The Swift Boating of Barack Obama

By Dennis Loo

 "Barack Obama ran the best-organized and best-framed presidential campaign in history. How is it possible that the same people who did so well in the campaign have done so badly on health care?"

So asks George Lakoff in yesterday’s article: "The Policy-Speak Disaster for Health Care."  

Lakoff's argument in a nutshell: Obama has put the health care issue into the hands of policy wonks. These wonks think of lists of rational reasons why their plan is good. They don't understand the need to conceptually frame everything into one package: "An American Plan guarantees affordable care for all Americans." 

The right wing, by contrast, understands how to conceptually frame things in simple (fabricated) terms:

Obama's a socialist. (Subtext: Government's bad, remember?)

Obama's illegitimate. (Subtext: Obama's black. You don't like or trust blacks, remember?)

The health care plan will bankrupt the nation and give insurance to illegal immigrants. (Subtext: Mexicans are stealing your country. You want your country back, don't you?) 

Lakoff's question is a good one: how could the very same team of people who ran the best organized and framed campaign in U.S. history be doing so badly on health care?  

But Lakoff's answer is wrong.

Obama hasn't turned the issue over to policy wonks. Obama and his team haven't suddenly forgotten how to frame issues and win organizing battles.

Obama is doing what in other parlance would be called taking a dive.

He is doing this despite the following facts: he has both chambers of Congress prohibitively, filibuster-proof, in Democratic hands. He has 80% of the American public on the side of at least a public option in health insurance. He has the moral high ground in the face of the screaming, irrational, bullies in the Town Halls. Even if he didn't have the majority on his side and even if the Congress wasn't on his side, it would be morally right and the rational course to take health care out of the hands of the parasitic HMO's.

Yet he's waving the white flag of surrender. 

Is this the leader you put your trust in to lead the fight for change? A person who at the first sign of resistance gives up?

The thing that had until now distinguished Obama was that he, unlike John Kerry, wouldn't sit idly by while he was Swift Boated. Yet, now Obama is doing a Kerry.


Because he's not really that invested in winning this battle. Because the forces he seeks common ground with aren't the majority of the American people.

Obama seeks common ground with mobs led by fascists. He has more allegiance to the working/colluding relationship he has with the GOP than he does to the American people. 

The two major parties in this country are an operating fraternity, just like professional wrestlers. They despise each other in the ring and mock beat each other up, and then, afterwards, go out to dinner together as the best of pals (as Jesse Ventura described it, comparing politicians to professional wrestlers).

What are we, a bunch of professional wrestling fans, or are we sentient beings?