Friday, September 4, 2009

The "Change" That Never Came, Part 2: Pres. Obama Keeps Bush Nominees In Top Posts

From the Associate Press (emphasis added and my comments are in blue):

"Analysis: Obama keeps Bush nominees in top posts

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer Tom Raum, Associated Press Writer Mon Aug 31, 4:11 pm ET

WASHINGTON – For all the GOP howling about Barack Obama radically steering the government to the left and leading the nation toward socialism, some of his major appointments are Republican men and women of the middle.


In what may be the top two national posts in light of today's crises at home and abroad, Obama stuck with the picks of former President George W. Bush in reappointing Fed chief Ben Bernanke and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Bernanke last week was given another four-year term to preside over nothing less than saving the U.S. economy and then keeping it strong. He was appointed by Bush in 2006 after a short stint as chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. Gates was kept in his Pentagon post to wind down the war in Iraq and build up the one in Afghanistan.

The loss of Sen. Ted Kennedy to brain cancer led to a chorus of laments about the dearth of politicians these days able to reach across party lines. While Obama hasn't had much luck with the highly polarized Congress in building bipartisan support on legislation, he's reached out often to Republicans in filling key jobs. [Khadija: So, basically he rewards the opposing party---whose leaders have told hysterical lies about his initiatives---we do remember the screams about "death panels"--- by appointing their people to high posts. Right. Sure.]

The notion that he's moving the government to the left "is laughable, it's utterly laughable," said Thomas E. Mann, a government scholar at the Brookings Institution. Mann said the decision to keep Bernanke and Gates "doesn't buy him a thing with Republicans but was a sign of good judgment in both cases" because Bernanke and Gates were doing good jobs.

Obama's larger problem is that he still does not have his own people in a majority of the government's top policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation. But those he has put in top positions include a number of Republicans or nontraditional Democrats (Khadija speaking: In other words, Democrats in name only).

Along with Gates and Bernanke, they include:

-Sheila Bair as holdover chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. She has played a major role in the management of the financial crisis. A one-time unsuccessful candidate for a Kansas House seat, Bair was first appointed by Bush in June 2006. Forbes Magazine ranks her as the second most powerful woman in the world behind German chancellor Angela Merkel.

-Ray LaHood, a former congressman from Illinois, as transportation secretary. He was elected as part of the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994 and was so trusted by both Republicans and Democrats that he was selected to preside over the House during the impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton.

-Former Rep. John McHugh from upstate New York, as Army secretary. McHugh was known by his House colleagues for an even temperament and willingness to work with Democrats.

-Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was a Mormon missionary in China in his youth, as ambassador to China.

-Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, as director of the National Institutes of Health. Unlike the others on the list, Collins is not a Republican and worked in the Obama presidential campaign. But he doesn't fit the usual mold of liberal Democrat as portrayed by many Republicans.

[Khadija speaking: Lovely. Just lovely. Is this what we voted for when we voted for Obama? Furthermore, I find it difficult to believe that these Republicans and non-Democrat-Democrats are the best that can be found for these positions. ]

/snip/. . . Republicans are going all out on the war path, especially on health care overhaul and budget issues. [Yes, meanwhile Pres. Obama continues to suck up to these people. Think quick: When, if ever, did former Pres. Bush "reach out" to non-Republicans? He didn't. Bush governed as if he had been elected by a landslide or a clear majority of the voters, even though he wasn't.

Why is Pres. Obama acting like a beggar in what's supposed to be his own house? Answer: Because he's inherently weak. A people pleaser. And most importantly, he's a Crossover Negro Politician who does NOT have his own independent power base.

There are multiple things going on in this situation. There are some things going on that are particular to Pres. Obama:

*weak, people-pleaser personality

*half-White & half-foreign Black

*raised by Whites

*didn't grow up among African-Americans, therefore no natural African-American posse from childhood/high school/parents' friends, etc.

*only really exposed to African-Americans as an adult

And then there are some things that apply to almost ALL crossover Black politicians:

*didn't pay any "dues" in any Black organization or movement

*no Black "posse"/troops as a result of the above

*primarily focused on being perceived as "non-threatening" by Whites

*no Black "posse"/troops as a result of the above

I think this situation is exposing some of the costs of being a disconnected, crossover Black politician. Basically, Pres. Obama doesn't have a natural posse because he was dropped in by parachute among us.

