Now, finally, someone had both the time and the resources to write the book I wish I'd've written myself - in it, Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St.Clair make the point that politics is a medium of illusion, and that Barack Obama is a master. Noam Chomsky said of the book, "Those who feel that like lemmings they are being led over a cliff would be well-advised not to read this book. They may discover that they are right."
Those who voted for Obama in 2008 (and I have to count myself among them) did so for two reasons - first, we succumbed to our fears; rationalizing that the 'lesser of two evils' was better; that a McCain presidency would lead to catastrophe, and that, in any event, Sarah Palin was one heartbeat from the White House. Second, we voted for him to un-do the dreadful assaults on civil liberty and freedom around the world unleashed by G.W. Bush, having used a combination of redneck 'git-r'-dun' philosophy and brute force to make a wholesale end-run around the Constitution, his casus belli being the 'liberal establishment' and the perceived foe of international terrorism.
We learned - at least, those of us who kept our eyes open - that Obama was far more political than idealistic; the Constitutional scholar was neatly replaced by a changeling; a person who, in the words of the book, "...(sold) pristine idealism to the masses, (but) is at heart a calculating pragmatist, especially when it comes to advancing his own ambitions. Obama doesn't want to be stained with defeat. It's one reason he has walked away from pushing for a Palestinian state, after his Middle East envoy George Mitchell resigned in frustration. It's why Obama stubbornly refused to insist on a public option for his atrocious health care bill. It's why he backed off cap-and-trade and organized labor's card check bill and the DREAM Act."
Pandering to the right and to the Wall Street interests who got him elected, Obama has stood-down and stood-by while the worst of the Bush era continues unabated - and in some cases, has gotten worse. Instead of the stalwart idealist, we got a panderer who gets his ass kicked at every turn; a man who runs to the Center every time conflict raises its head. The result has been at best mediocrity; at worst a crisis of leadership unseen since Warren Harding.
Again, from the book, "Of course, Obama's most grievous political wounds were self-inflicted, starting even before his election when he rushed back to Washington to help rescue Bush's Wall Street bailout. Instead of meeting with the victims of Wall Street predators or their advocates, like Elizabeth Warren and Ralph Nader, Obama fist-bumped with the brain trust of Goldman Sachs. In the end, Obama helped salvage some of the most venal and corrupt enterprises on Wall Street, agreed to shield their executives from prosecution for their financial crimes and, predictably, later got repaid with their scorn.
Thus the Obama revolution was over before it started, guttered by the politician's overweening desire to prove himself to the grandees of the establishment. From there on, other promises, from confronting climate change to closing Gitmo, from ending torture to initiating a nationalized health care system, proved even easier to break."
As to Afghanistan, "Within weeks of taking office, Obama had been taken to the woodshed by Robert Gates and General David Petraeus and had returned to the White House bruised and humbled.... This was meant to be a punitive war, pure and simple, designed to draw as much blood as possible, an obscene war fought largely by remote-controlled drones attacking peasant villages with murderous indiscretion.
Afterwards, the American peace movement could only bray in impotent outrage. But as Obama's wars spread, the last flickering moral lights in the nation...dissipated into whispered lamentations; hushed murmurs of disillusionment. Could it be that the American Left had gone extinct as any kind of potent political force and it took the election of Barack Obama to prove it?"
The book itself is a collection of essays from some of America's best and brightest thinkers. True believers will disagree with all of them - and continue in their denial. The truth, unvarnished, is hard to swallow - even as the predator-drones rain indiscriminate death on civilians after one of Obama's Monday-morning meetings to decide who lives and who dies in small mud-huts in far-flung parts of the world; whose names are hard to pronounce to the pseudoLiberals and Hoveround-riding Teabaggers alike.
Perhaps the best indictment comes from Paul Krugman in one of the book's essays: "More and more it's becoming clear that progressives who had their hearts set on Obama were engaged in a huge act of self-delusion. Once you got past the soaring rhetoric you noticed, if you actually paid attention to what he said, that he largely accepted the conservative storyline, a view of the world, including a mythological history, that bears little resemblance to the facts."
Politics is illusion. Obama is its master.
While we're at it, we might as well add that ignorance is strength; war is peace - and freedom is slavery - and that a Big Lie is the truth, if uttered often enough. He's taught us that, also.