In response to my post about Obama's style of politics, Ann writes, "This second response feels betrayed by the pragmatism, even as I understand how it may be necessary." What can this possibly mean? Disappointed? To be sure. Hungry for more progressive change? Of course. But betrayed? By whom? The use of that word can mean only one thing: that Obama had it within his power to enact a much more progressive piece of legislation, as he had many times indicated he wished to do, but chose not to do so for unacknowledged and reprehensible reasons -- such as that he is a secret conservative, who does not believe in progressive change, or that he has been bought off by malign special interests.
But anyone who paid even the slightest attention to the agonizing process knows that Obama does not have it within his power to pass a significantly more progressive piece of legislation. Indeed, on the basis of the last half century of evidence, it would have been a pretty good bet that neither he nor Nancy Pelosi nor Harry Reid had the power to pass any health care reform legislation at all!
I have said this before on this blog, and I will keep saying it, because it is the truth: It is the American people, by electing the Senators and Representatives who now sit in Congress, who have frustrated the desire of liberals for progressive change. It is not correct to say that the American people have betrayed us, because they have never in any way promised us progressive reform. This simply is not a progressive country. It is a reactionary country with a large liberal minority. I hate that. I have fought it all my life. I will fight it until I die. But I do not imagine that my progressive hopes and dreams have been betrayed by Barack Obama or anyone else.
If the compromises made to assemble majorities in the House and Senate were necessary, then they are not a betrayal! Let it be noted that even in the House, where the Democrats have a large majority and a strongly pro-choice Speaker, a viciously anti-abortion amendment was rammed through with an absolute majority of the votes.
The only genuine betrayal in recent American politics was the Supreme Court's judicial coup d'etat in 2000. That truly was a betrayal, of the Constitution, of the rule of law, of the five Justices' oath of office, and of the American people.