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Take Back Barack

It's time to reclaim the man we put in the White House
By JEFF INGLIS + DEIRDRE FULTON  |  December 19, 2008


Let's be honest: we didn't vote for the Barack Obama his campaign advertised. We didn't vote for an African-American man, nor for a US senator from Illinois, nor for a father, a husband, an activist, or a young politician.

We voted for the Barack Obama we fantasized — the progressive miracle worker. We voted for Change.

Read: Take Back Barack blog. By Jeff Inglis.

Millions of us stood up and shouted, handed out fliers, talked to our neighbors, donated hard-earned money, and drove people to the polls for Change. We screamed, hugged, kissed, and cried when we learned Change had come to America. We knew Change wouldn't come overnight, that it would take time, but we were excited that we had elected a man who was open to Change, who said he wanted to consider real people's needs while in the Oval Office. We eagerly awaited the first hints of Change, as the president-elect's transition developed.

And now, we have reason to worry that Change is not coming to America after all. For nearly two years we were encouraged to "Be the Change you want to see in America." It is now obvious that we have a ways to go toward Being that Change. And so does President-elect Barack Obama. And that, above all else, needs to Change.

It was not the Democratic base, nor the centrists, nor even the center-left, who put Obama where he is today. The progressive movement rose from near death and kept Obama alive in the primary, eventually proving stubborn enough to carry him to victory over the Establishment candidate. And then, in the general election, it was the progressives whose energy infected the nation, whose enthusiasm reminded longtime vote-the-ticket Dems that elections were about the future, and whose contributions, tiny as each individual one was, funded the revolution of Change that swept Obama into the Oval Office.

Now is the time to hold him accountable — even before he takes the oath of office — because once he's in there, he will be surrounded by the trappings of Power, the machinery of State, and the inertia of Bureaucracy. If we are to reach him, we must act quickly. Though he has shown us that he is not who we thought he was (for the record, we did know he wasn't the Messiah), he has also, fortunately, shown us the way to keeping him — and our country — on the right track.

What's gone wrong
Obama's fall from progressive grace goes beyond the campaign-season disappointment of his support for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the warrantless-wiretapping law strongly opposed by liberal activists and civil libertarians.

Progressives have a variety of objections, largely relating to flip-flops (warrantless wiretapping), climbdowns (withdrawal from Iraq and taxing the ultra-rich), and betrayals (keeping Bushies like Robert Gates and Michael Hayden anywhere near the halls of power). Many also object to a return of Clintonites, who while certainly Democrats, were hardly progressives in many areas.

While a CNN poll shows that 80 percent of Americans approve of Obama's transition so far, some progressives are unconvinced. They objected loudly enough to warrant a Huffington Post talking-to from legendary Democratic strategist (and Obama advisor) Steve Hildebrand.

"This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making. Some believe the appointments generally aren't progressive enough," he wrote. But Hildebrand accused naysayers of being impotent and shortsighted. "After all, he was elected to be the president of all the people — not just those on the left."

But that plea for patience and tolerance wears ever thinner as we watch the transition unfold. Perhaps Obama's most egregious mistake in the eyes of progressives is the president-elect's decision to surround himself with decidedly unprogressive national-security and foreign-policy advisors. In part, that list reads like a Clinton-era roster — which is troubling because, as United Nations correspondent Barbara Crossette wrote in The Nation last April, "The Clinton record . . . is anything but stellar in global or even US security terms. . . . In many ways the 1990s were a wasted decade in international relations."

Most notably, there's Hillary Clinton herself, our soon-to-be secretary of state, who voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, who has been called "a hawk among hawks," who pointed approvingly at humanitarian interventionist actions like the one her husband initiated in Kosovo in 1999. Obama's team of advisors includes several other returnees from the Clinton administration, such as Michele Flournoy, Susan Rice (recently named US ambassador to the UN), Richard Holbrooke, Anthony Lake, and Madeleine Albright, all of whom have been neoliberal hawks to one degree or other.

