Obama's Deal
April 13, 2010 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Tonight on Frontline, Obama's Deal, about how the insurance lobby shaped healthcare legislation.

From the Frontline website:

In Obama's Deal, airing Tuesday, April 13, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk (Bush's War, Dreams of Obama) takes viewers behind the headlines to reveal the political maneuvering behind Barack Obama's effort to remake the American health system and transform the way Washington works. Through interviews with administration officials, senators and Washington lobbyists, Obama's Deal reveals the dramatic details of how an idealistic president pursued the health care fight--despite the warnings of many of his closest advisers--and how he ended up making deals with many of the powerful special interests he had campaigned against.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 (76 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Aha! He's in bed with big business, which proves he's a communist!
posted by mullingitover at 11:40 AM on April 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wait, what?

The "narrative" here seems to be that Obama is bad because he wasn't able to act outside the normal political process to bring about what he promised he would.

It could equally well be "look at how he had to struggle to push through needed reform", but that's probably a bit too positive for the Nielsen ratings right now.
posted by djgh at 11:49 AM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Next, on a very special episode of MetaFilter...
posted by found missing at 11:50 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait, you mean Obama didn't just sign an executive order suspending democracy under martial law to set up his Death Panels run by teams of servants recruited under his white slavery bill? SHOCK & AWE.

(Fear is the mind killer, my country suffers cognocide...)
posted by yeloson at 11:52 AM on April 13, 2010


Also, how do you think Frontline want you to feel about this:
- The type of tune used for "imminent threat" in movies
- Scary black and white
- "The only way he could get it through...was to bribe the members". Bribe being a completely unloaded word, unlike, say, compromise.
- "Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on lobbying" Compared to? Is this more or less than usual?
- "Those deals can be pretty smelly" Don't you hate negotiation?
- "It was a wake up call that President Obama wasn't everything they thought he was" Who? Thought he was what? They thought he was a pushover, but he got it done!
- "The President has staked his entire first term on this" Are you trying to say this was all about his legacy/approval rating/re-election?
- "There's always two sides to Obama...you have to lift up people, but at the end of the day it is about dealing" - HE USES PEOPLE WHO VOTE FOR HIM TO PUT HIM IN A POSITION TO GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT!

Fuck that preview video.
posted by djgh at 11:56 AM on April 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


The "narrative" here seems to be that Obama is bad because he wasn't able to act outside the normal political process to bring about what he promised he would.

It could equally well be "look at how he had to struggle to push through needed reform", but that's probably a bit too positive for the Nielsen ratings right now.
Actually, Obama specifically promised not to do a mandate, and to do a public option. While it's pretty clear that he "Struggled" on this, Pelosi is the one who worked hardest here. Obama and Rahm were about to give up after the Scott Brown victory offer something weaker, etc.

I don't see why you think this isn't a big deal. Obama basically invited the lobbyists he'd campaigned against to write this bill, and line their pockets with billions of taxpayer dollars. In exchange for a few million dollars of lobbying effort. For a citizen in a democracy, it's somewhat perplexing why the vested interested who have been actively screwing you should be invited to help shape the solution to the problem they're causing. It's not just about "Narrative" and Ratings -- Frontline is on PBS, by the way, it's not funded by advertising.

Do you think the news media should just focus on exalting our leaders, not focusing on the corrupt dealings they engage in, Or is that just when presidents you like are in power?
posted by delmoi at 11:58 AM on April 13, 2010 [30 favorites]


Gasp.
posted by DU at 12:00 PM on April 13, 2010


Also, how do you think Frontline want you to feel about this:
- The type of tune used for "imminent threat" in movies
- Scary black and white...
They are always like that.

Anyway, if you are fine with all of then what's your problem with the video? Obviously people will watch it and not care, because it's perfectly normal and ethical, right?

If you didn't think this was somehow shady, you wouldn't have a problem with people knowing about it, right? Or are we supposed to think that everyone cheering when Obama said he was for the public option knew that he had traded it away months before in exchange for support from some hospital groups?
posted by delmoi at 12:01 PM on April 13, 2010


Pelosi is the one who worked hardest here.

She also specifically said in the midst of the fight that if there was no public option the insurance companies would have won. I rest my case.
posted by DU at 12:01 PM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


This will not approach the truth, which would feature a shuddering, weeping Obama talking about how it felt as the proboscis went in and featuring a clip of Viggo Mortensen hissing, "I love you I love you more than Jesus!"
posted by adipocere at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2010


Things could have been different if Obama had begun the process of reform by holding congressional hearings on the insurance industry and had the CEO's of these companies answer a few questions under oath about their odious practices.

But instead he rushed to made a deal to shovel money at private insurers. The gamble seems to be that when this unworkable system falls apart, the fix will be to add a public option, rather than to roll back the whole reform package.

At least I hope that's the gamble. And I hope it works.
posted by washburn at 12:04 PM on April 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


Aha! He's in bed with big business, which proves he's a communist!

