Obama’s Hope and Change: The Long Con
We recommend this probing analysis of the Obama administration and its legacies. Overall, Obama has transformed the U.S. political scene — not by challenging neo-liberal economic policies and neo-con foreign policies, but by embracing them and cloaking them in his own image. The result has neutered true “change” even as it’s helped to drive U.S. politics further to the right.
‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’
‘Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.’
‘Washington is broken. My whole campaign has been premised from the start on the idea that we have to fundamentally change how Washington works.’
‘I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.’
— Selected Barack Obama Quotes
‘Little wonder….that confronted with impossible expectations, the modern president tends to recast social and economic problems in military terms: war on crime, war on drugs, war on poverty. Martial rhetoric often ushers in domestic militarism, as presidents push to employ standing armies at home, to fight drug trafficking, terrorism, or natural disasters. And when the president…
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4 thoughts on “A Last Best Hope (The Obama False Promise)”
I recommend the original post…a very good read with clever artwork. The website as a whole is top-notch.
My take on the Obama presidency is tied to the realization that some of the “heaviest” expectations for any president come from very powerful influences that are, as the author states, “less transparent and accountable…than the institution itself and the person who holds the Office at any given time.” And I disheartenly acquiesce to the notion that the presidency may not be “powerful enough” to “facilitate the machinery of state towards a more egalitarian, equitable…outcome for all Americans.” So yes, the “hope” invested in Obama was always going to be “up against it,” but as we know, Obama elicited & solicited that hope. The expectations of the powerful aside, what about the rest of us…what about “our” expectations?
Personally, I expected that Obama would be a strong advocate of civil & human rights in general. I thought a broader, more inclusive sense of what constitutes economic justice would be articulated and acted upon with more fervor. I expected Obama to articulate his arguments for policy positions without all the mamby-pamby “bipartisan” crap. What I did not expect was a Justice Department that prosecutes true whistleblowers, a continued and exacerbated trend of “classification” and disinformation, and the furtherance of neocon foreign policy. The Drone Strike Assassin and warmonger-in-chief were not what I had in mind either.
So Obama came in with challenges and expectations ( and some very untenable situations). But I don’t judge him on the degree of difficulty nor necessarily all the results. But I do judge him on his efforts and deeds, and much of it can’t even be sugarcoated, it is so feckless and shallow. We see with the TPP what a corporate shill he is. We know his big health care “reform” was already somewhat negotiated with the insurance industry beforehand…no single payer even on the table. Boy, does he know how to position himself! And the time to get serious about the Environment was Day One.
At least with Bush, many of us knew what we were getting. So when his shit hit the fan we didn’t have to deal with added disillusionment. As despicable as Bush was, in a sense, Obama is worse because he kept the favored balls rolling at the expense of the hopes he raised, then dashed. The results are diabolical, regardless of his intentions. To wit, his “integrity and credibility” are null & void.
Great comment, Greg. Remember the “super majority” Obama had when he came into office early in 2009? If he’d wanted to, he could have embarked on a new path — but he chose not to. He hired the same tired and elitist hands to manage the economy; ditto for national security. And so what was considered an aberration among Bush/Cheney became normative under Obama.
The question is why. Partly, I think, it’s because the Democrats want permanent power in the White House. They’ve become moderate Republicans, which has forced the Republicans to become more extreme. The days of Gerald Ford, or even Ronald Reagan, are gone. Now we’re stuck with right-wing demagogues. The Democrats think they can beat Trump or Cruz and their ilk this November, but can they?
By any measure, Obama has been a major disappointment for progressives. And a major disappointment for America.
It has been brought to my attention that the use of the word “diabolical” may color my intended meaning in a non-intended direction. Perhaps it is too strong a word in this instance, and I should have used the term “dismal” instead.
To clarify, I am with the existentialists insofar as I think ethical meanings do not depend upon the existence of God or the “supernatural”. I think we have the responsibility to act as though each course of action is a “choice” with consequences and possibilities “open” and dependent upon each choice. As an example, I think it is irresponsible to suppose that climate change is a part of fate or God’s plan, or that we live in some preordained “end times”. I don’t think Obama is the Antichrist. For me, his intentions are mostly a matter of speculation from the standpoint of what I can “know,” but surely there must be an accounting of actions and the results of those actions as best that we do “know”.
I am not against metaphysical speculation (which I think naturally occurs to people), and I am open to matters of faith. But I base my value judgements in what I can concretely ascertain as causes and effects. I think of “evil” as the unnecessary infliction of human suffering that people cause one another. One doesn’t have to be a scholar of human history to know there has been a lot of that going round. I think the Sermon on the Mount is one of the best things laid to paper and will leave it at that.
Thanks for all your posts, especially this one. For a nation given to amnesia, the US needs more articles like Maybury’s to remind us of what is and what was. Maybury’s essay does not blur Obama’s record into a pastel illusion advertised as his glorious legacy.
Obama’s billion dollar presidential library is on the drawing boards. One more year and the bulldozers will be carving its foundation. Maybe the architect Santiago Calatrava will be hired. He specializes in buildings that move, no kidding. For #44s legacy and reliquary (yes, most of them choose to be buried in their libraries), I would suggest a building that spins and smiles every time the wind shifts in Chicago.