Thursday, January 10, 2013

Whither Obama

David Seaton's News Links
The demographic shift evident in the last election and the growing estrangement of the aspirational middle class from the super rich and a general disenchantment with the "conservative revolution" is offering the president-elect some interesting opportunities. However it is still going to be a hard slog, lowdown and dirty. The question now is, can Obama fight?
The slow implosion of the Republican Party — along with the growing strength of a Democratic coalition dominated by low-to-middle-income voters — threatens the power of the corporate establishment and will force big business to find new ways to reassert control of the policy-making process.(...) Although the stars are lined up in favor of the anti-corporate left, American business, when its back is to the wall, has historically proved to be extraordinarily resourceful. Thomas B. Edsall - New York Times
There is a new playing field... Will the real Obama (if there is one) please stand up? In the next few months we are going to discover whether Obama is one the longest headed, devious, cold blooded politicians to ever sit in the White House or just an empty suit. Everything he has done in politics appears to have been programed to peak at this very moment.
It seems to me that since getting elected in 2008 Obama simply tried to do everything he could to get reelected and do nothing that might prevent him from getting reelected. That defines his first four years.
He followed the plan he describes in his biography, one he developed as a lone young black man surrounded by white people, which was to "be courteous, smile a lot and don't make any sudden moves"... It worked.
Whatever Obama may really be we will see from now on.
Taking on the gun lobby will be the real test of his mettle, if he dares to go to the mat with that monster and wins, we will be looking at a serious president, and that could be extrapolated to other areas. All other adversaries will be intimidated if he humbles the NRA. If he fudges on that he will begin to look vulnerable, even a bit lame duckish. This is to be or not to be.
What does he want to do?
It seems to me that by nominating Kerry and especially Hagel, that he wants to downsize America's military micromanagement of the world's affairs, which should have been done when the USSR collapsed (perhaps sooner) and use the resources thus saved on strengthening America's infrastructure and welfare state.
I think he will continue to be a huge disappointment on human rights. It seems impossible to close Guantanamo Bay prison since there is no place to send its inmates. Obama's solution seems to have been to simply take no more prisoners and kill all of them directly where they live. So I imagine he will continue with the drones because they are a very cost effective way of intimidating faraway poor people without putting boots on the ground and dispatching carrier battle groups. That simple, that cold.
If he wants to be remembered for anything besides having been the first African-American president though, he is going to have to hit the ground running. DS

1 comment:

stunted said...

Like almost all who write for the N.Y. Times, save Paul Krugman, Mr. Edsall seems to be writing about the political landscape of some other country. Where is the slightest example or proof of threat to the corporate establishment within this latest election or of stars lining up in favor of an anti-corporate left? In fact, what anti-corporate left is he alluding to? These pundits continue to push a left/right assessment of the Democrat/Republican parties when it is a center-right/right situation. Alan Grayson is about the only member of Congress representing a left perspective now that Dennis Kucinich is gone--all the others are the equivalent, as you have pointed out before, of Christian Democrats, i.e., center-right politicians. I see nothing to indicate that Mr. Kerry will pursue a different tack than Mrs. Clinton. Obama is asking for immunity for U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, which has a familiar ring to it, and his drone wars are likely to produce ongoing retaliation from those targeted which may require more boots on other grounds as a response in our ongoing war on terror, ad infinitum. Because pundits and Beltway professionals deem Mr. Hagel anti-Israel does not accord that tag any credibility as that bar is so low that any who are not full AIPAC members qualify.

The Edsall's of this country live in a world of vapors of their own creation. There is no implosion of the Republican party. They have succeeded completely in dragging all political thinking in America to the right, the Democrats now positioned to the right of President Nixon. Patrick Murphy, the Democrat who defeated Alan West here in Florida ,was until recently a Republican and is a quintessential Obama consensus Democrat. I see no proof, not the slightest indication, that Obama is even remotely moving towards strengthening infrastructure or America's anemic social programs. On the contrary, the social programs are already open to some consensus-building cuts that Obama's party will sign off on and Mr. Krugman is a rare voice calling for massive government spending to create jobs to restart the economy. Our lives, the hardships that ordinary people endure as all effort is directed to appeasing corporate concerns matter not a whit to Washington beyond election-time lip service. We are just so many frogs in a biology class dissection lab.

People saying Obama has no spine, a necessary requirement in order to hit the ground running without collapsing where you land, miss the point, I think, which is he is not that guy. He is who he has been as Senator and President; a Reagan democrat.