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Sun, 19 Apr 2009

Looking Behind the Mask: International Criticism of Obama - some truth, mostly fiction

Various world leaders have taken to criticizing President Obama. My own view is that right from the start we need to see this as mostly adolescent posturing in the big school yard that our international political world has become. While most world leaders have some training in diplomacy, they are far too often looking to score points at home. There is something in Obama they don't like, but not being as thoughtful in general as Obama even, they simply posture and huff and puff for the Press and their own supporters.

Just about all that they say should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, what are they reacting to?

Obama, for all his cleverness and subtlety, is a quite ambitious politician. He wants to be a world leader and he wants to use his ascendancy to the American presidency as a vaulting pole to world preeminence. He has a very big ego, but is smart enough to basically hide this excess of self-confidence behind a cultivated mask of charm and interest in the other world leaders. We saw a lot of this during his recent travels.

Where Bush II was just a kind of sorry idiot that world leaders didn't want to mess with because he was perceived (correctly) as ignorant, arrogant, impulsive and dangerous, Obama is the new kid in the school yard, and too smart as well. Having the American presidency, and all the other necessary political show business characteristics (black, married to a remarkable woman, cute children, and gets a lot of good press), he is resented by the other world leaders who are jealous of his rise (it is unusually sudden by the way, a fact we need to think a lot about and not lose sight of - it was just five years ago he made his speech at the Democrat's 2004 Convention and thus entered the political limelight).

Domestically Obama is well on his way to being, for the American People and the Republic, just one more political party driven disaster. He never really promised anything but the most vague generalities during his campaign (Change is not a very concrete idea). He ran one of the best campaigns in recent history, but a campaign shows nothing of who he will be in office. His cabinet is full of Wall Street and banking insiders, as well as left over centrist Clinton advisers (none of whom have any interest in the true and valid Left of American politics). He supports a draft and is favorable on military adventures internationally. So far on the truly acute issues of civil rights, his Justice Department is keeping to what the Bush II administration fostered, such as claims of national security to avoid reigning in the domestic spying by the NSA, for example.

He's made no moves toward fixing, and seems unaware of how much the Patriot Act and its following on legislation have created such broad definitions of so-called "domestic" terrorism, that all kinds of what was accepted civil disobedience in the 1960's and 1970's has today been criminalized. Given that the Obama administration is putting off dealing with the real problems in banking and finance, it is a certainty that the economic crisis will not only continue but suffer other sudden downward surges.

As a consequence, more and more Americans will be driven from the middle-class and into unaccustomed poverty. The competition for scarce resources at the bottom of our society will increase, as will domestic anger and anti-government violence. Leaders will arise from these circumstances, and they will effectively put a great deal of pressure on the Obama Administration, through demonstrations and more and more radical action. At this point the establishment (the banking and finance industries, and the still powerful remains of the military industrial complex) will insist domestic violence be curbed. Instead of the establishment accepting its just responsibility for our state of internal affairs, it will be the people that that they insist be blamed, spied on, investigated and jailed.

Nothing in Obama's character says he understands the dangers or will chart the right course. In fact, his sudden rise to prominence suggests clearly that he has already been to an unknown degree the creature of others and that he has the ego to be quite willing to serve the powers that be at the expense of the American People, and the Republic. In one grave and unfortunate sense, he seems to be just another Bill Clinton. A big ego, a great speech maker, a clever faker of populist values, but when it comes down to it, he's likely to be entirely establishment to the core.

All the same, the Office of the Presidency does change some people. The crucible of America's descent toward third-world poverty for many many millions of our people, may make him choose a different course. Sometimes the establishment makes a mistake when it supports a fresh face. There might be more grit there than appears on the surface. The one thing that is certain is that the near future is going to be a rough ride, and I'd rather depend on ordinary people instead of any politician, however gifted with potential.

Government is broken and hasn't responded for decades to our real needs (health care, corporate oversight, campaign finance reform - the list is long and sad). The lesson of Katrina will continue until we get it. We, the American People, are on our own, and its far past time our political and social efforts accepted that fact and make it work for us.

[10:09] | [] | # | G

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Joel Wendt


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