Interestingly, this last weekend at that yay-rah Republican conference in New Orleans (forget its name right now), Ron Paul stood up and basically said what many of us here and elsewhere have been saying: essentially, it's stupid to call Obama a "socialist" because it's factually incorrect - the definition of the word does not fit the mold or actions of the man. He then went on, though, to indict Obama as a "corporatist" - now this perked my ears a bit and left me wondering if the teabaggers are smart enough to drop the socialist label and run with corporatist, which would be a much less laughable label to attempt to stick on Obama. When the old labels don't work it it's best to make up a new one. I could see the teabaggers and Paulites using the term "corporatist" as a bank shot to attempt to appeal to the fear of both conservatives and progressives - that is, the fear that Obama plays too nice with the large corporations (wall street and insurance, mostly) that are ripping off Americans.

Interesting times, my friends. It's like we're watching the wooooorld waaake up from his-tore-eee!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:04 PM on April 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Republicans running as the anti-corporatist party would be perfect for them, given their longstanding methodology of accusing their opponents of their own sins.
posted by DU at 12:10 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


AH&WA: "I could see the teabaggers and Paulites using the term "corporatist" as a bank shot to attempt to appeal to the fear of both conservatives and progressives - that is, the fear that Obama plays too nice with the large corporations (wall street and insurance, mostly) that are ripping off Americans."

No, this will only confuse and alienate the teabaggers, because they think that 'corporatist' is a compliment. Surely what is good for the corporations is good for America, etc.
posted by mullingitover at 12:14 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like Frontline a lot, so thanks for alerting me to this.
posted by cashman at 12:23 PM on April 13, 2010


The GOP thinks he went too far.

Progressives think he hasn't gone far enough.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, FDR's new deal is clearly bad for the country.
posted by mark242 at 12:23 PM on April 13, 2010


I don't see why you think this isn't a big deal. Obama basically invited the lobbyists he'd campaigned against to write this bill, and line their pockets with billions of taxpayer dollars. In exchange for a few million dollars of lobbying effort. For a citizen in a democracy, it's somewhat perplexing why the vested interested who have been actively screwing you should be invited to help shape the solution to the problem they're causing.

I suppose I feel that it's better that there's some, albeit imperfect, progress on the healthcare front than no progress at all.

It's not just about "Narrative" and Ratings -- Frontline is on PBS, by the way, it's not funded by advertising.

The "narrative" (and I use quotation marks because I mean it in the narrative-as-viewpoint/spin way) is what it's partly about though, and what got me pissed off. The clip was pretty much attempting to make the viewer think a certain way - it wasn't presenting a rational argument so much as it was pushing a viewpoint. I don't care if it's on PBS or not, really, I just think it's an example of sensationalism that clouds the issues. (Opening myself up to an equally valid criticism about my comments, which on reflection I'll admit to). As for the ratings - Nielsen ratings are a measure of market share. I realise that this is hugely important to stations with advertisers, but ratings are regarded as important in and of themselves anyway, regardless of whether PBS accept advertising or not.

Do you think the news media should just focus on exalting our leaders, not focusing on the corrupt dealings they engage in, Or is that just when presidents you like are in power?
I'll try to rephrase my outburst better:
From the Preview video and text, it seems like a pile-on from Frontline. It doesn't seem to be setting forward any rational points, it seems to be just pushing buttons (and it certainly pushed mine in the other way) - like attacking Obama without giving any credit for getting this done, and not putting any of the blame on the system itself. And I think it's disingenuous to hold him up to a standard outside of what the system is.
posted by djgh at 12:26 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


She also specifically said in the midst of the fight that if there was no public option the insurance companies would have won. I rest my case.

She was also the one who specifically ruled out including a public option through budget reconciliation, despite the fact that there was a clear cost-cutting case to be made for it. If your going to pick and choose the targets of your ire based on impossibly unreasonable expectations, at least try to be consistent.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:31 PM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, this will only confuse and alienate the teabaggers, because they think that 'corporatist' is a compliment. Surely what is good for the corporations is good for America, etc.

No, the teabaggers are even dumber than THAT. The teabaggers are not typical Republicans. They lean a bit more libertarian. They actually wanted all of the banks to fail, they wanted GM to fail, they wanted no government intervention during the period of the failing banking and manufacturing institutions. They are anti-corporate in a way; they are definitely anti-corporate+state (as we all should be, to a degree). The problem is that they don't think it through enough. They say "let the banks fail" but then they tell the gubmint to butt out and not enact any new regulations. In essence they believe in letting the market run its course, even if that were to mean destroying the country's economy or endless monopolies - but they only believe that because they've never been faced with the consequences of those wishes, thanks to a responsive government that did everything it could to prevent such a disaster a year and a half ago.

If we all put on our Frank Lutz hats for a bit and divorce words from their meaning, we can start to concentrate on how those words feel. "Corporatist" is bad and "small business" is good. "Competition" is good and "Wall Street" is bad. "Bailout" is bad and "free enterprise" is good.

I have no doubt that the Republicans would/could be shameless enough to run on a platform of Democrats = Corporatists. They'll point to Wall Street and Health Insurance Reform in an attempt to peel off lower-middle class voters who feel squicky about having to purchase health insurance from a private insurer. "Democrat policies force the banks to perform risky investments to make any money, when they lose they get bailed out by your taxes, the two are parts of the same whole! It's all a scam!" Don't doubt the idiocy of people to believe stuff like that.

