliberal think tank). You hired your old college buddy Michael Froman—who was still serving at CitiGroup—and then decided to bail the bank out for $300 billion (Froman netted a tidy $2.5 million bonus). And despite cascading unemployment across the country, you decided that outsourcing is a good thing and NAFTA, contrary to your once impassioned rhetoric, doesn't actually need to be renegotiated.
I don't know much about economics but I'd be willing to shrug my shoulders if you were doing lots of good elsewhere. You've talked so much about health care reform that one could almost believe you're serious. On the campaign trail you promised reduced costs, increased competition, and cheaper, imported medication. But, since getting into office, your policies haven't looked anything like universal health care. Your bill (if it gets passed now that Democrats have lost that Senate supermajority) will reward private insurers and penalize those who don't want or can't afford coverage. You even caved into Big Pharma and continued the prohibition of imported meds. And you've ignored or forgotten the twenty million Americans who aren't covered by your plan. In the world's most prosperous country, shouldn't everybody be able to see a doctor?
More and more of your words sound empty. Instead of the 'audacity to hope' you had the audacity to accept the Nobel Peace Prize just eight days after announcing a 30 000 troop surge in Afghanistan, and just a couple of weeks before announcing the largest military budget in American history ($663.8 billion officially, but maybe as much as $1 trillion when all is said and done). You used your acceptance speech to justify the hypocritical pursuit of peace through war. You've continued Bush's policy of fighting wars with mercenaries and have opened a third front in the War on Terror as you sent specialists to train troops in Yemen (where rebels have purportedly come under attack by American aircraft). You couldn't even manage to close Guantanamo Bay, nor expedite the justice process for the 235 detainees (including poor Omar Khadr, a Canadian who was been wrongfully-imprisoned since he was 15).
What about the change, Mr. Obama? You're fighting wars, protecting health insurance companies, and financing Wall Street bankers with taxpayer money. It sounds like the same old story to me. Yes, it's only been a year and you've got three to go (but really, it's only one, maybe two, until you start campaigning for re-election). So far the going has not been good, and you're opinion polls are starting to show it. All that hope is starting to run thin.
You're the man at the top. It's a lot of responsibility but it's what you signed up for. And it's up to you to give us a reason to hope. That's why we elected you; you owe us that much at least. Give us something to believe in or else prepare to be remembered as the President who could have been different but wasn't.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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