Bigfoot. There's more evidence for him than for a bipartisan.
Democrat: n. a spineless mammal that grovels on its stomach and subsists on hope and crumbs distributed by liberals.

Bipartisan: n. a mythical two-faced beast said to face backward and forward simultaneously. In folklore it is depicted as rational and gentle, but scientists have found no evidence that such a species ever existed.

Liberal: n. a harmless mammal known for its ferocious growl, rhetorical flourishes, and bombast. Although its bellow can be fearsome, the liberal poses no threat as it is toothless.

At the time of Barack Obama’s election, optimistic comparisons were made to Abraham Lincoln. Alas, the politician that’s emerging is the next coming of Jimmy Carter. President Obama seems affable enough but, like Carter, he’s too interested in pleasing others and too prone to compromising principles in pursuit of a bipartisanship that only he believes in. Akin also to Carter, Obama shows distressing signs of being a man out of his depth. In fact, he’s acting more like a freshman senator than a president.

Let’s look at the recent record. Facing a hailstorm of criticism from the GOP Right (but I repeat myself), President Obama has retained the seal on interrogation records of terrorist suspects, has backpedaled on gay rights, has compromised on health care reform, and has signaled he may be willing to drop a government option on the latter. Last I looked we were still in Iraq and there are few signs of disengagement, even though the Iraqi government has requested it. There has been no progress on enacting needed business regulation and the bailout plan enriched some of the worst pirates in the financial sector. Unemployment remains high and very little federal money has gone to job creation. Aside from personal style—and the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court-- there has been little to distinguish Obama’s presidency from that of his predecessor. Just this week Obama threw his support behind education legislation that emphasizes standardized testing and other aspects of Bush’s deplorable No Child Left Behind bill.

Like Carter (and Bill Clinton), Obama is steadily drifting to the right. (Lest we forget, it was Jimmy Carter who paved the way for Reagan by boosting defense spending, ratcheting Cold War tensions, and taking a moralist stance on social issues.) And, like Carter, Obama’s getting a free ride from liberals. The latter are “upset” with the president, but they bellow from the sidelines in the foolish belief that Obama is their only hope. What they don’t do is mobilize and hold his feet to the flames. The specter of raving loonies such as Sarah Palin has liberals so scared that they’d rather wring their hands in despair and blame Republicans for failures that ought to be laid at Obama’s door.

Nonsense! The Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in both houses and the power to enact whatever legislation they wish. The Democrats are not leading, they are merely using the GOP as a bogeyman the way Republicans used to speak of communists during the Cold War. But they’ve little incentive to ruffle feathers that might cost a few of them their comfy seats as long as liberals are quiescent.

Two things need to happen. First, liberals need to get boisterous and disrespectful. They are the last political animals in the country who still think that reason and goodwill can prevail. They can’t worry about whether opposing a black president is racist. (It’s the ultimate paternalism to support someone merely because he is black!) If Obama and other Democrats can’t get with the program, throw their sorry keisters out of office. Form progressive coalitions and run to their left, like the good folks of Burlington, Vermont do. Stop writing checks to the party and start logging complaints on Congressional and White House Websites. Above all, stop being paralyzed by false fear. If it all comes out the same in the wash, does it really matter if a blue-dog Democrat loses to a Republican? Let a few poseurs fall; it might leave the party in the hands of real Democrats.

As for the latter, we’ve not had a real Democrat in the White House since Lyndon Johnson. President Obama should use the real LBJ as his role model rather than chasing bipartisan myths. Don’t tell me we can’t pass health care reform; LBJ faced the much tougher task of getting the Civil Rights Act passed. How’d he do it? He refused to play nice. He cajoled, threatened, and wielded presidential power like a club. LBJ told Congress he’d sign no bills until he had a civil rights bill to sign. He told them he’d cancel the summer recess, that he would use discretionary spending to punish recalcitrant Congressmen, and that the White House would withhold support for Democrats who defied the president. He even let it be known that he couldn’t “guarantee” that a few skeletons wouldn’t slip out of the Congressional closet.

Like the Right, liberals and the president need to get nasty. Like LBJ, they need to kick ass instead of kissing it. Only then will they find themselves with strong teeth and a spine.

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