Because he never formed a natural, Black posse, there's nobody around him that HE created and lifted up. NOBODY owes him. Meanwhile, he owes many, many other people and political "princes." Pres. Obama's situation is somewhat more extreme than "typical" African-American crossover politicians because of his family background. Typical African-American crossover politicians at least have Black potential posse members that they grew up with, or are friends of the family, etc.]

'Obama and his liberal congressional allies want to saddle taxpayers with even more debt through their government-run health care experiment that will cost trillions of dollars,' said Republican party chief Michael Steele. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused Obama of a management style that's 'not leadership, it's negligence.' Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said in Saturday's GOP video and Internet address that Obama's Democrats favor 'cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs.'

/snip/. . . At the time he announced he was sticking with Gates at the Pentagon, Obama said he didn't ask the member of the Bush war cabinet to remain because of his party affiliation but because he felt he could best 'serve the interests of the American people.' Obama said he was 'going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House.'" [Khadija: You can read the rest of the story here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090831/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_s_republicans_analysis;_ylt=Ahyts12P2PmO4dHO8KA.3SID5gcF;_ylu=X3oDMTM1bzY3dHI2BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwODMxL3VzX29iYW1hX3NfcmVwdWJsaWNhbnNfYW5hbHlzaXMEcG9zAzMEc2VjA3luX3BhZ2luYXRlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDYW5hbHlzaXNvYmFt

This is looking more and more like what others have called "the status quo that we can believe in."

21 comments:

ActsofFaithBlog said...

If Hillary decides to run in 2012 she's getting my vote....I am more disgusted with Obama as each day passes. I think his press conference/beggar's banquet next Wed will be his last hurrah. Unless the public option somehow is included and passes through both Houses. It won't be because of HIM though. Only the kool-aid drinkers fail to see this. I didn't think I'd even use that term because I thought it was insulting. Now I see how accurate it is.

LaJane Galt said...

Sometimes I wonder if he REALLY knows who he's dealing with considering that he was not raised with that modicum of collective understanding that American Blacks have.

I think he may be able to process historical data from without so that he can believe what he thinks the US should be, but he just can't get what our country IS.

I stood out there that day, but I'm too jaded as a DC Fed to do anything other than sarcastically clutch my pearls.

Karen said...

I will be frank... I had no expectations of him as I normally have no expectations of politicians.

So I was not sold a "bill of goods". I also did not want the republican ticket in the white house.

In essence, it was the lesser of two evils.

Politicians will say anything to get elected. The smart ones who have a strong base will reward those that brought them there.

Obama is doing the same, he is REWARDING those that control the power that he is being "allowed" to wield within certain boundaries.

Black people do not have any power on a political level that has any impact on Obama.

As you said, he has no "posse". Now those that voted for him such as I who knew the realities, and who also had no expectations will not be disappointed. The rest most certainly are or will be...

I do not expect he will get a second term unless the Republicans really have nothing to offer or the Clintons are not ready to give it another try.

Does all the above sound cynical? - yes. Is it an accurate view of the situation? - probably.

Khadija said...

Ladies,

I can't seriously claim to be shocked, so I can't even clutch my pearls (much less feign an attack of the vapors) about any of this. {sigh} I can't stand Crossover Negro Politicians in general, and I have disliked and distrusted Pres. Obama since the very beginning of his political career here in Chicago.

The only aspect of this that I do find surprising is his naivete. I honestly had no idea that he was this clueless. LaJane, NO, I don't think Pres. Obama has any REAL sense of what he's dealing with. He's NOT part of our ethnic group (he's not African-American---he's half-continental African and half White) and he's been the "exotic mascot" for Whites all his life. He has NO CLUE.

Here's my question: Where do those of us who aren't Obama-ssiah worshippers (and who WON'T drink the Kool-aid) go from here?

Pres. Obama might be the very LAST "lesser evil" vote that I ever cast. There was a period of time during which I boycotted voting because of my disgust with the type of individuals who emerge as the candidates.

