Mr. President, I want my vote back please

Mr. President, I want my vote back please.

No, I’m not thinking about last November.  Really, there was no choice between Obama and McCain.  The deal was done long before then.

Rather, I’m thinking of a frigid February night in 2008 when I, along with several friends, joined the crowds swarming the Minnesota Democratic Cacuses where I chose Barack Obama as my preferred candidate as Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
By that time the field had narrowed considerably. Neither Hillary nor Obama were my top tier candidates – I favored both Richardson and Edwards who was at that time, still pre bimbo eruption – but it was clear that neither of them would make it.  It was two horse race, and both candidates had arguments for and against them.
The excitement was palpable, thousands of people gathered to caucus that night, attendance up by factors of three to five from years previous.  Such was both the eagerness to prune the Bushes from the White House, and the opportunity to nominate either the first woman or the first African American to head a major party ticket.  I was decidedly undecided and really had no idea myself which way I’d lean until I arrived at the room assigned my precinct.
Attendance was so high they ran out of formal ballots and were handing out sheets of scratch paper for people to write their votes on.  And at that moment I took pen in hand and made up my mind, writing “Barack Obama” and dropping my paper through the slot to be counted.
It’s been almost two years since then, and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have stuck with my gut, which was screaming, “Not ready for prime time!” and voted for Hillary.
My friend Lewis Grossberger has a posting entitled, “It’s a wonderful presidency, sort of, though not really,” which shows a despondent Obama being shown a vision of an alternative future with President Palin and imagining what could be if Obama hadn’t been elected president. It’s a cute piece and I recommend it.
And really, consider how things might be without Obama in the White House.  Gays might still be second class citizens, we might still be embroiled in futile Middle Eastern wars, illegal spying and the ironically named “Patriot” Act might still be the law of the land, we might be ceding leadership on climate issues, reproductive freedom might be facing the biggest threats in a generation, and so forth.  But instead, with Obama running the show…oh, um…nevermind.
It’s unfortunate.  We’ve gone from “Yes, we can!” and “”Change” to a resounding chorus of, “whatever is possible”.  Perhaps we expect too much, but as David Mixner observes, “He created those expectations,”
No, Obama never was particularly liberal, but there was an expectation that he would be engaged and competent in ways that would allow a lot of progress to be made in a lot of issues.  Now, on many issues, the best we can hope for is a few baby steps here, and to block regression there.
Robert Merry compares Obama to James K. Polk, a one term wonder who was a successful president who didn’t seek reelection.  The comparison is interesting and I hope and pray Obama is as successful as Polk, but I’m beginning to have reservations.  Hillary’s looking better all the time.

Tomorrow, my comments on the health care fuster cluck and why the bill as coming forth from the Senate must be defeated.

Relief for air travelers

The Obama Administration has announced guidelines for airlines on the treatment of passengers trapped on planes, with stiff new penalties for violations.  It’s welcome news.

The federal government will impose stiff penalties starting this spring on airlines that keep passengers waiting too long on the tarmac without feeding them or letting them off the plane — a remedy that will relieve many travelers but mean longer delays for a few.

The Obama administration took the strict new approach in response to several highly publicized events in recent years, and in the face of likely Congressional action if airline regulators did not respond to the consumer outcry that ensued. […]

Under the rule, airlines that do not provide food and water after two hours or a chance to disembark after three hours will face penalties of $27,500 a passenger, the secretary of transportation announced on Monday.

Steve Benen asks:

This isn’t my area of expertise, but I can’t help but wonder — given all of the years of awful incidents, why didn’t previous administrations do something similar sooner?

Hm…  Perhaps they didn’t think they could do anything without Congress acting first?

Does this mean the Obama administration is about to start taking civil rights seriously?  Don’t hold your breath.  It’s too easy to throw gays, women, etc. under the bus for perceived political advantage.