I mean, hell. Just in the last month we've had (most) Democrats do a 180 on health reform (the bill is, after all, a conservative bill as advocated by Bob Dole and Mitt Romney - now all of a sudden it's a major progressive achievement?). Contemporary politics isn't about positions so much as it is about postures, and both parties have shown adeptness at pivoting on a dime and abandoning previously held beliefs.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:32 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, this will only confuse and alienate the teabaggers, because they think that 'corporatist' is a compliment.

Well, until they're told to think otherwise. Likely with a chalkboard visual aid and lots of connecting portraits of historical and present-day political figures.
posted by NationalKato at 12:35 PM on April 13, 2010


Frontline is on PBS, by the way, it's not funded by advertising.

You haven't watched a PBS show in a while.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:38 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's a pretty tabloid preview for an important subject. I wonder if there's some counter-counter-tactics going on here.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:40 PM on April 13, 2010


I liked the insurance excerpt. It is only a portion of the larger program obviously, but I didn't think it was slanted or unfair. It seemed to be saying that a lot of things factored into what was happening.

I haven't been able to follow things as closely as I'd have liked, but it seems the extreme framing from opposition played into what ultimately occurred. They framed what many here and elsewhere say is a gift to corporate america, to insurance companies - as the end of the world, the end of freedom, the end of America. So if he'd have gone full throttle with the public option, I can only imagine that legislators would have been screaming bloody murder and openly wearing the batshitinsane tag in an attempt to oppose it.

Because as it is, they'd have people believe he's a radical muslim hell bent on destroying the country, even as he's proposing legislation written by the (former) leaders of corporate america. I'm looking forward to watching the whole thing, but I suspect at the end of it I'll think that it sucks more than I'll think he did something dastardly or underhanded.
posted by cashman at 12:40 PM on April 13, 2010


And that's what I get for canceling my cable.

Will this be availible online at the time of broadcast or after broadcast?
posted by hellojed at 12:41 PM on April 13, 2010


Also, if Ron Paul starts using the word corporatist, he's going to align himself (whether he likes it or not) with Ralph Nader.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on April 13, 2010


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, FDR's new deal is clearly bad for the country.

Come on. This is so far from the New Deal that the New Deal has to dial "011" before the fucking number. Then it laughs and hangs up.

I cannot believe that anyone would seriously compare Bailout II: Insurance Boogaloo to a program which strengthened unions, imposed centralized government control over both farm production and industry, and initiated massive welfare-work programs. One of these things is not like the other... and one of them worked.
posted by vorfeed at 12:43 PM on April 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


They framed what many here and elsewhere say is a gift to corporate america, to insurance companies - as the end of the world, the end of freedom, the end of America.

More tellingly, they managed to get the Democrats to pass the Republican's health-care agenda from 1994.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:44 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


- The type of tune used for "imminent threat" in movies
- Scary black and white


Yes. It's about tantalizing people to get them to watch the documentary. There are a lot of details you're not going to be able to explain inside of a 30 second or minute commercial. So you use all available bandwidth. That's the text on screen, the narrator, the music, and the visual styling. You create a mood or setting for the viewer. There's nothing new or radical about this. Every commercial you see for any television show follows these basic tactics.

- "The only way he could get it through...was to bribe the members". Bribe being a completely unloaded word, unlike, say, compromise.

Bribe is a valid word here. It brings with it a negative connotation, which is exactly what these compromises did to Obama's administration. It created a distrust in the administration because it was now doing exactly what Obama had campaigned that he was against doing.

- "Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on lobbying" Compared to? Is this more or less than usual?

Much more than usual. But if you want the detailed answer, watch the documentary tonight. Oh my, wait, what's this? The commercial created questions in your head that you can answer by watching the documentary. Why would they do that?!

- "Those deals can be pretty smelly" Don't you hate negotiation?

Again. These deals were the kinds of deals Obama, in his presidential campaign, said he was above and would work to remove from how government works. By making these deals Obama has become that which he said he (and his supporters) were against. These "negotiations" are very, very smelly.

- "It was a wake up call that President Obama wasn't everything they thought he was" Who? Thought he was what? They thought he was a pushover, but he got it done!

Nobody said he was a pushover, did they? "They" are his supporters. They thought he would be above the back-room dealing that has been a staple of congress since, well, before it was even create. He got it done, yes, but did so by going back on promises he had made during his campaign.

- "The President has staked his entire first term on this" Are you trying to say this was all about his legacy/approval rating/re-election?

No. What they're trying to say is Obama's first (and possibly only) term as president will be defined by health care reform. It's that big.

- "There's always two sides to Obama...you have to lift up people, but at the end of the day it is about dealing" - HE USES PEOPLE WHO VOTE FOR HIM TO PUT HIM IN A POSITION TO GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT!

Many people wanted many things from Obama when they supported and voted for him in the election. And he promised many of those things. But what really made him a great campaigner was his ability to speak. His speeches and his charisma had a way of making people (at least his supporters) feel happy and hold a very positive outlook on the future.

Now that he's president he's had to get blood on his hands. And now people are starting to realize there is more to being a president then making good speeches. And there's this disillusionment happening among his supporters. They suddenly see him in a different light. And this is having a negative impact, which can be seen in approval ratings and elections that have already been held in the country where Republicans are gaining over Democrats.

