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Rep. John Conyers: “I’m Tired of Saving Obama’s Can”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Periodically, Rep. John Conyers, one of the point-men for single payer health care, vents his frustration with President Obama. But then he, and nearly all the rest of the Progressive Caucus, vote for the president's pro-business legislation, anyway. “Obama would not have had the option of 'bowing down' to the corporations and the 'right-wing nuts' if progressives were not so predictably spineless.”

 

Rep. John Conyers: “I’m Tired of Saving Obama’s Can”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“When it comes to playing chicken with the president, Conyers and his cohorts always blink first.”

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, caused a stir last week when he blurted out: "I'm getting tired of saving Obama's can in the White House." Conyers was referring to the fact that he and nearly every other so-called “progressive” in Congress had swallowed whatever few milligrams of pride they still had left to vote for President Obama’s putrid health care legislation, on November 7. One can understand why Conyers is tired of buckling under to the White House on health care. The Progressive Caucus has been buckling under to Obama for so long, it’s second nature to them.

Conyers ought to be tired. He and other single payer advocates have been marginalized, shut out and humiliated by the White House ever since Barack Obama set foot in the building. But in the end, they have always wound up supporting the president when it came to the crunch. The pattern is always the same. The progressives bitch and moan and threaten to scuttle the deal between the White House and the drug and insurance corporations – and then, like clockwork, they cave in. With the principled exception of Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the left wing of the U.S. House of Representatives is shakier than Jello. It is no wonder the White House consistently calls their bluff. When it comes to playing chicken with the president, Conyers and his cohorts always blink first.

“In the end, they have always wound up supporting the president when it came to the crunch.”

But the congressman was in a complaining mood, last week. He noted that Obama’s phony health care plan passed by only five votes, and only then because, in his words, “progressives held their nose and voted for the plan anyway." But of course, nobody forced them to capitulate. If there really were an effective progressive caucus in the House, Obama would have had to take their threats seriously. But the White House knows from experience that, in the mouths of Democratic liberals, the word “no” really means “yes.” So Obama’s people routinely brush off progressive protestations, and have their way with them.

Having so easily and repeatedly given in to chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and his White House bully boys, the weak-willed progressives then complain that “nutty” right-wingers are always getting their way with the president. Single payer was “taken off the table from the beginning,” said Conyers. The White House is willing to sign any kind of bill. Their motto is, “give us anything and we will declare victory.”

What Conyers says, is true: Obama will sign anything and call it a new health care millennium. But Conyers and his progressive colleagues have also been willing to sign off on damn near anything. In the process, they have made Obama's strategy possible. Obama would not have had the option of “bowing down” to the corporations and the “right-wing nuts” if progressives were not so predictably spineless.

Conyers pointed out that the Obama bill doesn't even kick in for three years. By that time, said the congressman, “many of the people we are trying to help will be dead.” Unfortunately, on issues of health care, as with questions of war and peace, the Progressive Caucus in Congress is already dead.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091125_gf_ConyersOnObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:52pm EDT