Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Buyer's Remorse?

I think it’s great how some figures of speech in English perfectly sum up a concept in just a couple of words.  Though I’m sure Finnish and practically any other language have expressions that are just as pithy and colorful, I’d like to think that English is especially inventive this way, being as it is a hugely cosmopolitan and vibrant language.  Examples of such vivid word-parings that come to mind are “bar fly”, “mission creep”, and one of my all-time favorites, “pillow talk”. 

Lately, I’ve been seeing another such phrase sprinkled all over some of the political blogs I read:  “buyer’s remorse”.  This is the regret that someone feels after – sometimes immediately after – purchasing something that at first they were probably pretty excited about.  Usually it’s used in the realm of car buying, which has also given us “sticker shock” (the unpleasant jolt you feel when you first see the selling price of a car). 

Everyone has experienced the let down (another succinct phrase) you feel after realizing the wonderful piece of merchandize you finally got your hands on doesn’t quite live up to your expectations.  This has been my standard reaction to any laptop I’ve ever owned. 

However, the “buyer’s remorse” I’ve been hearing about over the last couple of weeks has nothing to do with commerce.  It has all to do with Barack Obama.  Various progressive commentators in the media and blogosphere have started expressing more than mere disappointment with the President’s performance.  They have moved on to outright regret over voting for him. 

The notion recently gaining some currency among these bloggers is that they backed the wrong horse in 2008 and that Hillary Clinton may have been the better choice.  Regrettably, I’m starting to feel the same way. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I think President Obama is a good and decent man.  And honest.  I have no reason to think otherwise.  I think he’s a smart guy and is much better suited for the job than John McCain would have been.  I also think he’s getting a raw deal (another good phrase) from many of the critics who blame him for not being an economic miracle worker. 

Or, on second thought, maybe I agree with them.  I confess that, with the economic collapse that the US was facing in 2008, I was hoping Obama would be the second coming of FDR.  I can’t claim to be a student of the New Deal, but I’ve always had a lot of admiration for Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression, admiration passed on to me from my father who lived through those times and seemed to think a lot of FDR, despite not exactly being Democrat himself. 

When Obama was sworn into office, I was hoping he was going to rise to the occasion and guide the US through these troubling times the way FDR did in the 30s.  Instead, in the face of the conservative backlash following his election, Obama has proven to be far too accommodating to his opponents and, let’s be honest, far too weak a leader to get his agenda across to the American people.  With the exception of health care reform, that is.  That was a huge achievement, but even then it was only a halfway measure, a compromise – maybe a necessary one, but still a compromise nonetheless and one that didn’t gain him any friends among conservatives. 

In almost every confrontation with Republicans, Obama has been far too willing to give ground.  Perhaps he does this in the name of being practical or in the spirit of bipartisanship, which was a centerpiece of his campaign.  I, for one, wasn’t inspired by his promise to reach across the aisle to the other party, and it’s clear his conciliatory instincts haven’t exactly served him well. 

In the 2008 race, I was torn between voting for a history-making first black president or a history-making first female president.  I wanted to vote for both and, in a sense, I did.  I voted for Clinton in the primary, and was then happy to be able to vote for Obama in the general election.  And I was naturally thrilled that he won. 

At the time, I would have imagined that a Clinton presidency would have triggered an even fiercer backlash, given the history of the 90s and the strong hatred that Republicans still seem to feel for the Clintons.  Now, it’s hard to imagine how the backlash could have any worse, and I can’t help think that Hillary – as tough as they come and no stranger to political tangling – would have at least fought back. 

Still, I haven’t completely given up on Obama.  I wouldn’t want to see Clinton challenge him for the nomination next year, and I’ll certainly vote for him no matter what.  I just hope that, in the meantime, Mr. Obama begins to show more conviction and toughness and a willingness to finally give the Republicans a good dose of what can be summed up by another apt phrase:  “whoop ass”.


  1. First, political stuff: Unlike FDR, who had a Congressional delegation at least willing to support his work, Obama has faced nothing but an unending parade of filibusters. One after another after another. Why isn't this in the press? How many filibusters did W. Moron Bush face? I'll tell you how many...none. The only time the Democrats even threatened to filibuster one of his mad schemes, the Senate came within a lizard's whisker of getting rid of the practice. So how much work can Obama accomplish when a minority of elected Senators can halt any of his proposals? I'll tell you how much work--almost none. You're facing "buyer's remorse" because the corporate-owned media is pushing this meme endlessly. I, too, wish Hillary Clinton had won the nomination, but that was based on the fact that at the time she was running, the oil and coal (energy) industry fought against her nomination tooth and nail. No oil company wanted her to win because she would have made life difficult for that particular strain of environmental rapists.

    Language--yes, I get the impression that English is unique in the way that you mention. I've heard that Russian is similarly endowed, but as I don't know any Russian, I can't say. When I was a kid one of my older cousins had a German girlfriend. She was forever being confused not just by our southern dialects, but also by our slang, and our creative use of the language.

  2. I agree that the Republican's opposition to practically everything Obama touches is unprecedented. It's almost to the point where if he says the sky is blue, they will violently disagree that in fact it's red. How else can you explain Sarah Palin ridiculing Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign?

    So maybe Obama had no choice but to do an inadequate stimulus, extend the Bush tax cuts, etc., and his critics on the left are not facing the political realities of the moment (or overlooking the achievements).

    One thing is clear, the Republicans are winning the perceptions war. Obama isn't getting his message out (or the American people simply aren't willing to hear it). I think the Tea Party has given people an excuse to fall back on their worst instincts, and in the long-run the country will suffer. If Michele Bachmann had had her way, the US would have defaulted by now.

    FDR also had Republican opposition and in his reelection campaign he said:

    "Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred."

    Lately, I wish Obama would come swinging like that.

  3. Well, it's hard to fight complete control of the media. What other political group has an entire TV network devoted to disseminating their propaganda? And that's just FOX. The rest of the corporate media still promotes RepubliKKKan propaganda, although generally in a more subtle manner.

    Obama did float the idea of a single-payer health care system but it was violently opposed by several within the then 60-member Democratic caucus and thus it was wrecked. That would have gone a long way toward making this country whole and well. In contrast, the RepubliKKKans never have a problem creating a united front of goose-stepping conformity. Thus, they always protect their billionaire corporate masters. At any rate, it's all an illusion. We live--along with the rest of the Earth's human population--in a plutocracy.

    The USA is just going to continue its rapid downhill slide into Third World dissolution. I'm resigned to seeing it continue. It's sad, of course, but nothing short of violent revolution can reverse it, and that ain't gonna happen.

    My nephew, who works for DIA, once told me of a speech given to his team by a member of the Bush administration arguing that National Parks could (and should) be exploited for their natural resources, since everything could be repaired after the mining, timbering, drilling, etc. It's going to happen. I guarantee it. Our National Parks are going to end up being denuded and fouled for corporate profits. Wait and see.

    This is where our nation is headed, and why the world's ecosystems are doomed to extinction and destruction. Corporate entities control all of the world's societies, from the USA's so-called "two party" system, to the supposedly democratic European parliamentary systems, to the Chinese Communist Party apparatus. Your children (and mine) will see the last of the world's megafauna. Our grandchildren will look at photos of elephants and whales, rhinos and bear, tigers and wolves as we do with pictures of mammoths and ceratopsians.