Come November we may very well see a switch on control of congress from Democrat to Republican.

The purpose of the Frontline documentary is to explore why Obama made these deals -- going against his own promises, the possibile cost of these deals (control of congress, a shot at a second term as president), and the disillusionment of his campaign supporters.

Fuck that preview video.

Fuck overreacting to a subject matter, it would appear, you do not approve of. It's the same sort of reaction Republicans had when Frontline did their documentaries on the Iraq War. But now it's the Democrats getting pissed off at Frontline. Which is probably a very healthy thing for Frontline as it'll help paint the show as being independent.
posted by ruthsarian at 12:46 PM on April 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wait, you mean Obama didn't just sign an executive order suspending democracy under martial law to set up his Death Panels run by teams of servants recruited under his white slavery bill?

Of course he did! They said so on the Sarah Palin Network.
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on April 13, 2010


Frontline is on PBS, by the way, it's not funded by advertising.

Yeah, I heart Frontlne and all, but most of PBS's advertising (and there is quite a bit before and after a show) comes from the likes of Monsanto, Chevron, and various financial companies.

hellojed, I usually catch Frontline episodes online after they've been aired, so you should be able to watch after the broadcast.

Thanks for the alert on this episode, I'll definitely catch it tonight.
posted by waitangi at 12:49 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This will be interesting. The healthcare bill is such an abysmal POS, I would rather nothing had passed so that at least then we still had a shot at something that even an insane person with no access to anti-psychotic meds wouldn't be embarrassed to call "reform".

I'll be interested to see what they say. Post might have been more effective as a follow up with some alternate points and related link, rather than essentially an advertisement to watch the show (but I appreciate the notice, very much, because I am interested to watch).

I'm confused - the allegation seems to be that healthcare cos bought the bill, an attempt to malign both Obama and healthcare companies. The very same...companies......that apparently...buy the content of Frontline, waitangi?
posted by bunnycup at 1:01 PM on April 13, 2010


Every commercial you see for any television show follows these basic tactics.
Just because it happens lots doesn't make it acceptable, and the use of advertising tactics on something more important should surely be frowned upon?

It brings with it a negative connotation
The entire preview clip brings negative connotations, which is what is pissing me off so much. It's not independent or balanced to solely criticise different viewpoints individually. The preview doesn't give me any sense of Frontline attempting to analyse and understand what happened - it looks like a hatchet job.

The commercial created questions in your head that you can answer by watching the documentary. Why would they do that?!
It could've created reasons for me to watch the documentary by laying out the same issues in a less inflammatory, purely negative way. The questions raised are interesting enough not to need this hook.

Fuck overreacting to a subject matter, it would appear, you do not approve of. It's the same sort of reaction Republicans had when Frontline did their documentaries on the Iraq War. But now it's the Democrats getting pissed off at Frontline. Which is probably a very healthy thing for Frontline as it'll help paint the show as being independent.

I will admit that I did overreact. What a more reasoned me should have said was that I disagreed with the slant the presentation gave the issue. I tend to disagree more with the tone of the presentation of issues than the discussion of issues themselves - I've become so sick of endless spin and shouting that I became guilty of it myself, which doesn't help things.
posted by djgh at 1:03 PM on April 13, 2010


>> [Teabaggers] actually wanted all of the banks to fail, they wanted GM to fail, they wanted no government intervention during the period of the failing banking and manufacturing institutions.

Actually, I suspect they don't quite believe a) these institutions could really fail; b) that any such failure would ripple out to affect them, in their World of Hard-Working God-Fearing Virtue.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:04 PM on April 13, 2010


Just because it happens lots doesn't make it acceptable, and the use of advertising tactics on something more important should surely be frowned upon?

GOD(s) I hope someday they stop convincing people to watch documentaries on important current events issues. The NERVE of them, trying to urge people to do it. Why, if not for these tricky tactics, the people could be doing something valuable like watching American Idol instead!
posted by bunnycup at 1:06 PM on April 13, 2010


Bribe is a valid word here.

No it isn't. It clearly isn't, at least not in the English language. It's not even on the same planet as valid.

A bribe is when you offer an official a direct, personal payment to do something. The accent being on the direct and personal. When you've bribed a Representative, they have money they can spend on a new wing on their house or on hookers and blow or on anything else they want to, or you just send them the hookers and blow directly.

Exchanging political support across issues is not a bribe. It's simply a compromise or a logroll. Or even "exchanging political support across issues." Calling it a bribe is as over the top as calling masturbation murder.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:12 PM on April 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, how do you think Frontline want you to feel about this:
- The type of tune used for "imminent threat" in movies
- Scary black and white


This one's a Mike Kirk production. The black and white images are part of his style. No matter the topic. It's distinctive and I like it.

Will this be availible online at the time of broadcast or after broadcast?

