What Lessig Said

August 13th, 2010at 07:19am Posted by Eli

In his reaction to the White House’s latest progressive-bashing fiasco, Professor Lessig nails what makes Obama so deeply frustrating:

It’s certainly not fair to criticize Obama for not being a Lefty. He wasn’t ever a Lefty. He didn’t promise to be a Lefty. And there’s no reason to expect that he would ever become a Lefty.

But Lefties (like me) who criticize Obama are not criticizing him for failing our Lefty test. Our criticism is that Obama is failing the Obama test: that he is not delivering the presidency that he promised.

When Candidate Obama took on Hilary Clinton, he was quite clear about what he thought about the way Washington works. And he was quite clear about why he was running for President. As he said:

[U]nless we’re willing to challenge the broken system in Washington, and stop letting lobbyists use their clout to get their way, nothing else is going to change. And the reason I’m running for president is to challenge that system.

Read it again: “The reason I am running for president is to challenge that system.”

(multiple similar Obama quotes follow)

Since coming to power, Obama has pushed just one piece of legislation that would have any effect at all on the power of lobbyists over Congress. That bill has not passed, and even if it had, it would have changed nothing in the lobbyists’ power. He has not even indicated that he would support the only substantial reform of lobbyists power with support in Congress today — the Fair Elections Now Act. Indeed, “congressional reform” doesn’t even merit a mention on the “Additional Issues” page of whitehouse.gov (though “sportsmen” does).

Obama’s strategy as president has not been to “change the way Washington works.” Rather, he has pushed reforms in the same old way, with the same old games….


[Obama] promised to “take up the fight.” His failure to deliver on that critical promise — the promise that distinguished him from his main primary rival — or even to try, is a failure that everyone, Lefties included, should be free to complain about without suffering the rage of Gibbs.

Of course, Obama has always been careful to couch his capitulation to the will of corporate lobbyists as some kind of principled pragmatism, as necessary compromise in order to achieve his noble objectives, but the reality is that President Obama has demonstrated little or no desire to oppose or reduce the power of corporate lobbyists and corporate money in our political system, which is rapidly approaching absolute.  And I think that’s a pretty damn fair and reasonable complaint to make after he made such a show of being Mr. Clean during the campaign.

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Obama,Politics,Wankers

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