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The Liberal Critique Of Obama

We’re talking about the liberal critique of Barack Obama. The complaint that in these dark, difficult days, he’s no FDR.

President Obama speaks in New York City this spring. (Eva Brams/photo illustration)

President Obama speaks in New York City this spring. (Eva Brams/photo illustration)

“Yes We Can” was the great theme of Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency. It meant different things to different people. To staunch liberals in the base of Obama’s support, it meant the country could, under Obama’s leadership, make an FDR-style turn away from great concentration of wealth and Wild West finance.

Now, a lot of those supporters are wondering where their new FDR went. In urgent times, they’re complaining, President Obama is cool, not bold. A compromiser, not a fighter. And they’re mad.

This hour On Point: the liberal critique of Barack Obama.

-Tom Ashbrook

Show Highlights

Drew Westen “Where I would fault him [Obama] is that he had an opportunity to change Americans’ view of government from the one that Ronald Reagan laid out – which I think is one that this president probably himself believes – which is that government is the problem not the solution. This isn’t a president who said: “We don’t have a problem with work ethic in this country, we have a problem with work. And if the private sector can’t create the jobs, we’ve got a crumbling infrastructure to fix, we’ve got levies that are falling apart, we’ve got crumbling schools, and we’ve got so many people that would like to get back to work to fix those things. The best way to fix a budget deficit is to put Americans back to work.”

Caller Kathy from Connecticut “I took Professor Westen’s piece and I cut it out of the New York Times, crumpled it up into a ball, and threw it in the wastebasket. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool liberal…[FDR] was 80 years ago. Guess what? A few things have changed. Right now, we have an uneducated electorate, more than half the Republicans think that Obama wasn’t even born in the country, they’re guided by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, they’ve stated – through their leader, Mitch McConnell – our only goal is to take [Obama] down.”

Jonathan Chait “I think there are some critiques from the left that you can make of Obama. I don’t think Westen’s critique is persuasive, remotely persuasive. I think it flies in the face of historical reality. I think it flies in the face of pretty basic realities of political science….the most simple being that Westen is betraying a species of a kind of a cult of the president thinking, which just attributes all political outcomes to the president. And any failures of the president’s agenda to a kind of failure of political will. Now, he;s doing a variant of that, but it’s a common delusion that basically finds the structure of our political system too dissatisfying to be grappled with.”


Drew Westen, professor of psychology at Emory University and author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.

Jonathan Chait, a senior editor at The New Republic. He also blogs at tnr.com

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: “Americans needed their president to tell them a story that made sense of what they had just been through, what caused it, and how it was going to end. They needed to hear that he understood what they were feeling, that he would track down those responsible for their pain and suffering, and that he would restore order and safety.”

The New Republic: “Westen is a figure, like George Lakoff, who arose during the darkest moments of the Bush years to sell liberals on an irresistible delusion. The delusion rests on the assumption that the timidity of their leaders is the only thing preventing their side from enjoying total victory.”

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  • Dslevy212

    obama = pussy

    • twenty-niner

      Funny. Will likely be deleted.

    • Steve

      I feel your frustration, Dslevy212. For me the turning point was a few weeks ago when President Obama called Speaker Boehner “a good man who wants to do what’s right for the country.” I think the President is basically a decent man who believes other people are basically decent as well, and he believes he can somehow coax that decency out of them–which he’s apparently had success doing in the past. But not so with the likes of Boehner, McConnell, and Cantor. Whatever decency still resides in these men is buried under years of fealty to moneyed interests and divisive ideologies, and no amount of coaxing will unearth it. The Republican leadership decided the day after the 2008 election to make Obama a one-term President, which is fair enough, if you’re the loyal opposition. But these Republicans are more loyal to protecting corporate profits, to appeasing Grover Norquist, and to repeating talking points issued by the likes of the Koch Brothers, than they are to doing what’s right for America. And while polls seem to suggest that most Americans are still with Obama–and always have been, on front-page issues such as the Public Option and shifting the tax burden from the middle class to the wealthy and corporations–still, he’s unable to use that support to further his agenda. The question is, will Obama do better in the next big showdown? Or will he think that by calling the Republican leadership “good men” they’ll suddenly become so.

  • Stockwell66

    Shocka. Obama and the DNC is for Wall Street before Main Street and the middle class.

  • twenty-niner

    Obama = huge fail. Just a few headlines that need to make it into the Obama presidential library, which will hopefully break ground in 2012:

    U.S. To Train 3,000 Offshore IT Workers

    Federally-backed program aims to help outsourcers in South Asia
    become more fluent in areas like Java programming—and the English

    Despite President Obama’s pledge to retain more
    hi-tech jobs in the U.S., a federal agency run by a hand-picked Obama
    appointee has launched a $36 million program to train workers, including
    3,000 specialists in IT and related functions, in South Asia
    http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/soa_webservices/22650020284% of Green Job Stimulus Money is Going Offshore
    Of the $1.05 billion in clean-energy grants handed out by the government
    since Sept. 1, 84 percent – a total of $849 million – has gone to
    foreign wind companies. Spanish utility company, Iberdrola S.A., alone
    has collected $545 million through its American subsidiary.


    Stimulus money goes overseas

    Senate Democrats are furious that the vast majority of grants from the
    clean-energy program from last year’s stimulus have been awarded to
    foreign companies.


    GE moving X-ray business to China


    G.E. to Share Jet Technology With China in New Joint Venture


    “We will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.”

    - B. H. Obama, 2008

  • Grandmamao

    Those facts are very disturbing when so many of our own entrepreneurs and our own citizens could have used that money and that training.  What horrendous information will be find out next?  Was any of the stimulus money used to get the US out of the recession?  Or was all of it used to get campaign donations for all the crooks we continue to send to Washington.

    • Anonymous

      In fact, Wall Street has been saying lately that the stimulus package(s) had a very positive effect, kept the economy afloat.  I wish I could get the exact source for you (saw it yesterday) but I think it may have been John Chambers, the head of the S&P committee that decided on the downgrade.  If I find it, I’ll add to this response.

      • TFRX

        There’s a laundry list of Michele Bachmann’s applications for stimulus money publicly available. Funny, getting that money is all the rage for Republicans who are calling it “job killing”.

  • Anonymous

    Good question. This article by Prof. Drew Westen is a very good read on this very subject.


    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Drew Westen’s editorial was one of the best if not the single best and most insightful pieces of writing on Obama’s Presidency I’ve read yet.

      Everyone listening to this show should be required to follow jeffe68′s link to the NY Times and read it.

      If Westen is half as articulate live as he was in the piece this promises to be a fascinating show.

  • Abhi

    it is very easy to criticize Obama. but politics is all about past and not future. almost half amount of deficit was created during 8 years of W.
    imagine what had happened if McCain had won in 2008. his proposal of stimulus was less than half of what Obama did. you don’t have to be an economist to do the math.
    contrary to all the folksy republican and tea partiers, the stimulus package did not add any more govt workers. majority of the money spent was tax cuts and money spent to buy things from private sector.
    as a Obama supporter, i am actually angry at him for being too dreamy (in hoping for reaching across aisle). all his statements which were cliche during the presidential election sound absurd now….
    but i still support him as the alternatives are …………(you fill the blanks)

  • Gary

    Remember the good ol’ days when criticizing Obama meant you were a racist?  In retrospect, the accurate name of an Obama-critic would have been “prescient.”  Imagine:  Perceptions of the world so embarrassingly wrong that Progressives cannot tell the difference between someone who is prescient and some who is a racist.   The Righteous, Certain, and All-knowing Left.  You’ve gotta love ‘em!

    • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

      Criticizing Obama’s policies and philosophy was never racist. Questioning his birthplace, religion, et al … that was racist, or at least its undercurrents were.

      • Gary

        Actually, no.  Nice try though.  It was just TWO years ago, you see, so we remember being called racists for criticizing “Obama’s policies and philosophy.”  Or, that our opinions were–and this is hilarious–”imbued with undercurrents of racism”.  If I’m not mistaken, an ex-president had something to say about the issue.  I love it!  The re-writing of history.  

        • Anonymous

          I think you lost that one, Gary.

      • Tfralphxout

        Yep. Now all a Republican needs to do to be called a “stand up guy” is to say, as Boehner did: “If Obama says he’s a Christian, I believe him.”

        The press corpse failed the country bigtime on that entire narrative. Sometimes “teaching the controversy” is for crap.

      • Geri

        Questioning his birthplace is a matter of “perceived” legitimacy – similar to those who questioned the legitimacy of Kerry’s war record – but no one accused Kerry’s doubters as having “undercurrents of racism”.  Before you throw around the word racism – try and understand what it means and not what you would like it to mean!

        • TFRX

          At least you’re admitting the Swiftboaters and the Birthers are spun of the same thread. That’s progress.

        • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

          Not the same at all.  If Obama were white, and his father a white Kenyan, the accusations, paranoid as they were, would never have come up.

      • Steve

        Well said, Mr Hendrickson.

    • nj

      Of course many on the left have been critical of Obama all along, but for entirely different reasons than the reactionary right, whose criticisms were, in fact, imbued with undercurrents of racism.

      • Gary

        “imbued with undercurrents”  LOL.

      • Gary

        “In fact”, so says nj.  Comma In Fact Comma, nj writes.  Good stuff this morning.

      • Steve

        Well said, nj.

      • Mill

        You got the adjective for the right correct, but dropped the adjective that aptly describes your own group – “loony.” ;)

      • Mill

        You got the “reactionary” correct, but missed the appropriate adjective for “your” side – the loony left.

        (Previous comment stating the same was for some inexplicable reason, deleted.)

    • Cory

      You racist!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41502648 Tristan Pinnock

    Funny, George W Bush waited until his second term to really start disappointing conservatives.  At that point, every liberal hated him, so he was just losing what was left of his base. Of course, by over-promising during the campaign and under-delivering, even with control of the White House, Congress and the Senate, Obama is now about 4 years ahead of where Bush was. 

  • J. Mezure Carter

    “Americans needed their president to tell them a story that made sense of what they had just been through, what caused it, and how it was going to end.”  Why would “We” need a president to tell us that taking an equity loan on a mortgaged house is a huge financial mistake, or that investing in dot com schemes was a huge financial mistake, or even worse, that the savings bank debacle of the 1980s was a huge financial mistake.  Everyone goes back to the 2008 campaign and says that promises were made that are not being kept.  What promises?  Does anyone remember the chant, Yes “We” Can?  What ever happen to the “We” that chanted those words expressing their willingness to make changes in their lives?  So should “We” throw the current person out and wait for the next one to solve what “We” perceive as our problems or are “We” judging the government based on our own personal failings?  I’m tired of talking about the President, the Congress and any other government entity.  I’m tired of hearing a continuous litany of excuses made for the inept US citizenry.  The “We” are constantly calling forth the old bugbears–communist, Hitler, fascist, terrorist and so many more.  And yet “We” are simply validating that “We” are they and they are us.  We speak using all the deleterious language of those extreme groups.  We dislike ourselves so much that we are willing to delude ourselves into celebrating the most superficial behaviors while making the most egregious complaints about everyone.  Criticism is our forte.  “We” the people need to stop talking about others and do some self examination, for only through this exercise will we seriously change our predicament.

    • Anonymous

      We elect presidents to lead the nation. A good example of this is FDR, LBJ, Truman, and Clinton to name a few. I was not a supporter of Reagen but he also had the ability to communicate and to tell the public something and then follow through. For you to sit there and blame people, who are losing jobs, who’s homes have lost more value, who’s 401K’s have dropped into the gutter that they need to take more responsibility is a bit much. For one thing you tar a lot of people with one brush. I live well within my means. However I can’t do much to change the way banks are regulated. I can not do much to change the way health care is done in this country. I can vote.
      I can protest or join an organization that reflects my beliefs and political ideas. We elect people to do our bidding in government.
      The sad and disgusting thing is government is not about us any more. It’s about serving corporate interest and mostly being dysfunctional. I’m not talking about state and local, just to be clear.
      That can be a whole other show in my view. However when I see the revolving door of people who end up in presidential cabinets or the Supreme court(Thomas) who worked on wall street or for corporations such as Monsanto who then effect legislation that effects the majority of the people in favor of a huge corporation such as Monsanto I’m inclined to think I now live in an plutocracy.

      • nj

        [[  However I can't do much to change the way banks are regulated. I can not do much to change the way health care is done in this country. I can vote. ]]

        And, that, perhaps is part of the problem. Folks seem to not realize what power they have, or have given up thinking they can do anything, or are just making excuses for their inertia, or expect someone else to do it.

        I don’t think the activists who worked for labor rights, woman’s suffrage, ending slavery, civil rights, environmental protections, etc. sat around saying there was nothing they could do to implement change in those areas.

        • Anonymous

          This is true. However it could not have been done without a strong president. A good example of this was LBJ who worked with civil rights leaders. 

          In some ways I feel that we now live in a time when protesting and being an activist does not seem to matter anymore. I’m thinking of the health care debate when the Single Payer group was left out of the negotiations and where even removed from hearings. It seems to me that what you are advocating just does not work anymore.
          I hope I’m wrong, but somehow 2+ million people could descend on Washington tomorrow to pretest the lack of health care and I doubt it would change one thing. Not one thing.

          You make a good list of things that people fought for. Well all of those things, with the exception of slavery, are now being dismantled. 

        • Brett

          Activism is much too institutionalized now. All groups, on both sides of a given issue, know how to properly protest within the parameters of the law, and the power structures have refined how to properly use such groups and allow them their “voice.” Activism IS the status quo as it plays out these days; it’s tired and predictable.

          Our true vote is not at the polls, it’s where we plunk down our money. On this point, I can agree with you that people, as individuals, can develop action. They can choose not to bank with one of the big banks, people can choose not to drive their cars so much, people can choose not to shop at Wal*Mart, people can choose to boycott certain products/big box stores, people can organize within their communities to get whole neighborhoods off the traditional energy grid, and so on…the trouble is trying to rally a large portion of the population to act as a block so that the impact of their actions is really felt in the corporate world. 

          I have more than a few friends who live in rural Pa. Some landowners are leasing their property to the natural gas companies, some aren’t. As individuals, the ones who are leasing are getting big bucks each month (something that really isn’t benefitting their community at all), while their neighbors who’ve said no are not only not benefitting, but are being subjected to possible contamination of their ground water…How do we build consensus in our communities to develop a vision of what we want our communities/country to be?  

  • LinP

    With a heavy heart and grave disappointment I have come to believe we elected someone not up to the task–unseasoned and inexperienced. He has let events control him, not the other way around. His quest for  bipartisanship seems to be a cover of a need to be accepted, liked, and exalted by everyone. He leaves me bewildered.

  • http://twitter.com/Mahmut_Albayrak Mahmut Albayrak

    I think that nothing happened to obama. I think that one of the reason of the question is the frustration which every american is feeling for the lack of leadership skills of Obama. regardless of the post he occupies he is aware of the fact that he has no power and strenght to play determinant role for the determination of the future of the country. The is established power which no american president can not challange. obama was not aware of this fact before he became president of the usa. He came to the conclusion that ıf he wants to lead this country. he has to get along with the established powers. I think that everyone will come to that conclusiıon anytime soon. The question we have to ask is how we can preserve democracy and rule which is the only power that can rectify the established powers that trigger that corruption of the society we live in.

  • Anonymous

    The boat is leaking and listing to one side.
    The Captain calls for all hands to man the pumps.
    Down in the hold, the Tea Party and mainstream Republicans are drilling holes in the hull decrying the failure of the captain to right the ship.
    He can’t throw them overboard nor can he shoot them. This is the new Republican politic: Party before Country.
    They just put the Nation at great peril for political gain.
    They jammed up Washington for months offering no relief on unemployment.
    They have no business calling themselves patriots or represenatives of the people… The Voters will have to recognize that they can’t give these sabatouers anything close to a majority or we’re all going down… glug glug glug.

    • Geri

      Bush drove the car into the ditch – O’bama drove it off the cliff!!!!!!!!!

      • Boston mom

        You thought that global meltdown was a ditch? I’m betting the millions who lost jobs and houses and families would beg to differ with this characterization of what happened on Bush’s watch. The truth is, this has been coming for presidents now, and all of our leaders have contributed to our new reality. As long as the status quo remains, and deregulation continues (asset backed securities STILL are unregulated?! What?!) this hideousness will continue. I am scared of where it will wind up. 

        • Anonymous

          We werem not jsut teetering on the edge of the cliff in 08, we were slipping off. Under Obama we stopped on the edge of the cliff. Now the Tea Baggers are trying to push us closer to the edge.

          • Mill

            Yup, it’s always someone else’s fault. As long as there’s “them” to blame for all evils, “us” can release a sigh of relief and avoid introspection.

    • Steve

      An apt analogy, Warrior, except for one detail. It’s only the True-Believer, delusional Tea Baggers who are actually in the hold drilling holes. Mainstream Republicans aren’t risking their necks. No, they’re all hiding in the lifeboats, snacking on champagne and caviar, and giving the Teabaggers orders to “Drill, baby, Drill! Drill there! Drill now!” And when the ship finally sinks, the Mainstream Republicans will simply dump their trash into the sea and row away safely to the Cayman Islands, which is where all their wealth is hidden anyway.

      • Anonymous

        Agreed – The Republicans hiding in the life boats are deserters. Their time to stand up to the Tea party, to stand up for the People, to cast a difficult vote passed.

  • Dee from NYS

    Apparently beating Alan Keyes for his Senate seat and making a rousing speech in front of a sympathetic crowd at the DNC convention was not the rigorous training for Leader of the Free World we all thought it was. Not a mistake I plan to remake in 2012.

  • Anonymous

    I voted for him in both the primary and the general and am disappointed with him.  He inherited a huge mess but has failed to be bold enough to fix it.  He wasted too much time trying to compromise with the Republicans and pandering to the middle.  The way to get the swing voters is to deliver results not to offer platitudes about bipartisanship.  Not passing a sufficient stimulus, letting the senate drag out health care, extending the Bush tax cuts, have proven to the Republicans that he has no clue how to negotiate.  He had a national mandate and squandered it. 

    • Brett

      I agree. He had considerable political capital after the inauguration; and, as you say, he squandered every last bit of it trying to be the “post-partisan president.”

      • Mill

        Quit your belly-aching, you too. The spell of “lesser evil” will draw you in within 12 months, and you will be singing “Hope and Change v.2″ as you vote for Obama one more time. Never underestimate the power of human mind to delude itself and offer rationalizations.

  • Anonymous

    As a disappointed supporter/voter, I have to say that Pres. Obama has diligently hunted every snipe put before him in DC. 

    Combined with his non-reaction to the economic crisis (as opposed to the banking “problem”) and his fixation on deal making instead of problem solving, he’s a complete fail. 

    I’m looking forward to writing in Russ Feingold in my state primary.

  • Cime

    He’s really not the man in power! Big money is!!

  • InActionMan

    Noam Chomsky had his number before the election. I wish I had listened. I’d love to see Russ Feingold or Elizabeth Warren give Obama a primary challenge.

    • Brett

      I’d vote for Russ Feingold or Elizabeth Warren in a primary. Hell, I’d vote for a Russ Feingold-Elizabeth Warren ticket!!  

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        So would I.

  • Bruceguindon

    well the idea that Obama was the savior was laughable at the time, his biggest draw to the liberal side of the Democratic party was the color of his skin. He was after all a junior member of the Senate who opposed the war and other than that was and is a lackluster and weak ineffective   leader who really needs to have the strength of his convictions or just something to stand up for or to. The really sad thing is that I will once again support and vote for him because Sanders will not run and even sadder he will win reelection 

  • Jesse Fell

    Obama has done about as well as anyone could given the fanatacism and intransigeance of his political opposition.  When one party to negotiations accepts responsibility for consequences, and the other is heedless of consequences, it’s the heedless party that prevails.  That is why Obama accepted a “compromise” that gave the GOP almost everything it wanted.  The GOP was ready to drive the country over a cliff if it didn’t get its way. 

    I hope Obama will find a way to explain this to the American people.  He makes eloquent speeches on great general themes, and can talk clearly and persuavely about details of policy — but he hasn’t given talks on the “fireside chat” level — clear but not too detailed explanations of how we got into this mess and what he is doing what he is doing to get us out of it.  FDR was brilliant at talking to the country at this level.  If Obama can learn to do the same, he just might save his presidency (not to mention his country!).

    • Anonymous

      You mention FDR. There was a good speech that he gave in which he welcomed the wrath of the republican party and to be a beacon for their hatred. He was doing this so he could get things done and to openly challenge the opposition in the public arena. He was also letting them know that he was in charge. Obama never did this and it’s just not in him. There lies the rub. He’s a bright man, yes, in another time he might have been a decent president. In times such as these we need a Clinton or better yet an LBJ. Someone who knows how to use the power of the office to it’s fullest. Even GW Bush knew that and used the office very effectively to get what he wanted done.

      Obama delegates what he should do to others and when he should be out there fighting he’s not. I knew when I voted for him I was making a mistake but McCain was not an option for me. I think Hillary Clinton would have been a stronger president, but that’s just hindsight.

      • Jesse Fell

        I think that Obama is facing something that previous presidents have not had to deal with:  political opposition that is heedless of consequences.  The GOP really was prepared to push the country into default if it did not get its way.  This is something new.  Reagan did not play chicken like this.  The GOP rightly judged that Obama would not allow that to happen.  I don’t see how he could have done otherwise.

        But he needs to explain the situation better.  He needs to invoke the shade of Judge Samuel I. Rosenman, who helped FDR find the right pitch for the fireside chats.

    • nj

      Nonsense. Even on issues where Congress could have been bypassed by Executive Order or recess appointments, there wasn’t a whiff of backbone, resolve, or leadership emanating from the White House.

    • Anonymous

       He refused to comprehend and accept the utter unwillingness of the right to compromise  on anything, no matter how small, instead trying to reason with them and achieve bipartisanship.  Bipartisan stupidity is still stupidity.

  • PI Resident

    A greater leader must lead.
    I did not care for Reagan, but he was sure a “greater” President than Obama because he, Reagan, led.  Obama  has a failed presidency.

    Obama has given us:
     a renewed Patriot Act;
    continued Bush Tax cuts;
    depletion of the Social Security Trust fund with his 2% tax reduction;
    the prospect of reduced Social Security benefits;
    Timothy Geithner (check out his work history); 
    a weal response to Deepwater Horizon; and
    Health Care reform without reform.

    I voted for the guy/.  I gave to the guy.  Not this time!

  • P-Dawg

    Obama was the first presidential candidate I ever really believed in and he has been the greatest disappointment. He inherited a political “perfect storm” of crises in the economy, foreign policy, healthcare, the global climate–the result of 30 years of right wing policies by and for the wealthy. He squandered a once in a generation opportunity to take bold action and create a new narrative, in order to pass ineffective, middle of the road legislation–most notably a healthcare bill that looks a lot like the alternative to the Clinton plan proposed by Republicans in the 1990s. In the meantime, the right wing was busy folding his policy failures into their longstanding narrative of “Government is the problem.” 

