P. J. Sullivan
President Obama seems such a nice man. A family man with a beautiful wife and beautiful children. And the requisite family dogs. As wholesome as Ozzie and Harriet. His rhetoric is beautiful, full of hope for progressive change. He even has a Nobel peace prize. What’s not to like?
But wait a minute here! He is commander-in-chief of the biggest military machine in history. A military machine that trespasses in many countries, that tortures and kills people. Innocent people. He wages wars. Unjust wars, unnecessary wars. He terrorizes people with drones. He modernizes America’s nuclear arsenal while calling for an end to nuclear weapons.
What are we to think of this man? Either he is a hypocrite or he is not in charge. He has not kept his campaign promises. Has he tried? Horrible things are happening on his watch.
He is a president, not a king or dictator. There are limits to his power. Republicans in Congress have blocked him at every step. So is Obama in charge? Is any president ever in charge? What is a president anyway? Is a president only a front for the invisible oligarchs who actually rule? FDR said that presidents are selected, not elected.
S. Brian Willson, author of Blood on the Tracks, said, “What the United States call democracy is actually a vertical model of remote governance by oligarchs—economic barons and their political representatives.”
According to Giuseppe Prezzolini, “Representative government is artifice, a political myth, designed to conceal from the masses the dominance of a self-selected, self-perpetuating, and self-serving traditional ruling class.”
So a traditional ruling class is in charge, not the president? Then is the president to blame for what it does? He is if he willingly fronts for the rulers, lending them his aura of credibility.
Does it matter who is president? Are presidents only facades? Poster boys for the oligarchy? I think presidents can make a difference, but not nearly as much as people think. Obama is very different from George W. Bush, but is his administration’s record very different from that of Bush? I think not. Bolivian president Evo Morales said of Obama, “If something has changed, it’s just the color of the president.” Has a change of presidents ever brought more than cosmetic change? Would a President Gore have invaded Iraq? (Hillary Clinton supported that invasion.)
The Kennedy assassinations in the Sixties suggest that it does matter to the invisible rulers who is president.
If The Donald should become president—perish the thought—there would be limits to the damage he could do because the same puppeteers would be pulling his strings. But would those limits be adequate? Remember, there is a Supreme Court nomination pending.