We're hoping it will be available in 25 minutes-- 5 PM Eastern. Let me know how the video looks. The final encode was done with x264 under Linux for the first time.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:36 PM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks Mayor Curley. Will it be at that same url?
posted by cashman at 1:41 PM on April 13, 2010


Yup. The preview site just gets overwritten when the real site launches.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:46 PM on April 13, 2010


No, this will only confuse and alienate the teabaggers, because they think that 'corporatist' is a compliment. Surely what is good for the corporations is good for America, etc.
Why do you say that? Everything I've heard about 'em seems to indicate they are not for large corporations at all, which they view as being in bed with big government. There's a lot of rage at bank bailouts, for example.
They are anti-corporate in a way; they are definitely anti-corporate+state (as we all should be, to a degree). The problem is that they don't think it through enough. They say "let the banks fail" but then they tell the gubmint to butt out and not enact any new regulations.
They are basically getting played by the big lobbying groups/fox news that's funding and supporting them.
The clip was pretty much attempting to make the viewer think a certain way
Oh. My. God. A viewpoint! Besides, yeah they are trying to get people to watch the show, so what?
A bribe is when you offer an official a direct, personal payment to do something. The accent being on the direct and personal.
Huh why? Institutions can't bribe each other? Since when? Why not? If a newspaper agrees to spike a story in exchange for advertising revenue, is that a bribe? Or what about if a biotech company gave a donation for an Aide group to test a GMO food crop on poor, starving people? Bribe? Why not?

And here what we saw wasn't an "above board" transaction between the government and the private sector to provide a sector, but rather a transaction between politicians and private companies for political support to create such a transaction, with the payoff making transaction more profitable for the private companies. That behind the scenes collusion seems very bribe-y
posted by delmoi at 1:46 PM on April 13, 2010


The healthcare bill is such an abysmal POS, I would rather nothing had passed so that at least then we still had a shot at something that even an insane person with no access to anti-psychotic meds wouldn't be embarrassed to call 'reform'.

But then we wouldn't have had a shot at all. The votes--and the willpower on the Democrats' side--weren't there for a better bill.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:50 PM on April 13, 2010


Full program's up. And I guess I take back what I said about it not being slanted, when this image is legitimized under the "Watch the full program online" heading. Really? Come the fuck on Frontline. Really? Ugh.
posted by cashman at 2:20 PM on April 13, 2010


But then we wouldn't have had a shot at all. The votes--and the willpower on the Democrats' side--weren't there for a better bill.

That's really debatable. I mean, they were able to pass the bill using reconciliation, and there's no reason except the fact the president was pushing against it that it couldn't have been included in the "sidecar" reconciliation package for health reform.

Keep that in mind, at the very end, the "sidecar" only needed to pass with 51 votes in the senate. More then enough to pass the public option. And Obama pressured democrats in congress not to do it. Despite the fact that he had claimed he'd been supporting the public option the whole time.
posted by delmoi at 2:31 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frontline has never shied away from drawing conclusions and espousing viewpoints. I think overall they try to be balanced with the coverage, but that's on a meta level. Any particular episode may be very slanted, or so I've come to expect.
posted by hippybear at 2:32 PM on April 13, 2010


Again. These deals were the kinds of deals Obama, in his presidential campaign, said he was above and would work to remove from how government works.

Did he say that? Really? He said he was "above" the way politics has worked, not only in the U.S. since 1776, but pretty much since Athens?

Obama said a lot of things he hasn't followed through on. He said he would close Guantanamo. He said he would end the wars. He said he would uphold the Constitution. I believed those things, and I'm angry he hasn't done them.

But if he had actually said something like the above, I would have just laughed. I mean, if you believe that, you'd have to believe he was going to ride into D.C. on a Unicorn, and now I'm thinking along the same lines as the people who make JibJab cartoons and I have to go shoot myself.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:35 PM on April 13, 2010


“Barack Obama promised change. Then he took on one of Washington's toughest issues: health care.”
Yeah, ah shit, it’s all over. Pack up, let’s go home. Obama sold us out. Let’s go. Fat lady has sung. Party's over. You don’t have to go home but you can’t yadda yadda

I regularly vote third party. But special interest groups and lobbyists game the hell out of both parties and the system and the solution to this toxic atmosphere that subverts representation to corporate interest and quid pro quo payback is to, what, keep switching out one guy in one office?

Don't like the "realities of politics" here's a thought - work to change those. Can't just keep saying 'Bu-buh-but Obama..." (Oh, but Kucinich would have been able to pull off a radical sea change with $800 million in campaign donations and lobbying and a billion and a half in t.v. advertising lined up against him. Mere bag o'shells for a man who knows there's nothing bigger at stake than principle and refuses to compromise under any circ ... oh, wait)

Nothing wrong with criticism but fuck sake, suck it up and fight to change it. You've always had to get your own back. The only thing that matters about Obama and the current crop of Dems (as opposed to the 1993 version) is that they’re not a mob of psychopathic shitkickers actively obstructing every single thing anyone tries to do.
Hell, the devil is in the details anyway.
It might suck, but it's not over.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:36 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Full site's up. Watch away!
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:42 PM on April 13, 2010


posted by djgh at 12:56 PM on April 13

Oh, djgh, I "favorited" that analysis so hard, I hurt my finger.

