The election in Massachusetts to select Ted Kennedy's replacement is generating a great deal of discussion. The portents are that Obama is about to take a serious hit to his power, squandered in an attempt to run the nation that he wished he had and not the nation that is.
The people of Massachusetts are now just as likely to select Scott Brown as Martha Coakley, yet the cognitive dissonance that the Obama Era may be at an end generates some interesting observations. One such is that of William Rivers Pitt, who in a recent op-ed written for Truthout opined that "The calamities of Republican rule are still too fresh in mind for people to turn on a dime and embrace their madness again."
Au contraire, mon frère! That condition ended four years ago, not last week! The Democrats were given majority power as of November 2006, and then had it strengthened in 2008. People have since been waiting with decreasing patience for Obama to deliver on promises made overtly or implied during the campaign, and the Republicans eagerly remind them of every one of these every chance they get.
Just what has Obama given the people of America using this record political firepower? He's given them a rescued banking system which continues to abuse them with high loan interest and low numbers of loan approvals. He's given them oppressive credit card rules and no relief from foreclosure. He's seeking to impose an expensive and mandatory medical insurance while jobs continue to be lost. And so very much more that isn't seen as being beneficial on Main Street.
So tell me again — why should the people stand with Obama?
Smarter politicians than Obama see the reality writing on the wall: they are going to be blamed for Obama's failures this fall. There is no one else available to feel the wrath of the people over these issues except those of the party which Obama leads.
One of the most vulnerable House Democrats, Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), decided that he needed to "spend more time with his family" rather than run for re-election. Despite representing "the most Democratic-friendly district in Arkansas", Snyder apparently had no money to run a tough re-election campaign, and a SurveyUSA poll showed him trailing 17 percent behind his Republican challenger. Supporting Obama's agenda hurt him with the hometown voters. A majority of his constituents clearly disapproved of this.
Snyder just needed to sellout to those who have the money, as apparently Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has. Sen. Murkowski is clearly in the pocket of Southern Co. ($38,000), Duke Energy ($22,550), CSX, Progress Energy, and other top utility and energy companies. The total of their generosity in donations since 2004 equals more than $124,500. In return, she did the bidding of these "customers" by introducing an amendment to the Clean Air Act as part of an energy industry campaign to limit the scope of greenhouse gas regulations. Such yeo(wo)manly service saved these companies millions, showing that she was an excellent investment.
There is clearly money in pay-to-play. There is nothing to match it coming from We, the People. We're far too poor. We work for a living, and we know that doesn't pay very well.
One thing that the ridiculous health care "reform" effort has exposed is just how much money is transferred between "our" elected representatives and the private commercial sector. It is seen by these firms as insurance against higher expenses imposed by law. Corporations will gladly contribute money for the right to craft a pending bill in ways that benefit the donor.
One such example is the "Safeway Amendment" which allows insurance premiums to be higher for employees who fail certain physical fitness tests. The current Senate bill also allows for this provision as of the bill's passage. What a coincidence! The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society say this amendment breaks Obama's promise that people's health status would not affect the cost of their insurance premiums, but there isn't much hope that this provision will disappear from the final bill. It is supported both by Democrats and Republicans, and is one of the items that bought-and-paid-for President Obama himself desires to see in the final bill.