Dean Obeidallah: A growing number of prominent liberals criticize President Obama
Jackson Browne, Matt Damon, John Cusack are among the critics
Obeidallah says they gloss over the fact that Obama needs Congress to get things done
He says critics seem to want a president with dictatorial power to impose his will
Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog “The Dean’s Report” and co-director of the upcoming documentary, “The Muslims Are Coming!” Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy
Can liberals ever be happy? I keep asking myself this question as I hear an increasing number complaining about President Obama.
There seems to be a Greek chorus of liberal whining: “I’m disappointed by him.” “I expected more.” “I thought he would be different.”
Earlier this week, singer Jackson Browne, a vocal 2008 Obama supporter, lamented that President Obama is “…just as beholden to the people who put him in office as any of the Republicans would be.”
Matt Damon, who had very publicly supported Obama in 2008, has now very publicly attacked President Obama. Damon even went so far as to heap praise on former President Bush, saying: “I would kiss George W. Bush on the mouth” in appreciation for his work fighting AIDS in Africa. Although Damon did note his kiss of Bush would be limited to: “Three seconds, no tongue.”
Others turning on Obama include John Cusack, comedian/actor Jon Lovitz, and even the distinguished professor Cornel West, who called Obama: “A black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”
A new Gallup Poll released this week found that President Obama’s support among liberals was at its lowest point in seven months, although it’s still a solid majority of 70%.
What’s clear is that the liberals speaking out don’t want a president, they want a king. Albeit a liberal king – but still a king, who would be unrestrained by Congress as well as the checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution.
These disenchanted liberals apparently wanted Obama – upon taking office – to have instantly transformed every campaign promise into law by the simple wave of a pen. Or maybe they would have preferred Obama to have walked out onto a White House balcony where, in a scene reminiscent of the musical “Evita,” he would be greeted by adoring throngs waiting below, and on the spot, declare that all his ideas were now the law of the land.
But here’s the problem. Barack Obama is not a king, he’s the president of the United States. For those who may have forgotten the “Schoolhouse Rock” cartoon of “How a bill becomes a law,” Congress needs to first pass the bill before it has any chance of becoming a law.
Our Founding Fathers set up a governmental structure that requires the president to engage in give and take with the legislative branch. Of course, if the Founding Fathers could see the current state of our dysfunctional Congress, they may have instead chosen a dictatorship. But they didn’t, instead drafting a system to guard us against tyranny.
Consequently, President Obama is required to navigate through myriad vested interests that exercise influence on the 535 members of Congress. Keep in mind most of Congress was in office before President Obama was elected and most will be there when he leaves. Powerful members of Congress are like summer camp counselors and Obama is like the camper. He will only be there a relatively short amount of time, but they will remain to run the camp. And they know it.
Thus, as opposed to a king, a president has to engage in activity that some on the left view as a dirty word. That wicked word is: compromise.
In fairness, there are many on the far right who also disdain compromise. Who can forget tea party darling Herman Cain’s statement: “…people are sick and tired of this word in Washington: compromise. This is why nothing ever gets done.” (This is amazing logic, because you would normally think it was the lack of compromise that prevents things from getting done in Washington.)
To me, the liberals who are so very disappointed with President Obama either had unrealistic expectations for him, viewing him as a messianic figure who would magically solve all of our nation’s woes, or simply refuse to grasp the reality of our American political system. In either case, the answer is: The problem is not Obama, it’s you.
Being president requires some degree of compromise due to the very nature of our government. That is the way it has been for more than 200 years. While President Obama may be far from perfect – and, I, too, have been disappointed with some of his decisions – I certainly prefer him to a king.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.