Thursday, August 27, 2009


Back in October 2o08, the Woodchipgazette lent it's editorial clout in support of Barack Obama's candidacy. We did so because Dennis Kucinich was no longer in the running and because Obama held out the dual promise of rectification and incremental change.

What passes in the US for a leftist press was dismissive of Obama whom it characterized as just a kinder, gentler neo-liberal. On the particular merits, it was hard to dispute the left's contention that Obama was simply Clintonomics redux. The response to this criticism joined on the question of tactics. The argument was that, given America's socio-political realties, no candidate could risk sounding to "liberal". It was pointed out that, during the 1933 campaign, Franklin Roosevelt had kept an even keel, profferring up bland, if not imbecilic, nostrums ("Happy Days are Here Again") and had avoided scaring people with talk of big dreams and plans.

We were both skeptical and annoyed. What's the point of a democracy if one can't openly and candidly debate and choose between rival political options? An election reduced to subjective hunches derived from reading tea-leaves is a pointless waste of time. Nevertheless, given the social realities, the argument was not without force; and so, reading tea leaves and hoping for the best, we endorsed Obama.

We refrained, however, from exultation and jubilation upon his election. It was our prediction [ Delirium Tremens ] that "domestically and diplomatically Obama will provide some emollients and better manners, but ... little else." Our view was informed as much by America's status in the historical cycle as by the state of Obama's mind. Although Obama might take "a few paltry steps towards realizing Bismarckian social benefits" and to working "through allies and international institutions" he was constrained by realities, not least of which was that the rest of the Democratic Party --- including Nancy Pelosi -- was warning the rest of us not to expect a New Deal. Within days of the election, the FDR analogy all but collapsed.

Nevertheless, we have withheld from ringside cheering or carping. Nothing gets built in a day, and giving Obama a chance to prove what he could do seemed more important to us than proving our skill at prophetic prognostication -- the favorite pastime of the Sribbling Brahmin class. And so we resolved on six months of silence.

It is now six months on and it has to be said that on every score Obama has proved to be a totally false promise. He is, as we feared he might be, simply a neo-liberal without the "punk". Gone is the stumbling and snarling bully boy blabber of the Bush-Cheney Cabal -- but in all fundamental respects US international and domestic policy has remained on course and the same. Obama has lowered the tone and softened the edges, that is all.

The list need not be gone through, since it is part of the public record even as covered by the Murkan mudia. But of all Obama's promises, none was more inexcusably faux than his grotesque failure on health care. It was to be expected that, on foreign policy issues (including the environment and international humanitarian law), any president would be constrained by strong vested interests buttressed by something called "continuity". In a word, no Empire has gone Swiss --- at least not before its ultimate downfall. The case was otherwise on the criminal obscenity known as the the US health care system.

At every level and juncture, the health care system in the US is so grotesque, not even the dark pen of Goya could capture its foulness. As of May/June, 70 percent of the electorate was in favor of a radical overhaul including a strong, competitive and universally available public option. A solid majority were in favor of a single payer system. With public support like that and a super majority in both houses of congress, a health care New Deal was a roll-in.

Instead "health care reform" has been rolled out on a stretcher, replaced by something Obama calls "health insurance reform". It was to be expected that any reform that put limits on corporate pillage of the public would be subject to a filthy gutter attack from the Party of Sleaze, Slither and Slime was to be expected. But health care reform was not undone by those malignant, malodorous pukes. It was undone by the Demorats themselves playing the happless Quixote when they could have been the triumphant El Cid.

Most of all it was undone by Obama himself. Mouthing the mantra of "consensus" he "invited" the corporate "stakeholders" to the table only to give them the whole meal. Was this truly "all" he could manage in the name of reform?

When it comes to giving -- to the banking-finance complex, to the military-industrial complex, to the medico-insurance complex, to the auto-complex and -- in short, to any corporate complex plus Israel, Obama has proved to be extraordinarily adept. When it comes to anything that helps the ordinary flesh and blood man or that protects the environment from its utter destruction or that restores a semblance of fundamental decency and due process to our official conduct, Obama has managed not to manage.

Far from being a second FDR, Fauxbama has proved to be just a bag of articulate but empty promises. He has lost our interest and earned our contempt.


© WCG, 2009

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