    With his rhetorical gifts, Obama could have been the progressive Ronald Reagan: someone who redefined the terms of a debate for a generation. Instead, he’s becoming Jimmy Carter: a good man, whose impotence in politics and policy will strengthen the right wing and set back progressive politics for years to come. What a waste.

  • Chris B

    I think that a large portion of the perceived shortcomings of the Obama administration can fairly be attributed to the utterly spineless Dems in congress.  They’ve won’t press the president’s or even their own issues because, “Eewww!  The Republicans will filibuster it!”  Well, let them!  MAKE them!  Make them go on record publicly and display their pigheaded intransigence in front of the voters.  Even if the bags do block whatever bill it’s a win for the Dems if the world can clearly see their pure obstructionism.

    • mary elizabeth

      While Chris B. et al may have the luxury of playing chicken with the Repubs, the POTUS  does not.  There is often too much at stake for nation as a whole.

      • Chris B

        How is forcing the bags to actually filibuster as opposed to simply caving to their threats playing chicken?  Should the dems never take a stand?

  • twenty-niner

    Maureen Down nailed the golfer-in-chief as well:

    Obama’s response on Monday to Friday’s Standard & Poor’s downgrade
    and to the 22 Navy Seal commandos and 8 other soldiers killed by a
    Taliban rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan was once more too
    little, too late. It was just like his belated, ineffectual response on
    the BP oil spill and his reaction to the would-be Christmas Day bomber;
    it took him three days on vacation in Hawaii to speak about the
    terrorist incident when the country was scared about national security,
    and then he spent the next week callously shuttling from the podium to
    the golf course.


    Funny, I remember on the campaign, he was all about basketball, the every-man game. I guess Lloyd Blankfein might be a little short to hoop it up.

  • nj

    Good grief! On Point finally gets around to offering up some left-ish sounding criticism of Obama, and the headliner is an Ivy-league academic who makes part of his living as a message consultant to corporate Democrats.
    Most of the time the panels are organized with some level of carefully considered “balance”—mainstream media types, someone from a conservative think tank, someone from a moderately “liberal” think tank. On the whole, the center of gravity is center right.

    Opinions and viewpoints from a more strident and forceful—but hardly exremist—rarely get a booking. Now we finally get what appears to be a progressive critique, but it comes comes from the Democratic establishment. Once again, On Point engages in a subtle form of deception by narrowing the range of voices being given air time. Ugh.The good doctor was “bewitched” during the campaign? From his article: [[ Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted "present" (instead of "yea" or "nay") 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues. ]]That was the least of it. The writing was on the wall all along, as some have noted.http://www.counterpunch.org/gonzalez02292008.html

    • nj

      Dang! Not sure why most of the paragraph breaks disappeared. Discus really ought to have some sort of preview or editing function.

    • nj

      See, they just did it in the intro: “Coming up, the liberal critique of Obama.”

      “THE” liberal critique.

      “Liberal” is being defined as what will be offered by a Democratic consultant.

    • Stockwell

      NJ you nailed it. On Point where are the outspoken engaged thoughtful liberals/progressives on your show? It’s always middle of the road DNC types. How about get a panel of strident former Obama supports on to discuss why they won’t give or campaign for him again.  

    • JayB

       “Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography”

      Cripes, nj, he came up through Chicago politics.  That should have been resume enough!

      Honestly, I admire the man’s unwavering faith in building a postpartisan politics; but with the opposition party in the grip of a singularly poisonous brew of psychosis and paranoia, he isn’t the man for the day, and that saddens me greatly.

  • Janet Tracy Landman

    I read the gorgeously written NYT piece, and Drew is a friend
    of mine from grad-student days at the University of Michigan.

    I see
    no evidence, however, to support psychologizing O
    as conflictophobic, weak, or passive. The man I saw in all those
    pre-debt-ceiling “crisis” press conferences had not hung up the boxing gloves. He
    simply refused to hit below the belt.


    Given the appalling state of current public and
    political “discourse” (and all the other catastrophic circumstances
    he inherited), yes, he does have a serious deficiency.  Namely, he simply will not demagogue.
    He just won’t twist the truth beyond recognition, tell us flat-out lies, or
    bully his enemies. He will not play dirty. And for that he should be
    admired, not vilified.





    • mary elizabeth

      I agree with Janet.  We elected an uncommonly decent man who sadly, may not be able to swim with the sharks and some of the sharks are in his own party.
      The far left started trashing this POTUS six months into his first term, disregarding the enormous task before him.
      Then, the same demoralizing  extremists abandoned him and encouraged non voting as punishment, thus ushering the Tea Party to their seats.
      I have my disappointments with the President, but hold the far left as responsible for dysfunctional govt as the TP’s.
      Along with malignant greed, it is extremism that is contributing to the decline of the nation.

  • Anonymous

    How does a minority party seize and hold power?
    Whip up its base and demoralize the opposition so they stay home.
    It really helps if the Senate rules allow 10% of the electorate to control 41 seats.

    “Honest to God, Republicans must all be sitting in their back rooms and just cackling like hell right now. Think about it. They developed a strategy to hamstring the president completely — a strategy that’s bulletproof thanks to our country’s Constitution — knowing that it would rally their base but also hoping that it would cause moderates and lefties alike to become disgusted with Obama’s weakness even though we all know who’s really responsible for what’s going on. And it worked! In fact, it’s worked better than they could possibly have imagined. They can probably barely keep from spitting up their beers right now.”

    The unstated message seems to be, “Sure, Republicans have become an American nightmare. That’s obvious. In fact, it’s such a given, it’s not worth talking about. Instead, let’s denounce the White House….”


    • Ana Chamberlain

      What is upsetting is the distortion of the truth by every body. 
      The Bankers and Wall Street acting criminally. No control, no Law enforcement by the government and now the Money Interest groups paying and manipulating the news to confuse all of us even more. 
      The truth is not negotiable, and it feels that all the discussions and negotiations between the Congress and the President are base in the lies of the cover-up of big business. 

  • Cory

    What was the last effective president?  How many of the last 10 have been effective?  I think we’ve reached a point where one man can no longer command the position.  20-40% will hate any president just on ideological lines.  The rest are fickled and selfish and will quickly abandon any president asking for sacrifice.  The American people are almost ungovernable by a two party system.

  • twenty-niner

    More stimulus funds at work providing good-paying green economy jobs? Unfortunately, those jobs aren’t even in this hemisphere:

    The $1.5 billion West Texas project took a step forward two weeks ago when the Chinese government gave it final approval. The Chinese-based manufacturer will now begin shipping foreign-made turbines to Texas this month. The project’s organizers have said since November that they will seek to defray up to 30 percent of the project’s cost, or $450 million, with funds authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

    If only the Chinese played more golf.

    • Cory

      They chose Texas because it most closely resembles the working conditions in China.

      • twenty-niner

        Those working conditions are coming to a town near you, because apparently there are few in government who give a crap about American jobs and industry. They’ll fight tooth and nail for your right to collect a welfare check and food stamps, but to have a job and some dignity, forget about it. I have to admit, however, that Obama does seem support American greens-keeping jobs.

  • Steve Fernandez

    When Fernando Lugo, the Priest to the poor, was elected
    president in Paraguay, he pulled together a progressive cabinet and called on
    social justice activists to continue to demonstrate, in order to provide the
    pressure for him to enact policy more favorable to the poor and

    Unfortunately, when President Obama was elected, he
    immediately surrounded himself with a conservative / pro-Wall Street cabinet.  While President Obama has appointed
    corporate friendly advisors such as Larry Summers, Timothy Franz Geithner, and
    Jack Welch; he has chosen to reject the appointment of progressives such as Elizabeth
    Warren or kick out those few progressives that have managed to get appointed
    such as Van Jones. 

    Obama has not addressed the needs of the poor and working
    class in this country.  As Cornel
    West and Tavis Smiley point out, President Obama has refused to refer to the
    poor in his speeches.  On the
    contrary, President Obama has implemented policies that favor the wealthy and
    promote a Milton Friedman / Reganhood (Rob from the poor to give to the rich)
    economics – such as continued tax cuts for the rich.

    Rather than encouraging the support of activists, President
    Obama has President Obama has prosecuted record numbers of ‘whistle blowers’
    for have releasing public information. 
    Since President Obama was elected, the FBI has carried out a series of
    attacks against anti-war and social justice activists. While vowing to prosecute
    Bladley Manning because “we’re a nation of laws”; he has completely
    ruled out prosecuting Bush administration officials who committed crimes
    against humanity.

    Despite winning the Nobel Peace prize, President Obama has
    expanded wars and the use of death squads – deadly night raids, assassination
    by unmanned drones, Navy seal assassinations.  Not only has President Obama reneged on his vow to close Guantanamo,
    he has continued the use of Bagrem and expanded such detention/torture centers
    to Somalia.

    It is my sincere hope that President Obama face a strong
    progressive opponent in the upcoming elections.

  • Anonymous

    So pick your metaphor: emporer with no clothes or empty suit. Bill Clinton coined “it’s the economy, stupid” at a time when the economic situation of the US was hardly as perilous as it’s been since 2007–id est, it’s been the economy for as long as this genius has been President. Or pick another apt metaphor: Obama is the figurehead on the ship, not the admiral on the bridge. I recall how, as an independent voter, I dismissed Obama way back in August 2007, following his candid remarks to the Woodrow Wilson Center; each and every one of his Democratic contenders for the nomination rebuked him publicly and as severely as they dared for his “bold, audacious” candor (perhaps most pointedly, the very man he later chose as his running mate, the former Senator from Delaware); but Democratic primary voters were enamored of Obama’s charisma, not the soundness of his judgment. Democratic voters have themselves to thank, not the Republicans to blame, for Obama’s failures and his misjudgments.

  • ca_brit

    I really hope that a primary challenger emerges. I feel that President Obama is taking the liberal vote for granted and feels that liberals will vote for him regardless – this is arrogance at the greatest level. Mr President, if you want to vie for the independent voter, then you should run as an Independent and not not a Democrat.

  • Joachim110

    I am tired to listen to the lectures of Obama and the excuses that come out. I am still waiting for an Obama that comes our with action instead of his standard phrases to lecture as a Professor. What the democratic cause needs is a leader that stands up to a malicious right that has nothing mind then destruction of Obama and the social fabric of the nation. It need courage and a president that comes our fighting for what he believes not by speeches nobody wants to hear anymore but by action.
    1. Recess Appointment of all Judges that has been held up by Republicans
    2. A massive program for reconstruction and development of the nation: trains, bridges, roads, schools – get people to work and earn their money in this country and not in china.
    If the Republicans refuse shame them for their action and show the nation what kind of people these are, selfish and greedy politicians that will do anything to protect the super rich and tax the poor as Orin Hatch suggests. This nation has only a fringe of rich, get the nation back on track and show a fight for a change. We are tired to listen and want to see action and if Obama cannot show this fight we need another president that has courage.

  • wauch

    Thank you Mr. Westen for voicing a cogent and necessary critique of a man and party I rationalized voting for in 2008 but won’t again unless they show that they are not – and he specifically – afraid of being called liberals, progressives, populists, etc.
    I am quite upset with myself for being fooled by this guy and appreciate your putting in The Times what many of us have been feeling for quite a while.

  • Idakeir

    1.  Will he ever realize he’s the leader, not the Great Conciliator?
    2.  Will Democrats have the courage to find another candidate, or not to vote for him?  As long as Obama thinks we’ll just come around in the end, he won’t take progressives seriously.  I WON’T vote for him again.  
    3.  Where’s Howard Dean when we need him?  His passion, experience, and skills are much needed.

  • Joe S.

    I am 61 years old, and I have never been as disappointed in a President in my lifetime.  Starting with the appointment of Summers and Geithner, both tools of Wall Street, to preside over the economic mess where, to date, there have been no prosecutions of any of the people responsible for that mess; to the health care bill, where Obama took the public option “off-the-table” before even beginning negotiations;  to his continuation of the Bush position  on the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, executive privilege, etc; to a timid stimulus act which could have been used for large public works projects to repair our infrastructure and put thousands of people to work; to continuing to immerse us in the quicksand that is the wars in  Iraq and Afghanistan – now this debt-ceiling “compromise” where Boehner brags that he got “98%” of what he wanted.
    Obama drove the car of hope and change to the White House, parked it in the garage, and hasn’t driven it since.  At one point I had hopes that he could be an historic figure – even another Lincoln.  Unfortunately,  the only historic leader that comes to mind when I consider the past 3 years is Neville Chamberlain.

  • Dave in CT

    Obama can’t tell the necessary narrative, because of the naked hypocrisy of surrounding himself with architects of the debacle.

    0 heads have rolled. 0. Zilch. None.

    An accurate narrative, with tangible accountability, would have produced a vastly different outcome, tangibly and politically.

  • Doug Giebel

    I am one who can remember F.D.R.

    As with most politicians, President Obama dislikes

    criticism, and in interviews his defensiveness becomes

    apparent as hand gestures give him away. Also

    revealing, the calculated “tell ‘em what they want to hear”

    campaign full of promises he never meant to keep. It was

    the unabashed dissembling nature of that extraordinary exercise

    that still has many believing or hoping this President Change

    will reveal himself to be the second coming of F.D.R.

    rather than just one more craven political hack.

    What is one to make of Barack Obama’s hasty retreat

    from friends and colleagues: Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones,

    Dawn Johnsen, Elizabeth Warren and so many others?

    Cynics might infer that this president displays the traits of

    the usual politician who cares little for others and is

    incapable of true empathy at a time when empathy with those

    most in need (including the nation itself) is essential.

    Doug Giebel

    Big Sandy, Montana

  • Sam Wired

       Obama’s cry should be “Yes I can!” not “Yes we can.” He was passionate talking about the Rev Wright affair, himself and his “dreams”, his “vision” for the abstract long term, BUT he has no passion or guts fighting for us here, right now, with the values for which we elected him!

  • Anonymous

    Obama went to bat for tax cheat Wall Street stooge Geithner and dropped middle class hero Elizabeth Warren. 

  • Dave in CT

    As a country, we need to acknowledge in our greed and distraction by materialism, we got into bed with the devil of ponzi finance, from Reagan thru Obama.

    We are reaping what we have sown, and we need to find the humility and pragmatic resolve to redefine our society.

  • Tfralphxout

    I’m getting a sense that the only way NPR will allow someone a whole hour to talk about liberal policy is if it’s wrapped in the narrative failure of a slightly-left-of-center Democratic president.

  • Dania

    I wish I voted for Hilary!. Then we would have a President with balls. In 2012 let’s write in Hilary name even if she won’t officially run.

  • Chris

    America, wake up, he is as far from a Socialist as you can get.

    Obama works for the top 1% ONLY.

    He isn’t conflict adverse, he is the tool of the criminal rich.

  • Joachim110

    I hope he listens for once to this show and reads the comments realizing that the people out here think different than his advisors. These guys like Summers are people nobody can look up to and he cares to play golf with a clown like Boehner that cannot even command his own troops. Under Obama we have lost much of what Democrats stand for and Obama has in his whole presidency not for once shown a democratic cause. Perhaps he has never been told that being President involves more then speech and signing papers, it’s a fight for a worthy cause, the rights and welfare of a nation. Time for Change to another President!

  • Mass Mike

    1-He ran an unconventional campaign and is governing in a very conventional way. 2-He ran a campaign that allowed supporters to organize and initiate action but has taken centralized control over Obama for America.  3-He ran a campaign that mobilized new voters but has neglected these people’s interests in his policy agenda and rhetoric. 4-He communicated aggressively in his campaign but has neglected his role and power as an educator and has not reorganized his approach to confront the right-wing media machine.  And these are choices he’s made and reflect his character and his politics. 


  • Sara Giannoni

    Clearly there is not enough political support for the sort of agenda we might want. We shouldn’t expect that everything would be passed in the traditional way but he hasn’t had the votes in congress.  Instead I would like to see the president work on a process that will engage, maybe like campaigning but campaigning for legislation rather than an election. They should be creative, don’t just give speeches about how the economy isn’t as strong as it should be, everyone knows that. I’d like to hear a specific policy goal, i.e. payroll taxes, then back up with non-partisan research and stay on it. Ask for our support, I will likely make calls encouraging constituents to contact their representatives in support of researched non-partisan policy ideas.

  • jim

    I keep telling liberals… it all started when Obama let Rahm Emmanuel leave Congress for a job in Chicago. Do you think FDR did not have his R. Emmanuel equivalent? of course he did not! In my opinion the Democrats have no gut to stand against this (uncouth) Republican group in the House. if and only if Rahm Emmanuel were to come back and face a spineless Eric Cantor…

  • Idakeir

    PS to my prior comments:
    Obama’s presidency clearly shows our constitution needs to be changed.  I’m no longer interested in party politics, but in constitutional changes.  Many, many Americans – left, right, center, know our system is broken, and Washington does not represent We The People.  Going back and forth between two parties both beholden to big money does not work.

    Places to start: 1. Money out of politics (that’s not completely possible, but the current situation is obscene and corrupt) – undo Citizens United.  2. Fair/nonpolitical redistricting.  3. Term limits for Congress and Senate.

  • PaulCJr

    I believe the president hasn’t been able to make the changes he talked about is due to the fact that even though American hear why we need to change, talk the talk of change, they don’t want to make the changes and bare the hardship it will take to move forward. Americans are complacent now. Plus he also campaigned on be a uniter and back in the day, such as in FDRs time, they didn’t try to bring both sides together and solve issues. They just followed their party line and policies. Another example of American complacecy was the attempt at national health care. Obama tried to change it and the people beat him down over it. Obama hasn’t failed, the American people have failed. We’re losing our position in the world due to our own lazyness. Sad.

  • doodles

    Obama is doing a lot more than a superficial assessment will reveal, and the pundits and commentators are forgetting what he inherited, and that he needs a certain amount of votes to put things through. He fought long and hard on many issues, but they Republicans obstructed every single attempt for purely political gain at the expense of the country.
    However, Obama will still come out stronger, because “reality has a liberal leaning bias.” That is the future of the 21st century.

    – Tom Barlow – Burlington, Vermont

    • TFRX

      Between an NPR host and a liberal guest we’re 1/3 thru and nobody has mentioned the gobstopping Republicans in Congress.

      With lefties like this, who needs a Rolodex Republican on the panel?

  • nj

    Some of Obama’s record that there won’t be time to cover:

    New or expanded wars.

    More “free trade” agreements in the works.

    Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block.

    Promising to eliminate lobbyists from his administration and hired dozens of them.

    Continuation of Bush’s habeus corpus abrogation, military tribunals, rendition. Actually supports expanding unconstitutional surveillance of U.S. citizens. Renegged on promise to close Gitmo.

    Refusal to investigate BushCo crimes.

    Was for universal coverage single-payer until he was against it. Health insurance reform that will provide huge windfall to insurance companies by forcing people to buy crappy products with no effective price control on their lousy products.

    No criminal prosecution for Wall Street/bankster criminals.

    Supports opening marginal arctic areas to drilling.

    Crack downs and suppression of government whistle blowers.

    FBI raids on antiwar activists.

  • Jemimah Holbrook

    I think this guy’s talking out of his rear end.  What are his credentials for making these judgements??  People are critical of Obama because he talks straight, doesn’t spin and actually acts like an grownup, putting his ideals and ego second and actually trying to make changes in the only way that works: slowly and thoughtfully.  He inherited a damned mess on so many fronts and the world has changed since FDR’s time.  Our world is so much smaller and interconnected and “America” isn’t the superpower it/we used to be. 

  • Dave in CT

    Reagan sounding good.

    • Chris

      Reagan was the presidential actor who pretended he was for the people while doing everything he could to destroy the American middle class.

      • Dave in CT

        Nice hyperbole, and of course, like all politicians, Reagan of course folded to the masters of finance as well, which we need(ed) to hold accountable.

        But the idea of freedom, vitality and opportunity vs socialism, lack of individual initiative, and the malaise of central planning, is still true.

        If America wants to become socialist, democratic socialist whatever, then people should make those intellectual arguments.

        We can have freedom and markets, as long as we are vigilant against corruption and collusion. We have not been vigilant and are paying the price.

        • Chris

          The system is corruption.

          • Dave in CT

            ….and so…… put all the power in a central government that will inevitably be corrupted, yet impossible to dislodge?

            Or try to leave as much power distributed through the country in States and individuals, who, may become corrupted, but at least leaves the opportunity for us to reject them and choose others.

        • Chris

          Corruption is the system.

  • Prmiller03

    Yes I wanted a real liberal who would, at the very least, provide pushback to the Republican narrative which has dominated policy for 30 years.

    Viewing his actions in light of his words a reasonable person can only conclude he is a liar.

    He has damaged the democratic party and liberal ideas for generations. He had a mandate and he threw it away, he is still throwing it away.

    If a democratic president won’t prosecute Wall Street and stand up for social security, medicare and medicaid then what is the point of democrats as a political party?

  • Chris Hildreth

    there are glaring differences between Obama and our times and any other president and theirs…the 24/7 cable news outlets, internet, facebook, and blogs.  

    • Heidi in Burlington, VT

      Yes, and Obama should be using them to his advantage; he’s not.

  • ca_brit

    Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks has got President Obama down to a tea. Mr Obama talks tough at the outset of negotiations, then at the 11th hour he folds like a pack of cards. President Obama I can see right though you when you sugar-coat compromise when it’s actually capitulation.

  • ben

    People say that Obama is in a tight spot and simply cannot succeed
    given the make-up of the congress.  Not true and not helpful. The
    President needs to develop a back-bone and fast or he will indeed
    be a one term president.

    • nj

      Arguably, if someone with conviction really wanted to make significant change, they would declare that they would only be a one-term president so they would have to worry about re-election triangulating.

  • Cindy

    I think Mr. Westen is being naive about a certain fact that Mr. Obama has had to deal with his entire life – as a black man, can you imagine how the right would howl and insinuate at the “angry, scary, out of control black man” meme?  Just look at how Fox news described his recent birthday party: as a “hip hop celebration.”  They let no opportunity pass to brand him as “other, and scary, and somehow just vaguely unsavory.  

  • Stockwell

    Drew Weston — My new hero. Keep telling it. Obama blinked. He’s conflict adverse. We need someone to stand up for the middle class and Obama and DNC is in Wall Street’s pocket. We’ve turned into the United States of Corporate America. 

    • Dpweber83

      “He’s conflict adverse.”
      Averse…you mean averse.

  • Dpweber83

    I’m a Democratic organizer, and I cannot tell you how frustrating liberal critiques of the president are.  He didn’t campaign as the progressive of your wildest dreams, so why are you upset that he’s not governing as the progressive of your wildest dreams?  And the fact of the matter is that no president in my lifetime has brought more of the progressive agenda to life.  There’s an awful lot of baby in the bathwater that my fellow progressives seem so eager to toss out.

