Oval Office Appeaser

By Broyles, William | Newsweek, August 29, 2011 | Go to article overview

Oval Office Appeaser


Broyles, William, Newsweek


Byline: William Broyles; Broyles, a Screenwriter and former editor of NEWSWEEK, supported Barack Obama in 2008.

Obama likes to think of himself as a successor to FDR. But this former supporter sees a different--and much less impressive--resemblance.

When Barack Obama was inaugurated, a Republican president had taken the peace, prosperity, and budget surpluses of the Clinton years and given us two wars, a devastated economy, and an almost trillion-dollar deficit. Obama was going to be our Franklin Roosevelt, our Winston Churchill--a visionary leader who would give America hope again. Instead, he has turned out to be the Neville Chamberlain of American politics, drifting toward national catastrophe, one compromise at a time.

In the 1930s, desperate to keep the peace, Chamberlain caved in to every German demand. And he got war anyway. Let me be clear: the right-wing radicals in control of the Republican Party of course are not Nazis. But Obama is like Chamberlain. A decent man who values peace and civility at any cost, he's no match for his Republican adversaries.

Chamberlain had a weak hand and played it poorly. Obama had a strong hand and threw in his chips. Immediately after his inauguration, he could have announced a bold effort to put America back to work--not a stimulus, but a recovery. When the Republicans threatened to filibuster, he could have taken his case to the American people and demanded an up-or-down vote to save the country.

Instead, Obama meekly allowed the 60-vote super-majority needed to shut off a Senate filibuster to become, for the first time in our nation's history, an automatic veto. No fools, the Republican minority used that power to block everything. If a vital new program didn't automatically have 60 votes, Obama wouldn't even bring it up. It was unilateral disarmament. And so we drifted toward disaster with half-measures forged in back rooms, from the timid stimulus that was a meager Band-Aid, to the timid health-care bill that no one likes, to the timid sellout deals on the deficit.

In the 2010 elections, Obama did another Chamberlain: he betrayed his allies. …

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