It’s ironic that the Barack Obama’s appearance on the series coincides with the death of Joe McGinniss, an early chronicler of the political-entertainment nexus.
In a literal sense, Barack Obama’s presidency was made possible by the tradition of black politics—he could not have won in 2008 without the proportional allocation that came out of Jesse Jackson’s campaign 20 years before. Considering this history, and considering the valence of African-American culture and heritage in our collective lives, in the very founding of this country, in our politics, I am not sure how much comparisons with European countries can tell us.
Barack Obama was not prophecy. Whatever had been laid before him, it takes gifted hands to operate, repeatedly, on a country scarred by white supremacy. The significance of the moment comes across, not simply in policy, by in the power of symbolism."
Can President Obama learn anything from the most significant failures of his predecessor? Are the failures of the Bush and Obama Administrations alike in any ways? These are the questions Ron Fournier has taken up over at National Journal. “Claiming a mandate he never had, the newly reelected president foisted a bold agenda upon Congress and the public, then watched it collapse within months—a victim of scandal, cynical opponents, and his own hubris,” he writes. “That was George W. Bush in 2005. Or was it Barack Obama this past year?”
As the article continues it purports to show parallels between George W. Bush circa 2005 and Barack Hussein Obama today. Decide for yourself whether you’re persuaded. What struck me was the way that President Bush’s failures were identified and characterized. With a few exceptions, the focus was on political mistakes that the Bush White House purportedly made, stuff like “assuming that victory came with spoils,” and pursuing domestic agenda items like social security reform. Fournier also argues that Bush was thwarted by a partisan opposition.
My assessment of Bush’s failures is very different in emphasis. Erroneous political assumptions? Items on his domestic agenda that he prioritized without success? They’re inconsequential compared to his catastrophic mistakes of substance.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
As President Obama decides who will succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., might get the short end of the stick once more.
Today in goofy things that make us laugh.
Lucy just had one Charlie Brown. Obama has a whole roster of would-be kickers, and a habit of teeing up the ball only to callously pull it away.
Don’t progressives see this?
- Obama tricked the cannabis community into thinking his Justice Department would go easy on medical marijuana in states where it is legal, broke his promise, then misled voters about his options.
- Obama tricked anti-war voters into thinking that he wouldn’t order American troops into battle unless there was an imminent threat to America or a declaration of war from Congress, then went to war in Libya, violating the War Powers Resolution, even though neither condition was met.
- Obama tricked transparency advocates into thinking he’d celebrate whistleblowers and set new standards in open government. He has prosecuted whistleblowers as aggressively as any president in history, and presided over a dramatic escalation in what the federal government does in secret.
- Obama tricked executive-power critics into thinking he would roll back the excesses of the Bush Administration. He has transformed those excesses into matters of bipartisan consensus, and gone farther in some respects, as when an American citizen was killed extra-judicially on his order.
- Obama tricked immigration-reform advocates into thinking he was a fellow traveler, then upset them with Secure Communities, record-breaking deportation levels, and a failure to improve immigration detention.
- Obama tricked Iraq War opponents into thinking that he would exit the country by the withdrawal date that George W. Bush negotiated. The Iraqi government wouldn’t let him keep troops in the country beyond that date, although he tried to break his promise. Now the Obama Administration pays a small army of private-security contractors to protect America’s presence in that country.
- Obama tricked critics of indefinite detention into thinking that he abhorred the practice, only to sign a bill that institutionalized it.
- Obama tricked critics of signing statements into thinking he wouldn’t issue them. But he’s done so on many occasions.
- Obama tricked critics of the state-secrets privilege into thinking he’d reverse Bush-era uses of the tactic. Instead he’s continued it.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these examples are sufficient to draw a conclusion: Progressives shouldn’t trust what Obama says, or what they think he believes. They should judge his actions. It’s the only way to distinguish between promises he aims to keep and things he’s said to mislead small constituencies into thinking he’ll do more for them than is justified by reality.
[Images: Charles Schultz/Reuters, edited by David A. Graham]
Dear Mr. President Obama,
I have the pleasure to send a congratulation note for the first time to an American president, and on behalf of all Africa, and of Cen-Sad, the base of the African pyramid, and on behalf of the Arab Maghreb Union, and in the name of all Arab leaders as I am their dean.
I salute the American people who have chosen you in these historical elections for such a high position, so that you may lead the change that you have promised them and for which they have rallied around you.
We hope that you lead the United States of America on the path of good and respect peoples’ sovereignty and observe the policy of neutrality.