Maher Shreds Obama

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Column: Josh Green

Columnist Josh Green addresses a reader response about health care programs.





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From the mailbag I wish I had ...

Dear Joshie: Bill Maher tore Obama a new one on Friday night, claiming that our president is more interested in being on TV than pushing for real health care reform. "This is not what I voted for," he said in his rant, and I found myself agreeing with him. But does Obama deserve this? Should I start vilifying him as a do-nothing centrist now and avoid the Christmas rush?

-Left of the Lefthanded Lefties

Dear Lefty: I understand the impulse, but maybe the progressives can keep the torches and pitchforks stored in the barn until the end of the year ... or at least until we find out whether health care is really doomed or not. Maher has a point-Obama has kept his 2008 campaign's made-for-TV momentum going even as president, and often coverage sounds more L.A. than D.C. (Do we really need to know that he took Michelle out to a Broadway show? And what she was wearing at that show?) But this is not narcissism on Obama's part; it's cold, calculating politics. Obama knows that keeping his goofy but stoic mug on camera is key to getting people to support his grandiose plans. Obama's mastery of the media message is the one thing he can use as leverage against recalcitrant conservatives who still think we can solve all this with better fitness programs and no government-sponsored plan. Bottom line: Obama is not Gandhi, but he may be one of the best politicians we've ever seen.

Dear Joshie: You're column sux... how do they let you write every week? They should cancel the Thursday paper. Heh heh. LOL

-Did I Mention You're Column Sux

Dear Did I Mention: Thank you for your incisive, sophisticated, and very witty barbs. You should definitely check out some of the fine work of your friends online at the end of my past columns. I have a whole flock of lonely Berkeley Republicans who are rabid anti-fans. Their critiques and"insight" posted after each of my columns really make me think and question myself. Questions like, "Wow, that guy used 'fuck' about five times in the space of six words. Why can't I write like that?" Or, "Man, this guy says he hates my columns, yet he spends so much time reading them every week. I mean, shouldn't he use the time he spends reading my columns to get laid or something?" Anyway, I feel like there are enough anti-fans out there to start a little campus group that can request ASUC money or put up a Web site. Then they can all hate together.

Dear Joshie: I heard UC may raise fees 20 to 25 percent. What the hell? Are they trying to price out all the students with poor parents or what? What will happen to the quality of education here?

-Loaded with Debt, Waiting for More

Dear Loaded: Well, there's plenty of blame to go around, starting with the voters who decided May 19 to hurl the state into the budget abyss, damn the consequences. The campus deficit of $145 million seems like nothing compared to our bankrupt state, but the chancellor has assured us in a memo that we'll get through this with "shared sacrifice by students, staff, faculty and senior administrators." Note to chancellor-we don't believe you about making your star-studded faculty sacrifice anything, not even a Nobel Laureate parking permit. Show us. Don't balance the budget solely on the backs of students and their families.

Dear Joshie: I heard that yesterday Obama is allowing federal employees' gay partners to sign up for some federal benefits. Does this mean he's for gay marriage? Does this mean he's gay?

-Gay and Confused Outside Sproul

Dear Gay and Confused: I'm pretty sure he's not gay, but that's what they said about Michael Huffington, Ted Haggard and Larry "Wide Stance" Craig, so I can't help you on that one. But the gay rights strategy seems to be not a strategy at all, but a tangled mess of contradictory paths. The anti-Prop. 8 folks (and Mr. Gimme-Another-Shot, Jerry Brown), are taking their case to federal court on equal protection grounds. There are vocal gay ex-military members asking why Obama hasn't exploded don't ask-don't tell. But Obama's strategy appears to be, as usual, the politically safe but incrementally progressive route. If we give rights to gays without the marriage label first, maybe it won't hurt so much when we inevitably have to tear that label off, throw it into churches, synagogues and mosques, and rewrite the government-sanctioned label to read "civil union."

Dear Joshie: Should I be worrying about nuclear holocaust? You know, North Korea, Iran. I try not to think about these things in between my Jamba Juice and procrastinating on studying, but I can't get that nagging world destruction thing out of my mind.

-Worried in FSM

Dear Worried: Well, let's see, one isolated rogue state with a kooky dictator (and his mini-Me, Kim Jong Un) launching missile tests and testing nukes underground. Another state with rioting in the streets over a possibly rigged election, a religious cleric acting as commander in chief, and probably a secret nukes program. Yeah, get your worry on, but have a Blackberry Blast first.

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