Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Return of Dr. Feelgood

If the president isn't careful, he's going to get the nickname Dr. Feelgood. And, while some may think of Obama as more like Faust than Dr. Feelgood, he's certainly working hard to pacify, and appease those special interest groups he was elected to vigorously oppose.

With the announcement today of FBI chief, Robert Mueller, that rendition of detainees won't happen on his watch, and the appeasement of congressional Republicans implicit in limiting medical malpractice lawsuits, it seems that the president sees his task as that of trying to make everybody feel good.

The health industry isn't the only lobby that had a good day. The gun lobby has cause to celebrate the Senate's passage of a measure that will allow passengers on Amtrak to exercise their so-called Second Amendment rights by packing a handgun in their suitcase. But, what would George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson have to say if they were magically transported through time, and allowed to attend last weekend's teabagger rally? Would they get behind throwing raw meat at the National Rifle Association--a quid pro quo, but for what?

The view from Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, or from the Helmond Province, might give pause to reflect on the greatest natural resource of that area, and one that has been exploited by Taliban, and Afghani police alike, a region from whence 80% of the world's heroin originates.

While this administration is still in its infancy, one can't help but think that what we are seeing is more of a massage than a substantive, and bold move in a new direction.

To be effective, sooner or later any leader must learn that you're going to have to come out on one side or the other, and not capitulate to the same forces one was elected to fight.

Privatizing medical care hasn't worked for generations as evidenced by overpopulation of emergency rooms in county run hospitals. Sooner or later, we're all going to pick up the tab just as we've picked up the tab to rescue the banks, Wall Street, and the oil companies, only to watch their profits grow seismically.

No one is questioning that the road ahead is fraught with danger, but weaving from left to right isn't going to do much of anything except create the illusion of avoiding a road hazard. The object in the middle of the road isn't going anywhere. It's up to the driver to move.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew that. FDR didn't care about walking a middle line to please both sides. He didn't care about making anybody feel good. He saw a broken economy, and tried to fix it. He saw lots of people out of work, and tried to change that. He saw runaway wealth, and corporate carpetbagging, and worked for regulation while recognizing the need to deconstruct, not reward those whose only concern was profit.

In Obama, we have among the most competent presidents since FDR and, just as the stock market undergoes corrections, so must this presidency.

The president's support of faith based initiatives which pose a constitutional challenge to the separation of church and state gives cause for concern as does his acceptance of George W. Bush's state secrets defense, and diehard notion of executive privilege. He needs to stand his ground both as a constitutional lawyer, and as one who most certainly recognizes the moral imperative in defending those most needy, and refrain from the politics of appeasement as there are some beasts that can never be appeased.