Monday, May 19, 2008

Barack Gorbachev?

ZO wrote me this:
Barack is going to do something ... he is going to increase our standing in the eyes of the rest of the world not only by virtue of the fact that he is articulate, charismatic and Black ... but because the old bullshitting bellicosity is so over. As a paradigm, it stinks, as a practice, it more than stinks.
And it got me thinking. (thanks for the prod ZO) She is right, absolutely right, but that isn't going to do us much good.

David Seaton's News Links

My problem with Barack Obama is that my intuition tells me he is an empty suit. He is as proud, clever, gifted and as opportunistic as Lucifer, but I don't think there is really that much human content there. Sorry, but I just can't get by my feeling on this. Here is a humorous way of saying it:
“Senator Obama answered doubts about his inexperience by saying he has gained tremendous insight from his work as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, constitutional law professor, key club president, 4H treasurer, lunch room monitor, two years of jazz, and four years of tap.” –Amy Poehler
ZO says:
"he is going to increase our standing in the eyes of the rest of the world not only by virtue of the fact that he is articulate, charismatic and Black ... but because the old bullshitting bellicosity is so over."
I agree that many people will expect great changes. But really, once in the White House ", Obama would be left holding the bag... a bag that dates at least back until the 1940s and not everyone on the helm since then has been as useless as Bush, in fact some of the Presidents since then have been top class, in that group I would even include such flawed figures as Lyndon Johnson and Richard (shudder) Nixon... Nixon, hateful as he was, forgot more about geopolitics in a minute than Obama will ever know.

The USA today, contradictions and conflicts, warts and all, is what we have all made it... day by day and year by year. Paraphrasing Donald Rumsfeld, "you don't go with the country you want, you go with the country you have".

As I showed in a previous post, even a real, revolutionary genius like Lenin and a mass killer like Stalin and all of his purges couldn't change the basic, "soul" of Russian culture, how can anyone expect a minnow like Barack Obama to succeed in changing America's?

If he gets a huge mandate and a Democratic Senate and Congress, there are two possibilities that I can see, either he doesn't try to really change anything... a lot of disappointed kids and a lot of wasted time.

Second possibility, he does try to change things... and it all falls apart.

How will we know right away? In the first year?

Whatever the positive effect of his being "articulate, charismatic and Black", it will not last very long if he doesn't face down AIPAC and the Israeli government in his first year in office. There will be no peace in the Middle East until an American president implements UN-242 or something very much like it.

I don't think Obama will ever dare to do that and as for the "old bullshitting bellicosity", I agree with ZO that it more than stinks, but Karma is Karma... Maybe a rich old geezer, can get a face lift, eat Viagra like candy and leave his loyal old lady for a trophy wife, but that doesn't work for countries.

Like it or not, what is left of America's prosperity, the dollar and its influence, has come to depend on America's military presence all over the world. This is one of America's greatest tragedies. And don't forget... Nobody is waiting for moral lessons from America. America has created its role as world gendarme and that is about all it still has to sell that can't be easily bought elsewhere.

We are not talking about change, we are talking about disaster management.

Things have practically unraveled already; they were unraveling before Bush, but he has accelerated the process by about twenty years. Without military credibility and endless shopping, the USA is going to see its "way of life" implode.

What has happened?

The secret of much of what is happening today is that America was almost as badly damaged by the cold war as the Soviet Union.

Like the Soviet Union, while others were learning to build good cars and TVs, airports and roads, Americans only built 'intelligent' munitions.
People are waking up to reality and in true American fashion, they are reaching for the tranquilizer... the man with a plan, the change they can believe in... Not that dumb? We are talking about the same people who reelected George W. Bush, now with buyer's remorse... Wheeee!

The USA is just waiting for an amateur to tinker with it.

Is Barack Obama to be the American Gorbachev?

Michail Gorbachev, in contrast to Barack Obama had a very rigorous ideological formation and a deep practical knowledge of his system from the bottom up and he was really tough... No choirboy ever got to the top of the CP-USSR. Obviously he should have chosen the Chinese path, but in fact he and Raisa had so much faith in Marxism that they thought it would survive his tampering.

Michail Gorbachev tried to change his system and it fell apart in his hands, everybody outside the USSR thought he was wonderful, "articulate and charismatic", he was a movie star for the whole world... In Russia they have never forgiven him. Putin calls what he did the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century and most Russians agree.

Is Barack Obama to be the American Gorbachev?

Think very carefully before you answer that... remember that after Gorbachev comes Yeltsin and Putin.


Anonymous said...

David, your endless stream of patronizing prose regarding Barack Obama has the distinct smell of envy. Just imagine, an uppity young black man doing stuff that you can only dream of.

Get over it. Your candidate is losing. It really doesn't help to try and drag the Obama down before he's even had one day on the job. What's your preference? McCain?

stunted said...

I just don't see that Obama even wants to try change. As Jackyt notes in the comments to your previous post, Obama's half-hearted stab at a health care policy is hugely inferior to Clinton's, which is already light years from what is acceptable, i.e., a system resembling that which you describe in the addendum to Sunday's post.

Obama blindly supports Israel. No change there; just more bullshit bellicosity. How will this increase our standing in the eyes of the world? I don't think that Americans grasp at all what you plainly state-- that no one looks to America for anything anymore. Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Hurricane Katrina, Bear-Stearns and our obscene level of energy consumption now define us for those who used to admire us. The novelty of a black president, should he win, will wear off very quickly. Before being an empty suit, Obama is just another suit.

You are exceedingly kind and gentle in describing him as a tranquilizer. He's marketed as a weight-loss program requiring no change in our eating habits; a self-betterment plan requiring no introspection;glory without sacrifice. "Dancing with the Stars" generates similar excitement.

Anonymous said...

ZO needs to ask Pakistan whether or not the old bullshitting bellicosity is so over.

Obama can almost always talk the talk, but it gets very instructive when you contrast it to his walk.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

What's your preference? McCain?
My preference is/was Al Gore... Hillary has a health plan that might work... Obama doesn't. Do I prefer McCain to Obama... Sure.

Do I envy Obama?
I envy Scarlett Johansson's lipstick

RC said...

I agree that the next Presidency will be about disaster management, that's what this one is already about.

Forensic Economist said...

In defense of the empty suit:

I perceive Obama as being a natural politician on the level of Bill Clinton. He feels your pain, he has his finger on our pulse. He won't make any radical changes.

As compared to Bush junior who really was a radical - pre-emptive wars, privatizing social security, eliminating habeaus corpus, the "unitary presidency" and on and on.

Would it be such a bad thing to have a president who reflected the consensus? The country may need radical change - nationalize the health insurers, get the hell out of all the foreign bases -- but it would be huge improvement to go back to doing very little.

As opposed to McCain, who has stated he wants to appoint more judges like Scalia and Alito, wants to occupy Iraq for 100 years after the fighting stops, wants to increase gas consumption by lowering the price, has not objected to military commision trials, voted with the Republicans to make the telecom companies immune from wiretap lawsuits, thinks torture is OK if it is done by the CIA, etc etc.

So a vote for Obama is a vote for a return to the Clinton policies. Could be a lot worse.

By the way, I voted for Edwards.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

The problem here isn't really Obama, as it isn't really Bush, they are just symptoms. On one hand people reelect someone who was already clearly incompetent in 2004 and now they are about to elect someone without any practical experience of government.

America and Americans have become strange-weird.

Look at the reaction of the Chinese people (not just their government) to the earthquake and then look at the reaction of the American people (not just their government) to Katrina. 50 years ago, I think Americans would have responded like the Chinese.

I think the country has been somehow hollowed out.