Thursday, 4 October 2012

Where was Barack?

Barack Obama went AWOL in last night’s presidential debate, stumbling through his wonky statistics and policy points with no fire and no conviction. He was as inspiring as a panelist at an accountants convention. But then again he’s been AWOL as president for those of us who elected him because we thought he stood for a break with the Bush years of imperial overreach, criminal abuse, and mass looting laced with snotty disdain. But the latest missed chance was breathtaking.

Here was the Republicans’ most exposed candidate in decades, the most obviously selfish, clueless, arrogant plutocrat beholden to the corrupt hyperrich, widely disliked and repeatedly depantsed by his own bumbling transparency, and Barack Obama never laid a glove on him. How on earth could a leader who actually gave a shit about his own people stand by and let a rich fuck like Mitt Romney completely trash half the population because they don’t have 100 million stashed away in a Lichtenstein shell company and need to collect the government pension that they spent their working lives paying for? Where was the outrage about how these evil masterminds want to strip us all of our remaining assets and condemn us to peonage while they buy bigger and bigger yachts and chuckle at their cocktail parties about what losers we are? Where was even the tiniest hint of what we all want—and have every right—to say to Mitt Romney after his loathsome 47% statement: HOW DARE YOU?

But THAT Obama, the golden-throated decent guy who stirred us to action so that he could reverse the mindless conquest of Iraq, the torture of defenseless prisoners, the ripping up of our constitutional protections, the looting of our mortgages, the wrecking of the job market, the loony fundamentalism, the blithe indifference to the wellbeing of the planet, may not have ever existed. If he did, he went into hiding soon after taking office and settled in to find common ground with these same reactionaries and warmongers, the elitist predators and plunderers. Obama never turned to us, the organized masses who made him president, for support and organizing muscle. He promptly dismantled all that once the 2008 election was over and set about doing deals in Washington, preferably with the very perpetrators of everything we thought he stood against.

Well, it shows. Last night Obama looked more sad than disturbed by anything the increasingly demented GOP can throw up against him or propose to do to us. He played the bitter smart kid who wants more than anything to go to the in-crowd’s keggers and refuses to realize that they won’t ever invite him. Like the wife of the alcoholic deadbeat who stands by passively when he comes home and beats the kids, Obama prefers the illusion that if he just keeps a better White House and prepares nicer dinners, hubby someday will stop spending the grocery money in saloons.

So the first presidential debate was painful to sit through but bracingly educational. It helped remind us that another Obama presidency isn’t going to hold the line against the relentless campaign by the 1% to gobble up everything in its path. Obama has enabled the banks to go back to business as usual just when he had the best opportunity in a half-century to smack them back into social utility and break up their giant casino operations. Now it’s too late, and they despise him anyway. Their true affinity is for the Romneys of the other team who thrill at their lavish wealth and sneer at the nation’s workers who generated it for them. Obama can’t call them out because he’s spent four years trying to hitch his wagon to theirs. No wonder he stuttered and looked like a ghost.

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