While a return to Clinton-era foreign relations is a certainly a change from destructive Bush-era policies, it is not Change writ large. Not to mention the fact that another segment of Obama's national-security squad is rounded out by center-righties with firm Bush-era roots, such as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who will stay on as a holdover from the Bush administration, and national-security advisor-designate Jim Jones, a former advisor to John McCain.

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Related: Money matters, Party like it's 1999, Toxic talk: Hating Obama, More more >
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Re: Take Back Barack
Please be sure to visit the Take Back Barack blog - at - for regular updates to this story!
By Jeff Inglis on 12/17/2008 at 4:08:29
Re: Take Back Barack
Here's the problem. We knew this before the vote. Obama voters just deluded yourselves. As far as Bush's "destructive" foreign policy: 1. 9/11 changed everything and 80 senators voted to authorize war in a very "bipartisan" vote. The exact "spirit of bipartisanship" that Obama has promised. Look for more of the same. 2. Libya gave up its weapons of mass destruction; 3. Syria is out of Lebanon; 4. Saddam and the Taliban are gone; 5. The vast, vast majority of those killed in Iraq and Afganistan were killed by the same people that brought us 9/11 or those that share the ideology. There is a war going on within Islam to decide whether it is a religion of peace or a violent ideology. Bush didnt create this problem. I disagree with the handling of the war, but its not a war that Bush cowboyed on his own and there was no "politicized intelligence" as agreed to by many panels and reports. It was bipartisanship pure and simple.
By Dr Irish on 12/18/2008 at 2:45:43
Re: Take Back Barack
Please - take him back. No re-stocking fees.
By joanie on 12/18/2008 at 2:48:44
Re: Take Back Barack
Ironically, this was taken from the "What's Gone Wrong" section: "While a CNN poll shows that 80 percent of Americans approve of Obama's transition so far, some progressives are unconvinced." Wait a second, I was told that Bush was a bad President because he only appealed to a small base.  So Obama gets an 80% approval for the transition he is making and that is also a bad thing? Okay, I get's alright to appeal to a select few, as long as it caters to your ideology.  Now excuse me while I let out a cough that may sound a lot like the word "hypocrite".
By timeloop13 on 12/18/2008 at 3:36:40
Re: Take Back Barack
"Change has come to America" - Barack Hussein Obama... Bwahahahahaha!!!
By bignosekate on 12/18/2008 at 3:53:58
Re: Take Back Barack
Hildebrand may be a tool but the left are freaking morons. Obama's speeches and campaign rhetoric may have been progressive but his resume and voting record have always been solidly moderate. All campaign season long progressives rammed this guy who didn't even reflect their own values down the rest of our throats. I can't help but laugh as you all finally catch on. In the next Presidential Primary I hope somebody on the left actually does the research and supports the candidate who truly reflects progressive values, instead of following the guy with the pretty speeches and the rock star following like a million blind sheep. Oh, and heads up? The Change mantra should have been the first red flag. Nobody changes DC. They either play ball (hopefully with some integrity) or they are sent back to the farm team.
By Blue Granite on 12/18/2008 at 4:11:20
Re: Take Back Barack
Dr. Irish,  What would you have us do...back McCain and a continuation of spending $12 billion/month in the wrong battlezone? Afghanistan and Pakistan were clearly harboring the leaders of 911 and Bush & Co. missed a critical opportunity to galvanize an emphatically patriotic nation in the aftermath of 911. Instead they stormed off to liberate some oil reserves and finish dad's unfinished business, turned a blind eye as our economy began to tank and are now working overtime to make sure the oil and gas industry can dip their straws into every parcel of public land that they desire. Heck, even Buddy Cianci would've governed with more competence than Cheney, er uh, Bush.  
By Colorado Shu on 12/18/2008 at 4:49:06
Re: Take Back Barack
The fact that you believed this Chicago hack proves that you are a bunch of sheep.  In Chicago, our motto is, "never trust a Chicago pol".  Now, the rest of you have learned that lesson.  Barry/Blago, Blago/Barry, it's all part of the same cesspool.
By Grim Reaper on 12/18/2008 at 4:52:06
Re: Take Back Barack