    Boston, MA

    • Dave in CT

      Now the source of your defense of the status quo becomes clear.

      • Dpweber83

        What are you talking about?  I specifically lauded Obama for some of the changes he’s made—how does that amount to a defense of the status quo?

        Boston, MA

        • Dave in CT

          When I have attacked the status quo system and institutions and practices here, you have quickly attacked my premise, and essentially been arguing their is nothing wrong with the corruption of BOTH parties, and how they are flushing the promise of liberty and markets down the historical toilet, by soiling the Rule of Law and the American experiment, that many of us, party aside, still believe in.

          IMO, with respect.

          • Dpweber83

            “soiling the Rule of Law”

            Please provide a citation.

            Boston, MA

          • Dave in CT

            I think the onus is on you to cite examples of how the blind Rule of Law has been respected and followed throughout the Wall St./Fed/Fannie-Freddie, Government/Capital special favor, look the other way, credit rating joke, bail out old pals and current politically expedient new pals, corruption and collusion orgy.

          • Dave in CT

            The blind rule of law is about opportunity and accountability, for Everyone, not and elite corporate/government revolving door class.

            Progressives and Liberty types can agree on this, and IMO the future lies there.

          • Dpweber83

            “I think the onus is on you to cite examples of how the blind Rule of Law has been respected”

            Oh you do?  Why’s that?

            Ok, fine—the Raj Rajaratnam case.  DADT repeal.  Every successful prosecution everywhere in this country.  Do you honestly want me to list every single time the rule of law has been upheld in this country over the last three years?

            Boston, MA

          • Michael

            Can we say “Democratic organizer”

    • Michael

      Keep thinking that way and see how what happens in 2012. Obama is no progressive.

      ” And the fact of the matter is that no president in my lifetime has brought more of the progressive agenda to life.”

      Second life maybe? cause it’s clearly not reality.

      • Dpweber83

        Obama didn’t campaign as a progressive!  

        Lily Ledbetter, health care reform, Dodd-Frank, DADT repeal, a challenge to DOMA—if those don’t count as progressive victories, I don’t know what does.

        Boston, MA

        • nj

          The insurance windfall legislation was rubbish. No public option, hugh profits will flow to insurance companies as citizens will now be required to buy lousy products. The legislation provide no effective mechanisms to control what the insurance vultures can charge for their crappy policies.

          Sure, there are some crumbs thrown to the masses, but overall, this will serve mainly to profit the insurance companies and won’t do much, on the whole, to improve health outcomes.

          • Dpweber83

            “The legislation provide no effective mechanisms to control what the insurance vultures can charge for their crappy policies.”

            That’s simply not true: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act#Overview_of_provisions

            If “freedom from health care-related bankruptcy” counts as a “crumb,” then sign me up for crumbs.

            Boston, MA

        • Michael

          health care reform- no public option,no single payer, windfall to phama madd progressive there,instead of modelling after Sweden they modelled after romneycare.

          Dodd/Frank- threw Warren under the bus, cut funding, excluded car dealerships, nearly almost completly watered down.

          BTW doesn’t Dodd get most his campagin dollars from Wall Street? Heard Frank was up there as well.

           DADT- still waiting.

          Lily Ledbetter- progressive or just the right thing to do?

          He did keep Gitmo, increased drone attacks, still in iraq, afganstain, and now Libya, Still got the P.A. act, Targeted assassination of american without due process,extension of the bush tax cuts, payroll tax cuts weakening SS in the long run, hiring of lobbyist,  military trials over cival ones, Attacks on leakers of government misconduct(more than bush btw), combining the CIA with the Military, cowtoeing to Wall Street (say GE) . Giving up nearly every time so far on closing loop hole or even paying for the wars we are in. He even qoutes Ronald Reagan and have continue many of bush’s policies.

          “Obama didn’t campaign as a progressive!” but has acted as a Corp Centerist republican Which he didn’t campaign as such either.  

          • Dpweber83

            So, your critique of health care reform is, “Because they didn’t do it exactly as I would, it’s worthless”?

            Re: “threw Warren under the bus.”  That’s a funny way of spelling, “Set her up for a Massachusetts Senate seat.”  Also, “nearly almost completly” [sic] is my new favorite phrase.  What could it mean?  We just don’t know!

            Re: DADT. For what??

            Re: Lily Ledbetter. Are those two things mutually exclusive?  No?  Then why are you asking this question?  Unless you’re just trying to move away from an issue where you’re outgunned.Re: “Still in iraq, afghanistan.”  Obama’s doing *exactly* what he said he would do in both countries.  If you’ve got a problem with that, fine—but this is what he said he would do in 2008.

            I’m sure you’d do a better job as president.  So why not put your money where your mouth is and run for the job?  Go ahead and see how your message resonates with the 85+% of the country who don’t consider themselves progressives.

            Boston, MA

          • Michael

            “Obama’s doing *exactly* what he said he would do in both countries.  If you’ve got a problem with that, fine—but this is what he said he would do in 2008.”

            Iraq- increasing the state department there to the biggest in the world mostly hired mercs? missed that one. Still no end in sight on afganstain. 2011 to 2014 and this is not even talking about reducing more than the forces he added.

            “So, your critique of health care reform is, “Because they didn’t do it exactly as I would, it’s worthless”?”

            critique would be a nice of a saying a failure of a bill. besides the massive give aways to Phama, forcing people to buy over priced and sub-par services health care along other things. clearly puts it in the worthless Category.

            “Re: “threw Warren under the bus.”  That’s a funny way of spelling, “Set her up for a Massachusetts Senate seat.”  ”

            Is she running? what you don’t know so why claim that’s the reason? sounds like a another apologist excuse. As for the Dodd/Frank act and the set up of such. are you disputing it’s not watered down and nearly de-fanged?

            As for “outgunned” cleary that’s obama’s field of expertise. And if your a organizer soon to be yours.

            “I’m a Democratic organizer” and from boston I assumed you worked on Marta C run for the senate? talk about outgunned.  

          • Dpweber83

            What do you mean you “missed that one”?  Obama’s drawing down in Iraq on the SOFA schedule—just like he said he would.  And he said repeatedly during the campaign that he was going to add troops to Afghanistan.  What, exactly, is your point?

            Re: Warren. Like I said, I’m a Democratic organizer.  I’m not pulling this s&%^ out of thin air.

            I didn’t work on the Coakley campaign—I actually carried some water for Capuano.  But please, continue to make assumptions.  You’re really good at it!

            Boston, MA

          • Michael

            “I didn’t work on the Coakley campaign—I actually carried some water for Capuano.”

            “You’re really good at it!”

            Not as good as you are carrying water for CapuanoWho was outgunned by Marta Coakley with nearly double the vote. 47 to 28 btw

             Great job there.  Guess your new to the whole thing.


            P.S. again for iraq the obama white house now on mutiple time have requested for the iraqi’s to ask them to stay not only have been stated that the state department will be the largest in the world close to 50k mostly merc. Not what obama said. 

            Warren. Like I said, I’m a Democratic organizer.  I’m not pulling this s&%^ out of thin air.
            Again she’s not running as of yet so I take it your making excuses until such occurs

          • Dpweber83

            I’m not so new as to have to ask “Is she running?”

            Read, and then kindly shut up: http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2011/08/12/_2012_massachusetts_senate_elizabeth_warren_hints_at_scott_brown.html

            Boston, MA

    • nj

      What baby? I see baby progress. Don’t ask, don’t tell repeal, some environmental regulation progress, vehicle fuel standards…

      Not much else that i can see. Enlighten me.

      • Dpweber83

        Health care reform
        Lily Ledbetter
        DOMA challenge
        Allowing private contractors to sue DOD for sexual assault
        Keeping the economy from falling off a cliff
        Saving the American automotive industry
        Killing Osama bin Laden

        …shall I continue?

        Boston, MA

  • Jemimah Holbrook

    AND you say that the average American doesn’t want big corporations to be in charge and as powerful as they are, but these same people aren’t doing anything to change their reliance on the big companies.  They aren’t thinking for themselves.  They also say they don’t want big government, but they say that it’s up to the government to solve their problems.  How about these lazy, spoiled people changing some of the ways they live; consuming without thought, being wasteful, living beyond their means on credit!  I blame the people, not Barack Obama!

  • John

    Tom can you ask your guest to discuss the administration FDR had on his staff that helped lead the policy? I am convinced that Obama has selected many people in his administration that were part of the problem and not the practical minds that would help us move forward. It would seem based on the backgrounds of many of his administration selections that he had no intention of changing business as usual in Washington.

  • Dave in CT

    How anyone can be an Obama apologist when his answer to the financial crisis was to surround himself with its architects and apologists is beyond me.

    Trying to keep the financial criminals in the fold, fearing loss of their political support, instead of clearly calling them and their corrupt system out and moving to prosecute, keeping a healthy rule of law, says it all.

    Politics and status quo over a rule of law that satisfies America’s sense of justice, fair play, and yes, freedom.

    • Michael

      Wow we agree,

      But i’m sure we will here some good ones as to why appeasing the Wall Street crowd is somehow not what it looks or sounds.

      • Dave in CT


        Why wouldn’t we agree? Put aside party labels and affiliations and all the knee-jerk tit for tat, and follow the money, and most of us should agree.

        Short of people who sincerely believe in a Socialistic or Communist or China State Capitalist vision, and don’t believe in the humanitarian value of liberty, we should all be able to largely agree.

        But the 2 party crap and our lazy allegiances have really ruined our chances.

  • Anonymous

    There it is. FDR<: “They are unanimous in their hatred of me and I welcome it”. It does not get any better than that.

    After all it was FDR's administration and strong democrats in congress that brought the Glass–Steagall Act into law after the banksters led this nation into the Great Depression. 


  • Dave

    I slightly disagree with the comments about the stimulus.  Obama probably wanted a bigger stimulus in early 2009, but had to scale it back to receive the votes of moderate Republicans Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and (then Republican) Arlen Spector.  Without those three, the plan would never had reached the required 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.

    Dave Olnhausen
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    • Anonymous

      And wouldn’t a larger stimulus have resulted in a faster or lower downgrade?

      • Heidi in Burlington, VT

        No, because we would have had more revenues from employed people, more money in the economy from employed people, invigorated infrastructure, etc.

        • Anonymous

          So, borrowing $1M for the government to spend makes the economy stronger?  If this was the case, wouldn’t the $1.5T/year in deficit spending that Obama has presided over and the massive spending increase over Bush’s biggest year have stimulated us to already be out of this recession?

      • Theproof

        No it wouldn’t have — the economy would have made more of a  recovery and momentum and inertia would ahve been with — not against the economic state of the union.  Besides, you are misled — the downgrade is only a result of the Tea Party / GOP NOT NOT NOT — the level of debt.

    • Theproof

      Dave — you’re 100% correct — Obama had a majority, unfortunately, the majority didn’t have his back — he needed every vote to do what he did — he would have needed a 85% or better majority to get more than he did what with the likes of some of these so called democrats.

  • Dpweber83

    WOOO CURRENT CALLER!  More power to you!

  • Webb Nichols

    Here is my guess. Being shuttled around and abandoned throughout his life abandonment by anybody is painful. And he will compromise to avoid
    such a situation as opposed to becoming a rugged individualist with independent beliefs.

    And so he became a Community Organizer willing to compromise, accomodate at all cost in order to simply move things forward. the process becomes more important than the outcome.

  • TFRX

    “The best way to fix the budget deficit is to put people back to work” is what people in the center believe, per Westen.

    All I know is what I read in the papers. When does the media start reporting on what the middle believes? Thanks to their inability to follow Fox and Rush they’ve been hyperventilating about the deficit CRISIS11!!11one!!1 for months.

    At this point in the business cycle, that’s folly.

    How, exactly, is this mediascape going to reflect anything Obama does accurately enough to change any narrative?

  • Alden

    Place me firmly in the “disgruntled” pile of those who voted for Obama. Where is the fight beyond his rhetoric of fairness and principle? He wants to get credit for what he says about Republicans, even as he continues to whittle down the Hope that we saw in him by capitulation to those who most want to destroy him. Perhaps his “Hope” will join “1000 points of Light” and “No Child left Behind” in the political lexicon of unfulfilled slogans.

  • Greg

    Contrast David Cameron’s firmness yesterday with Obama who seems incapable of anything more than transparently manufactured rage.  Someone needs to explain to him he wasn’t elected to be Queen.

    • Michael

      of course when Cameron finally returned from vacation and the riots were still occuring both when he returned and after.

  • Jemimah Holbrook

    BRAVA to Cathy who just called in!!!

  • Anonymous

    This woman is intolerable who is on the air now.
    FDR was facing the same kind of push back Obama is.
    She’s offensive and disillusion.

    • TFRX

      A record number of holds and filibusters? The seamless adaptation, without question, of “60 is the new 50″ in the Senate?

      IOKIYAR was invented in the ’90s for a reason.

    • Jemimah Holbrook

      FDR lived in a completely different world than the one in which we lived. He lived at a time when Americans weren’t afraid to work hard for what they wanted.  Now, so many think they’re entitled, they don’t aspire to a good, solid job and a modest home. They think it’s okay to use credit to build a McMansion, they want great health care but they don’t want to have to contribute to it.  Hell, most of them don’t even really know what’s going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Greece, Spain.  We are a society that has very little incentive to think independently so we all jump on the first bandwagon to pass by. I’m not disappointed in President Obama, I’m disappointed in my fellow Americans.

  • Michael

    nasty comment from the caller. the health care bill is junk.

  • listener

    Kathy is making a lot! of sense

    • Stockwell

      Kathy is not informed. We are still at war and Obama is starting more. Obama and DNC could have let the Bush tax cuts expire when DNC held congress. He’s  thrown Civil liberties into the trash can endorsing psychological torture.  He’s a terrible negotiator. His advisers are all from Wall Street.  EPA remains gutless. Global warming capitulation. What part of the Obama administration would be different if we had a middle of the road Republican in the office (which is now an endangered species.) 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, caller from New Hampshire!  Must be breathing real air up there!

  • Chris

    “Dyed-in-the-wool liberal lady caller” is totally delusional and obviously doesn’t pay attention to what Obama does, only what he says. And they are complete opposites.

    Obama is working for the criminal elite.

  • Nicola Smith

    I think there are fair criticisms to be made of Obama, and Westen makes some good points, but his attempts to analyze Obama’s political weaknesses, as he perceives them, through a psychological lens are presumptuous and even facile, given that Westen has presumably not met or talked to Obama at length. 

    • Anonymous

      I agree. That was one part of the article I was not convinced with.
      However he is right about his lack of ability to engage the public using the bully pulpit. That part of the historical idea of the presidency Obama seems to have forgotten.

  • Gregorclark


    Your guest is correct: Government of, by and for the people is dying, and Obama’s lack of spine is hastening its demise.

    Time after time over the past couple of years, polls have shown that the American people strongly favor a policy move. Three key examples:

    1) A majority of Americans wanted a public option in health care.
    2) A majority of Americans wanted the tax cuts on the ultra-rich to expire.
    3) A majority of Americans wanted a mixed approach (spending cuts and increased revenues) to our debt crisis.

    Obama could have, and should have, stood up ADAMANTLY for the people’s will, even when the Republicans tried to bully him into backing down. Instead, he backed down every time, and America is suffering deeply for it.

    I worked so hard to get this president elected, I went to his inauguration and brought my kids. I felt so proud that day. Now I feel utterly disillusioned. I will write in Bernie Sanders or vote for ANY other candidate over Obama in next spring’s primary. We need a fighter for the working and middle classes.

    Gregor Clark
    Middlebury, VT

    • mary elizabeth

      And they wanted it in a mere half term.  Bernie Sanders is a lovely man, but could never govern a nation.  He has a one track mind.

  • KB

    I voted for Obama and still believe in him, but I am disappointed that he has allowed himself to be bullied by the Right.  I expected him to use the Bully Pulpit to better effect.  

    • Heidi in Burlington, VT

      Right on! That’s my disappointment, too. He should be speaking on behalf of the people who elected him. Instead he seems to resent and blame them.

  • Montmartre

    I could not agree more with Drew Westen but a large part of Obama’s problem is his lack of courage in confronting the Democratic senators and representatives who are also controlled by the corporate-financial interests in this country.  Look back to the important changes in trade, and regulation that were made during the Clinton presidency.  I live in New York and can tell you who pulls the strings on our senators.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregor-Clark/1353081590 Gregor Clark


    Your guest is correct: Government of, by and for the people is dying, and Obama’s lack of spine is hastening its demise.

    Time after time over the past couple of years, polls have shown that the
    American people strongly favor a policy move. Three key examples:

    1) A majority of Americans wanted a public option in health care.

    2) A majority of Americans wanted the tax cuts on the ultra-rich to expire.

    3) A majority of Americans wanted a mixed approach (spending cuts and increased revenues) to our debt crisis.

    Obama could have, and should have, stood up ADAMANTLY for the people’s
    will, even when the Republicans tried to bully him into backing down.
    Instead, he backed down every time, and America is suffering deeply for

    I worked so hard to get this president elected, I went to his
    inauguration and brought my kids. I felt so proud that day. Now I feel
    utterly disillusioned. I will write in Bernie Sanders or vote for ANY
    other candidate over Obama in next spring’s primary. We need a fighter
    for the working and middle classes.

    Gregor Clark

    Middlebury, VT

    • Anonymous

      A majority of Americans also wanted
      *No closed door deals
      *The public should be able to read every bill for at least 24 hours prior to it going up for a vote.  Not the Pelosi Obama policy of we have to pass it for you to know what it does!
      *The public also wanted the UAW to stay in line during the auto bailout and not be put in the front of the line by the Obama administration.
      *A leader in the White House that could “lead” not let Pelosi and Reed do all the dirty work of legislating.
      *More domestic energy production
      *Less funding of foreign sources of energy… Not Massive loans to Brazil to drill offshore

      • Michael

        “*No closed door deals”

        Like the whole debt ceilling debates all behind closes doors.

  • Michael

    Kudos Drew Westen against the apologist.

  • Anonymous

    This short clip says it all.

    Our goverrnment is out of control and Obama isn’t making anything better.


    • Tncanoeguy

      Congress controls the purse strings, all the president does is accept or reject their budget.  For years now Congress hasn’t had the guts to ask us to pay for the services we want, and we’ve been stupid enough to think that will work.  We’ve elected Dems who want the services and Republicans who want low taxes.  We’ve gotten both and now we’re in a mess. 

  • Dh001g

    I believe the left is not as organized as the right. The right wing was able to mobilize shock troops to push their agenda. The left has not done the same thing. If people on the left want to change the view of government they need to go and follow up in making sure the tepid voters who Obama brought in are fired up so they can retake the house. Its all about turnout. The disaffect majority votes democratic. Instead of tearing down Obama, which will drive down turnout they need to go out and make it happen. Politics is power. Right now Obama doesn’t have it. People who want more from him need to give it to him and then flex their muscle to make him do their will. There is a need for electoral reform. We need to eliminate corruption. Still as thing stand have two choices to get influence, bring $100,000 or 100,000 people. Only then can the left recapture the narrative.

    • TFRX

      The left has to recapture the narrative as much from the media as from the right.

      This media, for example.

    • Cindycb

      What I remember most about Obama during the campaign and soon after elelction is his statement the we as Americans must fight as well, he can not do it alone – that “together” we can. We must force the hand.

      I agree, and to add, Dem.s are not bent towards sensationalism, and mostly untrue rhetoric away from most important issues. The extremes are truly scary to see operate on the hill.
      _Cindy Barnard

  • Anthony Seattle

    Obama has an aversion to ascribing blame, this was in the article please talk some more about this.

  • Randy Cain

    Nobody mentions the wars that are killing this country. President Obama has caved in to national security hawks.

  • Bridget

      I have read Professor Westens’ editorial, and to those who criticize President Obama as being a weak leader, back in the day Abraham Lincoln, by many accounts our greatest president, wasn’t initially able to hold the country together and it took a civil war to do it. Perhaps this crisis is comparable to that time, with both sides holding such intractable positions (esp. the tea-baggers). Our country is split, and the agenda is being driven by an outspoken minority. Whatever happens, Obama was dealt a very bad hand, perhaps impossible, but don’t rule him out just yet. Maybe cooler heads will prevail.

  • Dave in CT

    The great points on this blog say it all, plenty clear.  If hundreds and thousands of bloggers can say it better, clearer, more honestly than Obama, then Obama has a problem.

    Obama is part of of the finance technocratic circle and will never hang them out to dry.

    There is no “center” to be had there.

  • LC

    I am thoroughly disgusted with Obama and do not plan to support him in 2012.  I say this as an Iowan who was present at his first speech in Iowa, active in his caucus work and his campaign here.  
    It isn’t his avowed desire to compromise.  It is his lack of firm commitment to a position, a lack of use of the soaring rhetoric that I heard and that moved me during his campaign in support of that position.  Why isn’t he using the ‘bully pulpit’ of the Presidency and using it with that force of voice and vision?
    In addition to his weakness in the deficit ceiling negotiations, I have also seen his complicity in Wall Street’s ruining our economy with the appointment of so many insiders to his administration.  I urge EVERYONE to see “Inside Job” and learn of the tight bond between the government and Wall Street.

    • Cindycb

      If I were president, scary thought, what would I do.

      I certainly don’t understand why he hasn’t been passionate about “the cause” used the bully bully pulpit to engage and educate…

      But R.’s fared far worse in the last debacle, often they do fall on their own swords. I believe he’s done far more than we give him credit, I will certainly vote for him again.

  • LinP

    Producers–sorry to go off topic, but for years I have wanted to know what that soft, jazzy music is that you are using today to lead to the break? Could you respond? Or tell me where to find it?

  • Laurie Freeman

    OF COURSE POLITICAL RHETORIC MATTERS!! That is the whole point – the Tea Party folks have singlehandedly changed the national debate from stimulating the economy and creating jobs to deficit reduction ENTIRELY THROUGH RHETORIC!  Their arguments are NOT FACT BASED – most economists believe we should be stimulating the economy! Whoever on your show is excusing Obama for lack of leadership is exhibiting just the attitude that is dooming the Democrats to irrelevance – they say – there’s nothing we can do, boo hoo, and the Republicans say “we can get everything we want and more!” and then they do! exhibit A: the debt ceiling debate
    Laurie Freeman

    • TFRX

      Top down Astroturfing. Joe the Plumber’s Little Helper. Willing courtiers in the press–even the ones who aren’t Rush and Fox. Special Teabagger math means 10 of them equals 300 left-wingers at any public gathering.

      Let’s not ignore that the struggle for the narrative is played on a tilted table.

    • AngryYouthVoter

      This is a sad and pathetic post. Exactly the reason why the opponents can see that liberals have no spine.

