Polemical Poetry VII: Changing Commanders in Brief

The Misfortune Teller

The Misfortune Teller
Sculpture-Painting by Michael Murry © 2014

Michael Murry

In 2008 Barack Obama was elected president in a wave of euphoria for “hope” and “change,” but he threw away his mandate during his first year in office when he did not liquidate Deputy Dubya’s dimwit debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. He became a predictable mediocrity after that, his two terms of office squandered on inconclusive militarism abroad and domestic enrichment of the already super wealthy while much of the middle and working classes saw their real incomes and hopes for the future decline. In other words, this poem that I wrote back in 2009 pretty much sums up what I think about President Obama today — and what I will think about You-Know-Her two years from now.

Changing Commanders in Brief

The last guy-in-charge said, “Go shopping.”
This war, he said, wouldn’t last long;
Our victims, he swore, would repay us
For plundering them for a song.

In six months, at most, we’d be winners;
The enemy vanquished and fled;
And then, with our mission accomplished,
We’d leave them to count up their dead.

Our generals trained for the last war,
Their learning-curve zero or less.
In six years they’ll figure out something;
Just what, will be anyone’s guess.

They had them a “surge” in their payments
To “enemies” placed on the dole
So they wouldn’t shoot us so often
Because of their land that we stole.

The new guy took over, saluting,
A race that had already run
Its course, ‘cause the bungler before him
Had exploited all of the fun.

The new guy got rolled up like sushi.
He blew his chance early to leave.
More “surging” has just raised the death count.
What next does he have up his sleeve?

It sounded so good while campaigning:
One little “good” war for one bad;
Except that the Afghans hate bombings
As much as Vietnamese had.

Our generals, though, won’t admit it:
They’ve taken eight years to do what?
Yet somehow they think we’ll applaud them
For not knowing doodley-squat.

They say they need more stuff and faster
Yet won’t explain what they would do
Except to extend their disaster
By breeding more pooches to screw.

In common-sense language, the answer
Replies to their “more, more, more” rant:
“You would have, of course, if you could have;
You didn’t, therefore, so you can’t.”

The new guy Obama, like Dubya,
Thinks playing Commander-in-Brief
Means mission-creep “more” and saluting
The Pentagram treasury thief.

“A trillion a year?” Oh, who’s counting?
“And all for what?” Don’t be a bore.
“And who will pay?” No one, we promise.
It’s what we call slush-funded “war.”

Obama won’t ask the right question,
To wit: “What on earth have we ‘won’?”
Like Pharaoh, he thinks he can dictate:
“So let it be written, then done.”

He cried: “Yes, we can!” while campaigning,
This slogan he sold and we bought.
In office, however, he’s changed things:
Himself. Now he says, “We cannot.”

Our Wealth Care rules out Single Payer
Our troops must remain on patrol.
The votes don’t exist in the Congress
That Democrats cannot control.

We gave him majorities, plenty,
Yet these he seems ready to blow.
Now Wealth Care and Quagmire have named him:
Commander of Old Status Quo.

Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2009.

Michael Murry is a Vietnam Veteran, gargoyle sculptor, and poet.  He occupies the Asian Desk for The Contrary Perspective.

7 thoughts on “Polemical Poetry VII: Changing Commanders in Brief

  1. Mike.. Your poem , written in 2008 at the recption of the “hope & change” administration was prescient..Some of us, like you, realized that Obama was bringing in not “hope & Change” but”hopeless and changeless”. We saw this in his selection of retreads from the Bush and Clinton years into his cabinet. Your sardonic poem captures the absurdity and the catastrophe for our country that this crew has brought upon us all.

    • Yes. Despite the rhetoric, Obama kept the same tired hands in positions of authority. He’s basically a Republican-lite. Even his biggest achievement, so-called Obamacare, was a conservative and corporate-friendly compromise. Foreign policy has been Bush/Cheney without the snarl. The optics are better, but the song remains the same.