Ladies, your comments reminded me of an essay by Rabbi Michale Lerner that I had read in Tikkun Magazine years ago. I've republished it in the most recent post. I need to meditate over Rabbi Lerner's points.

What I might decide is: (1)To actually WORK to support and create viable 3rd party candidates. And (2) to sit out the election(s) if there's no candidate that actually represents MY key values and views.

I need to reflect on all of this. I'll also need to carefully comb through Hillary Clinton's actions while she's in her current position; and her platform if she decides to run in 2012.

If Hillary decides to support the KEY issues that are most important to me, then I'll vote for her. At least Hillary has enough "fire in the belly" to actually fight for what she wants---and, as we've seen during the primaries, she's willing to fight dirty. Which increases the odds of her actually getting meaningful things done.

So...where do we go from here?

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

LaJane Galt said...

I think I may be done too. I've always said that I'm not voting for someone, I'm voting against...

My problem with Hillary was the clumsy race-baiting/pandering (towards whites and blacks).

As for where we go. I'm focusing on myself and my future offspring's security.

Karen said...

Khadija,

To your question,"where do we go from here";

1) a multi-party system has to take hold. It will be the only way to force the democratic/republican machine to make structural changes if they receive serious competition thereby forcing coalitions when needed

2) failing that as you stated, to take a closer look at any particular future candidate based on what they have actually done - do they walk their talk

Unfortunately with 2), very few will pass the grade.

I personally will always vote as it is a right that too many of our ancestors fought and died for. To me it would dishonour them not to continue to exercise my right to vote. JMHO

KM said...

People might be mad at me for this but.... I didn't cast a vote for President this year.

The ballot in my state only listed the Democrat and Republican candidates. Frankly, I couldn't bring myself to vote for either Obama or McCain so I voted for neither and continued voting for the rest of my ticket (mainly judges and city laws that needed voter approval). I just couldn't bring myself to vote for either man who's platforms I didn't agree with.

Some people say I can't complain since I didn't cast a vote either way, I acknowledge that. But, like everyone else, I'm not watching my illusions go *POP* with each following day.

Khadija said...

Everyone:

More food for thought from an earlier post from 10-17-08 "Protect Your Stake In The Process: Vote Early" (obviously I'm re-thinking all of this right now):

"Several people that I greatly respect and admire have asked me (and many others) to participate in "get out the vote" efforts. After much thought and prayer, I decided to comply with these requests.

My initial reluctance comes from the ill-advised manner in which Black folks have made a fetish of voting. We have made the idea of voting an object of unreasonably excessive reverence. We are as deluded as the Iraqis proudly holding up their purple fingers after voting under an occupation-imposed puppet government. Their purple-stained fingers did not magically convert occupied Iraq into a functioning democracy. Millions of people around the planet have voted while still living under the heels of brutal tyrants.

Black folks need to grow up politically, and face the following realities: MUCH more than simply voting is required in order to have a functioning democracy. A functioning democracy needs to have a combination of practices in place. These practices are often referred to as "the rule of law."

Some concepts associated with "the rule of law" include: The principle that governmental authority is exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws. The principle that these laws are adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps.

The idea that everyone is equal before the law. The idea that nobody is above the law. The idea that people who have been arrested have the right to be told what crimes they are accused of, and to request that their custody be reviewed by independent, judicial authority.

Keep in mind that none of this guarantees that the laws will be just. This only guarantees that there will be a PROCESS other than following the whims of a tyrant, or following mob rule. Having a process is extremely important. Having a real process in place makes it possible for people to work toward having just laws.

Khadija said...

Part 2

Other reasons for my initial resistance to engaging in "get out the vote" efforts are the emotional trickbags that are often used during these efforts.

I'm really weary of hearing people claim that "people died so we could vote." Black people didn't "die so we could vote." They died because racist White people murdered them. This "died so we could vote" phrase makes their murderers invisible. This phrase makes the fact that they were brutally murdered invisible. This phrase makes it sound as if our martyrs were killed by some impersonal process---almost as if they were plague victims.