  • Joachim110

    If you meet the Republicans like a wimp who can expect the Republicans to have respect for this guy? He has had great words at it his election speech but he has not meet any of this. He left the Healthcare bill to Congress instead of leading the cause while there was a majority, he wasted time to bring the change we needed. He gives away the Jewels before the discussion is over (debt ceiling) and then wonders why? Perhaps he needs some more left advisers then the right wing (Summers, Gheitner etc.) which give him different advise. His failure during his first term would be only offset if he shows a fight for what democrats stand. Otherwise we can elect a Republican as President

  • Scott B. Jamestown NY

    This show is about what I posted a couple days ago:  Where’s the guy that failed to show up? I haven’t seen him.

    I see someone who doesn’t know how to negotiate.  He promised to end the Bush tax cuts by letting them expire. $3T off our deficit without doing anything. And he caved on them more than once, and the first thing, too.

    He let the far-Right make the debt ceiling become political. He was warned by a young reporter during a press conference, and it hit him like it wascame from outer space. Then he believed that Boehner and company would play fair? Really? After McConnell said that their number one job (before the economy, before jobs, before anything) was to make him a one term, failed President.  Obama seems to be helping their cause.

    The other day he makes a speech about Standard & Poors lowering the credit rating, but does explain that THEY were the ones that brought us to our knees by running a stacked deck by taking money by the corrupt banks to give then AAA rating, among a host of other shady business dealings.  I learned more listening to Jon Stewart and his guest last night.  Facts, not pep talks.

    IF he makes a 2nd term, and I do hope he does, he needs some better people around him.  Ones that can show him where his spine is. That know how to draw a line in the sand, and compromise.

    The Lokota had “Dog Soldiers”. They would pound a stake in the ground with a several foot long tether attached to them. When the enemy attacked them they had a fairly wide circle in which to fight, but they could not, and would not, pull up the stake and leave., for these men had honor and understood their tribe’s (the US in this case) survival depended on them standing their ground. Even if they lost, their opponents didn’t walk away unscathed.  I want Obama to be a Dog Soldier.  End the Bush tax cuts. Insist on longer term unemployment and real jobs programs.   Put Glass-Steagle back in place. Get Dodd-Frank funded. But some bank execs on trial and on jail. Get the CDC, EPA, SEC, NASA, FAA funded and unpoliticized in the manner of the CBO and GAO, so that facts can rule the day and not a politcial (and let’s face it – corporate) agenda cannot render them useless.  Make the military work smarter, not just throw money at it.

  • Liberal Nanny

    Yes, Mr. Obama, congress and senate need to start acting like adults. Unfortunately, you’re not dealing with adults, you’re dealing with squabbling self-centered children. You’re going to have to be the true adult and enforce discipline. You’re on the right track, time to be tougher.

  • Amjweiss

    President Obama’s first economic appoointments: Larry Samuels, Geithner, etc. signalled that he was determined to stick with Wall Street and bankrupt free market policies. 
    I was horrifed.  But I adored him and stayed with him until he began to demonize what he and his people (Gibbs and others) called the “Professional Left” 
    It is true that he seemed to have been determined to reinvigorate the regulatory agencies and I honor his efforts in that direction althoug he is backing up from that now.
    No  I see him as a one term president.  Carter was like this too:  very sanctimonious about his own positions, Obama’s projection of himself as the only adult in the room suggests that all of us, not just the Right wingers are children.  It is a losing position.  Anyway it’s lost me.

  • Dave in CT

    As a good, strident liberal in my graduate school days, with Clinton and now Obama, I have lost faith in the narrative and for sure, the party.

    The only overt messages about preventing collusion between government and capital, that has so clearly been at play to create our disaster, that I hear these days come from the Liberty camp. Ron Paul etc.

    I like points of cooperation between Paul and Kucinich, Paul and Nader.

    Progressive Liberty if you will.

    But the Democratic participation in the corrupt finance sandbox has lost me.

  • Erin in Cedar Rapids IA

    I’m tired of being asked to lower my expectations.

  • Chris

    The climax of his Inaugural speech made me think he would prosecute the torturors and the criminals from Wall Street.

    How wrong I was.

    • Theproof

      Forget about Wall Street Criminals — if the rule of law was anything more than a pretext — Bush and Cheney would be in jail.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe the challenge that faced us in 2008 was fairly characterized in political rhetoric. There is no magic faery pixie dust that could levetate us out of this economic morass. The common belief that it would only take two years to recover from the Great Recession demonstates the naivitee of America. The challange of solving the problem has only been complicated beyond my imagination by the Republican party. What would you define the acts of a Party bent on ensuring the failure of a president to solve such an economic disaster?

  • Tom

    Thank you for FINALLY having this discussion. Obama has indeed failed to deliver virtually every progressive promise he gave during his camPAIN.  The worst offense to the USA is not holding the entire CheneyBush administration accountable for the clearest case of treason in our history.  YES, he should be duly primaried by a real progressive.  Otherwise, I won’t vote for Obama and his Corporatist cabinet, nor will I vote for any other Democrat for the first time ever.  They have proven that they are beholden to their Corporate Masters, just like the GOP whores.

  • Mosi Tatupu Mosi Tatupu

    John, your last caller, is right on target.

  • Dave in CT

    Be a Better Tea Partier caller!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    What troubles me about the liberal response not just to Obama but to the situation we’re in is the lack of clarity about where the power is.  In fact, we have access to power. Liberals need to quit yammering about Obama and figure out how take (not wait to be given) power.

    First we have to agree on who the real enemy is.  My nomination for enemy-in-chief?  The nexus of corporate money, Congress, and media.  What weapons do we have to fight them?  One big weapon:  our money, the money we’ve been handing over to them that they then use render our votes useless.

    The problem for all us lackadaisical voters is that withdrawing our financial support from (for a start) corporate media is too much trouble or too much self-deprivation.  Who, me?  No TV for a month?  But if a month without Cox or Time Warner and Fox would get some serious attention from both Congress and advertisers, would it still be too great a deprivation for you and me and several million fellow Americans?  Really?  Not willing to give that much for democracy?  How about a serious, 25 millions-strong popular decision to avoid buying gas on a specific series of days?  Or other similar political/economic move?

    Aren’t we clear yet about who owns the decision-making process?  Isn’t it within our power as citizens to act on the realization that the media and the oil companies and many other industries are taking our dollars and using them to buy Congress, a Congress that then turns and acts against our interest?  Just about every buck we pour into tempting additions in our cable lineup, to our car use decisions, to our food choices, and to our holidays, adds to the buckets of corporate money finding its way into the campaigns of politicians in our states who wind up voting against our interests. 

    Imagine this fantasy: if Medicare/Medicaid is deprived of x-billion funds by the Congress, we loudly and clearly withdraw our equivalent buying power from specific corporations that support members of Congress.

    Obama isn’t FDR, but we aren’t people in the 1930′s either.  We’re up against a new political system powered by the infamous Citizens United decision.  Money plays a far larger role in our political life than we the voters do. But we have the internet and myriad political organizers (MoveOn if you like them, but there are plenty more) to help in major, well-targeted economic strikes against specific corporations.  Just canceling our cable accounts for one month would make a bit of an impression and would be a nice start to reminding Congress who it answers to.

    So, just do it.

    More Westen for those who feel the need can be found here:


    • Sosbrown

      Here ..here.
      I’m wondering If I’m actually a liberal..i feel more like a ‘blue collar independent.”

  • Anonymous

    Can you remind your ignorant audience like the caller John that the Obama administration had control of all branches of the government for two years and they couldn’t pass a budget, pass a jobs bill, raise the debt ceiling… Obama’s lack of action has not been caused by Obstructionist republicans

    • Steve T

      Ahh come on stop being a spin artist.

      • TFRX

        “Spin artist” suggests the slightest whiff of artistry.

        • Steve T

          I guess I did give him to much credit.

    • Steve T

       I not happy with his job so far, I give a F to Obama for not getting the Obstructionist republicans out of the way.

  • Sosbrown

    Where did all this Learned Helplessness come from on the Left?
    Because it didn’t come from O’bama..I wish the psychologist would apply more of his acumen to this crisis!..”Be the change you want to see in the world.”–

  • Dave in CT

    All you chickens wouldn’t listen to Nader and voted dum-dee.  COULD THINGS BE WORSE!?

    Paul/Nader 2012

    • Anonymous

      Nader and Paul have nothing in common except for the delusion that each should be president.

      • Dave in CT

        You haven’t looked very hard.  Addressing the failings of the status quo they agree on, would do more for the regular people of this country than the promises of all our recent Presidents combined.

        Of course the establishment Dems shun Nader and the establishment Repubs shun Paul, for the same old establishment reasons.

        But keep supporting the establishment that doesn’t give two figs about you, or our country, only elite investment accounts.


      • Mill

        Just like Al Bore.

  • Tom

    On putting Perry or Bachmann in the White House: so what? Obama is no better at this point. Let the right wingnuts destroy the country even more than they did under CheneyBush so that the next TRUE progressive can do what Obama should have done: pin that catastrophe right where it belongs rather than pander to the insanity of “bipartisanship”.  There is no. such. thing.

    • mary elizabeth

      Easy come, easy go, Huh?

  • Dpweber83

    Yes, I’m sure Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell will quite literally be playing basketball together if only Obama does what Drew Westen says.


    Boston, MA

  • Realist

    Unfortunately it was his complacency as leader of the party that allowed the idiotic Massachusetts Democratic Party Leadership to allow the election of Scott Brown.

    That being said I warn all you supposed Democrats and spoiled whiners who voted in their first election for Obama that if you don’t get of your butts we will have a crazy right winger in the House.

    I am a lifelong Democrat and contributor but if you people allow one of those right wing nutjobs to get elected I will give up on the Democratic party! 

    • Anonymous

      Martha Coakley ran a horrible race.  Don’t blame Obama for that.  She thought she had the race in the bag and didn’t campaign.  Scott Brown worked hard and sold himself as a common man in a truck and enough fools bought it. 

    • mary elizabeth

      Scott Brown was elected because MA is doing relatively well and there are greater numbers of affluent  in their 30′s and up who do not want increased taxes.   It had nothing to do with Obam’a’s “complacency
      MA is increasingly Republican, many of whom vote with their wallets.

  • Deb L.

    On the one hand, I have been disappointed that Obama hasn’t been able to get more done and on the other hand, I totally see how the Republican’s are dead set on not compromising, at all. I admire Obama’s sense of negotiation but often feel that he hasn’t taken his role as the one person in charge as seriously as he could have or perhaps should have. I have struggled with the seeming lack of leadership on reversing tax cuts for the rich and see direct examples of increased need for social services but with little money. I recognize how hard it is to lead through teamwork and negotiation and often wonder if this is indeed a strategy. The Republican’s on the other hand, would never give in this easily and I doubt there is any learning that will come from it.

  • Dave in CT

    Obama never stood up to Wall St. Period. Talk about it deeply. PLEASE

  • Anonymous


    You should know that the democrats have been the only party to cut entitlements for our elderly.  It was done in the Obama-Care bill!

    • Tom

      Exactly. Where the imbeciles on the right are overt and outspoken with their disdain for SS and MC, the Dems are more subtle with their agenda for their Corporate Masters.  Which is why I won’t vote for them, nor will I care if the insane Clown Mobile that is the Liberpublican Teabagging party manages to destroy what’s left of the Republic.

    • Tom

      And might I add that if Obama had respected his electorate’s painfully agonized pleas to make it “Universal Health Care”/”Single Payer” as the whores in CONgress and the brainwashed assassins (aka, The Military) enjoy, then none of those Corporatists shenanigans would have happened. Instead, he served his Corporate Masters just swell. He should be primaried if for no other reason to show him what an Epic Fail he has been.

  • Jason B

    I’m sorry, but your guests assertion that the Tea Party is the result of Obama’s lack of leadership is completely inaccurate. The Tea Party was the result of Obama being elected. It materialized almost immediately after his inauguration, well before he even had the the opportunity to lead. 

    • Dave in CT

      The real Tea Party, not the Neocon co-opted Tea-O-Cons, was a result of utter disgust with a 2 party system in bed with the financial elite that brought us economic disaster and then bailed out it’s buddies on our backs.

      To not see the role of government incumbents in that story, in addition to the easy and obvious role of an organized capital class, and understand that aspect of grass-roots Tea Party rage is just intellectually lazy and party politics dogmatic.

  • Chris

    It all makes sense when you realize Obama is NOT A Democrat.


  • ymc

    No no, there was no Tea Party until President Obama not because he was ineffective at anything in particular (that’s a different issue), but because he is a Democratic president who also happens to be black.

  • Gaylembhanson

    Shame on the publicity hound Drew Weston. 

  • Anonymous

    Westin is either spectactularly naive, stupid or a Republican plant(get on that you young sleuths)

    While pretending to be an historian he is insulting the Progressive way of thinking, actually by being so incredibly ingnorant, of politics as well as history.

    • Tom

      No doubt.  Agree wholeheartedly.

  • Disgruntled

    I am disappointed in the discussion–a narrative that simplifies and “personalizes” Obama’s performance….WE have a structural problem with our “democracy”—first–Gerrymandering (which both parties have done, but NOW more states are in Republican control and are gerrymandered so that Repbulicans CANNOT lose!!!  This makes House elections depend on a relatively FEW swing precincts—-these few precincts control our whole legislative process!!!!!  Second of course is campaign finance & corporate lobbying etc.  These are HUGE problems that a president cannot correct….why aren’t liberals focused on these structural issues?

  • Witterquick

    Is it possible that being the first black president he is hesitant to be too forceful, worrying about his legacy and the legacy for his race?  If not, then he needs to see a chiropractor to check his spine.

  • Mozeki

    Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic. The liberals speaking on this show sound desperate and are whiners. As a young voter I decided to go for the third party option because Democrats and Republicans are no different. They don’t represent the people and it is insulting for them to say they do. All the policies Obama compromised on are NOT good enough. I agree with Westen. At this point the liberals put in place a president who is ineffective. He says we are going to address the U.S. contribution of greenhouse gas emissions to climate change, but supports the dirty industries. I am disgusted by the older liberals, they represent weakness and why the Tea party and the republicans win in this country.

    • Tom

      Noted. But do not think for a second that the liberals who “put in place a president who is ineffective” actually thought we were doing that. He made FDR-like promises, we voted for THOSE, Obama failed to produce, and now many of us are sick of defending him. In that order.

      I, too, believe there is no difference in the Dem and Repub parties. Unless Obama is primaried by a true progressive that will champion her or his base for a change, I, too, will vote 3rd party if I show up to vote at all.  It’s all fixed anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Obama’s most egregious public error in judgment recently was back in the winter when he made a deal with republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts during the lame duck sessions. A reporter asked him about the debt ceiling being put off and the possibility of Republicans not compromising down the road, and Obama said essentially, ‘I think they’ll (the republicans) do the right thing when the time comes.’ Now either he didn’t really believe this statement, or he completely lacked the kind of foresight we should expect from a president. I’m not sure what one can say to defend his remark, which set the stage for the recent economic turmoil caused by the the debt ceiling wrangling. It’s one thing to argue that the republicans SHOULD have compromised more willingly, but, wasn’t it a bit naive at that point to assume that they would?

    • Stockwell

      Manganbr, right on. Numerous tactical errors that of his own making. 

  • TFRX

    Let me correct Westen on one thing: “There was not a Tea Party until a black Barack Obama got elected and immediately failed to do everything Fox, Rush and the Koch brothers wanted.”

    And I’d like it to be a bit of a shock that caller Mark is laying some serious track about policies, procedures, and 2009. This is NPR; shouldn’t this be background knowledge?

    George W. Bush marshalled public opinion by ignoring Clinton’s outgoing xition team’s warnings about Osama bin Laden, then (until the present) playing the 9/11 card about being with us or agin us. With the help of the Beltway Inbreds.

    • twenty-niner

      ignoring Clinton’s outgoing xition team’s warnings about Osama bin Laden

      Warnings that where also ignored by Clinton:

      “State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996″


      • TFRX

        And that led to 9/11? Or are you just trying to equivocate the one with the other?

        The Bushies were so anti-everything Clinton that they wouldn’t follow Bill out of a burning building. That lead to their eye-rolling when Clinton’s team said, “Hey, this is important. Pay attention!” The Bushies were throwing spitballs from the back of the class, exerting no effort, collecting their Gentlemens’ C’s, rather than pretending to be students.

        They couldn’t be bothered to care about advice because it came from the Democrats. The results speak for themselves.

        And do you really want me to bring up the most infamously ignored Presidential daily breifing, “Bin Laden determined to strike in US”?

  • Dan

    I voted for Bush, I voted for Obama, I’ll end up voting for Obama again.  Congress is worthless right now, that’s not his fault.  Mitch McConnell prioritizing that Obama be a one term president is reason enough for me to vote 100% Democrat next election.

  • LondonGeoff

    Do I wish Obama were more confrontational in tone, from time to time? Of course. But at the end of the day, Chait is right. We tend to give too much credit to presidents when things are going right, and too much blame when things are going wrong. Bill Clinton didn’t cause the boom of the 90s, and building roads and digging holes is not going to solve our unemployment problem. Westen makes it sound so easy. I’d like to see Westen try and govern differently, given the constraints. One man cannot change a system and a political culture.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe working on infrastructure will not end the economic mess we are in, but putting a million or more people to work in the next 6 months to a year would help. Right now if you’re unemployed you wont be hired as a huge amount of companies hiring out there will not hiring the unemployed. So getting people back to work would help in the long run to address this to some extent.

      One thing for sure, this countries government is so dysfunctional right now I’m not sure there is anyway out of this mess.

      I’m expanding my vegetable garden for next year.
      I call it “the last resort garden” or the “the garden of necessity” in contrast to the victory gardens of WW2.

      • Dave in CT

        IMO personal and community gardens should be a normal aspect of our lives, not a just a disaster recourse, but of course most of us feel we are too important for such menial work.

  • Nobody’s Fool

    This program is questionable at best.  Ashbrook has always been “anti-Obama”.  And, NPR has been blowing kisses as right-wingers for the last two years (everybody wants Limbaugh’s numbers).

    Obama is not fantastic.  But he is leaps and bounds ahead of all other options.  I voted for him before and I WILL DO IT AGAIN.  No, I am not discourage, so keep your right-wing mantras.  And, your wild-eyed fanatics (who pretend to be patriots) don’t fool me. 

  • John

    i have no problem pushing the president to be more agressive in is policy towards campaign promises regardless of the challenges. May i remind everyone that we recently saw the result of conservatives demanding action in their elected officials and we saw the result and success of that determination

  • Tncanoeguy

    Obama and other Dems need to clearly articulate a vision for the country.  One that has viable public institutions and an ethic of we’re all in this together.  This is in contrast to many Republicans who would privatize everything, and further empower corporate interests.  We’ll have more walled communities and the commoners outside.  Read Thomas Jefferson on his thoughts on corporate interests and check out Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing for further insights. 

  • Margaret/ Omaha,NE

    The Extremes in America and Congress have drawn a line in the sand. Americans in large numbers do not agree. Many Americans fear their Un American one vision, one country, one race and one religion.
    I support Obama and feel he has accomplished much but has not acknowledged that this line was drawn and it does not evoke American Values.

  • Heidi in Burlington, VT

    Rather than calling it a “shared sacrifice” we should call it a “share responsibility.”

    • Scott B, Jamestown NY

      Heidi, that’s perhaps that smartest two word catch phrase I’ve heard.  Are you running for Congress?  :)

  • Reedarandy

    When Oboma was elected the expectations were very high, probably too high. The problems were so great that it was unlikly he could solve them. The discord that so many people have will only get wors until the everyday persons quality of life improves.

  • teg

    Coin toss? I don’t need no stinking coins! I’m still going to vote for BHO!

  • http://twitter.com/areallycc Margaret

    The Extremes in America and Congress have drawn a line in the sand. Americans in large numbers do not agree.

  • Paula

    Mr. Weston–that is exactly what the liberals said about Al Gore and Jimmy Carter.  They couldn’t tell the difference.  That is how we ended up with Reagan  and Bush 2 and look where that got us. WAKE UP!

  • Davidb

    The comparison to Bush’s ability to get legislation passed in meaningless.  Bush was dealing with Democrats who were willing to compromise and want government to work.  Obama is up against Republicans who don’t believe in government action, want to defeat him at any cost, and are willing to crash the econony to do it.


    • Dave in CT

      It’s easy to spend other people’s money to give everyone what they want for votes.  Not sure that is how we should want “government to work”.

      • Anonymous

        Well, doesn’t that depend on what everyone wants? I want to pay taxes and get services in return. Services such as: safe food, clean air, clean water, public infrastructure, scientific research, funding for education, unemployment benefits, and so on. People want various things, they elect representatives who want the same things, then we hash out which things we want deserve to have money spent on them. What exactly is the problem with this? 

        • Dave in CT

          If the money is there, fine.  I think our eyes are much bigger than our stomach.

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

    That’s why when I reach 66 yrs old I am retiring in the Philippines. fresh air, no life pressure, got my relatives to take care of me or maids, Healthcare is cheaper if I need a specialist I can just fly to America with American passport, fruits and vegetables are fresh and doesn’t cost so much, relax at Boracay or Cebu, don’t pay a lot of taxes, no excise tax for cars,no federal tax only VAT for everything and most important of all people smile all the time. A lot of Americans are retiring in the Philippines and you don’t have to follow politics. Life in America is so stressful and that’s what makes Americans get sick all the time.  Just to let you know

    • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

      Oh I forgot no credit card bills and $800 to $1,500 a month budget is enough to pay bills.

    • Anonymous

      And there’s always the comforting thought that, below the nice cushion you’ll be luxuriating on in the Philippines is a strata of the really poor making sure you have plenty of people, cheap and “smiling”, to provide you with inexpensive food and take care of you.

      • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

        Yes you can say that but you haven’t retired in the Philippines and you’re still here. We have one of the biggest Mall in the world and 5 floors, the Poor people will never bother you as long you are not Manny Pacquioa or Imelda Marcos with millions of money in the back. We have floating casinos, White and Black sand beaches. We have 5 star hotels better than Boston or New York. The people speak english and Americanize. So come and visit it. It will make your life stressless or stay here in America and work until you pay all your debt and healthcare cost. Have a vacation see the culture. Strata is not a layer of soil that can be wash away with water for good.

    • william

      The worse thing about the Philippines is it is a failed nation. A country that displayed such economic success until the 1960′s and now is just a job training machine for it’s people. Hundreds of thousands of it’s citizens have to spend years, if not their entire lives overseas working because their country is a failure. The never ending corruption and failed political system just grinds up people and tosses them aside. Sure, cheap medical, maids, food, nice beaches, but still, a failed nation.

