Barack Obama…for state senate! — June 22, 2010

Barack Obama…for state senate!

Back when I was in college (Carnegie Mellon class of 2000), a friend who was attending the University of Chicago gave me a placard that was posted hither and thither on Chicago’s South Side: a dorky-faced guy with a ridiculously toothy grin smiling out at us. It read

“Barack Obama

for state senate”

My buddy Josh and I thought this was hilarious. Over the years, we turned the guy on the placard into a superhero. We’d be studying for one hard exam or another and would say to one another, “You know who could ace the piss out of this test right now?” The other would respond, “*Barack Obama!*” to which the first would respond, inevitably, “…*for state senate!*” Or we’d be at the gym: “Man, these weights are *tough*! … Know who could lift them without breaking a sweat?” “*Barack Obama!*” “…*for state senate!*”

The years go by. It’s 2004. There’s a dude up on the stage at the Democratic National Convention who’s making everyone ask, “Why do I have to vote for Kerry? Why can’t I vote for this guy?” Josh and I called one another: “Uh … dude, do you see who’s on stage right now?” It was surreal.

It’s still surreal. Every few months it occurs to me afresh that Josh and I were making this obscure local politician the punchline of a joke probably a decade before he became president of the United States. Bizarre.

Vindication, then and now — March 18, 2010

Vindication, then and now

On the elevator up to work today, I saw a headline that Obama says he’ll be vindicated for the choices he’s made on health care and financial reform.

To review: President Bush starts an unnecessary war in which thousands of Americans die and we literally detonate $3 trillion. Obama picks up a financial crisis that started on Bush’s watch, then helps to push through health reform that will cover 30 million of the country’s least fortunate while reducing the long-term deficit.

Now then: which of these two would you guess has to worry about how history will view him?

One little note on Scott Brown, Martha Coakley, and health reform — January 20, 2010

One little note on Scott Brown, Martha Coakley, and health reform

This election has me more miserable than I really want to go into, so let me just say this:

Yes, Brown’s election means that a lot of filibusters down the line are possible. But what people are really flailing all around about now is that *health reform*, in particular, might be filibustered to death.

Now then. If that’s what people are actually concerned about (let me be really fucking clear that that’s what *I’m* concerned about), then we could have dodged the bullet on this long ago. Obama and Senate Democrats tried to play nice with Republicans for a long while. That failed. It led to months of delay. If we’re essentially into conference-committee territory now, we could have been in conference-committee territory months ago. By the time Scott Brown’s miserable ass got sworn into Congress, we could have long since had health reform that people aren’t embarrassed about.

Lots of people, myself included, have railed against Senate procedure causing everything to get slowed down. But the fact is that health reform was and is an unforced error. The threat of a filibuster cannot explain why Democrats took so long to get the job done.