This is the most outrageously racist thing I have ever heard!! You want to "take back" a black man! I am going to report this to the UN commison on hate speach and race crimes! Hopefully your paper will be shut down and no longer allowed to spew this vile hate!
By Frank White on 12/18/2008 at 5:04:30
Re: Take Back Barack
 As much as I hate to say this, with our country in dire need, there were many, many of us (more than 18 million) who tried to tell you, but you refused to listen to us - calling us "sore losers" and telling us to "get over it" - but I will say it now - WE TOLD YOU SO!  Anyone who is actually surprised is delusional or refused to pay attention.
 This man never called himself a Democrat (never mentioned the word in his acceptance speech at the convention). We (the base of the party) did not want someone to be a Republican-lite - we wanted a Democrat to push for Democratic ideals and values.Too late now.  Hopefully, he can be pushed, but nothing in his history indicates that he will do so.  He wanted the presidency for himself-  it was never about all of us.  Unfortunately, we all will suffer if he can't get it together, but I'm not holding my breath.
By cmugirl on 12/18/2008 at 5:17:56
Re: Take Back Barack
So what exactly is a progressive?  How does a "progressive" differ from other varieties of utopians?  What in BHO's background gives progressives the idea that his behavior will coincide with their desires?  The change that progressives voted for, what would be some specific examples of that change?
By nailheadtom on 12/18/2008 at 6:28:59
Re: Take Back Barack
 When you elect a Chicago machine thug politician, you get Chicago thug machine politics right along with him!  I have no idea why most couldn't see through this phony.
By Mainer1776 on 12/18/2008 at 6:34:38
Re: Take Back Barack
By Fuzzlenutter on 12/19/2008 at 7:00:06
Re: Take Back Barack
How can you take back what you never had?  This guy comes out of nowhere and wins the White House... completely on his own?  Who would be naive enough to believe a fairy tale like that?  We don't know who is pulling his strings yet, but we will find out... eventually.    
By LetDown on 12/19/2008 at 8:24:50
Re: Take Back Barack
"We voted for the Barack Obama we fantasized" - Yes, you did and so did many other idiots and it showed why our Founding Fathers wanted a Republican and not Democracy in this country. So many people voting in this last election proved the Wizards 1st Rule true: "People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool."
By pressto on 12/19/2008 at 2:26:11
Re: Take Back Barack
 What is that old saying?...Oh yeah, "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it". Obama has been deluding you Obamabots for the past 18 months and its just NOW that you're figuring out that he's not telling the truth? This is just the tip of the Obama iceburg. I believe that as time goes on we'll see less and less truth from the Obama team and more and more bloviating and covering up either because they are inexperienced and have made terrible judgement calls or they're just plain stupid. Either way we're in for a rough ride.
By Ivanna Tinkle on 12/19/2008 at 3:56:03
Re: Take Back Barack
You voted for OBVIOUS hype, a smile and a pack of lies.  How can you expect a guy who rubs shoulders with the likes of Blogo, Rezko, Auchi and the like, and expect him to enter the White House, (something he has fantasized about since 2nd grade), and then be all compassion and light.  He got a house by suspect means, he got his state senate seat by scurrilous means, and he won the democratic campaign by thuggery and lies. He then went on to win the presidency because of your gullibility and mindless idiocy - something he could count on.  But the craziest thing of all is, he actually might not even be an american citizen.  He has spent a million bucks to fight against showing a birth certificate that would cost him $10. And you pathetic sheep have done nothing but yawn through the whole process.  Well, I certainly now know the meaning of schadenfreude, and I know I will be enjoying much more of it.  You ended the election with tears of joy.  But your experience with this usurper will end with nothing but tears.
By Roosting Chickens on 12/20/2008 at 2:01:56
Re: Take Back Barack
This article amuses me. Obama was very up front about what he was and was not. It was the media that hyped him into the messiah. He's not African American, he's a mixed race American. But the media overlooked that, I guess because it sold more newspapers hyping up one half of his racial background while ignoring the European American mother who actually raised him. Obama was also upfront about his opposition to gay marriage. So I'm not quite sure why everyone was in a frenzy when the same Democratic voters who propelled him to victory in California were the same voters who voted for the gay marriage ban. This is a text book example of media hype, and how absolutely disingenuous for reporters to now cover what they closed their eyes to during the campaign.
