Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
December 28
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, credentialed in the United Church of Christ; licensed by the Moravian Church . Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office. Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Interim Pastor, the Baltic Parish UCC, Baltic, Ohio; starting 08 2014: Interim Pastor, St. John UCC, Strasburg, OH


Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield's Links

JULY 26, 2010 11:36AM

Obama: Will He, Can He, Be the One We Thought We Elected?

Rate: 22 Flag

I don't write about politics much anymore, but this nation is at a cusp in its direction and we ought to think about and discuss something that can determine the direction of the nation for the next decade.

Try as one might, it is not possible even for a President to be all things to all people. Nor is it possible to be the President of all of the people, if one insists that “all the people” includes giving to the rich, the spoiled, the pathological, the amoral and the immoral what they believe they deserve.

But President Obama is trying to do precisely that. And in the process, the nation, which lost its moral compass under the Bush Administration and has since been wandering in the wilderness, is in the process of reclaiming the dubious title of the “United States of ME,” forgetting that America is about “WE the people,” not “ME the greedy.”

But the President seems to have forgotten this. Rather, he is content to be the one who tries hard not to offend, or to be offended, regardless that he should find some things disgustingly offensive and should be mightily offended by others. He seems more content to be the professor who calmly discusses the subtle nuances of the many shades of gray as a black cloud descends over his Presidency.

Yes, this is the same man who showed us one side of himself during the campaign, the side of the progressive, center-left liberal who championed the rights of the poor, the disenfranchised, the working folk, and, yes, the middle class who, we were constantly told, were the 97% plus of us who made less than a quarter of a million dollars a year.

This is the man those of us who cared about America as a nation of all the people could get behind; a man who offered a clear alternative to everything Bush and his tools stood for. [With the shameful exception of continuing the war in Afghanistan.]

And what was his first act of consequence? To pass a Stimulus Act skewed almost entirely to bailing out Wall Street, a bill that offered but a trickle of funds to those who needed it most, the working people of America. Rather than complain about bailing out institution after institution that was “too big to fail” the Administration threw itself at the feet of the rich and invited them to take what they needed, after first inviting the financial foxes to run the chicken coop.

Then he said nothing in response to Republican complaint about bailing out the auto industry, an industry where real people were employed and where the government exposed a few tens of billions, a subsidy which is working and will be paid back, kept people employed, saved an industry that actually adds jobs and value to the GDP, rather than a Wall Street house of cards that adds phantom value through the trading of paper and the goosing up the “value” of worthless derivatives.

But he was not done. While urging passage of the most comprehensive overhaul of health care in the history of the nation he turned around and did not fight for a public option and did not insist on coverage of the now 45 million uninsured, settling for 36 million and then offering them only “high risk” pools run by, of course, the very insurance companies that ran our health care into the ground in the first place. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Now we are down to a basic political issue: will the Presidentt quit thinking about whether he personally can win in 2012 and start now calling out the Republicans for their obstructionism, their incessant “just say no to everything” campaign? Or will he be left with a Congress that cannot actually get anything done in the remaining two years of his first term? Will he, convinced that he can compromise with Republicans, in spite of the clear and unequivocal fact of perpetual Republican negativism, try to reason with the unreasonable for the next two or six years?

In the next couple of weeks he will have a chance to prove which Obama we will see: the moral leader of the nation, or the weak deal cutter who negotiates from timidity.

The tax cuts expire soon. A Democratic bill has been introduced in each house to extend them to all but the top 2-3% of earners in this country, those making over $250,000 a year. That windfall to the rich would be allowed to expire and the income from their paying a few percentage points more taxes could be used to fund the programs that we desperately need: including feeding the poor and helping the states avoid going bankrupt.  

The Republicans already have told us that they will vote against any extension that does not include all of the original tax cuts, including those to the rich. They will argue, using the usual smoke and mirrors, that the economy demands that we treat everyone “equally.”

The counter argument is simple: The top 3% don’t need the tax break. The lower 97% does. The top 3% will hardly feel the increase. Large numbers of the bottom 20% are literally starving, and/or out of work, without health care, without hope, and hurting beyond comprehension.

There is only, literally, one man in American who can effectively and convincingly make the only  argument that is ethically correct, sway the voting public, and expose the Republicans in Congress for the morally corrupt puppets of big business that they are. That man is the one who ran for President two years ago. The one we have watched in the White House these past 18 months cannot and will not take aggressive action.  

Time is surely running out, not just on this Congress, and not particularly on this President. But it is running out on the chance for this country to honor its moral obligations to its people. Who really wants even two more years of what we have now? Its time for our President to remember where he came from, who put him in office and why.

This country is hurling toward yet another decade of moral bankruptcy. We have lost our way. Have we forgotten all that America means? Have we forgotten what “and justice for all” means?

Which President will emerge now?


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Obama appears to be reviled by both the left and the right. That suggests to me that maybe he is actually on the right track.

a thumb for you.
I am glad that you have "stooped" to a politcal posting.
I hear you. I remember our longing in those days before the election. After eight years of loss, it seemed like redress was in the offing.
I think of Carter--perhaps the most moral and good man we have had for president and how he was described as being powerless in his presidency. And I wonder what was it about the upper echlons of power that emasculated goodness? It seems like chains that we cannot see bind their hands. Perhaps it is the very nature of power.
What I remember among Obama's first acts was the law he passed securing glabal reproductive services through UNIFEM that the repuginicans had refused for the Bush years which killed many women, ending bush's Global War on Women. He also passed the equal pay for women bill.
Must admit that hope is a fading feeling for me personally though.
I agree, he can do it. How can we get him to remember?
He's reviled by the right because he claims to care about the less privileged - but he does not. He's reviled by the left because he claims to care about the less privileged - but he does not. He does care about getting re-elected.

He's fallen for the age old lie: I must be elected to do good, so anything I do to stay elected is OK. History is not kind to such folks.

Good job keeping your eye on the bottom line and not living in a rhetoric world only.
Good points. I don't have any answers, but I guess I continue to hope that he'll at least do more good than harm, in the sum total of things.
Plenty to think about here, Monte. I don't know if President Obama has positioned himself to be re-elected. I do believe that the war in Afghanistan will be a defining moment. As will the economy. The mid-terms should be very interesting. We will see what kind of Congress he has to work with.

Good post!
Great, great post, Monte - obama will take us further down the road to nowhere, because now that he's attained the prize he had his eyes upon, the presidency, he'll want to retain it; and with the latest supreme court decision, "in all it's wisdom," the only way to maintain the presidency is to please the corporations, upon whose money his retention of power is dependent.

He's done little for the people he made so many solemn promises to these past 18 months, and I expect less from him in the remainder of the term.

I want him to be the one we thought we elected. I want it with all my heart.
My biggest problem with Obama is that he has done nothing to change the paradigm in US politics. He never talks about wealth concentration or the true nature of our global empire and who its beneficiaries are. He never talks about media concentration in the hands of a tiny group of corporate titans. He never talks about the threat to democracy that is electronic voting. And he refuses to address the criminality of the previous administration.

I can't decide if these are all moment to moment political calculations or if he actually fancies himself to be a more pragmatic imperialist than the people he succeeded. Or... if he might possibly just see himself as a place holder until the next Republican comes in and pushes the imperial envelope.

That sounds extreme, but look at the way he has kept us in Afghanistan in spite of waning support for the war, and how he has completely done a 180 on negotiating with Iran, and how he acquiesced (at the very least) to the coup in Honduras. When will he turn this around? Does he even want to?
Great discussion, Monte. I've not much to add. Just watch and wait and keep our fingers crossed.
I just want you all to know that I am reading and keeping up with your comments, which I appreciate very much. I will likely not add more of my own because I have said what I needed to say in the post and do not really want to start an argument as much as to get us to all think, discuss and share our opinions with one another.. So far I think all the comments have made excellent points, and, sadly, the frustration with our President now seems to be high. Mine is. And I can't tell you how much I wish it were not.
In many regards, especially in relation to his stance on Afghanistan, he is the man who campaigned. In so many others though, as articulated here, he seems to be his own shadow...similar but not the real thing. A friend of mine from the past, who worked with me when we were youngters, camapigning for Sen. Wayne Morse, one of only two Senators who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, asked me how I thought Obama will be remembered. I told him it appears that at this point he is going to be thought of as the best Republican President in the last fifty years.
Ahh, Monte, I love you but I do disagree with you in some areas. I agree that Bush was already giving too much to big government. But I think we have been losing our moral compass for a long time before either Bush came along. We have been on a long slow slide for a long time. All politicians including Obama seem to have their own agenda that is more important to them that "the good of the country". I am totally disillusioned and don't have any hope that it will get better. Everything is all about the money.
The republicans say no all the time because basically they don't want anymore interference of the government into our lives than we already have... they also are trying to stop more spending that we can't afford...but most of them can't be trusted either. It's a mess and that is one reason why we see so many people wanting a "clean sweep" getting all the good old boys on the left and the right out of there.
Monte, thanks for a thought provoking post. I have become somewhat resigned to the notion that this president came to office ill-equipped to the task at hand and his tasks immediately became tremendously more difficult the first month of his administration with the economic crisis with which he was confronted. And I have so very reluctantly come to a point of view that he may have been too inexperienced as due to his half a term as a U.S. Senator preceded by only a couple of terms as a state legislator.

