The Two Obamas

The progressives in our country are growing impatient as common sense solutions are pushed aside and labeled extremist; the pragmatists among us are concluding that patience is no longer a virtue, but just a waste of time.

As a naturalized citizen, I hold dual citizenships, and dual political points of view that see two presidents.

One is President Obama, Nobel Peace Prize winner, the man who, in weeks, obliterated the world's perception of the United States as an imperialist bully. The other is President Obama and his domestic trail of broken promises and wasted opportunities.

The immigrant in me sees the President as an improbable day dream of how the world should be. No more, "he is a bastard but he is our bastard." No more Iran contra, no more political assassinations in Chile, no more secret police in South America, and no more operation Paris keeping our hostages in Iran. No more torture, and I do not mean just, "I am shocked there is water boarding going on in Guantanamo," I mean just dunk their head in the toilet, Chile-style. No more El Salvador, no more United Fruit Company, no more Shah of Iran coups, and no more arming the Taliban to "protect the Afghan people from the evil empire."

In an instant, Barack Obama became the impossible dream and ended not eight years of imperialist policies, but 60.

Then there is the American in me - most of me, since I have lived here my entire adult life. This American citizen is completely disillusioned. President Obama has broken or fudged every single domestic policy promise made during his campaign, leaving most progressives to wish Dennis Kucinich had been a better candidate. This is just a short list: reverting the Bush tax cuts, protecting gay rights, investing in infrastructure, putting an end to mandatory sentencing, closing Guantanamo, fixing the education crisis, and of course, how he blundered and delegated health care reform.

I suspect that someday, history will remember his Cairo speech and the jaw dropping moment when he spoke about the US overturning the government of Iran as a pivotal moment in the relation and perception between the United States and the rest of the world. In a passing comment, the president of the United States said the emperor was naked.

President Obama's Afghanistan policy does not make him a hawk. He will not let the Taliban stone rape victims to death - the Taliban that Reagan helped bring to power in the first place. We should not need a self serving reason to stay; the consequences of leaving would be horribly inhumane. I think I can live with the president's decision to stay, and so can the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

Yes, he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, but don't we deserve the progressive government we thought we were electing?

During the first weeks of his presidency, as his left hand kept putting pen to paper, one executive order after another, I was expecting to be just as awe struck, but the ceremony failed in substance and impact again and again. I wanted to hear, loud and clear "elections have consquences." Instead, I got "bipartisanship," aka, one-partisanship. I wanted to hear, "as of right now, Medicare will comply with the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and protect all citizens regardless of age." Instead, I heard, "I will delegate health care reform to Olympia Snowe." I am sure Senator Snowe did not vote for President Obama, just as I am sure we did not elect her president. Anything less than single payer is just one more entitlement the middle class cannot afford. Anything less than Medicare for all does nothing to mitigate the competitive handicap for American companies in the global market.

I wanted to hear the gates of Guantanamo slam shut. Instead, I got, "not in my backyard, fine, send them to The Hague."

I wanted to hear "our education will rise to international standards and implement an international baccalaureate equivalent nationwide."

I wanted to hear soldiers ask and tell.

I wanted to hear our pot smoking president rethink the ten years mandatory sentencing for marijuana.

I expected this day dream president to bail out Main Street, not Wall Street. I had the audacity to hope that when a bank too big to fail, fails, my president would nationalize it; excuse my language; he would buy it, giving the United States of America something every other country in the world has: a National Bank. This bank would keep credit flowing and avidly refinance "the toxic assets" most people call homes. Our National Bank would be the financial equivalent of the public option and would assure that no bank dare hike credit card rates up to usury levels to lend us our own money. Yes, I want the bank I paid for.

I expected infrastructure, the kind that builds a country and creates jobs: freeways, airports, public transit, all of which we desperately need. Instead, the stimulus package "saved" jobs by giving the states a one time reprieve - jobs that will not survive another fiscal year.

I want the president I voted for, the president candidate Obama would support.

I expected a new deal, the Second Bill of Rights. But while F.D.R. wanted to be judged by the enemies he made, President Obama wants to be judged on how many friends and compromises he makes.

Yes, the world should love him; they have all the right reasons to, and for those reasons, so should we. But after twenty five years of trickle down free market Reaganomics, the American people desperately needed a president for and of the people, fearless of change, fearless of rival opinions.

Those of us who put Barack Obama in the Oval Office have been pushed aside, our loyalty taken for granted. It would seem his leadership ended at the front doors of the White House.