You won’t find a more stunning condemnation of Barack Obama. Why? The rebuke comes from a prominent man who once mentored Obama and even helped him become president in 2008.
Professor Roberto Unger is Obama’s former law professor at Harvard University. Four years ago, he was an adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign. But now, in 2012, Unger is so disturbed by his former student’s behavior as president that he has issued a warning via the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, published June 17, 2012:
The Daily Mail‘s video of Professor Unger is spreading like wildfire across the Internet:
The Huffington Post summarized Professor Unger’s complaints about Obama’s job performance [emphasis mine]:
• “His policy is financial confidence and food stamps.”
• “He has spent trillions of dollars to rescue the moneyed interests, while leaving workers and homeowners to their own devices.”
• “He has delivered the politics of democracy to the rule of money.”
• “He has disguised his surrender with an empty appeal to tax justice.”
• “He has reduced justice to charity.”
• “He has subordinated the broadening of economic and educational opportunity to the important but secondary issue of access to health care in the mistaken belief that he would be spared a fight.”
• “He has evoked a politics of handholding, but no one changes the world without a struggle.”
Professor Unger’s statement that Obama has “delivered the politics of democracy to the rule of money” is as damning as it is true. Mr. Obama was supposed to offer us a new kind of politics, but that promise was broken as soon as he spent $750 million securing the presidency. His promise, or threat, that he would raise $1 billion dollars for his re-election is not heartening, but terrifying as it only serves to remind us how little influence the poor or middle class of this nation have in the rule of law or direction of this country. Money and a herd mentality in both parties rule the day.
To further remark on the President’s disastrous comments of last week: No, the private sector is not “fine.” In my immediate vicinity, brick and mortar stores are closing in large numbers, condo complexes meant for purchase are struggling to rent their units. More foreclosures and short sales are further driving down our home values.
Wages are stagnant for those who are lucky enough to have a job. Qualified professionals are losing their jobs left and right. Teachers are being laid off but the bureaucrats who run the programs are still employed.
We need to be honest about what is happening out here on the ground. Platitudes are not cutting it. No sector is “just fine” right now. Period.
Our current situation proves the reason for Professor’s Ungers’ complaints. We are turned into suckers every day, used as guarantors for the recklessness that occurs higher up the food chain of government (in both parties), special interests, big banks and big PhRma.
I doubt I am as far to the left as Professor Unger, but I do agree with him that until you purge the greed and self-interest that has infected the Party, we cannot move forward effectively on true progressive policy. In its way, I think the sincerest members on the ground in the Tea Party are efforting to do the same with the Republicans.
It does not matter whether we agree with either Mr. Unger or the Tea Party or their specific prescriptions as much as the thesis that is central to both their statements: that each party has gone off the rails in terms of whose interests it really represents.
Even Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has stopped drinking the Kool-Aid – a shocking development in itself. Milbank has grown tired of the President’s insincere rhetoric. His laments can be read here [“Skip the Falsehoods Mr. President, and Give Us A Plan”] and here [“Pile-up at the White House”].
In its morning roundup, Politico offered a telling headline…
“BURDEN OF GOVERNING COULD DISTRACT OBAMA FROM CAMPAIGN”
…followed by an ironic one
MILESTONE: Obama played his 100th round of golf as president at the Beverly Country Club in Chicago yesterday.
Governing is a burden. It is also a privilege and one that the President dearly wanted. But it is also a “burden” that we expected him to assume with gusto. Mr. Baker of the New York Times reports:
“…Whether from ripples of the European fiscal crisis or flare-ups of violence in Baghdad, it is easy to be whipsawed by events. The trick for any president, of course, is in not seeming to be whipsawed, even as his challenger presents him as weak and ineffectual in shaping international events.”
Juxtapose that quote with this one from Mark Knoller of CBS News in re Mr. Obama’s myriad golf outings:
“It’s the only time that for six hours, I’m outside,” said the president in a CBS News interview with Harry Smith. He said its one of the few times as president “where you almost feel normal” in the sense that he feels outside the security bubble that envelopes him at all times.
And Mr. Knoller’s reaction…
“But never is the game of golf more controversial than when it’s played by an American president. It infuriates critics who demand to know why he’s not working on the nation’s problems. It makes his supporters aggressively defensive about his right to have a few hours of recreation.”
Amidst the suffering of many, count me in as one of the critics. Everyone needs recreation, but this is ridiculous. I don’t get paid what the President gets paid, nor do I have a lifetime pension and healthcare with six-figure speaking engagements and book deals to look forward to when I am done with my tenure. A lifetime of R&R await when he is done, should he so choose.
Echoing the circumstances of millions, my life is replete with painful crises at the moment. I neither have the time to spare nor the money to spend on this kind of continual recreation when my family is in need of my help.
We are all President Obama’s family. And we need his help. The recent spate of Presidential fundraisers with the privileged and out-of-touch “cult culture” of Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker hosting $40,000 a plate dinners send exactly the wrong message at this dire time. And if someone is going to tell me that President Bush spent lots of time “chopping cedars in Texas,” with all due respect, he is not necessarily the gold standard by which we judge the work of “good Presidenting.”
The elitist, out-of-touch behavior reflected in his choice of activities sits in sharp contrast to the growing disillusionment and anger felt even by some of Mr. Obama’s previously fervent supporters.
Respectfully, Mr. President, spend more time working and less time golfing and raising money so you can convince people to let you keep working while you continue golfing, campaigning, and raising money. If you are accomplishing a goal, or at the least, working hard towards it, people notice. They notice a heck of a lot more than someone who is campaigning all the time, blaming everyone else for what they are not accomplishing while they are out campaigning and golfing and raising money. I wager that more effort spent behind the desk rather than on the links or causing traffic jams while going to expensive fundraisers would not only look better, but elevate the president’s re-election chances.
To echo the protests of Professor Unger and Dana Milbank, for that matter, gobs of campaign cash will not fix what ineffective policy and inattentiveness to our real problems have broken.
Anita Finlay is the author of Dirty Words on Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary Supporter’s Rude Awakening, available at Amazon in both print and Kindle editions.
Follow Anita on Twitter.