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We’ve Got a Job to Do

Joel Bleifuss

In August 2009, then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told leaders of MoveOn​.org that they were fucking retarded” for planning to target Blue Dog Democrats for opposing healthcare reform. 

Excuse me, Mr. President. What do you expect the reaction to be from progressives—who busted their butts to get you elected?

In August 2010, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told the Hill that the professional left” would not even be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.” Those people ought to be drug tested,” he said. 

In December 2010, President Barack Obama said those who criticized him as too quick to compromise wanted the satisfaction of having a purist position” in order to feel sanctimonious.”

Excuse me, Mr. President. What do you expect the reaction to be from progressives – who busted their butts to get you elected – when you quickly acquiesce to continued tax cuts for the super rich? Did you have to give up without exposing congressional Republicans for what they are – the spawn of a corporate enterprise system run amok?

Yes, horse trading in politics happens, but couldn’t you at least have called a plutocrat a plutocrat? Did you have to be so obsequious? Why not use your bully pulpit and let Republicans take the rap for allowing unemployment benefits to expire!

The administration’s critics are not upset that the White House compromised, but that – whether on healthcare reform or tax cuts for the rich or regulation of the banking industry – Obama’s preferred negotiating tactic appears to begin from a compromised position. There is no fight, no attempt to mobilize that army of sanctimonious retards of the professional left whose hard work in 2008 propelled this administration into office – and whose subsequent disillusionment and inaction helped the GOP gain back control of the House.

With this month’s issue, In These Times begins a debate about how we can create a society that lives up to the promise of with liberty and justice for all.” Our cover package, Help Wanted,” features Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), David Moberg, Barbara Ehrenreich and Richard Flacks – four people who were part of the In These Times Community when the magazine was founded 35 years ago. Our March issue will feature essays by Melvyn Dubofsky, one of the preeminent historians of the U.S. labor movement, and by Lisa Lee, the executive director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.

In the spirit of forging a collective future, we invite you to join the debate, both at InThe​se​Times​.com and in the magazine. This debate is possible because of you, the members of the In These Times Community. For the first time in my 25 years at In These Times, we are ending the year with a balanced budget. You have answered our appeals, online and through the mail. You have met the challenge presented by our partners at the Puffin Foundation, Perry Rosenstein and Gladys Miller Rosenstein, whose financial investment supports the writers you read. Thanks to you, we begin 2011 in good institutional health.

With this issue we inaugurate a new feature in the Mixed Reaction page, Tea Party Provocateur,” in which Jennifer Stefano, a Tea Party activist in Bucks County, Penn., will provide her take on one of our stories. Stefano was featured in our October 2010 cover story, Tea Party Confidential: GOP insurgents borrow from the left to move America right.”

We tried to get Rahm Emanuel, but he politely declined. 

Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.

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