  • Charlie mc

         I supported Barack Obama in the election, I continue to support him in large part, but I believe that the Macchiavellian plot of the Republican Party to put Obama’s non-reelection at the top of their agenda as witnessed by McConnell’s post-inaugural promise, has undermined the entire possibility of dialogue between the parties, one of Obama’s chief hopes. In addition, Obama’s surrounding himself with Alan Greenspan chauvinists who rejected Brooksley Born’s clairvoyance of the oncoming financial disaster, set a keynote to his apparent weakness to Republican close-mindedness.
         It is late, but not too late to recoup. Brooksley born, come on down!

  • Cindycb

    Wow, seems we’re all over the place with Obama. First he’s suppose to bring the parties together, work together to get things done, I believe compromise. Then he’s suppose to have passionate, liberal convictions and shout them out, as all of us liberals probably do every day at our televisions.

    Yes, I’d like to see him fight back hard, but I also appreciate his level, reasonable, and skillful leadership.

    And, hey, if the numbers aren’t there, then all the passion, and possibly burning bridges won’t matter, will it?

    No matter what, this President has saved thousands of jobs, saved us from an economic depression and absolutely he has my vote – and if nothing else people, vote for him again or the other side wins and that would be… I don’t like to speak of it.

    _Cindy Barnard

  • Khenry15

    No one talks about the racism which is one of the engines behind the unprecedented obstruction of this Presidency.  The Tea Party’s etiology no doubt includes racist ideology and Obama’s seeming reticence could probably be analyzed through the perspective of racism’s cunning effects on all of us.

    • Anonymous

      well said

    • Michael

      Much of the undercurrent of the tea party is clouded with racism, but talk radio and right wing media has found ways to be racist by using trigger words to imply such while not being openly racist. So onced called out on it can claim there monkey puppets are some how not what it seems. these teabaggers love the minorities who openly make racist and bigoted claims against there own. (Kevin Jackson, Michael Steele) it’s how steele got elected the RNC after claiming the recession was the fault of poor blacks buy McMansion with there welfare checks, not wall street or CDS.

      Foxes attacks blacks have some great example of this.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      There is no evidence of racism in the TEA party.  TEA party actions are entirely policy focused.  Your assertions are quite disturbing and diminish the calling out of true racism.

      • TFRX

        Really, almost beyond retort. I was gonna post some links. But anyone interested can find them themselves.

      • Anonymous

        Haha. That was funny. Tell us another joke.

    • Scott B, Jamestown NY

      The Left needs to call out those that had racism at it’s core. Birthers. Gingrich and his “loud tribesman”, etc., and ask them to explain themslelves. Even the “I want my country back!”, people. Back to what? White Presidents?

  • joe

    Obama is no FDR. FDR had gut instinct. Read any biograhphy on the man and you will see he had that knack of connecting with all types of people. Reagan and Clinton had it as well. Obama is too timid. He put together an academic economic team (no business savvy person on his team?) in what has been described “the Great Recession.” Economic theory isn’t what the country needed then or now! Obama doesn’t know how to fight and use the bully pulpit to his advantage. He is great with words but unfortunately that doesn’t put people back to work. He has lost most of the country and I doubt he can get them back unless the Republicans put up a very weird candidate. Obama is disappointing and has let the country down.

  • Dave in CT

    We need the grand bargain of smaller, government, with revamped tax codes that do have a progressive angle, but that are simple, transparent and do not allow special favors and constant deep suspicion about who is taking advantage.

    The right will never be able to sell the idea of unlimited wealth and power accumulation being an acceptable aspect of freedom.

    But the left will never be able to sell the idea that debts and deficits don’t matter and that a vast nanny state is better than the experiment in American liberty.

    Live by example, call out ill-doers etc etc. But we don’t need a paternalistic, baby-sitter, sugar-daddy government, when transparent, free markets and basic, limited safety nets, will suffice.

    We have a responsibility as individuals to live smaller, for the sake of the environment and the economy.  But our materialistic and consumptive culture of entitlement to everything from ipods to living to 100, is really a sad, and self-destructive joke.

    • twenty-niner

      We have a responsibility as individuals to live smaller, for the sake of the environment and the economy.

      Yes, and we need role models like this to show us the way:

      “Al Gore, Tipper Gore snap up Montecito-area villa. The Italian-style home has an ocean view, fountains, six fireplaces, five bedrooms and nine bathrooms.”

      • Steve T

        Yeah his light bill is probably six time my monthly rent.

      • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

        dont be jealous he made a lot of money making the documentary film and Al Gore was born rich his father was a cattle rancher. Black Angus Farmer FYI.

      • TFRX

        Ah, the old “Al Gore should dream of living in a corridor” argument.

        • twenty-niner

          Nah, corridors are for unemployed Americans promised Green jobs that went to China. Mansions are for didactic liberals.

          • TFRX

            You really don’t get “noblesse oblige”, do you?

          • twenty-niner

            No, I’m more familiar with “Qu’on leur coupe la tête!”

          • bec

            Get a room, you two

      • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

        Find your Niche or be like CheeseBoy a Yale grad that makes grilled cheese in Boston T stations.

      • bec

        Here is one of the things I love about people who support free-market principles.  They bleat about how unfair it is to vilify the rich for being “successful”, yet whenever its a liberal – all bets are off.  Nope.  If its a lib, they’re a fraud.  If its a conservative well hells bells…they EARNED that money and they’re entitled to keep and spend it in any way that they see fit and SHAME on you for even questioning it! 

    • bec

      Uh…”deficits don’t matter” was actually a quote by Dick Cheney.  Last time I checked, he wasn’t a liberal by any stretch of the imagination.   Look, this fantasy of the right being all fiscally responsible with their “limited government” (read: “starve the beast”) and “revamped tax codes” (read: “trickle-down economics” a la Laffer) has been tried time and time and time and time and time again.  What the right needs is some new ideas – since we saw what deregulation and huge tax breaks did for our economy over the past 10 years.  You’d think the right would tire of performing the same experiment with OUR money expecting a different result.  It doesn’t work.  It hasn’t worked.  It won’t work this time.

      When you say “nanny state”, you’re of course referring to…..what exactly?  I love this question – I always get a different answer whenever I ask it.

  • Adrian from RI

    Tom, my greatest worry is that Obama is going to be the Second Coming. The First Coming being FDR in the 30th.
    FDR was an economic illiterate whose avalanche of constantly changing and contradictory laws, rules, and regulations assured that America could not recover from the depression started by Republican Herbert Hover. FDR’s unconstitutional actions condemned Americans to lives of great poverty and misery. Yet, he is praised in our history books and by the semi intellectuals at NPR as if he was the Great Savior.
    President Obama can assure himself an FDR like place in our history books and eternal praise by our semi intellectuals, like your guests Drew Westen, by unleashing an avalanche of laws, rules, and regulations to assure that America will not recover from the depression started by Republican George Bush. FDR’s “New Deal” was a very raw deal, indeed. Do you really want more of that?
    Tom, to give your show some semblance of objectivity, you should have invited as one of your guests the history professor Burton W. Folsom, author of the book “New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America;” and you could also benefit by studying the book “Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal.”

    • Anonymous

      So lets see, Hover’ policies made everything worse and FDR put millions back to work. People like my grandfather. The bottom line is he lead the country out the Great Depression for better or worse.
      What regulations are you talking about? Glass-Steagall that brought back some sanity into the banking world after a decade of unbridled abuse of the system. It’s interesting to note that Canada has some very strict banking regulations and they did not have the banking or housing problems this country did.

      My biggest worry is people with your mindset will get their way and lead this nation to a deeper level of despair.

      • bec

        Too late, Jeffe – Adrian cites Burt Folsom as his author of choice, thus revealing his acceptance of NeoLibertarian biased content.  People like that already got their way in 2010 and DID lead our nation deeper into despair under the banner of “Tea Party” republicans (read: Birch Society inductees) Folsom is a revisionist history professional with think tanks like Free Enterprise Institute, Mackinac Center and Foundation for Economic Education.  These think tanks have ties to Dow Chemical, the RNC, the Federalist Society, John Birch Society, Koch Brothers, the insurance industry…the list goes on and on.  Whenever someone starts touting Hillsdale College chairs as their source for historical context, you know you’ve just met a hardcore Objectivist/Free Market zealot.  Just move on, dude.  This one can’t be saved.

    • bec

      I have an equal suggestion for you, Adrian.  Put Rand’s books down and back away.  Pick up any of the hundreds of unbiased, non-partisan historian’s books and read them.  I don’t even have to suggest one.  There are literally thousands of books out there for you to choose from if you’re brave enough to step outside of your bias bubble.  Folsom is revolutionary to you guys simply because he offers a fig leaf under which you may hide that real agenda:  greed is good.  In previous eras, that ego-centric blather was rightly shunned as damned near sociopathic.  (recommended reading: what happened to the John Birch Society when their true agenda was exposed)

      Look, I know this is falling on deaf ears.  I’ve had years of arguing with libertarians back when I was one and saw my party being hijacked by Rand zealots.  I’ve given up on your side, but I was just throwing a bone out there in case you’re the last remaining hardcore libertarian who actually practices free thought.  They say I’m a dreamer…

  • Cabmanjohnny

    No, he is no FDR. FDR put the crook banksters on the stand. Obama put them in cabinet positions like his predecessor insuring none would be held accountable. What a disappointment and what “bought” empty suit of clothes.

  • Theproof

    In the 2010 election of the Tea Party to Congress, the country reacted to what they saw as liberalism run amok.  How strange considering that the President governed from a centrist right or moderate conservative position.  Indeed, a valid argument can be made that says that “Obama care” is a republican plan.  Certainly, the wars, Guantanamo Bay, the Bush Tax Cuts are all “conservative” initiatives.  Even the dreaded “spending spree” stimulus was 1/3 tax cuts – and I believe that another 1/3 went unspent and has subsequently been returned to the treasury via the budget negotiations?  Repeal of DADT was widely supported by the GOP.  Gun laws have not changed.  The list goes on and on.  Could it be that the TP/GOP are just that much better at lying to the masses and painting this remarkably pragmatic president as a communist, socialist, fascist, traitor?  Why is it that those who have eyes cannot see?  This TP/GOP want to return the US to their ideal of the gilt age of pre-FDR pre-Great Depression, pre-child labor laws, pre-40 hour work week, pre-women’s rights, pre-social rights, pre-modern Age.  They want Christian Rule — not US constitutional rule of law.  They want rule of and by the rich.  They want to end the middle class.  They want to end education.  They want to destroy our environment.  They want to mislead, misinform and double speak.

    For progressives, liberals & democrats here is my little question:  Will you abandon this president and accept the rule of they who you want this one man to fight against — go ahead — see where it gets you.  They will strip you of any fight you have left in you.  they will strip you of your rights and they will bring about what they really really really want — the end of days.   Or if they can’t get that — they’ll settle for some more money.

  • Anonymous

    If there were ever a time we democrats need to have our President’s back its now.

    The stakes are way too high, they’ve never been higher.

  • RJ in RI

    Obama’s cardinal sin was to let the Wall Street get away with murder. With the momentum he had when he got elected, he should have set up a fast track court on the Wall Street with a guillotine in its backyard. Instead, he was played like a fiddle by the Wall Street scum. Disgusting. My election contribution next year is going to Ralph Nader or anyone who runs on his platform. 

    • Dave in CT

      We need to say this every day, and demand Tom addresses this in every political/economic show.

      Its so very simple, and its exploration so important to real reform and accountability IMO

    • TomK in Boston

      Maybe was played like or a fiddle – or maybe did exactly what he wanted to do. THAT is a huge question – is he weak, or is he the stealth candidate of the oligarchs, the “trojan horse”, the “manchurian candidate”? Maybe  the birthers were on to something.

      Whatever the reason, you are absolutely right that the failure to get a handle on wall st is a disaster. We’re already hearing complaints about gvt regulation, just 2 yrs after deregulation almost (and maybe not almost!) brought us Great Depression II.

      Why, as we wallow in deficit hysteria and go a binge of cutting everything that makes the USA a developed society, is a financial transactions tax taboo? A small tax per transaction would have no effect on real investors and would damp down the crazy swings of high frequency computerized trading. What’s not to like?

    • Only1redhead

      We live in a two party country, whether we like it or not, which in itself in divisive and candidates should all get the same amount of $ to campaign with – level the playing field. However, we do need to have his back and keep pushing him (Obama), because anyone disappointed in him and voting for not voting at all, voting for another Dem, voting for Ralph Nader (how many times is he gonna run and loose? Maybe he should use his $ for something that is a better return on investment), – anyone not supporting Obama in 2012, you will all be the responsible for running us even further into the ground and rewarding the Republicans, Tea Partiers!

    • NotEasyBeingGreen

      I’d add to his “cardinal sin” a close second: no prosecutions for the torture regime of George W. Bush. Obama has ducked virtually every issue in which he might have had to be confrontational, from taking on Wall Street to going after torturers to demanding tax reform. Either he’s not at all the person he claimed to be or he’s so obsessed with being liked by his enemies that he couldn’t ever imagine not giving them everything they want. He can forget about my time and money in 2012, not to mention my vote.

  • TomK in Boston

    Obama is a disaster. He is a trojan horse, a manchurian candidate. By proposing the class warfare policies of the right from the position of a supposed liberal president, he has been able to do more damage than mccain could have ever done. If a TeaOP president had put SS and medicare “on the table”, focused on deficit hysteria and austerity while ignoring jobs and asking no sacrifices by the rich, the Dems in congress would have stood up for their core principles. When a “liberal” dem president does the same, they just go along.

    I won’t vote for Obama no matter who the opponent is. IMO Romney is more liberal.

    • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

      My real name is Achilles and I was born on 9/11.

    • Chris

      I agree with you on Obama.



      • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

        really i think all Politicians are Corrupt not only one party.

  • Khjacobs

    The problem with psycologists regarding bullies is that they take a different tack than the Christian perspective (which Obama says is where he takes his way of dealing with the world).  Psychologists say to fight back and act like the bully, while the Christian perspective says to trust God and not be an egomaniac thinking your way is the only right way.  The weird thing is that republicans tout that they come from christian view point, but that act like old testament bullies.

  • Dave in CT

    Zero Wall. St./Financial elite accountability.

    Dems had the whole government for a while and the bully pulpit the whole time.

    What on earth could be wrong?

    Don’t tell me establishment Democrats are just as culpable as establishment Republicans in coddling Wall St. manipulators and of course can’t turn on their masters!  Gasp!

    Obama hoped he could nuzzle up and beg for a few scraps from the elite to throw to the public, but they haven’t played nice!

    Do you want scraps or do you want your country back?

    I Socialism or China-style State Capitalism the only answer now, and we can’t have fair/free markets and liberty any more?  Have both parties scared you so much you are ready to hand everything over to the Corporate State, never to get it back?

    Do you want scraps or do you want your country back? 

  • DaniellaKii

    One phase of Political troubles for Liberals began After Republicans lost the House & Senate in 2006 when their strategist stated that the only job Republicans have going forwad is to “Make the Democrats look bad to their Constituants”

    Mr. Bush then took out his rusty veto pen and went back on the campaign trail repeating that “the Democrats were not getting anything done.” 

    The first to bite was Bill Moyers who — rather than focusing the on the need for Campaing finance reform — began trashing Democrats at
    almost evey one of about 180 shows. In the mildest he’d equate Democrats with Republicans without proof and At it’s worst quote the most radical Republicans like Ingram, Kudlow, members of congress, – without attribution! — describing it as “People” are saying….

    Then there was Arrianna Huffington who practically minutes before had been in love love love w,Cheeny then McCain, views resembling Pat Bueroneously more than enyone else, used her posituin on erroneous detestations of Kerry & Hillary and became elevated into some kiind of queen of the Left. And not that long ago she &Vanny of the Nation when interviewed by Farid Zkaria about their apparent efforts to bring a Liberal President down…Both praised the Tea Party which was organized by some of the same people who went after Clinton!! All of which seems to swell the ranks of disgruntled Liberal voters busy with their lives and not psychic who stayed home last November.  It didn’t help that James Carvil wrote a delusional book
    that the Democrats would now be taking our country back for 40 years, While Michael Moore seeemed to believe that just because Obama won the country had now turied into Oakland, Northhampton,
    Greenburg and Boulder. When in fact only 43% of white people voted for Obama. And while The Nation told Nader not to run in 2004, where were they when 93,000 people voted for him in Florida in 2000.

    Under Obama we did get the long fought for increase in Milage of cars, which the Gas & Oil Party hates, Equal Pay for Eqaul work,
    a Good Bye to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Consumer Protection agency
    set up, Not to mention elimination of Pre Existing condition scurge,
    31 million more covered, and reduction of Health Insurance Profits
    from 30% of Premium dollars to 15%. This not to mention huge increase in the time people are covered under unemployment so
    people like Engineers can preserve their knowledge and don’t have
    to give up looking and work for Staples. As Happened when the Republicans had all braches of Goverment after the Dot Com bubble

    All this under some of the circumstances described by callers–but let’s not forget that all of the Republicans who now control the House AGAIN?!! already voted to Privatize Social Security! And while
    it would be satisfying if Obama operated like the Radical Right Wing Totalitarians do when in charge The Democrats actually RESTORED
    OUR DEMOCRACY in 2006 (i.e. Minority Party Rights & Oversignt)
    And some day after Health Care reform begins to be implemented and
    is strong enough to be reformed more the kinds fo changes to it that
    Progressives have wanted  (that also reduces cost) will be able to trued.

  • Elizabeth Shriver

    Kudos to the caller who said she cut out Westen’s article, balled it up, and threw it in the trash. I would have done the same had I not read the article online.

    Westen’s critique could not have come at a worse time, as the stock market continues to tumble, and the 2012 elections draw near. The purists on the left who’d love to see a primary challenge to Obama had better hope they don’t get what they wish for, because a Bernie Sanders-type leftist doesn’t stand a chance in the general election. We either stick by Obama, or usher in the next GOP presidency.

    • TFRX

      You recognize, I hope, how the very existance of this article from “even the liberal New York Times” plays into the angstrom’s width of acceptable positioning for a Democratic president in the mediascape.

      Remember l’affair Weiner? It was impossible to escape the description of a left-winger we liberals supported because of his attitude and his policies as someone who made it difficult for Obama to compromise with Republicans.

      There was never a narrative in which Clinton was popular with the press, only the voters. And the press was the last place to recognize how unpopular and failed Shrub’s presidency was.

      Funny how that goes.

      • TFRX

        Oops. Let me close that ital.

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

    To all those College grads living in their parents. Try using your credit card to Buy a Food truck. that would be a great start to make a living. Tons of Food trucks in Boston are showing up. You don’t to rely again from Useless Politicians from Washington. Remember what Kennedy said
    Don’t ask what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country” (is that a right quote I wrote).

    • Chris

      I saw a documentary on food trucks. They cost around 80,000.

      How many college grads have 80,000 worth of credit on their credit card? Even if 8 went together and bought it (assuming they had a 10,000 credit line,) could 8 people live off the profits?

      Try using some basic math.

      • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

        really 80 thou you must be wrong Chronicle on channel 5 said it coast 3,000 for a used one. I wonder who made that Docu you saw probably Tea Party follower. it must have a AC and flat screen too.
        there on in MIT they serves Thai food.

        • Chris

          3,000 for a used food truck?

          Are you talking about a hotdog cart?

          A used car is more than 3,000.

          • Brett

            Then ya gotta keep the hot dogs and buns…er, inventory fresh. Oy! How many hot dogs can one sell in a day? How long would it take to pay off that $3,000 for the hot dog cart? Maybe one could sell candy bars, too? …Although, I will admit, cupcakes ARE big right now! Of course, people aren’t looking for the nearest Hostess cupcake truck, I don’t think, anyway…it would have to be more of a specialty/boutique item; an artisan cupcake kinda thing.  

          • GLH

            Why not buy a riding lawnmower and a weedeater and go out cutting grass? The roads are full of them in NC. There are traffic jams of them in Charlotte. House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas explained it well to Reagan in 1986:”You can’t have an economy by styling eachother’s hair and delivering pizza to eachother.” Even worse things than losing the equipment and your credit and your backers’ credit could occur. You could get sued for poisoning or injuring someone. Paulie Walnuts could come along and bust your head with a bat for being on the wrong corner. You could have no business and be paying for depreciating useless crap. All this outdoor stuff is seasonal and Winter will come. You can’t keep house with a mower or a steamtable. You have to pay rent to store this stuff. The days of the self-made small timer are over. The vendors in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC  use illegal alien labor, often slaves, and no one cares, and no one objects. College grads these days are lucky to have a pack of turkey wieners in the fridge. I can see Bashful Barry Obama right now gnawing a slaw and chilli dog, bragging ’bout the filthy rich “crating jabs.” That dog won’t hunt!

          • AKIL LAKY

            I got my 2001 car for $2,500 with 55 thousand miles on it. by the way, how come you don’t believe this FilipinoBoston? it seems like you get goose bumps everytime he/she post on WBUR. Relax man.

        • Anonymous

          The problem with this idea is one needs to know how to cook and do it well. Selling hot dogs wont cut it. Also a decent food truck is way over $3500. That show Chronicle should be taken with a grain of salt.
          Then there is the license and inspections not to mention inventory.
          The reality is one needs at least 20 to 30k to start a business like this.  I’m not saying it could not be done, it could. But I doubt to many recent grads could get the kind of credit line one would need to make this work well. In fact I doubt many could get loan in this climate.

      • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

        try talking to real people with Food trucks not talking to a TV mister couch potato. there’s one that sell cup cakes and bbq truck in dorchester and more.

  • Rob (in NY)

    Many fellow New Yorkers (of different political leanings) share my assessment that President Obama represents the national equivalent of a former failed NYC Mayor, John Lindsay.   Like Obama, Lindsay was a charismatic man,a gifted orator who could inspire people, was orginally well liked by most voters, and was probably elected more on these personal attributes than a specific political philosophy or legislative agenda.    Unfortunately (like Lindsay), Obama has failed to translate these personal attributes into a specific agenda.   Simmiliar to Lindsay, Obama has also proven himself to be an inept executive with little or no managerial talent, long term vision, and quite possibly the worst negotiator that has ever occupied the oval office.  

    While I lean center/ right on most issues, I originally hoped that Obama would at least be a competent  center/left President that I could disagree with, but at least respect.  I have almost entirely lost hope that this will happen.    While some of my fellow Republicans may disagree ,given our nation’s history with race relations I DID NOT want Obama (as the first African American occupant of the office) to be viewed as a failed President.    I believe there is now significant risk that Obama will be among the list of Presidents who fail to accomplish much of anything.  

  • Anonymous

    So, according to Jonathan Chait, the persuasive power of rhetoric is overrated.  Apparently he’s not aware of the “tea party” whose creation and power is solely a creation of words, almost all of which are inaccurate if not untrue.  The power of rhetoric, properly used, over rational thought, has never been more apparent.  The fact that intelligent insiders like Chait don’t succumb to such BS seems to have blinded them to how the masses can be and are manipulated.  Or, if you prefer, led.

