Tuesday, 22 January 2013

What did it mean?

It’s hard to get a feel for the Inauguration of Obama II and what it might mean given the modest accomplishments, more numerous disappointments and frequent betrayals of the first four years. The tone, however, is much improved and suggests that for all his ostentatious dissing of his liberal base, Obama is smart enough to realize that he has a serious credibility problem with a sizable chunk of it. To say one did not want to be ruled by vapid Mitt and his sidekicks from hell is not the same as being impressed with Obama’s own performance to date.

The most laughable aspect of the post-Inauguration commentary is the absurd whining by prominent Republicans that Obama was ‘too partisan’ and offered nothing in a conciliatory spirit. Huh? Do these guys think we’ve been asleep since 2009 and missed their juvie, frat-boy spite as they openly called for rebellion against anything Obama did, said or wanted? Did they hope we missed the disgraceful ‘You lie!’ from a South Carolina plantation master, the rope-a-dope phony negotiations over Obamacare followed by a unanimous No vote, the Tea Party shenanigans, the debt ceiling debacle, the 1,001 demonstrations of intransigence that began on Day One aimed at making BHO a one-term president, to be sealed by the massive theft of votes on election day 2012? These are the guys demanding hold-hands-and-sing bipartisanship and a chorus of Kum-baya?

I’m old enough to remember Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration in 1981, and I can state from eyewitness experience that bipartisanship and respect for any remnant minority views had NO place in the celebrations in Washington that infamous day or any of the 2800+ that followed. It was all about the people’s unambiguous mandate for a sharp turn to the right—which was called the Reagan Revolution, by the way— and from which we continue to suffer to this day.

Mercifully, Obama did not subject us to more of his futile pursuit of a non-existent middle ground. His rhetoric was provocative and hit several encouraging notes: equality (including the historic reference to Stonewall along with Seneca Falls and Selma), climate change, immigration reform, the role of government, the rightness of the safety net, fairness in income and wealth, and peace.

The question is, what do these nice words mean? How much credence can we give the ringing defense of a middle class when Obama’s own operatives systematically undermine housing wealth—the principal asset of working families—with cover-up after cover-up benefiting the bank fraudsters? (I recommend anyone interested and with a strong stomach to follow Yves Smith’s devastating multi-part critique of the latest Obama-led sellout on rampant criminal behavior in mortgage servicing at her Naked Capitalism blog here and here.)

What can we expect to witness, after hearing Obama’s ringing defense of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, when the time comes to ‘reform’ or ‘protect’ these programs by beginning the process of whittling them down to Republican-approved size? Why can the richest nation on earth only find ways to save money at the expense of the middle and working classes that Obama just said he wants to salvage? How does his rhetoric of yesterday square with his years-long adoption of GOP talking points on deficit reduction and the debt crisis they suddenly discovered after Bush charged two wars and tax giveaways on the national credit card?

It’s great to hear that climate change is essential to protect our children—worthy sentiments. But will we see the Keystone pipeline approved with some weasel words in a few months and discover it was all a pretty turn of phrase with no content?

And finally as Naomi Wolf pointedly asked in The Guardian, does it make sense to call for freedom around the world when you’ve just put the finishing touches on a security state that includes indefinite detention without charge, permanent storage of every text message a kid sends to his girlfriend, espionage trials for government critics and presidential kill lists?

So, okay, yes, they were nice promises. But is this sobriety or just resting?

1 comment:

Lezak Shallat said...

watch democracy now commentary, especially angela davis, for similar thoughts