As to every commercial these days being like that, this is why I stopped watching television. I couldn't take the commercials for news programs. Everything is presented as it's most sinister possible aspect, with flashing lights and rapid graphics. I was starting to have anxiety attacks from the TV!
posted by _paegan_ at 3:04 PM on April 13, 2010


Looks great, Mayor Curly! Loads fast and everything.
posted by hellojed at 3:18 PM on April 13, 2010


Ron Paul's understanding of corporatism is as historically wrong-headed and inane as the trendy definition re business interest lawmakers that I've heard from some on the left. Sorry.
posted by raysmj at 3:24 PM on April 13, 2010


So Mayor Curley, is Mike Kirk not the guy who likes to throw the "flashbulb pop/camera motor firing" effect on every other black and white photo? Because I'm not hearing it in this episode.
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:24 PM on April 13, 2010


Under a real corporatist system, business and labor groups would be vastly more organized in "peak associations." Ours are not, but they do tend to be more unified when it comes to policies that would redistribute income. Even then, they operate independently, and often have vastly conflicting interests that you can see play out before you.
posted by raysmj at 3:26 PM on April 13, 2010


But then we wouldn't have had a shot at all. The votes--and the willpower on the Democrats' side--weren't there for a better bill.

Don't try - then say later it was impossible from the start. Not a good strategy.

Both sides knew that some sort of bill had to be passed. The Democrats had to pass a bill or get their asses relentlessly kicked forever, and the Republicans were, when it comes down to it, the minority party.

The fact is that Obama asked for very little, and basically got what he asked for. Imagine if he'd tried to ask for a lot more - is it not reasonable to suppose he might have gotten at least some more?

As proof, I point to every Republican administration over the last 30 years...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:30 PM on April 13, 2010


Looks great, Mayor Curly! Loads fast and everything.

Awesome! It's nice when open source tools work better than proprietary rivals. The bitrate came in under target, too, so I can juice up the visual stream a bit for the next show. I don't know if it will make a noticeable difference, but it's still nice to be able to do.

So Mayor Curley, is Mike Kirk not the guy who likes to throw the "flashbulb pop/camera motor firing" effect on every other black and white photo? Because I'm not hearing it in this episode.

He used that effect in a few shows. I guess it didn't fit here.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:38 PM on April 13, 2010


The only thing that matters about Obama and the current crop of Dems (as opposed to the 1993 version) is that they’re not a mob of psychopathic shitkickers actively obstructing every single thing anyone tries to do.

We have to do better than "not Bush" - a lot better.

As I have argued here many times, if we alternate Republican and Democratic Administrations, and we score +1 on each D and -10 on each R, we will end up underground really fast.

In order not to get further and further behind, each Democratic Administration has to at least make as much progress as the previous Administration undid.

And worse, on key issues we continue to make negative progress. The Defense budget continues to grow, and that growth rate is also growing; we're getting more "undeclared war" in half a dozen areas, with the whole new "drone attack" theme; no one's going to get prosecuted for any of the war crimes, any of the profiteering over Katrina, any of the looting of the financial system; Obama claims the power to order the assassination of American citizens, anywhere in the world, under no sort of judicial oversight; Bagram has become permanent equivalent of Guantanamo, where individuals can be held indefinitely without trial (and there are at least 50 men in Guantanamo Bay who will never be released or get a trial according to Mr. Obama...)

Comparing Mr. Obama's extremely limited, unimaginative work so far to the New Deal boggles the mind. By March of his first year, Roosevelt had closed and examined every bank - by the end of his first year he had completely revamped the economic system of his country leaving benefits that lasted until the Reagan Administration started the dismantlement of the government, with the dire consequences we face today.

It's well into 2010, we had a multi-trillion dollar oops in 2008 whose consequences are still not resolved, and yet there has been no regulation of the financial industry and the culprits are still doing it.

On other issues like the environment, LGBT issues, the endless drug wars, the progress is basically none.

We need to do better.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:25 PM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


He said he would close Guantanamo.

He's tried to close Guantanamo, and he's being blocked by Congress.

He said he would end the wars.

No. He said he would end the Iraq war, and he's been withdrawing troops. He said [PDF] he would focus on the real fight in Afghanistan, and he's doing that.

It's well into 2010, we had a multi-trillion dollar oops in 2008 whose consequences are still not resolved...On other issues like the environment, LGBT issues, the endless drug wars, the progress is basically none.

I think the two cases may be connected.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:36 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


kirkaracha:

What you're saying is that Obama is failing to make progress but it's not his fault.

Perhaps that's true but the results are the same - he fails and we lose.

This idea that an Administration can't work on more than one or two things at once is... bizarre and not something that's historically true. The sad fact is that Obama hasn't even appointed people to start to do many of these jobs yet, and that he waited until 2010 for recess appointments to get even some of them in.

(And why FFS didn't he start off fighting for that?! I mean, if government had stopped in early 2009 because the Republics simply refused to confirm any of Obama's appointments to office, there would have been Hell to pay - Obama's popularity was simply immense! Once you have the right people in place, everything follows from that, surely...)

Excuses count for nothing. He has to win this game and it doesn't look like he's even trying very hard.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:03 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Excuses count for nothing. He has to win this game and it doesn't look like he's even trying very hard.

That's pretty rough. He's been doing "nothing" by many standards, yet a significant amount of not-at-all-kooks are completely convinced that he has radically changed everything and that they are seconds away from the end of America.

And people here are acting like he could have just pounded through everything "we" wanted and just flip the script like night to day. Do you know that all hell would have broken loose? Even if it shouldn't have. Come on, let's not act like this wasn't that big of a deal to do and that he just sat on the sidelines twiddling his thumbs. If Fox news and these folks were around back then and Roosevelt was Hispanic, you would have seen some shit back then.