    • TFRX

      When the difference between FoxNation and Fox News is negligible, any 98-pound weakling of an idea can be made to look like Captain America. Hell, even that hack Rick Santelli at CNBC did the job of coopting Sally Housecoat and Joe Lunchpail.

      There’s a reason the right has a laundry list of dogwhistles: The existence of a propaganda machine to go with it.

  • David D Ward

    I’m not mad, just disappointed, though still hopeful it is not too late. And, I think Drew Westen nailed much of the problem we are seeing in his outstanding article. The callers to the show this morning (and even Tom) seem to forget that when Barack Obama came to office, HE HAD A SUPER-MAJORITY IN THE SENATE!!!! It was only after his dispiriting “abdication” of leadership on the stimulus and healthcare, which he handed off to Congress for them to “lead”, that the dispirited Liberals and independents in my state allowed Scott Brown to take Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, and everything became impossible. Anyway, President Obama seems to me to be a great and good man who may have exactly the wrong skill-set for a Democrat president in our time in history. He is a community organizer, skilled in taking people in a community with disagreeing viewpoints and priorities and helping them to find common ground to go forward on a decision requiring group action. On the face of it, this seems a great skill-set for a president. However, this skill-set is completely worthless if a substantial portion of the community is not at all interested in the good of the community (at least not until after November 2012), in fact is willing to ‘destroy’ the community financially and economically to “prove” how bad things are, and really is only actively fighting hard to make sure that the community organizer fails, hopefully looking bad while he does it. In that situation, “compromise” with such a group is not a good, it is naive or cowardly “appeasement” of a bunch of bullies. I do not believe Barack Obama is a coward, just naive to how low the Senate colleagues he used to share a building with would go. He thought they would work with him for the good of the country. How sadly mistaken he was. I think he has some fight in him, but he really needs to look deep inside to find it, and he better do it quick or I will be a LOT more angry and frustrated after the inauguration of President Romney.

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

    I will just sit here on my ass waiting for Politicians to give me a job or write something bad or good about them on WBUR and waste more time.

    I am true with Politics. America is broke and our kids got no future. China’s kids got more future than us.

  • Tina

    Thank you for having this show!!!

    • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

      You’re welcome Tina. This would be our 4 weeks of straight talk about useless politicians in Washington. We never ever had a topic about how to create jobs in America. We always Rely from the government to solve our economic problems which they created to make us miserable for life. Our next topic is about the Tea Party who divided America so much since Obama was elected in office and of course Republicans/Democrats. god bless and take care

  • David

    To those liberal defenders of Obama who blame obstructionist Republicans for any Obama shortcomings, have you forgotten who had control of both branches of Congress and the Presidency for Obama’s first two years???  The Democrats!  Also, I’m a registered Republican (independent at heart), and I voted for Obama, but not next time around.  He has already gone back on too many campaign promises (e.g. closing Gitmo, ending the wars, no signing statements, green energy, and more), and he has never explained or apologized once for saying a certain thing on the campaign trail and doing another once elected.  I thought I was electing someone who would have the humility to admit mistakes and do this kind of explaining and apologizing.  Frankly, I think Obama’s arrogant, as is Mitch Mcconnell, who I detest, so this is hardly a partisan post. 

  • at

    Obama–Bush it’s all a manufactured illusion. The only people who have been in power since the Reagan administration has been Goldman Sachs and their ilk. Why not do a show about that? IS the truth too simple to make a thousand radio shows? Or is their control of the media that total?

    • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

      I hate Ronald Reagan he supported Marcos until to the bitter end during the 1986 People Power Revolution for wasn’t for Senator Kennedy and other Senators. Marcos will still be in office and might have butchered 1 million Filipinos in EDSA. Reagan supported dictatorship, The Iran-Contra scandal and more but he believes in UFO or being from other planets whiich I Like.

      • ClifClifford

        Do you realize that your comment has nothing to do with what AT wrote? Not that you shouldn’t express yourself. I just was wondering why here? Was it just because they mentioned Reagan? 

    • GLH

      It’s just that total!

      • GLH


  • Simpsonslaw

    I am a Independent because there is no other place to go.
     Weston and others like him are why the Republicans have the power they have and our country is in the shape it is in.  The liberals grumble and complain and people like Weston fuel the fire of discontent.  Once again the liberals fail to put the blame where the blame falls.  What does it mean to “draw a line in the sand” when the line means people who are suffering will suffer more (unemployment benefits and social security checks threatened).  What good is victory against the conservatives when the people you are trying to help (the poor and middle class who are suffering) get nothing because of that victory and are worst shape.  The Liberals who are complaining the most are those who don’t have to worry about where their family’s next meal will come from, how to pay their mortgage or rent and decide if they can afford to that their children to the doctors when they get sick.  It’s easy to get support for your point of view when you are receiving feedback from other Liberals who are in the same situation as yourself.  Liberals like yourself are not doing bad in this economy because your portfolio is down 5%.  Bad is when you no longer have a portfolio or 401K because you had to use it to live off of over a 3 year unemployment period. 
     The Democrat representatives are weak and will always be weak because they will not band together and support the democratic president (Obama) or each other. They are the ones who have no back bone.  They are the policy makers, not the President.  They are part of the reason that we are in this mess, because they let the Republicans and Bush lead us down this path. 
     You can be discontent and vote for a Republican if you want, but you, as always, will be the reason the country is the way it is.  If Liberals were so unhappy with the way Republicans “Rule” this country there would never be another Republican President.

    • J M M

      First, Republicans have not gained power because of Liberals like   Weston.  
      Second, I am liberal, retired, small amount of savings and worried to hell about what this right wing congress will do to my husband and I.  
      I sat yesterday and listened to a dear friend who has an ill child that has cost them all their savings and they live from pay check to paycheck with no way to save or and have no hope of putting
       their two very bright girls through college.  They left the Republican party last election to vote for Obama – now they say they will not vote at all next election as they feel special interest, corporations now own congress.
      We did need a strong leader who did not isolate himself to the White house…who stayed in touch with those who elected him and continually reached out for their support.  You would not have had MI, WI elect right wing governors.  I remember when he was on The Daily Show and when Jon called him to task, he lifted that nose in the air and proceeded to tell Jon what he had done..an arrogance that I have learned to dislike.
      We do need a primary challenger..And I suggest someone who can be tough with congress and that would be Hillary, if she could be talked into running…and this time I would support her over Obama.  I left her for Obama before but I was wrong.  She WOULD beat him this time.  We do not need a third party right now..but we do need a primary challenger who can beat Obama and win the electorate.

    • Anonymous

      Portfolio? Who TF has a portfolio? This liberal has no idea what you’re talking about. I’m not doing well because I don’t have a job. 

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      S wrote: “What does it mean to “draw a line in the sand” when the line means people who are suffering will suffer more (unemployment benefits and social security checks threatened).”

      Sometimes you have to stand up to hostage takers or they’ll be back for more. Obama had the GOP over a barrel with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and he gave away the store. The most they GOP could do was throw tantrums. He would have had MORE leverage to do good things if he let them expire.  

    • Anonymous

      Want to know how I figured out that you’re not a liberal?  Its because you floated that tripe about liberals having “portfolios”.  I know lots of liberals.  Tons of them, as a matter of fact and not one….NOT ONE…has anything resembling a “portfolio” like you’ve said.  Hell, most of them have two jobs or more just to keep the lights on.  Most don’t have 401Ks anymore because they were wiped out by the market.  Most don’t even own homes because they couldn’t afford to buy while living hand to mouth.  So these “liberals” you’ve conjured are just that – a fantasy.  One constantly promoted by the likes of Rush, Hannity and O’Reilly.  THAT is how I know you’re no liberal.  Hell, do you even know a liberal?  (No, your CPA doesn’t count, either.)

  • Cat

    Amen!  We need a progressive liberal on the 2012 presidential ticket.
    I hope a challenger will take Obama off the ticket.  Mr. Obama is the most disappointing president in my lifetime.  He’s not the worst, he’s
    just the most disappointing — because I believed in him.

  • Atomreyes

    Why is a clinical psychologist talking about politics?

    He says “I wish I knew what his (Obama) childhood was like?”

    Well–there is the best selling autobiography! Hundreds of articles.

    Pull this guy quick.. he is a one trick pony who wrote a book and an op-ed Obama.

    He makes like one comparison–to FDR and is not that informed in my opinion.

  • Me

    Most of Obama’s problems are a result of broken promises he never intended to keep. He was never going to close Gitmo, end indefinite detention, military tribunals or accelerate Bushs’ withdrawal from Iraq. He was never going to keep lobbyist out of his cabinet or stop signing statements. He excoriated Hillary for suggesting the individual mandate that is now part of Obamacare. There was no way he was going to raise tax rates on the rich in this economy. To the extent he has been successful it was in the most partisan divisive way. He talks eloquently of harmony while making vile accusations. His extreme left policies have had disastrous results and there is no one left to blame but himself.

    Many of us not surprised at any of it except for how many people actually believe n “Hope and Change”. Touchy-feely slogans do not a leader make.

    • Anonymous

      I think what is being discussed here is that his policies are in no conceivable way “extreme left” as you put it.  That is the problem.  His base is furious because his policies have all been so right-of-center that they don’t resemble the Democratic platform anymore.  Take your Rush talking points back to Freep, the adults are talking here.

      • Me

        “Take your Rush talking points back to Freep, the adults are talking here.”

        Thank you for adding to the discussion with that nugget.


  • American abroad

    I read Prof. Westen’s piece and a bit of the Chait-aligned reaction. I’d like to ask Weston about this idea that Obama is the “adult.” I think this is a fallacy: these people are adults, factually, and their behavior is therefore adult behavior. The expectation that Obama is post-partisan, that such a thing could possibly exist, the belief that he is the “adult” in an immature political climate, is simply unrealistic (although I believe the Republicans are extremely far right-wing and often intellectually immature and/or disingenuous). 

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      Obama isn’t post partisan… he’s post-principles.

  • Only1redhead

    We live in a two party country, whether we like it or not, which in itself in divisive and candidates should all get the same amount of $ to campaign with – level the playing field. However, we do need to have his back and keep pushing him (Obama), because anyone disappointed in him and voting for not voting at all, voting for another Dem, voting for Ralph Nader (how many times is he gonna run and loose? Maybe he should use his $ for something that is a better return on investment), – anyone not supporting Obama in 2012, you will all be the responsible for running us even further into the ground and rewarding the Republicans, Tea Partiers!

    • Tjmoonunit

      What’s the difference?  The tea partiers get everything they want under Obama anyway.   

  • william

     This constant comparison of Obama to FDR is a joke. During the election there was talk Obama was the “4th Kennedy”. Then he was compared  to Reagan. It is time to let Obama stand on his record and recognize that he is a failure.

  • Helen

    All the liberals (and I am a liberal) who point out that Obama can only do so much with a congress that thwarts him at every turn, seem to forget that he came into office with full control of the senate. 

    • mary elizabeth

      Full control of the Senate except for the blue dogs.  And, the election of Scott Brown just in time to take down the health care bill and the filibuster used so effectively by Leiberman.  But for Leiberman we may have  Medicare for all.  But no one balmes him.

      • TFRX

        And don’t forget WATB loser Norm Coleman. Is there any truth to the rumor that he’s still clinging by his fingernails to the doorway on his old Senate office, like a child who won’t obey its bedtime?

  • JimM, L.A?

    This need for a “story” is infantile. Reality, as one great caller this morning said (I will listen again), has changed considerably since FDR could call out the system’s enemies with impunity.

    The media environment now includes a machine that can destroy any “progressive” who questions the ruling power. This is what is happening to President Obama’s presidency, even as he does an artful dance with that power.

    The next election is between the people and certain “news” organizations. This received no acknowledgement in Mr. Westen’s fantasy script. I am to the left of these liberals who are emotionally complaining about their frustrations and disappointments, abandoning their best president in generations, and failing to call out the real threat. We need to change the news and paid-political-advertising system in this country.

    And the liberals need to grow up. Their minds were formed by TV serials and movies, and it shows. Leave the talk about the importence of good story-telling to the desperate studio executives.

    • JimM, L.A

      Edit: Aha, I see it was caller Kathy from Connecticut. Great call, she said it all, and I’m glad she made the quote list above. And I CAN spell “importance,” if the spell-corrector on the iPad will let me.

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      J wrote: “The media environment now includes a machine that can destroy any “progressive” who questions the ruling power. This is what is happening to President Obama’s presidency, even as he does an artful dance with that power.”My god, where is the fight left in the Democratic Party? For the good of the nation a President and the Democrats MUST EDUCATE AND INOCULATE THE PUBLIC AGAINST THEIR INFLUENCE. After all what good is all the money in the world if no one is buying their propaganda? The President COULD be giving real fireside chats to expose the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. He COULD be out holding meetings and Truth Squading them. The notion that a President has so little power or influence to fight back in ludicrous. Your idea that everyone should roll over, play dead, or try and make nice only gives these malefactors of great wealth more power.  The problem here is with both Obama and the Democrats. Both are inept and cowardly.

      • Anonymous

        ulTRAX, you just earned yourself a new reader on your blog! ;)

      • JimM, L.A

        ulTrax, you raise a valid question, or point. We should not be rolling over and playing dead in the face of the right wing news machine. But it’s our job, and of the enlightened media, the do this work of confrontation. NOT THE PRESIDENT’S! Not only would it be suicide for him to do so, it is not his job which is first that of unifying this schizophrenic country.

        You are an angry, tough guy, and I respect that — I am too in a way — but it has to be directed toward the real villains in this drama, the perverters of truth. Obama doesn’t need to call these people out. We all know he knows what’s going on. It’s his job to calm their insanity, not inflame it.

        It’s our job to stand behind him as his attack dogs, like Huxley did for Darwin. If he has our backing, he can do a lot of what we want and he wants IN HIS SECOND TERM! Or would you prefer a Romney or worse?

        If we abandon him, it’s our fault if he can’t return the country to sanity. I wish Jack Beatty would wise up and stop ragging on Obama too.

  • Dr Jimidee

    The apologists that are coming out of the woodwork right now on your broadcast are simply wrong.  We have a right to evaluate the job performance of the President!   His performance is lacking IMHO for the following reasons: (1) he blew a lot of resources working on the wrong problem–namely healthcare reform rather than jobs, (2) he has overly compromised and not held to his guns, and NOT gone to the American people, like Roosevelt or Reagan.  I think, ultimately, that he was *not* ready to take on the job of President.  we were sold a bill of goods.  Sad.

    • mary elizabeth

      Judging from the rancor toward the President and the lack of confidence in him displayed on this site, it is very possible that a Repub may take office and when he/she does that person will have the full support of his party right or wrong. 
      It is odd that both Reagan and Bush 1 campaigned on no new taxes, yet both raised them.   Now Obama is shackled by the Repubs in effort to increase revenue, when it is a fair bet that a Repub President will do just as Reagan and Bush 1  did thus taking credit for deficit reduction.  It would not be above Norquist to rescind his ultimatum when the time is right.  Of course the Dems would not be in a position to oppose.
      I have my disappointments with this President, but as bad off as we are,  we could be a lot worse with the phoney Romney or the devious Perry.

      • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

        Reagan did raise taxes in 82 and 83 but those increase didn’t offset his 1981 ERTA tax cut. So Reagan might have mitigated a disaster of his own making, but in the end his fiscal policies were grossly irresponsible and he raised the debt from about 950 billion to 2700 billion.

      • Ed Lover

        “Judging from the rancor toward the President and the lack of confidence
        in him displayed on this site, it is very possible that a Repub may take
        office and when he/she does that person will have the full support of
        his party right or wrong. ”

        What a depressing post!  You’re saying, in effect, “vote for Obama because the other guy would be worse.”  That’s true, or at least not wrong, but how on earth is that supposed to motivate anyone to vote for the president again?  Ugh.

  • Guest

    As enticing as a primary challenge to Obama is for some on the left, the challenger wouldn’t stand a chance. One caller suggested Vermont’s beloved Bernie Sanders. There has actually been some polling on the issue recently in the state.

    Even in Vermont Bernie would trail Obama 52-33.

    The full results can be found here:

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      Your take on this poll is wrong. I think it’s amazing that Sanders, a relative unknown, is polling that high against a sitting president.

      • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

        Sorry, read your post wrong.

    • Ed in VT

      Here’s hoping Bernie runs!  Any left-wing challenger who would hold Obama’s feet to the fire, even just a tiny bit, would be a huge win!

  • Teetime757

    Westen is an ideologue, disguising his rhetoric as psychological analysis. He’s uninformed on history and out of touch with reality. The profession should be embarrassed. 

  • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

    To say Obama lacks is a good “story” does not begin to describe the depths of his personal deficiencies as president. 
    To have a successful political movement there DO need to be some core values that underlie a compelling governing philosophy or ideology. It has to have internal consistency and convince people that it’s the right thing to do. Once those values are established people are open to policies that fit that philosophy and are partially inoculated against competing philosophies.
     Obama’s, and generally the Democrats, just have no coherent philosophy. And in politics if you’re not out promoting your philosophy, you’re losing ground to those who do. Just think, in 30 years the Democrats have STILL not come up with an effective way to expose and neutralize the Right’s Starve The Beast dementia even as it sabotages government’s ability to function! They have done NOTHING to educate the public on the debt, or our moral obligation to pay it down, or how much revenue has been lost to the irresponsible Bush tax cuts… and it’s not as if the Right is only attacking on one front. 
    Obama should have been clear when he took office that the Bush disaster would NEVER happen again, yet he compromised with those who created that disaster and in the process undermined his own presidency. He’s only continued to do the same since he’s been in office.       

  • http://profiles.google.com/joan.c.grim jc grim

    Obama ran as a populist. His rhetoric was pro-worker. When Obama was elected, he had a super majority in the house and 58 in
    the Senate and he failed to get 1) medicare for all, 2) negotiated drug
    prices for medicare & medicaid, 3) ending wars, 4) investigations of
    Wall St fraud, 5) more aid to starving state governments to save jobs,
    6) support for union card check, 7) no changes in capital gains tax on hedge funds.

    Instead, he’s pushing anther trade deal with Korea and So America to ship jobs oversea

    instead, we got a well publicized and privately funded PR campaign for Obama’s privatization plan for public schools with the disastrous Race to the Top, (worse that No Child Left Behind).
    You should understand why many are disgusted and terrified he’ll roll out some form of privatization plan for social security and medicare with the undemocratic gang of 12. Wall St, hedge fund managers, & tests companies are making a fortune off of the education public spigot. No reason to believe he’ll protect the social safety net that 80% of the public wants left alone and out of Wall St’s greed-fest.

    And where was Obama when Wisconsin workers were out protesting the abusive tactics of the Koch bought and paid-for- governor and legislature? In FL, on stage with Jeb Bush praising him and his policies.

    Is it any wonder many of us don’t believe he or any elected official of either party serves the interests of the general public? Nor do we believe the shared ‘sacrifice nonsense’ spewed by 5 figure salary pundits. US workers are tired of being ignored and trampled by the wealthy.

    • TomK in Boston


      Anyone else remember the cold war era movie “the Manchurian candidate”, about a guy who got elected POTUS as a real all-American type but had actually been brainwashed by the commies to carry out their agenda from within? Now, imagine if some candidate who got elected as an inspiring liberal had actually been brainwashed to carry out the agenda of the oligarchs from within? I’m NOT saying that BHO is such a “manchurian candidate”, but – what’s the difference?

      • Mill

        Only the most delusional or retarded would ignore the mountain of facts and billions in campaign donations (a euphemism for “bribes”), and think that the Democratic Party or its politicians/leaders are not beholden to corporations, or that BHO – or for that matter, Clinton or Bore, err, Gore – is a “manchurian candidate.” In the film, there was a secret conspiracy, whereas BHO has been quite open and upfront in rejecting public funding and raising unprecedented amounts of money the first time around. So your comparison is not even accurate.

        There’s a logical fallacy named “No True Scotsman.” The blind partisan Democrats need to read up on it.

      • Mill

        BTW, many partisan Democrats also like to indulge in another favorite logical fallacy, called “False Dilemma,” and attempt to brand any criticism of Democrats as coming from Republicans, and thus irrelevant. (“You must be a Republican.”)

        The corrupt two-party system has really stunted the mental capacities of both parties, and severely limited their thinking capabilities. It’s amazing that such people also get to vote! ;-)

      • Mill


        The corrupt two-party system has really stunted the mental capacities of supporters of both parties…

  • TomK in Boston

    I have no idea who Obama is. Does he have any core principles that he’s willing to fight for? Is he a weak lib or a servant of the oligarchs in lib camouflage? If he has a vision for the USA, what is it? Somehow, I don’t think I’m gonna find out. 

    Romney is a disgusting chameleon. He’ll be whomever he thinks you want him to be. However, IF the version of Mitt who was governor of MA were to appear, he would be a hell of a lot more liberal than Obama, based on BHO’s actions vs his talk. I can’t even listen to his pretty speeches any more. He talks about being fair to the middle class out of one side of his mouth, then goes on about the horrors of the cost of “entitlements” out of the other, and signs an all-cut deficit ceiling bill.

    By making that horrible deal, he has surrendered his ability to use the most powerful tools to head off Great Depression II, if it comes to that. Make no mistake, that deal is a drag on the economy. IMO the recognition that the economy is at “stall speed” (Bill Gross) AND he has just signed a deal that will increase unemployment and weaken growth AND weaken gvt’s ability to step up to the plate is what caused the recent stock mkt selloff. 

    • mary elizabeth

      Could you explain what his options were in debt ceiling debacle?

      • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

        That’s an easy one. Obama COULD have used the 14th Amendment option to get out of the debt ceiling trap the GOP hostage takers put him in. Instead Obama CHOOSE to remain in the trap and make concessions. He did the same with the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Obama COULD have let them expire and he would have had the GOP over a barrel because they were desperate to get those tax cuts back. Instead the GOP threw some tantrums in Congress and Obama caved.

        • TomK in Boston

          Right. Probably he wd never have to use the 14′th, the idea wd be to use it as a threat to get concessions, coupled with use of the “bully pulpit” to denounce the terrorists in the TeaOP. But, he renounced its use from day 1, saying he thought he was not on good legal ground. WHY WOULD HE DO THAT???? Even if he thought it, it just weakens his hand. It’s crazy.

          And how about simply negotiating with the skill of a 10 yr old, or anyone who ever bought a car? A lib doesn’t stake out a STARTING position that is 4/1 cuts/revenues. He should have demanded a pkg that was mostly tax hikes (I wish they would shut up about tax “reform”, we need INCREASES), and maybe compromised at 1:1.

          • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

            Sometimes Obama’s political instincts are SO non-confrontational that he doesn’t have the sense to bargain effectively. When it came to health care he COULD have pushed for Single Payer and settled for the Public Option. But he started publically with the Public Option, while secretly sabotaging it behind closed doors. So what did we get? A welfare program for health insurance companies that won’t bring any real savings because it’s these private companies that are driving prices up in the first place.      

          • TomK in Boston

            “Well, Mr car dealer, I know your competitor might give me a better price, but don’t worry, I really want to buy from you, and I promise right up front that he’s not an option.”

          • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX


  • Larry


    Respectfully I disagree with your framing of the article and question at hand. I think that the writer was talking less about whether Obama had a “liberal” agenda than his strength as  LEADER.  I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years and the first thing you learn about classroom management is to have clear and consistent rules that you carry out. I think that the issue is really that he has compromised at the beginning of each crucial fight with his opponents, thus allowing them to stamp their feet and stand pat and wait for him to end up at their position.  Bill Clinton was not a liberal or a progressive but he wasn’t rolled like this president is constantly being. When he ended up compromising it was really in the middle, he did triangulate. Obama doesn’t, he gets pulled all the way over to the right. The debt ceiling debate being a classic example. 

  • Rob (in NY)

    To be fair, I would never blame any Administration for short term stock market movements.  

    I think the recent market sell off is due to a variety of factors, including: 1) Series of horrible economic data showing that the US economy has slowed despite strong corporate profits which tend to be trailing indicator; 2) Markets pricinng a higher risk of a double dip recession or at least very low economic growth of +- 1%, whereas they were priced for a stronger rebound in the second half of the year.
    3) S&P downgrade raising concerns that political leaders in both parties are not capable of governing over the short term or  dealing with longer term structural problems with entitlements, taxes, etc….
    4) Major concerns about a Euro zone banking crisis.   

    In my opinion, the primary drivers are #2 and #4.    I personally believe that the US is not headed for a repeat of 2008, although the Euro factors could cause a larger panic. The difference this time is that at least US banks have raised capital and can better weather a storm.   The recent level of insider buying activity relative to selling is a potential sign that we may be close to a stock market bottom.  

    • TomK in Boston

      You’re right about short term movements. Mr Mkt has a mind of his own. I agree with your fundamental reasons. However, I would add that budget cutting deficit hysteria is exactly the wrong policy in the face of #1 and #2. The mkt knows that the deficit ceiling deal will increase unemployment and slow growth (J P Morgan), strengthening the existing headwinds. That’s why getting more bad news on the monday after the BHO signed the deal was a good reason for a drop.

  • william scotti

    Bullshich I wish our media would tell the truth rather than follow the Russian news agency TASS and lie to it’s people. This is not a rally, it’s not a turn around, our US media lies.Unemployment at 5000 under 400,000 is such a lie, mis-truth about the reality of our diresituation and our markets in free fall or a death spiral. Stop sending US jobs to China. Yes tax the crap out of large big box and large coporations who are nothing less than treasoness un american traitors. We need to raid big companies grab CEO’s, COO’s, CFO’s and all senior management and hang them for treason. The president needs to support the US worker and the UNIONS fighting for US jobs to stay in the US. It is time for us like in England as guaranteed by our US Constitution, Guaranteed to Rise Up and Bear Arms against the tiereney and injustice our government imposes against it’s powerless people who have no representation in Congress, the senate or the Presidency. Our president needs to be presidential. Not a spineless, jelly fish, milk toast, cowering before the democrats and the republicans. He needs to stand up like a man and show that he has testecular fortitude.Presidendt Obama it’s time to stop being a Meily Mouse and stand up for the American People who elected you on the basis of hope and change. Instead you give us rope as we hang, waiting for some relief in this protracted, DOUBLE DIP RECESSION !

  • Mikey

    Obama completely owns this downturn in the market. Look at this economics team: Geitnar (New York Fed under Bush), Bernenke (Chairman of the Fed under Bush), and Larry Summers (father of the derivatives market). 

    Maybe he should put at least one person in charge that is not directly responsible for the crash!!!Where is Paul Volcker , Elizabeth Warren and Sheila Bair? Could Obama at least pick one person who predicted the crash and tried to prevent it. I can not believe any Democrats still support this guy. He has made no case against trickle down economics or Wall Street. As opposed to saying that “Fraud is not Business” he defends junk accounting, derivatives market, and the type of industrialized fraud that came in with the Securities Modernization Act of 1999. We had a great economy for 60 years after the depression. Reinstate Glass-Steagal! Stop the Wall Street Feudal State.PLEASE PRIMARY OBAMA!!!ELIZABETH WARREN FOR PRESIDENT!ELIZABETH WARREN FOR PRESIDENT!ELIZABETH WARREN FOR PRESIDENT!

  • Chris

    The real problem is that the republican party has radicalized. That makes Obama’s choices all bad. He can either lead the democratic party to similarly radicalized; or he can try to get the republicans to deradicalize. He has chosen the latter route and failed. Is that worse than leading the democrats in a similar radicalization?

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      I don’t think it’s a matter of the Democrats “radicalizing”, it more a matter of their stopping the slide towards the Right.

      Some Dems thought McGovern was proof liberalism was dead and the future was getting in bed with corporations. They didn’t think that perhaps McGovern or Mondale were just not great candidates… or Nixon and Reagan had the power of incumbency.  The DLC corroded out the center of the Democratic Party and as a result it started to undermine its own base by betraying Labor with free trade deals. It would be like the GOP pushing for higher taxes on the rich or trying to repeal Taft Hartley. 

  • Buddhaclown

    So Drew Westen — and apparently liberals who agree with him — are basically admitting that they think George Bush was a stronger leader than Obama. Maybe they don’t agree with Bush’s ideology or positions, but Westen’s central claim is that Obama is not strong . . . and Bush was.

    I can’t believe how misguided the left wing has become, actually elevating the governing style of a the man whose basic position was “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” It was precisely in part a reaction against the hyper-masculine testosterone-induced no-compromise leadership of Bush that we chose a man who is more feminine, soft, and compassionate in his approach — a man who is willing to listen and to work with people.

    This tirade against Obama essentially amounts too . . . “he acts like a woman.” Or, as Drew Westen put it, “the problem is he didn’t have a father” who presumably who teach him to punch someone, like Westen’s father taught him. It is a sad day when the far left — supposedly champions of feminist values — has admitted that they too, like conservatives, believe leadership is the province of masculine character.    

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      Bush wasn’t “strong”. He was pig-headed…  a man who thought the world revolved around him. He was convinced God wanted him to be president and was behind whatever HE decided to do. After the mess he created, I wonder if Bush’s has ever gotten past his megalomania or has it just now metastasized into a new Biblical role… as a righteous Job who God was testing by bringing the nation to its knees.

    • JimM, L.A

      Yes, agree with you, except Mr. Weston is part of the wimpy, whiney left, not the far left. The far left knows you have to work within a political system, even if it wants to radically change that system.

      The liberals who are jumping ship are doing so from adolescent reasons. Just look at how often they say they are “disappointed” or “frustrated.” They’re not getting THEIR way. Even worse with the other amygdalytes on the other end of the spectrum, the Tea Party.

      • Mill

        Yeah, far left like The Weather Underground. They were never wimpy or whiny.

    • nj

      Dubious gender analyses aside, when the Rethuglicans come out and say outright that their primary goal is to essentially oppose everything wants to do and to make him a one-term president, and Obama’s starting position is to say to them, “Gee, how can i compromise with you?” i’d say that’s prima facie evidence that he’s a weak leader.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t care if the president is a man or a woman.  I’m a feminist and I say with no hesitation that we need a warrior leader right now.  Bush was a child putting on his daddy’s military uniform and pretending to be a warrior.  I’m talking about a real fighter.  That can be a man or a woman.  American politics is well known to be a tough arena.  It isn’t for the faint of heart.  Especially when your opposition blocks you at every turn and makes public pronouncements that they’ll do anything to take you down.  When you’re in that ring, you have to fight or get beaten down.  Obama chose unwisely and the “frustration” of his supporters (liberal, independent AND Republican) reflects it.

  • Margbi

    Who died and made Grover Norquist King? Let him run if he wants to challenge the Obama administration. Norquist is instrumental in demanding that Republicans adhere to his “no-tax, no-how, no-time” ultimatum on taxes.  When Republicans make their first order of business making Obama a one-term president, how can he (the President) possibly govern? 

    • Anonymous

      He can govern by pointing out at every opportunity that, unlike his Republican opposition, he is working for American citizens and NOT answering to Norquist and his make-believe contract.  He can point out that he has more guts than a bunch of bleating sheep who are willing to swear allegiance ON PAPER to a special interest over the interests of their constituents.  That would be a great start.  I’d love to see that fireside chat every damn week until the message sunk in.  That is how you beat them and get back to doing the work of the people – not with an extended hand but with a right hook.

  • john in danvers

    Progressives will get nothing until they’re willing to vote Republican, if necessary.  

    • Anonymous

      How’d that work out for us in 1980?  Oh yeah…Reagan.  That is how much of this free-market fundamentalism got started in the first place.  We got 8 years of that and then another 4 with Bush Sr.  So Reagan Democrats ushered in 12 years of corporatist ideology simply because they were “willing to vote Republican”.  Great strategy.

      • Mill

        Don’t forget the golden 8 years of Clinton who ushered in an era of the end of corporatist ideology, as he won the WH based on true grassroots support, and never took a dime in donation from corporations. He also dismantled the military-industrial complex which was started and maintained by the very evil Republicans. And free-market fundamentalism? Clinton & Gore showed those fundamentalists what America is all about.

        China joining WTO? Just a piffle.
        GMOs approved? A definite anti-corporate measure.
        Welfare cuts? Take that, free-market fundamentalism.
        Continued subsidies to monoculture big agro-businesses? A new anti-corporate seed planted.

        Man, you people are so gullible – no wonder we’re in this mess as your chauvinistic partisanship lulls you into deluded states and gives you bendy yardsticks (one for the Republicans, another one for the Democrats). While both corrupt parties and their leaders make hay, morons like you keep pointing fingers at the other party.

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      Progressives will get nothing until they find a way to break out of the insidious two party trap. As a Progressive I can vote my conscience forever and in our dysfunctional political system and not only will I get no representation for my beliefs, I might throw the election to some right wing Neanderthal. It’s this dynamic that drags Progressives back to voting the lesser of the evils instead of their convictions.

      This is a core DEFECT in our primitive and dysfunctional political system which is incapable of performing even the most basic functions of a democracy… to correctly measure the “will of the people ” and to create a government that reflects that diversity of opinion. Sadly, our federal system is not just dysfunctional but also virtually reform-proof.

  • Ross Hardter

    I was around when FDR was President.  There is one thing they most definitely have in common.  FDR was adored by his supporters (of whom I was and still am one) and absolutely HATED by his opponents.

  • Alexander

    Who can expect an effective president when the opposition party leader declares that the #1 priority is that he is just a one term president?  Democratic presidents tend to be less effective because they often lack the courage of their convictions.  This has become apparent many times in the past.

    There is no united front for democrats.  Everybody on both sides of the aisle are so quick to turn on President Obama and blame him for the economic and foreign policy issues of this country while completely forgetting that those problems were there BEFORE he even took office.  People thought that once he took office, things would be instantly back to normal and refuse to accept that the real reason nothing has gotten done is the stubbornness of the Republican party to compromise and the lack of will of Congressional Democrats.  Everything he does is an uphill battle.

    In my opinion, Republicans have hijacked this presidency making threats to Democrats and using fear to control the people just like they did during the post 9/11 paranoia to accomplish their goals.  They make completely unfounded statements against the president and the Democratic party and publish it along radical right-wing media such as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Mike Savage who have nothing but the best interests of the wealthy and the corporates at heart.

    Now why would Mitch McConnell say that he will not compromise on anything that President Obama brings to the table and their #1 priority is to make sure he is a one-term president?  He didn’t do that during President Clinton’s presidency which was also a democrat.  So what is the difference between President Clinton and President Obama?  Is everybody just going to allow this blatant racism?  McConnell’s childish behavior here insults me as an intelligent, white male from Kentucky.  I assure you, fellow Americans, NOT ALL KENTUCKIANS ARE LIKE HIM!

    President Obama’s term has been riddled with promises that were sabotaged before he even took office.  But there’s a solution.  We are in the information age now.  He have little need for representatives of a congress or even the electoral college.  Information can be passed from one coast to the other in less than a fraction of a second.  Put the people to work and have us vote on the issues.  Let the people learn about the secretive bills that congress passes without our knowledge and make our own decisions.  Give the power to the people and make our votes really matter.  All we know about representatives we vote for are what they themselves tell us during campaigns.  And G.W. Bush has shown us how easy it is to lie to the hard working people of America.  Make this a true democracy and give people control of their future.

    • Zing

      This just in: most democrats lack the courage of their convictions.  I’m glad you survived your 50  year coma.

      • JJJJ

        Sure because we all know that it was the republicans who got beaten in strikes and hung for writing of equal rights in the south. 

    • Anonymous

      Alexander – while I wholly understand your argument, its fatal flaw is that Obama was supposed to be smart and determined.   Smart enough to get the best advisors.  Smart enough to look back over the past 10 years at Republican political tactics and navigate through them.  Determined to see wrongs righted.  Determined to change the misdirection of our nation and get us back on course.   What we got was neither smarts nor determination.  What we got was compromise with immovable objects.  And anyone knows what one would call a person that keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.  They sure as hell don’t call that person a leader, a visionary or a revolutionary.  They call that person an idiot.

      Obama is a big boy.  He doesn’t need us to excuse his milquetoast presidency.  We need a lion, not a lamb.

  • Markus

    Could it be that he’s doing the best he can with a job that’s way over his head? He’s never run much of anything. He was only in the senate long enough to vote “here” several times. He’s taught law and been an activist. Maybe he, like Bush before him, is just incompetent. Maybe we’re the dopes for being surprised when people with extremely limited records of accomplishment take on one of the toughest jobs in the world.

    • Zing

      Rush tried to tell you Obama was incompetent; did you listen?

      • JJJJ12

        I don’t listen to pea brains.

  • Doug Hein

    Kudos to Drew Westen for telling some difficult psychological and political truths about Obama.  I agree that the Republicans have been reprehensible from the beginning of his presidency, but I voted for him because I thought he had the smarts and the balls to stand up for fairness and equality for all Americans, no matter how difficult it might get.  So far it’s the same old story.  Change?  What has fundamentally changed?  The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the middle class shrinks, and he still gets his summer vacation on the Vineyard.  It’s shameful.

    • Zing

      Rush warned you.

      • Brett

        So, I guess what you are trying to express is that you’re a Limbaugh devotee…okay, then

  • Bob from Massachusetts

    I am fundamentally in agreement with Drew Westen’s critique of President Obama.  Liberals have gotten the short end of the stick from their leaders by not having individuals who forcefully represent their views and interests.  The Conservatives and Republicans have been extremely effective since Reagan in coopting the media and public opinion in casting liberals as tree-hugging, wet blankets who wish only to squander other people’s tax money on the indolent, lazy and corrupt.

    Obama was elected with the hope that he would effectively argue and represent those of us who are not moneyed, work hard for a living, and expect our government to represent the interests of the majority and not just those who have the means purchase it for their own selfish, narrow interests.

    While I do think that Obama has had some achievements, the fact that his reasonable, dispassionate, always-willing-to-accommodate-the-other-side style of politics has not fundamentally changed ANYTHING from the last Bush presidency is very disheartening.  If this is the best we liberals can muster, then this country is no doubt heading towards being another failed, deluded empire relegated to the footnotes of history.

  • Zing

    I hate to tell you, but Rush predicted the liberal angst.

    • JJJJ12

      Well if you flap you jaws for three hours a day you are bound to get something right sometime.

      • Brett

        Yeah, even the blind hog finds an acorn…

        • Me

          Don’t deal in things that aren’t real.  Don’t get yourself worked up
          about something that isn’t gonna happen.  We got real things to get
          worked up about here.  But closing Gitmo isn’t gonna happen.  It is not
          gonna happen.  It is not going to happen.  They’re not gonna close
          Gitmo.” -  Rush Limbaugh 4 days before Obama was sworn in

  • Lane

    i am a 50 year old conservative Republican.  Until this past election I have voted Republican in every election.  However I voted for Obama this past time because I believed he would bring our country together, change the way Washington works and push us toward economic and environmental change.

    I am totally frustrated that he has not shown the leadership and has not stood up for any of the things that he seemed to stand for. (I also will refuse to vote Republican in the next election as well because I am disqusted with this party as well.) 

    Even when Democrats had the majority he caved to pressure.

    At this point I’d be in favor to vote the whole bunch out and start over.

    • http://twitter.com/GraffEric Eric Graff

      As an Independent I too have voted for republican however, when I voted for Obama I thought we were going to end the wars. End the tax cuts for the rich. End this recession and bailouts for the banks. People who argue that what we have been doing in Washington is socialism true. However our form of socialism is focused on helping corporations!

      • Zing


      • nj

        It must be fun attaching whatever meaning one wants to words (“socialism”). One could invent one’s own dictionary! How liberating not to be confined to universally accepted definitions.

    • mary elizabeth

      Did he ever really have the majority the Blue Dogs voting with the Repubs?  

    • Zing

      Rush Limbaugh tried to warn you.  You sowed dragons’ teeth and reaped the dragon.   Next time, stick with your conservative Republican “principles”.  

      • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

        Gee Einstein, you mean we should stick to policies that brought America to its knees?  Thanks for an example of what I’ve been saying here for months. The Right is incapable of self-examination and STILL believes its ideas were handed down on a slab. If those ideas imploded the economy and bankrupted the government with 30 years of deregulation and irresponsible tax cuts, then it must be because they just weren’t extremist enough.

  • Anonymous

    My take is that President Obama interpreted the 2010 election as the people of this country want a governement that compromises.  He has even stated that in speeches after the 2010 election.

    When the liberals and progressives didn’t vote in 2010, the liberals handed the President the congress we have now, which does tie the Presidents hands.

    I can’t vote for republicans, so I hope Democrats will vote Democratic in 2012 instead of staying home and handing the control of the Presidency to a republican and giving the majority of Congress to repubs.

    • Ed Lover

      “I hope Democrats will vote Democratic in 2012″

      I’ll vote Democratic if the candidate acts like a Democrat.  That is to say, if the candidate isn’t Obama.

      I guess it could always be worse, but Obama is basically right-wing.  His one “victory” – health care – is basically the republican plan from the 90s, or Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan.  Otherwise, Obama has either given in to the republicans, or gone out of his way to expand their policies – torture, surveillance, assassination, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/GraffEric Eric Graff

    I have voted libertarian many times. Not the Tea Party type but, one that really wants to make change in America. When I voted for Obama I had HOPE that we would have real change. However I only see a better speaking more intelligent Bush! If we had a Labour party that really had the middle class in mind. The Labour Party in the UK is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavor we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect. Democrats and Republicans are no different. We need a real Viable party. 

  • william scotti

    Democrats & Republicans the parties of lies. 

  • Frank McNeil

    I am child of the Depression who had the good fortune to witness large political events on several continents.  Sorry, but Mr. Westen fixed on the wrong Roosevelt. It’s true that just like FDR, Obama has incurred lunatic hatreds but our times are much closer to the Gilded Age and the robber barons.   We got Henry Clay – a model for another kind of era – when the American people desperately need a modern version of trust busting, populist Teddy Roosevelt.  

    Frank McNeil  Boca Raton, Florida

  • Anonymous

    I stood in a line that went on for blocks and blocks in Charlotte summer heat to hear him speak with my 6 month old daughter in tow.  I stood in line for 5 hours to vote for him.  I campaigned.  I volunteered.  I rallied.  Then once WE (and I mean we) got him into office, he caved on single payer health care.  He kowtowed to a Republican opposition that said – outright – that their primary goal was to make him lose reelection.  I waited and watched with baited breath – just as I waited in line for hours to make him my president.  Still his actions are tepid at best.  I feel like no matter what we do as populists and progressives, we’ve no hope of having real representation again.  We needed and elected an FDR and we got Jimmy Carter.  Carter was a great man, but he was no FDR.

  • Dashuler

    Marshall public opinion? Fox news. Hard to marshall public opinion when you have an entire news organization opposed to you.

  • Fausto

    Investigate collapse of WTC 7

  • Anonymous

    “The outstanding feature of our national life these days is this fantastic inability to form a coherent consensus about what is happening to us and what we are going to do.” James Howard KunstlerMr. Kunstler’s statement I think sums up leadership, not just in the political realm, but every significant social institution in America, especially in the New York/Washington DC centric press as perfectly represented by Mr. Chait among far too many others. My chief complaints about the Obama administration are, Number 1, the failure to recognize the fundamental nature of the financial crisis, treating as merely a severe collapse of demand i.e. a standard recession, rather than a recession brought about by a unprecedented financial crisis where fraud conducted at the highest levels of management were hugely contributing and exacerbating factors. His/their Number 2 failure being that they are simply the worst negotiators I’ve witnessed in business or politics. When “negotiating” with a party that seeks your elimination, one should not compromise  let alone concede most of the battle ground before negotiations begin.

  • Rthomas111

    I have a hard time understanding why everyone places a cape and super hero’s uniform on the president.  The fact is, he will never get the support from any legislative branch to make anything happen. He’s black! we elected him!  Get over it and focus on gas prices causing everything we buy to cost more.  If I were on a set income and paying a mortgage but everything that I needed to survive to include gas for work kept going up… I think I would rent to get out of that mortgage.  It’s not rocket science ppl. 

  • Misterjim90

    There are several dimension to the Obama Presidency analysis.  Several people have discussed the Republican pledge to do whatever it takes to make him a one term President. Then there’s the he’s doing the best he can crowd.  There are two obsevations I’d like to contribute. the first is that the current political situation boils down to an identity issue: Who is he and what does he stand for and more imporatnly, who are the Democrats and what to do they stand for.

    In short, to my mind it is the failure of the Dmeocratic party to support thier President that has caaused his (and thier) disempowerment disappear.

    In 2008 numerically at least, Obama had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and a veto proof majority in the House.  But too many Democrats were simply disloyal to the President of thier party. Joe Leiberman in the senate and the so called blue dog dmeocrats in the house, stepped out of the party’s fold and  thwarted the effective use of the party’s electoral advantage. 
    As  consequence (in my mind) the Democrats didn’t deliver on what democrats as aparty belived should be happenning.

