Why the President’s Well Meaning Hands are Tied

I believe Barack Obama is a good man, a well meaning man, a man dedicated to easing the suffering of oppressed people, not only in America but throughout the world. And I know he has not done as well in his first term as America’s president as he would have liked.

But when I hear his critics lambasting him for coming up short on his campaign promises, I sigh for him.

They know better than you and I ever could that their cricisms are unfair.  Many of  the president’s critics are political insiders. They know very well that the system makes it impossible for the most well meaning president to achieve the reforms America so desperately needs. Indeed, they are often key players in the system themselves.

It’s not just the sabotage of the Republican opposition that has tied the president’s hands. He often faced insurmountable road blocks within his own party.

Tomorrow, in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Democrats will hold their convention. And, once again, Washington’s shoddy system will be in full bloom for all to see.

The system was also on display – even more obviously – in Tampa last week, when the Republicans staged their extravaganza. But with Republicans it’s what I expect. With Democrats, I find it disillusioning.

In an article distributed by Truthout today, Steve Horn draws the curtain aside to reveal a host of lobbyists who pull the Democratic Party’s strings in Washington. According to Horn, the key DNC “patron” is a coal industry giant – Duke Energy. Horn reports that the company’s CEO, Jim Rogers, “is the Co-Chair of the DNC Host Committee, which created a non-profit called the New American City Fund to facilitate fundraising from corporate donors for the Convention, with a goal of raising over $36 million.”

Just as they did at the Republican convention, lobbyists are skirting influence pedlling laws in Charlotte by setting up dummy corporations to host lavish parties for politicians.  Horn declares:

Everywhere you look, there’ll be a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or party where corporate lobbyists will be co-mingling with Democratic Party politicians, strategists, consultants, and operatives – a giant “schmoozapalooza,” if you will.

All good parties have savvy hosts, or “people behind the parties” and the DNC is no different.

Skillfully skirting lobbying ethics laws, many of these party hosts created LLCs (limited liability corporations) for “schmoozapalooza” organizing. LLC is generally a distinction for small business owners, though it’s often abused by multinational corporations in creating tax havens. In other words, like magic, many transformed themselves overnight from registered lobbyists to small business entrepreneurs.

I suppose it  would be naive of me to expect any American party to be influence free, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that lets corporations spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns. But I am disillusioned nonetheless, disillusioned and enlightened.

Now, I understand why Obama was so often double-crossed by Democrats in Congress during the early years of his presidency, when he ostensibly commanded a majority in both houses and tried to do so much. Now, I understand why the stimulus package included wasteful tax breaks and pointless “pork,” and why his healthcare reform legislation ended up looking like a Rube Goldberg machine when the obvious solution was a simple expansion of Medicare.  Congress was to blame.

It was Congress, too, that blocked his attempt to close Guantanamo Bay…. and so much more.

It’s no wonder this Congress has a 12 percent approval rating – the lowest in American history.

As long as America’s political system makes it impossible for politicians to get elected without massive financial support, lobbyists can frustrate the best efforts of any reform minded president. Obviously, to save the country, the American people must, somehow, change the system.

In the meantime, it would be absurd to fire President Obama for “not meeting expectations.” And it would be grossly unfair.

As for me, I will still vote for the Democrats, hoping America will elect enough straight shooters to realize the dream of a real Obama presidency.

Click here to read Steve Horn’s article.