Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Obama Adminstration - Year One.

As 2009 comes to it's plodding, economically gloomy end, it is a good time look back at year one of the Obama Administration. As the more mainstream media was transfixed with the heath care debate, there was indeed much more on the "President's Plate".

I have made no secret that I am very disappointed with President Obama's first year in office. Candidate Obama  promised sweeping change, his speeches overflowed with plans to remake our nation through the 'audacity of hope.'   President Obama.... not so much.

His first year in office, has left many of the President's supporters scratching their heads wondering where the guy they voted for went. Now this has created an interesting debate between the political left and left of center. With the Left thinking they have been conned, convinced they were voting for a Liberal, but instead got a centrist. The more center left of the political spectrum calling such criticism unfair. Saying the President came into office with so many problems to address, the Left is being unrealistic and too impatient.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford recently took the Administration's liberal critics to task. Linking to a recent post on the liberal DailyKos blog he lays out the90 Accomplishments of President Obama Which The Media Fails to Report. The line of thought being, President Obama really is the same agent of sweeping change he claimed be during the campaign.

I read the list, and yeah...ok, there are some pretty good things on there. And yes, at the end of the day Barack Obama's greatest year one achievement may well be the fact that he isn't George W. Bush.

But I live in San Francisco, and back during the campaign,  there was great interest in where the various candidates stood on the issue of equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans. There was a fairly big split in late 2007 and early 2008 between folks who were supporting then Senator Obama, and then Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The turning point for many came in August 2007, when all the democratic candidates participated in a forum sponsored by the Human Right Campaign. It was there that Barack Obama began what would be a series of very clear targeted statements to the LGBT community. Statements where he spoke about how he would champion equal rights for LGBT Americans.

Now, one year into his Presidency, Barack Obama has hardly been the "fierce advocate" he promised to be. Earlier this fall, Seattle columnist Dan Savage looked back...

There is a clear disconnect between the Democratic Party organizationally, the Obama Adminstration and the actual issues on the ground. President Barack Obama waged a truly inspiring campaign. I was a blogger for, and supporter of Senator John Edwards, it was Barack Obama's words in the HRC Forum that pulled me as well as many of my friends, who were supporting Senator Clinton, over to his campaign.

The sad reality a year after his election is, "Hope and Change" were very easy to talk about in a campaign, but there is little courage to act on those words now when governing.

It seems like 1993 all over again. Nobody can pulll defeat out of the jaws of victory better than the Democrats. We are feisty and full of energy when we lose and are in the Minority. But when we win, and actaully get to govern we become frozen with fear of losing the NEXT election. Consequently all the GOP has to do, is run a very simple; "See, the Democrats couldn't deliver!" campaign and they win.

I fear that is what we are in for in 2010 AND 2012 unless President Obama shows he can lead on an issue that matters to a constituency
he made very strong and very public promises to.

Right now Barack Obama is NOT a leader on civil rights, he is a speaker. He says wonderful things but so far has very little to show for it in terms of actual accomplishments.

His one major stated achievement, the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was far more the result of years of work by members of Congress, like the late Senator Ted Kennedy. President Obama's big effort in passing it was to sign it after all was said and done. An important role, to be sure, but to give his administration credit for the law, is stretching credibility a bit..

As a result his Administration, being leaderless on a major civil rights issue, stumbles around like a headless chicken. Bumping into things, tripping over its own feet, and (when it can get its hands on the firepower) shooting itself in the foot. As they did with the Justice Dept, brief defending DOMA. Where White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried valiantly to claim the Administration HAD to vigorously defend a law they really hated... really.

The sad reality is the homophobia on the LEFT does as much if not more damage than the homophobia on the Right. For the Democratic Party, the LGBT community is seen mostly as a source of campaign money that outside of election years, they wish would sit quietly and not cause any trouble. Even more unfortunate is how large national Gay Rights groups like the HRC have enabled that treatment.

The fact is, unless the Obama Adminstration is able to; 1) Overturn the military policy of expelling Lesbian and Gay personnel under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", or 2) Repeal the federal "Defense of Marriage Act",
is this term, they will lose the support of the LGBT community and those who support their fight for equality. Millions of LGBT Americans and their progressive allies will close their wallets and stay home in 2010 and possibly even 2012.

Many people who are frustrated with the LGBT Community’s impatience with President Obama keep saying the Administration has so much “on their plate” that it is unfair and impractical to expect progress on these issues his first year, or even in a first term. Given that fact they ask, what will make “the gays” quit expecting the President to actually keep promises that were made during the campaign.

If the President can’t keep his word, then at least show some leadership on the issues. I remember a wonderful scene from the first season of NBC’s “The West Wing”. President Bartlett is speaking to a gathering of Talk Radio hosts, Including one who is well known for her views on LGBT rights.

Most Americans, gay or straight understand that the President came into office inheriting a complete disaster left behind by the worst President of the twentieth Century. But we still expect the President of the United States, to lead.

Unless the Democratic Party and the Obama Administration find the courage of their STATED convictions, I see this Administration going down in History as a "One Term Gutless Wonder.

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