    I think the Blue dogs paid the price for the ineffective party they created.  They may have stood against the President but they are now former Congressmen. I can’t help but think that B.D.
    Democrats  would have been better off had they supported the larger stimulus and the public option on healthcare, for example, they certainly would not have fared any worse…. and the party as a whole would have positive and game changing wins to point to as accomplishments.
    Instead, absurdly, the Democratic President had trouble getting his choices for judges, cabinet appointees  and sub cabinet officials in office in the DEMOCRATIC controlled senate. There was simply no excuse for this kind of disloyaty and that’s why they paid such a price in 2010. Unfortunately this lesson has been learned far too late by the Democrats and I fear that thier inability to Rule and failure to lead the country through a commonly held Democratic agenda when they were in charge, will haunt them for years to come…

     Obama has had to redefine his agenda to one now of preserving the core infrasture of governmental services, because of this failure, and he is teetering on the brink of having this redefinition end up redefining him.  He needs to abandon the politics of compromise with the Republicans because, it takes two to compromise and they are not going to be one of the two. He needs to again articulate a democratic vision for America and challenge the Republicans to reject it…which they will.  Then maybe he’ll have a shot  in 2012. Out Republicaning the Republicans is not the away to go. 

  • Mwilner2

    It seems that both liberals and tea party fanatics believe that compromise has no place in government, when in fact it is the only way government works. Compromise is how government represents the breadth of the people who are governed, and not just one part of the electorate. Grow up, liberals.

    • Anonymous

      Mwilner – Were this any sort of real compromise, I would normally agree with you.  However, there is no compromise when one side gets “95% of what I wanted” as Boener put it.  There is no compromise when one side walks into health care reform talks and takes single payer off the table from the outset.  There is no compromise when, once they’ve been given everything they asked for originally, the opposition still demands more.  If that is your idea of compromise, then you might want to brush up on your negotiation 101.

      • Me

        You do realize Obamacare was rammed through without a single Republican vote, don’t you? It was Democrats who prevented single payer.

      • Me
    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      I’m not a Liberal, I’m further to the left. I don’t mind streamlining programs like Medicare and Medicaid if I thought they’d become more efficient. What I’m opposed to is doing so in a way that lets the fiscally irresponsible Starve The Beast crowd state the terms. Why? Because these people are fiscal criminals. For 30 years they deliberately sabotaged revenue to undermine the fiscal health of government and its ability to deal with a crisis such as the one we’re now in. In fact I believe they were HOPING for such a crisis. Bush gave away revenue when We The People were already $6 TRILLION in debt.

      When I see a budget deal that recoups this lost revenue plus interest, starts to pay down debt, AND streamlines programs like Medicare, THEN I’ll support compromise. But the idea that the irresponsible Right should get away with their fiscal crimes is NOT acceptable. So perhaps it’s time the RIGHT grows up.  

  • Maggiemae314

    Why was the title of this show segment changed?

  • Cannata

    I am a life-long liberal Democrat who voted for and supported President Obama.  I am so disapointed with the President’s lack of leadership, that if a liberal challenges the President for the nomination, he gets my support.
    We need a President who will stand up to the right-wing nuts and has the will to fight for what he believes.  The President is a good man who wants to avoid confrontation at the cost of his convictions.  He is another Jimmy Carter: a good man, but an ineffective President.

  • Anonymous

    So far, Pres. Obama has chased every snipe presented to him by the DC Villagers.  

    For those unconvinced by Prof. Westen’s article, here are some complementary articles:

    Historical view:




    Human interaction view:





    Economic view:



    • Me

      Liberal view: Huffington Post.

      • bec

        Seriously?  How did that little nugget add to the discussion?  Do you feel better in saying it?  Kiep99 never denied having a liberal view.  Does that somehow discount what Kiep is saying?  Because it is a liberal view, is it somehow worthy of your dismissal outright?

        • Me

          Just a little context for the apologist, relax.

          • Anonymous

            No I don’t think people should relax. You make these inane comments about peoples beliefs and then when questioned you tell them to relax. Comment’s that try to put people down for being liberal or progressive are a typical right wing ploy.
            You don’t have to agree with people’s political ideologies, but at least try to use some level of critical thinking.
            Just a little context for your bumper sticker rhetoric. 

    • TFRX

      Simply by saying the word “Villagers” in polite NPR society you have earned a Like.

  • Mark

    I do think Westen has one good indirect point: Obama overly respects those who openly say they want to destroy him.  Obama ought to talk openly about why they say they want to destroy him, and make them talk more openly about their motives.  This would give him opportunities to question the theology of the far right wing: cutting spending is the key to prosperity and cutting taxes will create jobs.  As it is, he respects these beliefs as though they were faith-based, and avoids questioning them so as to avoid being impolite.

  • Susan

    I knew we were in trouble the minute Obama appointed his economic team, which to a person were deeply involved in crafting and implementing the policies that led to the meltdown.  He brazenly and openly declined to pursue the fraud and other criminal acts perpetrated by the banks and Wall St. power brokers.  The President has made me furious, disillusioned and disheartened.  I will work my heart out to win back the House for Democrats but will not vote for Obama no matter how horrible the Republican candidate.

    • Hank

      I completely share this sentiment.  I’m a Democrat holding public office in my town, and I’m an active member of our Town Committee.  I will not, however, hold my nose and vote (again) for this president.  The decisions and appointments he made while having majorities in both houses were often horrible (Larry Summers?  REALLY!?!). 

  • rici

    The republicans wouldn’t be getting away with this, with Hillary.

    • Doug Hein


    • Mill

      Yeah, the same Hillary who voted for Bush’s Iraq war. She must be a Republican in Democrat’s clothing. ;-)

  • Jerbon118

    At the 2008 election Obama had the heart, mind, and wallet of the American majority and the world.  His misstep was to abandon the public discourse and the vacuum was filled by Fox (and the like).. the result is the country has sloshed far to the right and he is greatly weakened to and now capitulates to a great extent.  The strength of an inspired public was wasted.  

    • TFRX

      “the vacuum was filled by Fox”?

      The same Fox which never stopped screaming or dogwhistling MuslimCommieFascistDifferentNonAmerican since Obama won his first primary?

      Right-wing propaganda was already expanding to fill all available space no matter what he did. And the SCLM was helpless to not follow along.

  • Elly in Maryland

    Drew Westen is a perfect example of a talking head who wants to make criticism of Obama into their niche of opportunity.  He will sell books, he will get media appearances, because he is willing to be a “progressive” who’s ready to bash Obama.  He says he talks to all these people who are critical of Obama.  Well I’m an OFA activist and it still amazes me how many people are ready, willing, and eager to work for the re-election of this president even at this early date. 

    The attitude of a Drew Westen is what got us Ralph Nader which got us George W. Bush which got us the Iraq war, major recession, the current Supreme Court and on and on.   “Nobody’s perfect” and “politics is compromise” are two of my mantras.  For Drew Westen, if someone doesn’t meet his idea of perfect, he’ll be happy to tell you why you should just sit this one out.  Drew Westen doesn’t speak for me, and I don’t think he cares about the future of this country.

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

       Nader didn’t give us Bush2. It was that antidemocratic abomination called the Electoral College. Please get your facts straight… unless you believe that in a “democracy” people have NO right to run on what they believe and neither do citizens have a right to vote their conscience. If that’s what you believe then we KNOW all our future presidents will come from one of our two dysfunctional and braindead political parties.
      Be careful for what you wish for.

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      Sure, many will be willing to work for Obama’s reelection. I bet there would be people willing to elect Bush for a 3 term if they had a chance. There will always be perhaps 15-20% of the electorate that are True Believers for either party. To them they guy or gal could be a war criminal and they’d gladly give their right arm to keep them in office.

      But shouldn’t it be a red flag that something’s wrong when so many of his base are somewhere between disenchanted and infuriated? It does not bode well for his reelection chances when his supporters are reduced to True Believers and those who will hold their nose and vote for the lesser of the evils. There’s a REAL danger many voters will just stay home again like they did in 2010.

      • Anonymous

        Very true! not to mention the independent voters running away from Obama’s policies.  The idea of Obama’s policies poll very well, but once a voter reads the bill, or hear about what is in it, most of them dislike the details.

        • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

           Sorry, if there’s a “like” on your post… please subtract it. You’re probably too young to remember but the Reagan admin had a terrible recession 6 months after Reagan took office. The unemployment rate was above 9% for 82 and 83. Yet Reagan won a second… an undeserved 2ed term. So who knows what will happen if there’s a upward turn in the economy.  In a perverse way Bush and the GOP’s incompetence and dangerous ideology might work to their favor. Bush left Obama with a mess probably too big to be cleaned up in 4 years, and they’ll spin his failure to clean up their mess as “proof” they deserve to be back in the Whitehouse.  

          • Anonymous

            I am old enough to remember that Jimmy Carter ran the economy into the ground through his failed policies and high taxes. Reagan took control of the economy and responsability for it and didn’t blame jimmy carter for the countries economic state years after Carter left office.  The difference is that Reagan’s policies worked and he was able to bring down the high Carter erra interest rates, poor economy while defeating the Russians economically.

    • Drew Westen

      It’s sad to see someone who is an OFA activist make these Bush-like ad hominem attacks on someone’s character because she disagrees with his position.  “I don’t think [Drew Westen] cares about the future of this country.”  Really?  I have two kids, Elly.  

  • rici

    Still can’t see Hillary letting the republicans get away with this.

  • Albion M Urdank

    It’s not his willingness to compromise that’s the issue; it’s how he goes about it. His pattern is to offer concessions before negotiations even get underway in the name of showing a willingness to be reasonable. Thus he prematurely proposed a smaller stimulus package than he had actually wanted, before Republicans could register opposition, and now we find that it’s not enough. He relinquished the public option voluntarily in the healthcare debate before the negotiations actually started. In the debt-ceiling debate, he opted to decline revenue enhancements before the debate on his proposal got started. Had he been Bill Clinton, he would have insisted on cuts combined with tax increases and pushed the Republicans to the eleventh hour, and if they refused to budge, then invoke his executive authority under the 14 th amendment to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.  And in general he doesn’t offer a substantial plan, but waits on Congress to come up with a formula and even there he
    is content simply to tweak it rather than intervene to actively shape it. He’s conflict averse, and this pattern shows weakness of leadership. Period.
    Albion M Urdank
    Los Angeles, CA 

  • James Fallaw

    I can understand the frustration with Obama, but the idea of running somebody against him is what my mother would have called “cutting off your nose to spite your face”.   Did Nader’s run help move the party leftward?  All that did was assist Bush into the presidency.  (I know there were other factors, but that was one of them). 

    Republicans primary their members of Congress and the Senate, but not their Presidents!  There is a big difference.  Please go after the Blue Dogs and get better Democrats elected.  Otherwise, you’re just doing the Republicans’ bidding.

    Look, I know Obama isn’t the President you want.  He isn’t quite the President I want, but he ran as a post partisan president who would bridge the differences in Washington, not as a partisan fighter.  It isn’t who he is and it isn’t who he ran as.  And for those who say it would be more successful might want to think about when he went after Fox news for their misinformation.  It really didn’t work and just made him look bad.  It may be that somebody who did that well would be better in this spot, but I’m not as surprised as many of my fellow Democrats are.  I knew he was not a dream candidate going into this presidency.  But you know what, you don’t get dream Presidents, you get real men.  And they have flaws.  I think John Chait analysis said it best.  We forget about the frustration with Clinton and Carter and, apparently, even FDR.  The most realistic thing to do at this point is work on improving the Congress in the next election.

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

       In a democracy citizens SHOULD have the right to vote their conscience and get representation for their beliefs. But that’s not true in America unless one is a dedicated member of one of our two dysfunctional and braindead political parties.
      Nader had a right to run and citizens had a right to vote for him. Case closed.
      At SOME point we have to turn a critical eye at our political system which seems incapable of measuring the will of the People but instead IMPOSED Bush on a nation that REJECTED him. It was that antidemocratic SYSTEM that changed US history for the worst WITHOUT the CONSENT of the governed.

      • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

        Another CRUCIAL element of a democracy is every vote should weigh the same. The Electoral College is a vote weighting/dilution scheme. In determining the outcome, it gave the vote of any citizen in Bush’s Florida 500 vote lead 1000x the weight of any citizen in Gore’s 500,000 vote national lead.  
        The EC is only ONE of numerous vote weighting/dilution schemes in the Constitution. Other are the Senate, the treaty and amendment formulas, and judicial confirmation.

    • Mill

      Yeah, blame Nader for that incompetent and boring Gore running an ineffective campaign and of course, don’t mention that weak Slick Willy and his lecherous behavior in the WH as he abused his power to have an affair with an intern.

      Yup, it’s always someone else’s fault, never the fault of Democrats – who are angels and can do no wrong.

  • Dominicpimentel

    Just blame everything on Bush and whine about a political system that what’s their people in power.

    • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

      And no Republican ever blamed Carter for the Reagan Recession… one so deep unemployment hit 10.8% by Dec 82? Oh ya, that’s right… Reagan didn’t inherit a recession. It started 6 months AFTER he took office.

      • Me

        Did it last nearly 3 years with the blame still flying?

        • Anonymous

          There is no reason why Bush cannot be blamed for the huge mess this nation is in. None whatsoever. He was president when the economy went down and his policies and that of the republicans are what brought us here.

          That said Obama and the democrats have not done much to right the wrongs and fix the economy. History will not be kind to the G.W.Bush presidency you can be sure of that.

    • Anonymous

      The last part of this sentence makes no sense whatsoever.
      “whine about a political system that what’s their people in power”

      Lousy sentence structure: Yawn.

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  • Zems Ilen

    I would
    recommend inviting someone like Ralph Nader as a guest to follow up on related
    issues that were not addressed in the show. For example, how the nation as a whole
    has become, in recent decades, more right-wing, as exhibited in the Democrats’
    taking a centrist approach on issues, or the Supreme Court’s handing down
    decisions favoring corporations over individuals. He would probably say the
    two-party system contributes to the logjam in government by offering fewer
    incentives for politicians to compromise (a prerequisite to forming coalitions
    to achieve a majority in a multi-party system). 
    Both Republicans and Democrats pander to corporate interests, and
    financial donors find it easier to hedge their bets. Unlike Prof. Westen, Nader
    would criticize Bill Clinton (and like-minded Democrats) for conservative
    policies like gutting the Glass-Stegall Act and deregulating the commodity
    futures trading sector, which encouraged risky activity that caused the
    financial meltdown of 2008. He would remind us that Republicans talked of starving
    the beast (i.e., “Government”) through (unwarranted) tax cuts (when
    the economy was not in a state of recession) so that it can’t effectively carry
    out important programs like fiscal stimulus (in a crisis environment).  These issues are much broader in scope, and more
    sociological in nature.  But they may
    provide insight for understanding why Obama is so willing to surrender his
    bargaining chips or avert ideological conflict.

  • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

    I once had high hopes for Obama, but not any longer.
    To protect what’s left of the Democratic agenda and its policies, and prevent another incompetent, or worst a loony Right winger from becoming president in 2012, I believe the leaders of the Democratic Party should make it clear to Obama today he NOT run in 2012.
    This will give the Democrats some time to find a new viable candidate.

    • Me

      Seems to be support for avowed Socialist Bernie Sanders around here.

      • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

        Sanders isn’t a Democrat and he isn’t a “Socialist” in the Marxist sense. When it comes to the economy he’s social democrat in the Europeon sense. When it comes to political reforms he’s more akin to a liberal Democrat in that I’ve never heard him propose any real reforms to our antidemocratic federal system.  

        • Me

          I’m going by what he says and he claims to be a Socialist. But speaking of Marx, there is a lot of support for “From each according to his ability to each according to his need” around here too.

          • Anonymous

            So what. It’s called having a difference of opinion and a political philosophy that goes along with that. I take it by your tone and comments you don’t respect this notion. I must say this reminds me of the red scare rhetoric of the 50′s. 

  • ebw343

    Q. How many Obama administration members does it take to change a light bulb?

    A. “Some in my party say that LED technology…is the highest standard of efficiency. To them I plead patience. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Others, on the other side scream for a return to candles. To them I say, we respect your beliefs but must live in the current century.
    In  response to prior complaints from the more sensible quadrants of the right, about CFLs, I submitted a request to Speaker Boehner for a standard 65-watt incanescent. His counteroffer of a 10 watt blue Christmas bulb, is inadequate…to read by.

    Let me assure the American people that right now, over ten and a half hours of sunlight per day enter the room. I am certain that we will reach a truly bipartisan lightbulb-replacement compromise by the start of the school year, or the autumnal equinox. Or at the latest, the winter solstice.

    • Boston mom

      that’s funny. thanks for the laugh.

  • Ctwood2

    Obama??  Bush 3…a man more concerned with being “Mr. Nice Guy”

    I despised George W. Bush, but I knew exactly where he stood?

    Obama…nice words, where’s the beef?

    Hey Obama Confidants — Don’t expect that just because the Repubs will put forth some light weight hack that are guaranteed my revote.

    Grow a set of cojones and maybe the vote will be there! 

  • Mikeaq

    Bush was no intellectual giant, but he didn’t let little things like constitutional qualms stand in the way of doing what he felt was right.

    Compare his willingness to torture with Obama’s unwillingness even to use the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling.  Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Bush would NOT have used the 14th, had he been in the same position???

    It is obvious that Bush was a far stronger president simply because, as he once stated, he didn’t “do nuance”.  Doing nuance was Hamlet’s weakness and is a major underlying cause of Obama’s.

    Obama develops an educated, informed and nuanced position on an issue and presents it, expecting the other side to have the same intelligence, spirit of compromise, and concept of nuance to accept it – and then, being extremists – of course they demand far more.  And he does this again and again.  It is a major character flaw.  Charlie Brown was a nice kid, but Lucy always sucked him in, no matter how many times he was fooled.

    Obama’s second major character flaw is his inability to translate his anger (if he does get angry!) into words, and those words into action.  For whatever reason, by the time his anger surfaces, it is wussed into meaningless pronouncements.  The “No-drama Obama” stance has simply NOT succeeded.

    Even Jesus got angry and upturned the money-changer’s tables.  Instead, Obama invited the money-changers who ruined the country into his government. It may make sense to “keep your enemies closer”, but not in positions of power.

    Obama can learn a lot more from the Bush presidency than he has so far in terms of how to accomplish an agenda through brute strength and questionable tactics (vs. logic and intelligence).  Bush and Cheney used every underhanded arrow in their quivers to accomplish their agenda, and succeeded brilliantly – unfortunately, in doing the wrong things.  Just think what they could have accomplished had they focused on the right things!

    Obama and his team need to do the same – fight fire with fire – if they expect to succeed.  So far they are playing schoolyard stickball while their opponents, whose stated overriding goal is to dethrone him, play hardball.

    Change and hope – I sure hope the President changes.  The country simply can’t afford two consecutive presidencies in which the first succeeded in doing the wrong things, and the second failed in doing the right things.

  • Pingback: Saturday/August 13 – Brave Workers Strike against Verizon | The Daily Call

  • TomK in Boston

    The damage Obama has done makes my head spin. By wearing liberal camo while acting like a righty, he has made it impossible to do what the economy needs!  He is screwing up, and since the media say he’s a lib, liberal ideas are getting tarnished. However the reality is that he has totally gone over to the voodoo econ side. Almost everyone agrees that budget cut mania is a disaster in a weak economy, but he’s on board. He is following policies that will increase unemployment and slow growth. When we get the “double dip”, will it be blamed on libs, even tho it came from our non-liberal president? 

    Who is Obama?

    1. Liberal but weak?
    2. Big money righty in liberal camo (manchurian candidate)?
    3. Shameless pol who thinks selling out is the best way to get re-elected, and the USA be damned?

  • http://www.thinkonthat.com ThinkOnThat

    I’d love to see Obama lead by defending himself on all the criticism out there.  For example, “No I am not a socialist, I believe in the American working person and I want them to be able to realize the dream without having to grow government infinitely.  Unfortunately, we are in dire economic times and the private sector is unwilling to create the jobs necessary to put America back to work.  Therefore, we as the federal government will step in and create the stimulus necessary to put job growth back on track and then step away and hand off those jobs to the private sector when they are willing to come out from under their rocks.  Finally, I undertand that it seems liek government is growing right now, but government must grow now in order to preserve the economic integrity of our country.  The fact is, we need to be resonsible enough to shrink government except for checks and balances on the private sector when times are good.  And we need to make sure that we tax appropriately and balance our budget when times are good.  Now is not that time.  Now we must spend money that we are borrowing at record low rates and try to get countries in the developing world to NEED our exports.  We need to focus on fiscal stimulus and integration deeper into the world economy.  Yes, government may grow, but my goal is not to grow it indefinitely.  Only grow it long enough to get the country on the right track.  The alternative is complete free fall and companies will not come to the rescue. ” 

    Sorry a bit long winded but…..something along those lines would be nice.

    Check out www dot ThinkOnThat dot com — that’s my website with a lot of economic, environmental, and political facts.  Cheers!

    • Vdawg10

      So you’d more regulatory measures to strengthen government at the expense of a smaller private sector just because you can’t trust a private sector that’s not under government control. 

  • Rravvia

    Obama’s limitation can be seen in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and traced to his now distanced pastor: Gandhi and King are, for Obama, idealists, while we must retain an overriding grand narrative of good and evil, for “there is evil in the world.” Thanks for quoting GWB, Barack.

    Gandhi and King were both idealists, in that their struggle was founded in a definite and extreme idealism, yet practical, since that particular idealism is founded on the height of engagement. It is this failure to really understand Gandhi and King that lies at the basis of what is holding Obama back from something else, and that something else may ultimately something that we can’t quite even formulate yet.

    Gandhi and King were grounded in a fundamental condition of deep love and satyagraha or insisting-on-truth, where “insisting” is not merely discursive, but in a way “material”. What Obama has not done is to brook the general rubrics of this truth, its essential nonviolence and its considerable implications and philosophical repercussions. Rather, we must take Obama as residing in a sensibility much more along the lines of the pastor whose sermons he would take in on a weekly basis before the elections. That rhetoric can be summed up by the famous quote by his pastor.

    To enter into the thinking of King, and especially Gandhi, for King may be viewed as importing and unfortunately also conforming Gandhian thought and action to the questionable narratives we know to reside in his general religious commitments, entails something that not only Obama does not appreciate, but also his critics. In other words, the problem lies in ourselves. The left, the progressives, have yet to return to fundamental principles and realize a work that is implied by these principles. This work is on the level of principles themselves, and is essentiallky thoughtful and grounded in a free realization of nonviolence. When this is accomplished, as impractical as it may seem, it can release great practical possibilities in the form of indisputable best practices that can be proffered in the political and legislative sphere with power and weight.

    This work awaits our arrival. Our embarking on that journey remains trapped above all in our certainty. To broach the principle as such is to learn to dwell in a question that is essentially and necessarily humble and anxiety producing. This is the first work: to being to think and to be uncertain, and to begin to realize nonviolence in thought and action. These elements are irreducible and of the utmost importance.

  • http://twitter.com/RalphKenolEsq Ralph Kenol

    Obama is perceived by the many of the entrenched powerful and some of the masses as a usurper, an illegitimate occupier of the throne. The former Governor of New York and relative of a former President was the power structure.  Kind of different no?

Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

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Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

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