I'm also weary of our inability to see that our martyrs intended for voting to be a tool of liberation and empowerment. They did NOT intend for voting to be an end in itself, which is how we currently view it. Instead of using our votes as simply one tool among others, we make hysterical appeals to register and vote during every election season. After the election is over, we promptly slip back into our collective coma until the next election.

So, I am not encouraging you to vote early if possible, because "Black people died so you could vote." I am not encouraging you to vote early so that you can vote for any particular candidate. I have no confidence whatsoever in the so-called "mainstream" candidates. I am not encouraging you to vote early because, "We're going back to slavery if you don't vote." [Which is the emotional undercurrent to many Black folks' "get out the vote" appeals.]

I am encouraging you to vote early in order to protect our collective stake in having a process in place. If you look at the concepts associated with "the rule of law," you can see that the very idea of a real process in this country has been nearly destroyed during the Bush reign. "The process" is on life support right now. I think that it's in everyone's interests to do what we can to nurse it back to health. One step is to support candidates who are most likely to enact laws in support of having a real process. Another step is to support organizations and initiatives that resist efforts to destroy the process. I believe that the "Steal Back Your Vote" campaign is an initiative that deserves our support. You can find out more at http://stealbackyourvote.org/ You can visit http://www.ncsl.org/programs/legismgt/elect
/absentearly.htm#absent to find out if your state allows early voting.

Suggested Reading: Consider the similarities between Black folks' concept of voting and cargo cults; specifically the Pacific Island cargo cults formed during WWII. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult"

Karen said...

Khadija,

My comment: "...I personally will always vote as it is a right that too many of our ancestors fought and died for. " <--Guilty as charged... Thank you for educating me on that point.

Khadija said...

KM,

I ain't mad at you at all. LOL! I'm starting to feel quite uncomfortable about: (1) abandoning my earlier boycott of voting in the first place; and (2) my lesser-evil vote for Pres. Obama.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Karen,

There's plenty of room for reasonable minds to disagree about the "died so we can vote" phrase.

Despite the assertive tone I often use in the essays, I'm NOT saying that anybody who feels that way is incorrect for feeling that way. I'm just explaining why I'm not feeling the whole "died so we could vote" thing. *Smile*

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Karen said...

Khadija,

I am old enough to know that there is much that I do not know. I would not be posting here if I were not willing to be open to other perspectives and to have my beliefs challenged now and again.

In this particular case, I had not given any serious thought to the statement that I, all too often used, as my rationale for voting. It is time for me to re-think that.

In my opinion, that is what "critical thinking" is all about.

KM said...

@Khadija

I've learned from being involved with the NAACP briefly (in HS and college) and from being in a black feminist group that if you are in a state that elects its judges, YOU MUST VOTE FOR JUDGES!!! I live in a state where ALL of the judges are elected from local to state. President, Congress, Governor, Mayor, City Council, those are good but judges are more important IMO. Congress drafts the laws but the judges not only interpret them in court, but they also have the power over life and death over lives as well. I refuse, in this area, not to let my voice be heard.

Khadija said...

KM,

You said, "I've learned from being involved with the NAACP briefly (in HS and college) and from being in a black feminist group that if you are in a state that elects its judges, YOU MUST VOTE FOR JUDGES!!!"

I agree that it's very important to take the opportunity to vote for (and in more than a few cases, vote against) judges.

Unfortunately, this turns into another trickbag for AA voters in my area. Across all ethnicities, most people in the Chicago area vote for the judicial candidates that have Irish surnames (don't ask).

At "best," there will be mini-campaigns among local AAs to vote for AA judicial candidates. Rev. Jackson's Operation PUSH will shout "We need more Black judges!! Support these Black candidates for judge!".

However, it's been my observation in almost 20 years of practice that 99.99% of Black judges are THE WORST in terms of AA interests! Almost without exception, local Black judges will rule for the powerful against the powerless 99.99% of the time.

Local Black judges are the WORST in terms of being too afraid to say "No" to the local prosecutor's office's demands in court---an AA defendant is more likely to get a fair trial in front of some of the White judges.

Local Black judges are the WORST in terms of being too afraid to rule for "the little person" in terms of consumer cases.