Why are people acting like it was nothing to do, and he just didn't do it? Poppycock. If he would have come in there and just run through everything, people would have flipped the fuck out, everywhere. And that should be plainly obvious considering how much people have already flipped the fuck out, even when he's not doing anything radical whatsoever, but being painted as nazi muslim satan destroyer of worlds.
posted by cashman at 5:28 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey Mayor Curley, the video streams great, but I can't seem to pause it...
posted by joedan at 5:37 PM on April 13, 2010


Hey Mayor Curley, the video streams great, but I can't seem to pause it...

Wow, that's a new one! What OS and browser?
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:58 PM on April 13, 2010


Win 7 64 bit and Firefox 3.6.3. The big yellow arrow shows up, but the video just keeps playing.
posted by joedan at 6:13 PM on April 13, 2010


Um, no shit private insurance lobbyists wrote this legistlation? Quick look over there, some batshit teabagger will distract you!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:28 PM on April 13, 2010


As a reminder:

Barack Obama has ordered the murder of an American citizen, without trial, without due process, without the production of any evidence.

In light of this, I find the debate over how well or poorly he did on health care somewhat irrelevant.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:48 PM on April 13, 2010


In light of the fact that Republicans in my home state are furiously tearing down every government institution we've got left, while at the same time working overtime to rollback the state constitution's explicit Separation of Church and State provisions so that they can substitute faith-based public services for our increasingly collapsed state government and pushing a ludicrous plan to put corporate logos on license plates, I find the seemingly never-ending discussion about how President Obama personally made you cry by not being able to single-handedly turn back 30 years of radical rightward political and social momentum with nothing but a firm handshake and a winning smile incredibly stupid, dangerously naive and hopelessly counterproductive.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:19 PM on April 13, 2010


In light of this, I find the debate over how well or poorly he did on health care somewhat irrelevant.

Hey Joe Beese--why not link to the existing thread where we discussed that already? Not enough outrage in that thread for you or something?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:23 PM on April 13, 2010


What you're saying is that Obama is failing to make progress but it's not his fault.

No. I'm saying he is making progress, and that maybe his priorities are not the same as your priorities.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:34 PM on April 13, 2010


I crammed this in and around everything I had to do tonight. Listening and watching to pieces here and there. I love WGBH and Frontline and I've watched everything from The Triumph of Evil to Public Lands and Private Profits, to the Diamond Empire. PBS & Frontline are like the library to me - a wealth of great information, steeped in context.

So it actually hurts to see how crappy this edition of Frontline is. It could be that those other specials I mentioned above are equally as bad and I just don't know enough to realize it. But this is just lacking loads of context, legitimizing the tea baggers without any reason, and missing huge chunks of information.

Negative things are posed and then left to stand, unexamined. It's like instead of coming up with conclusions based on solid information that would in many cases tamp down the story, things are left to be sensationalist.

It has turned into the all too familiar style of acting like if there is debate and argument on both sides, then the issue is "hotly debated", even if one side is arguing that the sun revolves around the earth.

Unless I missed it, there was zero reference to the "outrage" being driven by Fox news and other parties intent on mischaracterizing what was going on. Zero. You can't completely miss the force of a large portion of the media beating it into the public's head that this is a socialist takeover, and plot to kill America by the uppity president negro who snuck into the U.S. from Kenya and hijacked the office.

What has happened? What is this? I fully think that the backroom deals and what not are crap. But you can't shoot a documentary about someone living on hot dogs in poverty in a small house in an American city, and make it look like they live on the street and eat actual dogs to survive.

Maybe they couldn't fit it all in the 54 minutes. I don't know. But this was subpar. I'm unhappy with the back room deals and the lack of a public option. But this is poor reporting because it lacks a significant amount of context.
posted by cashman at 8:34 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


in keeping with the title, i think the focus of the documentary is the context within which Obama was making decisions and trying to work it out with Congress. the role of foxnews and the tea-party element goes so far beyond just the healthcare issue that i'm sure it will be its own documentary.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:40 PM on April 13, 2010


Thanks for this. Now I can just link to it instead of having to alternate between "But Obama's not a socialist!" and "But Obama's not a change from politics as usual!" depending on who I'm talking with.
posted by Rykey at 9:48 PM on April 13, 2010


By March of his first year, Roosevelt had closed and examined every bank - by the end of his first year he had completely revamped the economic system of his country

Obama's No F.D.R. -- Nor Does He Have F.D.R.'s Majority:
When F.D.R. took over the Presidency in 1933, the Democrats controlled 64 percent of the Senate seats and 73 percent (!) of the House seats, counting independents who were sympathetic to the party. And those numbers only increased over the next couple of midterms -- during their peak during 1937-38, the Demorats actually controlled about 80 percent (!) of the seats in both chambers. Obama, by contrast, came into his term with 59 percent majorities in both chambers. That's not much to complain about by the standards of recent Presidencies, but is nevertheless a long way from where F.D.R. stood during his first two terms, or for that matter where L.B.J.'s numbers were during the 1965-66 period, when the bulk of the Great Society programs were implemented.
LBJ was a world-class ball-buster and arm-twister, with decades of experience cutting deals to get things through Congress. He also had cooperation from Republicans to pass the Civil Rights Act and other Great Society legislation. Obama's facing 100% opposition from the Republicans, wishy-washy Democrats, Blue Dogs, and Joe Lieberman.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:49 PM on April 13, 2010


joedan: I thought that too, but the pause button only shows if you hover over the "play" arrow. Slightly counter-intuitive.