By Ciao99 on 12/20/2008 at 6:23:24
Re: Take Back Barack
most of us saw through the lap dance performed by the obama apparatus. nonetheless, given the field of the day, it was the rational choice. i suspect a scenario in which the obama presidency lurches from the symbolic promisory to the centrist non-change posture which marks his political career. the only way to avoid finding the dreams and aspirations disappear behind clouds of ambition is to organize for the 2010 congressional and senate elections. concentrate on truly progressive, and even 3rd party candidates, to force the agenda. a veto-proof majority would be dangerous with this administration. it's already apparent we, "...don't need a weatherman", etc.,etc. 
By jeffmcnary on 12/22/2008 at 11:20:01
Re: Take Back Barack
Obama wasn't my choice. But, he is now my President. I respect the office and the President even when I do not agree with what that person may be doing. Perhaps that is what has made the word "change" a mantra for so many people. It is simple to say but has no concrete meaning. Most people aspire to move in a direction of better food, housing, jobs, pay, health, education, security, appreciation, and fairness.  When one applies "change" to that list everyone seems to have a different idea on what it means. This last election wore me out. By the time the seemingly endless campaigning, gross amounts of money spent, speeches-turned-to-babble programs, and campaign news on everything but in-grown toenails I was exhausted. When it was done I was confused on specifics and was left only with discomfort on the idea that one candidate wanted to change everything-whatever that meant. Obviously, more people thought they knew what was meant by "change" and voted for Obama. There will be Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and others who will be upset because "change" isn't what they thought it would be. I am relieved that it isn't as radical as I feared, so far. I don't know what I will think after the first 100 days. But for today I would wish President-elect Obama and his family a Merry Christmas. This is a very difficult time for many. I would be happy and consider his tenure a success if he is able focus on two or three domestic issues and be successful on those, be a good representative of the United States in the world,  keep us engaged in working with other countries, and work for the security of the United States and its citizens. Of course, if he screws up one BIG thing...well. What I have realized as I write this is that there are a lot of my aspirations that the government is no good in the details of making my life better for me except by providing an environment where I can succeed. That goes for you, too. Happy New Year.
By JohnRant on 12/24/2008 at 1:51:09
Re: Take Back Barack
 I am a proud progressive and I was overcome when I thought the democrats had our first truly progressive nominee and when I thought America had a truly progressive president. Now I see I am mistaken. It seems Barack doesn't plan on reversing ANYTHING Bush and his puppet master Cheney put through in their 8 years. At least Clinton didn't reappoint Bush #1'st cabinet like Obama seems to be doing. I am tired of the Democrats just being the whipping boy for the Republicans. Nancy Pelosi did not do anything but complain for the past two years as Speaker and let the GOP whip us around. Obama is escalating the war in Afghanistan when we should be leaving them in peace, escalating the occupation of Iraq, keeping Joe "Bush supporting McCain Loving" Lieberman in the democrats, keeping wiretapping, keeping the patriot act, and unconditionally supporting Israel. This is just Bush Admin. v2. What Obama NEEDS TO DO is:Universal health care (probably wont ever happen now...)
Downsize the military that Bush built up
Support the Palestinians more in trying to resolve the Israeli Arab Conflict
END THE PATRIOT ACT AND WIRETAPPING! America is a democracy and not a dictatorship!
Bring more transparency to government (barack doesn't seem interested in that...)
END THE WAR IN IRAQ AND BRING THE TROOPS HOME!I voted for Obama but it increasingly seems like i wasted my voted...Anthony from Boston
By AnthonyS on 12/25/2008 at 11:21:35

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