      • Yes, Professor. I agree. In the matter of his chosen apparatchiks, President Obama reminds me of President John F. Kennedy, another Democratic party President who appointed so many hard-right Republicans to his administration that many loyal Democrats wondered which party had actually won the 1960 election. The U.S. got the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis as a result. It seems to me that the ghost of red-baiting Senator Joseph “Tailgunner Joe” McCarthy (not to mention Richard Nixon) still haunts and terrifies the Democratic party into pre-emptive capitulation at the drop of a slur about unmanly “weakness.” Or, as I put it three years ago in another poem about President Obama written from the standpoint of a psychiatric evaluation, one can clearly see that he suffers from:

        Congenital Stockholm Syndrome

        He started by giving up quickly,
        Surrendering early his case.
        He offered to kiss their asses.
        Replying, they pissed in his face.

        Their urine, he thought, tasted strangely;
        Yet not at all bad to his taste.
        He’d gotten so used to it, plainly.
        Why let such a drink go to waste?

        The people who voted in favor
        Of him and his promise of “change”
        Now see in his many betrayals
        A poodle afflicted with mange.

        Each time that the surly and crazy
        Republicans out for his skin
        Condemn him for living and breathing,
        He graciously helps them to win.

        He’ll turn on his base in an instant
        With threats and disdain and neglect
        While bombing some Muslims so Cheney
        Might thrill to the lives that he’s wrecked.

        A black man in love with apartheid
        He offers his stalwart support
        To Zionists and their extortion
        With “More, please!” his only retort.

        A masochist begging for beatings
        Obama takes joy in abuse
        Receiving just what he has asked for
        Which makes him of no earthly use

        The little brown men that he’s murdered
        In homes far away from our land
        Bring profits obscene to his backers
        Who give him the back of their hand.

        Obama seeks praise from the vicious
        Republicans, no matter what.
        He suffers, apparently, nothing
        So much as his need to kiss butt.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2011

    • I remember a time when people would grant a new President six months — or a “free shave” — before holding him accountable for his campaign promises and administrative policies. In all fairness, It does take a little time to set up and staff a government. I had this in mind when I wrote the poem because of something I had read in Barbara Tuchman’s classic study of misgovernment, The March of Folly (1983):

      “”Nixon in his campaign for the presidency assured voters, ‘We will end this one and win the peace.’ … But by stressing [this theme] he managed to give the impression that he had a plan. He appeared to take a realistic view. ‘If the war goes on six months after I become President, ‘ he privately told a journalist, ‘it will be my war … I’m going to stop that war — fast.’ … Once Nixon was installed in the Presidency, the promised process of stopping the war was stood on its head to become one of prolonging it. The new President was discovered to be as unwilling as his predecessor to accept non-success of the war aim and as fixed in the belief that additional force could bring the enemy to terms.”

      Once President Obama failed to stop the Iraq and Afghan wars — fast — they predictably and fairly became his wars, with his presidency and his party’s reputation going down the toilet with them. Now, at this late date, only if he pulls a “Nixon” and goes not to China but to Iran to make peace, remove sanctions, and restore normal diplomatic relations, can the lame-duck President Obama hope to salvage a modicum of historical respect as a statesman while in the process freeing the United States from the ludicrous hold on it exercised by Saudi Arabia and the Apartheid Zionist Entity. Not holding my breath over this statesmanlike possibility, but I see little else that can President Obama can do to make his remaining years in office worth mentioning, in verse or prose.

      • Just one more verse addendum to the thought that newly inaugurated — or lame duck — Presidents have only a brief period of time wherein they may act so as to change the national course for the better — as in liquidating pointless and disastrous foreign military adventures. The following deserves engraving over the front entrance to the White House:


        There is a tide in the affairs of men.
        Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
        Omitted, all the voyage of their life
        Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
        On such a full sea are we now afloat,
        And we must take the current when it serves,
        Or lose our ventures.

        Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

  2. Pingback: War Again in Iraq and the American Desire Never to be Labeled a Loser | The Contrary Perspective

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