Mayor Curley: This streamed perfectly for me, which is something I wish I could say for a lot of sites including ones better known for the streaming video experience exclusively. Kudos!

As to the content, well, I am generally more pragmatic and can even frustrate myself with the extent I can be an apologist for the status quo. I took Krugman's view that you can have a bill that gets you close to universal health care, or you can have a bill that regulates/punishes the insurance and/or pharmaceutical companies, but you really won't be able to have both. I picked the first one and I do not regret it (uh, I am myself on public insurance right now). In the new stakes being outlined for "FinReg" I really wonder whether Washington has any sort of chance at -- or stomach for -- regulating vast and powerful sectors of the economy in fell swoops anyway.

If anyone objects to the presentation, well, this is actually what real more-or-less objective journalism used to look like. Though even Frontline was a breath of fresh air when it appeared, so much of what it was an improvement on has been lost that it stands nearly alone, and may seem unrecognizable. This wasn't a tit-for-tat "centrist statement" followed by "rightist statement" followed by "progressive silence" lather-rinse-repeat, this was a frank exchange of views from multiple interested (special interest sense) viewpoints and as such was illuminating. No, they couldn't really get into the Tea Party thing here without completely derailing the focus.
posted by dhartung at 11:36 PM on April 13, 2010


This is a collection of the most conventional wisdom, and in fact seems to be a little dated.

It reminds me of the notorious collaboration that Frontline did with the New York Times, and specifically Judith Miller, about the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

It's a one hour documentary that uses lots of voiceovers as filler from news reports that were not informative news, but political and process stories.

This is the same story from the same sources that tell the usual "both sides do it" stories, only done by Frontline, so it has an imprimatur of previous good works. But it appears, to me, to be a shoddy piece of work, that combines the methodology of Frontline's worst failures with a production style that is strangely selective in it's quote pulling choices.
posted by dglynn at 3:06 AM on April 14, 2010


Breaking News! President Obama has no integrity and his motives can no longer be trusted because he has allowed himself to be compromised by making deals with corporate interests and the paid lobbyists that represent their interests.*

*This completely undiluted, uncompromised public service announcement brought to you by Chevron, Mobil, Monsanto, ">Glaxo-Smith Kline, and Chick-fil-A
posted by saulgoodman at 7:20 AM on April 14, 2010


(the glaxo-smith kline link above was supposed to go here.)
posted by saulgoodman at 7:23 AM on April 14, 2010


I watched it last night. I agree with cashman and others. The omission of the role of Fox news, Americans for Prosperity, et al. is glaring... but then again I remembered that the Nova episode I had just watched in the previous hour was peppered with "Brought to you by DAVID H. KOCH!" so I kinda knew that there wasn't going to be much meat to the reporting.
posted by Craig at 9:14 AM on April 14, 2010


The health care bill is the senate's bill, not Obama's. With slight revisions from the house, this bill was written how Democratic Senators wanted it to be written. Yes Obama has the ability to pressure them, but at the end he has no power besides veto over what goes into the bills.

Congress people actively promote the myth that the president is the most powerful lawmaker in the country in order to avoid the responsibility for making hard decisions. Reading through this thread it looks like they have been very successful.
posted by afu at 8:45 PM on April 14, 2010


"We have to do better than "not Bush" - a lot better."

Exactly. Although my emphasis is on "we." Most folks seem to be emphasizing "Bush" or "Obama."
I wasn't a Bush fan, but he wasn't some mastermind, just a shitkicker with too much money and too little brains and moral courage.
The machine that was in place under Bush? Yeah, it's still fucking there. Only difference is they don't occupy certain key offices so - given enough pressure and organization - WE can make a difference.
Sit on your ass waiting for Obama to do it, bitching about how he's not this that or the other thing and ... well, gee, we can just keep doing that forever and always be right, can't we?

It's nice to find a scapegoat. I'd rather focus on dismantling the machine. It'd be nice if Obama was in front, or behind it. But we don't need Obama to lead or follow as long as he's out of the way.
That only leaves the Dems on the corporate tit and the GOP.
History is not the man, it's the timing.

"Congress people actively promote the myth that the president is the most powerful lawmaker in the country in order to avoid the responsibility for making hard decisions."

Bears repeating. Genuine leaders make decisions, good or bad, they cut bait or fish. Pointing to some other possibility were that particular decision not made or were this some magical unicorn world with fairies granting wishes as though any other candidate in contention for this particular office could be doing a 'better' job now and it wouldn't be the same congress with the same players is simple.
There's no possibility of failure.

Of course, we wouldn't vilify the best presidents, would we?
"I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on Earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me." - Abraham Lincoln
posted by Smedleyman at 11:20 AM on April 15, 2010


« Older Edible Nationality!   |   Solargraphy Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments