Saturday, August 8, 2009


Shortly before Obama redeployed US troops to Afghanistan Rep. McDermott (D-WA), just returned from the region, warned the President that increasing our military presence would be, costly, deadly and counterproductive. He likened Obama's situation to Kennedy's Bay of Pigs.

Long before either man was elected, the Pentagon had invasion plans languishing in their vaults waiting for a young, inexperienced president, eager for success and unwary of the uncertainties of war. McDermott, went on to say that Obama was an intelligent man and he hoped he would discover the folly of a militaristic policy in Afghanistan. He didn't.
Now with body counts ballooning and Obama's generals telling him that the US is losing, it's all too apparent that intelligence without wisdom or experience is a poor commodity.

In very short time Obama has shown us that he is man unready to face America's problems head on. His timidity has ensnared him in every trap that might undermine his effectiveness.

The financial bailout package pushed through congress, contrary to public opinion and against the best advice, rewarded the authors of economic destruction and punished their victims. Obama's persuasive rhetoric was the candy coating on another raid on the treasury by the ruling elite. The economy continues to trend downward, toxic assets still threaten the banks. There is no such thing as a jobless, homeless recovery.

Obama's health care package, crafted by the lobbyists he promised to shun and rife with concessions, has become a plutocrats dream; a bonanza for the corporate elite and their major shareholders. A big bill for tax payers. The fact that it will do little to raise the standard of health care, in steep decline since ascent of the corporate model or reduce costs, driven by the greed of CEOs and major shareholders, has fallen off Obama's radar.

Obama's reluctance to prosecute the war criminals and garden variety crooks that swelled the ranks of the last administration, is his most foolish decision to date. He has signaled his enemies, some of most ruthless and dangerous people on the planet, that anything goes. He has freed them from the cares of imminent prosecution and allowed them to fully focus on bringing down his administration.

Sidelining the Constitution and selectively administering the law undermines the social contract that between a government and its people. When the rich and powerful can do as they like, the society becomes fundamentally unjust. No government can maintain itself happily or long under these conditions.

A thousand years ago, a ten year old boy was thrust upon the throne of England after his brother was murdered by members of mother's household (not so very far from the current political climate). Aethelred's reign was marked by division, violence and failure. History dubbed him Aethelred the Unready. The epithet was not as much a reference to his youth, as a condemnation of the Royal Council (representing the vested interests of the day) whose advice was unfailingly bad. In the old Anglo Saxon raed means counsel. The combined form, ironically translated to "noble counsel". Aethelred, and Unraed is a play on words; noble council, no council. Aethelred may have been an intelligent boy but bad advice coupled with youth and inexperience are a recipe for disaster. Without a doubt Obama is being ill served by the cynical insiders surrounding him. But is that all?

No one forced Obama to be president. He fought for power. He didn't inherit his father's counselors, he chose his own. If they do not serve (they don't) he has the power to replace them (he's not). Obama is young but he has the responsibility to draw on the experience and wisdom of others. Obama is not a king, he is meant to preside, to execute the office the president. His refusal to act in concert with the majority opinion of Americans on every major issue is the stuff of kings. Even kings can only manage it for a limited time.

The storm clouds are gathering over the Obama presidency. His ratings are said to be in free fall. His netroots administrators are sending out frantic messages asking for new strategies, a job usually left to the Madison Avenue suits who packaged Obama as a reformer. Progressives are finding that, contrary to the latest White House meme, there is absolutely nothing "in it for them". McDermott's people say that Progressive Caucus is very unhappy with many of Obama's policies. The 91% of the victims of Wall Street Banksters sacrificed to line the pockets of the undeserving rich are unlikely to support for "four more years". Ditto for the "filibuster proof" Congress. The destructive forces that Obama has failed to contain are continuing their assault on the economy. Obama's ideological enemies (the birthers, the anti-healthcarists, wingnuts and warped descendents of merchant princes) are circling. Non-voters, motivated by the horror of the Bush administration, are unlikely to show up again.

Obama has moved from the "Audicity of Hope" to tarnished hopes in a matter of months. Even his supporters are calling his presidency a squandered opportunity. Obama has said he's willing to be a one term president. No one is working harder toward that end than he, himself.

Carol DW