While I fervently wished that he could actualize his "audacity of hope", I fear that his own naivete and overly-conciliatory approach are not the tools to tackle the hydra-headed monster that has been overwhelming his Presidency. All this would be daunting even without a less-than-loyal opposition which seeks to stymie any hinder any and all initiatives coming from his "side of the aisle".

What we are left with is neither audacity or hope.

Lastly, I am continually mystified at how $250,000 became a benchmark for "wealthy". To me, this is a figure times 2 of that which is beyond "middle" or even "upper" income. A quarter of a million annually is wealthy. Half that is well off. Half that again is middle class. Half of that is now poverty when applied to a famly.
Sadly, regrettably, emphatically NO!
One hopes that as November approaches Mr. Obama and his people will find their minds concentrating more, not unlike Samuel Johnson's man who is to be hanged.
It kills me that the media will not, except for Rachel Maddow for about 5 minutes every two months, tell us how much Pres Obama HAS done. It is astounding and no one knows it.

The government needs to go back to the people. Both parties have completely ignored the will of the people and could not care less about us. A prophetic moment might have been said by Obama, Hope and Change. The point is, it was never Obama that would fulfill it. It is The People that will bring it about. It was Obama that brought the mess floating to the top for us all to realize that our government has been becoming more and more corrupt for decades. Obama and this administration, by their ignorance and arrogance, have caused a defining moment of change to come about, only it is the People who will bring it about. The American people have been sleeping and this will be the jolt to wake them up.

Monte, I was wondering. Are you pro abortion and also standing for God? If you are not pro abortion, then this is something you should have a problem with in this administration, as federal money is now going to abortionists. Jesus also did not tell the government to force the people to give their money to the government so the government could dole it out. When Jesus spoke, He spoke to us. If neighbors helped neighbors, we would not need for the government to act in that role. Whenever the government gets involved, by the time funds are stolen from the program by corrupt officials, the poor will be lucky if they see 1% of it. We give 10% of our gross to our church, which is what God tells us to do. Then we go above that with sacrificial giving and mission work. These monies go to feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. If church families have financial troubles, they know they can come to the church to help them out. The more we can keep government out of the church, the better off everyone will be. The problem is, people do not want to give from their own pockets and they want the government to be the one to help them out. People can be just as greedy with their money as corporations. Have you ever seen how much of these so called greedy corporations give to charities? They give millions upon millions. The problem is they do it for the look, public relations. There are, however, noble companies that do want to help.

The Obama agenda being Pushed through, and I say pushed because the majority of Americans are against it and the progressive party just will not accept that fact, is going to hurt the Middle Class and Poor more than the wealthy. The wealthy could care less about paying out more money for their lifestyle. Gore has turned into a complete corporate fat cat off of Global Warming. His carbon footprint probably equals 1000 home owners. Members of the government do not even want the health benefits that they want all of us to have. These corrupt government officials will be set for life when they leave. You think they care about us? Look at Hollywood and their corrupt and lavish lifestyle, yet they act like activists. They would be lost without their money. That is hypocrisy of the highest order.

Taxes are coming and it will be the lower classes that take the brunt. What about when we lose the Mortgage Interest deduction or the property tax deduction? Obama said electric rates would probably skyrocket. How many people in the lower classes are going to be able to afford sky high utility rates? This will also mean renters will be paying more to cover the landlord’s increasing expenses. What about, due to lack of oil, gas begins to hit 5 to 10 dollars a gallon. Trucking companies will now charge more to ship goods. Now food and anything associated with trucking companies will sky rocket. All income tax brackets will go up and we will all be paying more out of our gross for the federal deficit. That is to name only a few. The point is, the rich can cover it, and we can’t.

To quote Jeff Goldblum, "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should". Everything sounds noble and for the people but the consequences of actions always kicks in. It is like developing new species to combat out of control species, they just make it worse off than what it was.
Monte: Want you to know I was here. But I can't respond to this with a simple comment. It conjurs up way too much emotion.

But I have to say this ... as a life long Republican who felt my party had deserted me: The longer I am on this site, the more it appears to me that the left-wing liberal Democrat is nothing more than the mirror image of the right wing conservative Republican ... the same in reverse ... except one thing. Conservatives don't just talk a problem to death; they act ... even if poorly. At least they're doing something besides talk. Those who thought/hoped Obama would be the second coming ... but who sit back and complain, I say this: Get off your asses and do something postive. Any idiot can complain. It takes no skill at all to be a Monday morning Quarterback. And wake up: Obama can't change 200 years of history in two; nor can you. If you don't realize that those "a-hole" conservatives exist ... and will be heard despite you, you have no chance ... none ... to ever see any of the reform you so desperately seek ... a gripe about the one person who MIGHT just get you closer to it.

