It took my wife an hour and half to make the two mile commute home Monday, after the secret service closed some of LA's busiest streets at rush hour to shuttle the president from his Beverly Hills hotel to a fundraiser for Congress hosted by the producer of The West Wing.
As the White House tweeted about Potus meeting the Hollywood West Wingers, LA's usually-snarled Westside traffic stood still. Moms and dads couldn't get home. Child care providers raked in the after-hour penalties. The liberals once flooded with hope had nothing but road rage for their inconsiderate president, as they tuned in their car radio to find he was keeping them from their families to raise big bucks for a Congress, which has an approval rating only slightly north of Al Qaeda
The Los Angeles Times headline says it all: "Obama raises a quick million -- and some LA commuters ire."
"I was an Obama supporter, but ... was stopped by police from crossing Olympic to get home ... during my daily dog walk," Amy Christine said. "I've lost all belief in his judgment. Can he really think he's more important than the tens of thousands of people trying to get home to their families?"
Cut to the clueless president at the home of John Wells, the West Wing creator: "What a spectacular evening. Let's just hang out."
The Westside gridlock was a mighty metaphor for the how narcissistic and out-of-touch this White House has grown when it comes to the priorities of the middle class. "We need jobs" signs were seen lining the president's route. Road rage will soon turn to political rage if Obama doesn't shake up his west wing and start campaigning for working Americans rather than posing with Hollywood's heavy weights.
Obama touted his green job and solar powered agenda Monday, but what middle America cares about is the high price of their gas, the low value of its wages and new government burdens backed by Obama, which will become all too clear as the post-Labor day campaign advertising machine cranks up. Case in point the mandatory requirement that all Americans have to buy health insurance by 2014, but the failure of government to regulate health insurance premiums.
In my new book, The Progessive's Guide To Raising Hell: How To Win Grassroots Campaigns, Pass Ballot Box Laws And Get The Change We Voted For, I show how the Obama-backed mandate, a reversal of the president's campaign pledge, is much like the mandatory auto insurance laws in the late 1980s that sparked voter revolts.
If you think road rage was bad in LA, wait til the middle class learns that, by 2014, it will face tax penalties if it doesn't shell out big bucks to health insurance companies, whose public standing is in the same cellar as Congress's. The ballot initiative process gave the public a chance to answer back on mandatory auto insurance in the late 80s, but politicians paid a big price for their obeisance to industry rather than the public.
Next stop for Potus is Seattle, where the insurance company lobbyists are railroading consumer advocates on the details of Obamacare at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners meeting. Congress and the president punted to this industry captive organization of insurance commissioners to make the rules of fairness in the health insurance market. Not surprisingly insurers are close to winning huge, unfair tax breaks for themselves, accounting tricks to count overheads as "medical care" in order to pump up the amount of profits they can collect, and other big concessions that will bite the middle class in the butt.
Obama's not riding to the rescue of consumers in Seattle, but going to take another victory lap at rush hour. Let's hope the president reads the Los Angeles Times this morning and alters his course, or at least his route.
Gridlock is one thing in Washington, but in this unending recession voters can only stand so much in their own back yard. Obama's Los Angeles trip cost his party a lot more than it raised. It's yet another sign that the real west wing needs to understand that Obama is not simply playing president on television and twitter, but representing an anxious and increasingly impatient nation that wants to get home and hopes for a president to lead it.