All around, in ways big and small, the local Black judges are THE WORST for AA interests. Unfortunately, the local AA organizations (such as Operation PUSH, etc.) don't know this. Like most AAs, they ASSUME that the Black-skinned individual will act as Black people's champion. NO!

They are simply TOO AFRAID to rule in ways that are fair, and therefore upsetting to the powerful. Here's what causes this:

This is the end result of AA consumers' refusal to support Black businesses, including Black professionals.

If a Black judge ever loses their robe (by not being re-elected or re-appointed), they literally have nowhere to go!

There are NO mid-sized or large Black firms in the Chicago area. This means that the Black judge either came from a "good job" or was scuffling in a small practice before they got their robe.

If they can't keep their robe, there's NO guarantee that a "good job" with a comparable salary will be available for them. It's NOT like White judges who can leave the bench and immediately become a partner in a huge White firm. It does NOT work like that for Black judges.

If the Black judge had been in private practice before, they closed their small practice to join the judiciary. Unless they have a close relative/friend who is an attorney to keep the small practice afloat while they're on the bench, they literally have NOWHERE to go if they lose their robe.

The prosecutor's office has a lot of influence over who is re-elected and re-appointed to the bench. Angering the prosecutor's office is not conducive to retaining one's robe.


Black judges are particularly vulnerable to these pressures because we don't have a network of thriving Black firms. And we don't have a network of thriving Black firms because Blacks don't support Black businesses.

I've watched so many naive Black folks' mouths drop open when the Black judge that they assumed would be fair rolls over, and does whatever the prosecutor assigned to their courtroom TELLS them to do. There's a reason for this behavior. And it's connected to the Black consumer's general boycott of Black businesses.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

CW said...

My first choice was Dr Ron Paul...Of course he was making too much sense and the "Powers That Be" shut him down...So we were left with either McSame or Obama...I was trying to stay optimistic about the whole "CHANGE" thing, but had a weird feeling in the back of my mind...

rainebeaux said...

Thanks to the President--who I had low expectations for--I sensed plenty would be amiss after hearing the word "change" too many times. I almost wish he'd finished off his senatorship, if only to build the Black posse.

Every time the President speaks, I go "huh?" (I know what he's saying and that it's in English, but still.)

Khadija said...

Rainebeaux,

You said, "I almost wish he'd finished off his senatorship, if only to build the Black posse."

What makes you think that he was building a Black posse while he was Senator? If he was, I certainly missed it, and please enlighten me. It seemed to me that he spent the entire time positioning himself to be pleasing to various categories of White power brokers.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

rainebeaux said...

Oh no, I understand the White power brokers were his focus then...I just thought his getting a posse then would've been nice. Blasted magical thinking!

Bandbabe said...

This is a excellent post!! Thank you Khadija for breaking down why Obama has been so passive as president. I am so annoyed that Obama keeps trying to be conciliatory while repeatedly ignoring/dissing his base.

I admit, I am one of the those folks who drank the Kool Aid. I have been very disappointed with how Obama has manhandled health care reform. He keeps talking about 'reform' while allowing others to control the message and take all the teeth out of any possible bills. For me, the first sign of trouble was when he stopped talking about Health Care Reform and started talking about Health Insurance Reform.

As time goes on I can clearly see how Obama was the golden calf. His role was to stop people from protesting, organizing, and demanding a overhaul of our political system. After all, he was the guy who was supposed to take care of everything. A vote for him was a vote for change. The ironic thing was that Hillary was right, it was "change you can Xerox".

I am angry that he didn't place his own 'troops' in key positions of his administration. (It never occurred to me that he didn't have any!) The whole 'team of rivals' was a smoke screen for the fact that he was replaying the power brokers. I am disgusted by all this. Now more than ever we need a 3rd party.

Karen, I agree with your answers to 'where do we go from here?'. In particular, I see the neccessity for #2. In light of how things have worked out for Obama, judging people by their record is so important.

Khadija said...

Bandbabe,

You're welcome!

Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

Even though I never had high expectations for Pres. Obama, I'm still shocked at the degree to which this is turning into Pres. Bush's 3rd term. {sigh}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.