The "R"s understand one thing ... marketing: That the rank & file don't care about liberals or conservatives; they care about holding on to what's theirs. So the Rs tell them what they want to hear; that the way to that nervana is through us. If you can't convince them otherwise, you lose. Simple as that.

Guess I ranted afterall. {{{R}}}
I am very pleased with the discussion that this post has generated here. I don't, of course, agree with all the points made, which is hardly surprising. But that was never the point of this post anyway, which was and is to get people discussing this issue in a civil tone. We have done that.

Whenever I have posted on politics I have always tried to walk a very thin line. First, I owe it to the readers to clearly state where I stand on an issue. Second, I have encouraged others to comment regardless where they come out on the same issues.

One thing I have noticed since I came on here on Oct. 2008 is that there are more right leaning readers willing to comment. Personally I think that is a good thing. For quite a while the comments were skewed only to the left. As someone who is left center in his own political persuasion I find that refreshing.

Rod makes some good points that we all should be aware of, particularly noting that it is easy to gripe and harder to actually try to do something. The problem is that none of us knows how much any one person who complains on a forum like OS has or has not done beyond just griping.

Personally, I don't gripe about political decisions much publicly and what I complain about on this blog are the same things I have also voiced my opinion on within the party I belong to. I am active in voicing my opinion to the President, the party, my representative and my senators, and within the party. And I am as active as my med condition allows in working within the party locally. I try, not always successfully, to do more than just talk about issues, but to try to be active within the local, state and national political system.

I do think that much of politics inherently involves "talk," or rants or side taking, etc. That is how politics is done. By the same token, if we care about the poor we should do more than rant about it, we should be "putting our money where our mouth is," and, to the extent able, working actively locally to support food banks, shelters, etc.

But I have no problem with political "talk" nor with expressing our opinions about issues. There is nothing inherently wrong with a political rant. Rants are part of the fabric of our political system, and are infinitely better than "exercising our 2nd Amendment rights" through violence or even the threat of violence as some would have us do.

Thanks to all of you who have contributed to this discussion.

Monte, I too am glad to see both sides represented. If we can talk we can learn from each other. I know I have. Love ya.
Spot on, Monte. I wish you would write more political posts. I've watched and listened to a great deal of Congressional conflict over the years, but never have I seen anything like the last two years. How anything has gotten accomplished in this climate is a small miracle. Of course everything that started out good turned sour when the good gets bartered away just looking for that one Republican vote from the Senate that never comes.

It makes my head hurt to watch the Dems work their tails off trying to govern while getting nothing from the other side. I can surely understand some controversy over the issues, but these people were elected to govern, not put their feet up on the desk and just scream no as if that is progress. It disgusts me to no end.

The biggest mystery is why the American people haven't caught on and actually support the GOP. They GWB eight years to nearly kill the country and haven't given Obama two years to try to straighten things out. It's actually taken 30 years to get to where we are. Thank you Ronald Reagan. That trickle down really works well for the average American.

If we don't wake up as a nation and recognize the GOP for what they are then we deserve what we get. It amazes me that America continues to vote against their own best interests. We just drill more holes in the sinking boat in hopes of letting the water out.
Thanks for this. Rated.
I don't know what to think Monte, I'm with annaliese, I want him to be the one we elected with all my heart, I pray for that.
I havn't been here for a while so am catching up on things. This is a great post!!

What I don't know is why should I beleive in Democrates or Republicans anymore. After the last 8 years - and now this - I don't want another 2 1/2 or 6 1/2 more years of this.

I have no answers.
he ran a brilliant campaign, but has allowed himself to get too sidetracked--
getting dragged into the mosque thing, and suing Arizona about 4 different ways now for enforcing immigration law is another--
he has to be seens as focused like a laser on the economy
Thanks for the additional comments, folks. Just want you to know that I do drop back and read them, and that you are never too late to anything I have posted. If anything, as Kathy notes, the Pres has lost his focus and if he doesn't get it quickly it will only get worse.

if you want to change course on a big oil-tanker, you have to put the rudder over about two hours ahead of time. the usofay is much slower. obama never said he was going to change course, it was his announced intention to get the horse back up on its feet, so it could be flogged again. people who expected something different from what he has done, are living in dreams.

he's a lawyer, and a politician. he would have to be a pimp as well just to lift his character above zero.

if you want government for the people, the people have to get off their knees and take it. they like it on theirs knees, and should get used to what happens when laziness and ignorance contend with arrogance and wealth.