Friday, May 14, 2010

President Obama is to the right of Reagan


In case you haven't figured this one out, ostensible President Barack Obama rhetorically "slammed" BP and the contractors that caused the oil rig explosion and leak fifty miles off of the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico three weeks ago and topped it off with a not-so-cute cherry from the past: a comment made by Republican President Ronald Reagan, that other GOP executive the whose policies the current president is so in love with. The President himself almost seemed to choke on it when he uttered it, but the Mighty Oz had once again been invoked, albeit indirectly, and ambiguously. Reagan stood for...what? Big business and deregulation, little else.

At least in Lincoln's case he was fighting for the preservation of federalism, a basically settled issue most Americans appear to have missed. In Obama's case, he's just continuing more of what we've seen over the last thirty years which went into warp drive under the Republican president. Reagan was also a lot of rhetoric and bluster, and offered little in the realms of real substance or constructive social action.

Indeed, President Obama and his speech writers are going to tell us what we want to hear in decidedly Populist overtones, but we all know that it's hollow, that it has no substance. Well, at least most Black Americans appear to based on more recent polling, whatever that means. Sure, as far as anyone can tell, nobody's running prostitution and sex-for-contracts out of the offices of the Department of Interior anymore, but that's because the GOP is out of the power for the moment. They tend to get caught with their asses hanging-out, they're slow like that. The American public can be counted on to bring them back into office before long out of mindless habit and few options, and they'll continue the Republicans' own version of wrecking society that's impossible to miss since they don't care what anyone thinks. The Democratic Party's incumbents are more cunning and sell themselves as being of the people. That's a myth that's dying hard, but dying it is.

Comparing President Obama's record so far in dealing with our current economic crisis, you'd have to wonder if his other favorite Republican president was Herbert Hoover, a man who was roundly despised by the WWII generation for his inaction during the first three years of the Great Depression. As a result of Hoover's stupidity, the GOP became a minority party for fifty years, give-or-take, but they did their best to cause as much trouble as possible after WWII. Being from the same mold as them, Obama's no FDR, not even close. Lincoln? At least in Lincoln's case he was fighting for the preservation of federalism, the Union. In Obama's, he's just continuing more of what we've seen over the last thirty years and is really just another advocate of deregulation. He is most likely to be viewed as a mediocre president in the intervening years, if he's lucky. But the Democrats know hope fiends when they see them, they know where to hit people where they live.

Indeed, President Obama and his speech writers are going to tell us what we want to hear in decidedly Populist overtones, but we all know that it's hollow, that it has no substance. Sure, as far as anyone can tell, nobody's running prostitution and sex-for-contracts out of the offices of the Department of Interior anymore, but that's because the GOP is out of the power for the moment. The American public can be counted on to bring them back into office before long, and they'll continue their own version of wrecking society that's impossible to miss since they don't care what anyone thinks. The Democratic Party's incumbents are more cunning and sell themselves as being of the people. That's a myth that's dying hard, but dying it is.

In comparing the Obama administration's record so far in dealing with our current economic crisis with the 1930s, you begin to wonder if his other favorite Republican president was Herbert Hoover, a man who was roundly despised by the WWII generation for his inaction during the first three years of the Great Depression. The reality is that we've strayed even further to the right in the last generation in a way that's hard to describe, partly because of the cultural wars on language, something the economic establishment always benefits from.

From the president's comments yesterday:
...Let me also say, by the way, a word here about BP and the other companies involved in this mess. I know BP has committed to pay for the response effort, and we will hold them to their obligation. I have to say, though, I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter. You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else. The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn't.

I understand that there are legal and financial issues involved, and a full investigation will tell us exactly what happened. But it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly. And for that, there is enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it.That includes, by the way, the federal government. For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore. To borrow an old phrase, we will trust, but we will verify. ...("Text of the remarks of Obama to the oil spill," Breitbart, 05.14.10)
Yes, it's also an old Russian saying, and has been used in other contexts. When politicians use it, it usually means that they're in deep shit and aren't a part of the solution (albeit, one day, we'll all be the solution!). Yes, he was also extending yet another laurel to those Republicans who so badly wants to woo. Why doesn't he get that it's never going to happen? Because he's operating under false assumptions. It's reminiscent of the Clinton administration for a reason: most of them are back in office. What should be implicitly clear is that the Obama administration isn't cleaning up the Department of Interior anymore than they're cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico.

But rest assured, the speculators are. In America, they always do. It helps to have your man in office seeding the bureaucracy with corporate executives and lobbyists (sometimes the same thing), creating that proverbial "revolving door" where the people are shut out, but the suits are always welcome. That's an bum rush, and the current administration is no exception in all of this. At this writing, they've yet to remove hundreds of Bush II appointees, an administration now going into its second year. That rarely ever occurs under the GOP. When they come into office, they sweep the place clean of past appointees with few exceptions. You might ask your president why he's so cozy with such questionable people who come fresh from the cocoons of Wall Street, most specifically from Goldman Sachs, but also coming from other "interest groups."

Only the public can reform government, and they're sitting on their hands, hoping, waiting, for someone to do it for them. That's certainly a big part of the problem with many of the attitudes surrounding President Barack Obama.