Thursday, September 1, 2011

Alexander Cockburn On The Disturbing Dynamics of the National Presidential Race in 2012

President Obama,news-comment,news-politics,making-a-case-for-barack-obama-just-gets-harder?print=print

"If the truth hurts/then you'll be in pain. And if the truth drives you crazy/then you'll just be insane..."
--Sister Souljah, 1992


Another typically excellent and brutally honest article by the legendary investigative and political journalist Alexander Cockburn. Though the words are stinging and painful--even seemingly harsh at times--no one who is HONEST about what the President has and has not done while in office since 2008 could possibly disagree or find flaws with the fundamental TRUTH of what Cockburn says here. I've been personally saying it--and thinking it--for nearly two years now and nearly everyone I know who believed in and vigorously campaigned and voted for Obama--as I also did!--now feel the exact same way as Cockburn does in this article. Like I said before I and most of my deeply disillusioned friends will still vote for him again in 2012 only because we have NO OTHER CHOICE since clearly voting for ANY Republican--or simply sitting out the election-- would be an insane act of national political suicide. Needless to say this is an utterly pathetic position for us to be left in and it's more than understandable at this point why so many people who thought and expected Obama to have some real principles and actually stand for something (and to fight for it while in office) are enraged and bitter about the colossal MESS that we are presently in because this man has FAILED to be a leader for the desperately needed national progressive reform that he "promised" he would be during his campaign in 2008...Thus the paramount question remains: When will the masses of the American people, and most especially the Left as an effective mass organizing force, rise to fill this yawning national political and ideological vacuum?


Making a case for Barack Obama just gets harder
by Alexander Cockburn:
AUGUST 25, 2011
The First Post

Loyalists will vote for Obama again – but only to stop some insane Republican from getting in

The White House that shook in Tuesday's earthquake has been home to its present incumbent for 32 months. Obama wasn't around to watch the furniture shake. He's up on Martha's Vineyard for the third year in a row with Michelle and their two daughters, bunkered in a $25,000-a-week holiday rental on a lush 28-acre estate in the little town of Chilmark.

He's keeping a low profile. Words like "stand-offish" roll petulantly off the tongues of the island's liberal elites. They were spoiled by Bill Clinton who spent six presidential vacations on the Vineyard. No renter he. Bill free-loaded on rich pals and party donors, mostly synonymous.

No one could ever accuse Bill of being stand-offish, though he once confided to Vernon Jordan that he preferred Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to Martha's Vineyard as a vacation spot since it was impossible to get "pussy" in the stuffy Massachusetts resort.

Obama's stand-offishness includes, I am informed by one knowledgeable Martha's Vineyard local, failure to show at an exclusive fundraiser, also at a party of his friend Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard prof whose July 2009 spat with the Cambridge police once prompted the normally hyper-prudent Obama to say the cops had acted "stupidly" – probably the most vivid off-the-cuff judgment of his entire presidency.

The presidential excuse for the Gates no-show was apparently that he and Michelle didn't "want to leave the kids alone." Alone? One of the houses on the Chilmark estate is occupied by the Secret Service; another by close aides. You'd think at least two could have been press-ganged into child-minding duties.

Like many presidents trying to have a holiday, Obama has drawn fire for lounging about on the Vineyard for 10 days while ordinary Americans battle hard times, and Hurricane Irene threatens the Atlantic seaboard.

So, as with other presidents, his press man claims 50 per cent of Obama's time is spent doing the nation's business, much of it hunkered down with his counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan. Presumably they are reviewing intelligence reports that al-Qaeda is planning something really big to mark the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the Trade Towers on 9/11/2011.

As president, Obama is not doing well. It's not just a matter of the 53 per cent disapproval rating reported yesterday by Gallup. After two-and-a-half years, people are beginning to come to settled opinions about their president and many of these aren't flattering.

In 2008 liberals and most leftists were deeply in love with Obama and genuinely believed the promissory notes about a better America he strewed along the campaign trail and has since welshed on at a rate of well over 90 per cent.

The face-off over the debt ceiling at the start of this month was the final straw. Take a man I have known for many decades, William Broyles, former Marine, lifelong Texan Democrat, speech writer in the Carter White House, former Newsweek editor, co-creator of China Beach, Apollo 13 and Cast Away.

Ten days ago, Bill wrote a furious Newsweek column headlined 'The Oval Office Appeaser'. Bill is normally a courteous man, not one who likes to hurl mouldy cabbages from the balcony. I've never known him write more angrily.

"After each betrayal, after each terribly bad bargain, Obama comes out waving a piece of paper, a one-sided agreement to appease the Republicans—peace in our time…

"A despair grips America today, a cold fear that our best days are behind us, that we are adrift and powerless. Yes, the Republicans are to blame. But so is a president who treats core American values as bargaining chips, who won't fight for anything, who refuses to lead. It turns out hope does matter… Americans aren't inspired by well-meaning weakness. We like strong leaders, particularly in desperate times."

Obama is a very curious fellow. I don't think any writer thus far has got the measure of the man. Take the Obama White House. From the news-leak point of view he presides over the tightest ship in living memory. Leaks, corridor gossip, my-side-of-the-story confidences of policy-makers battling for the president's ear, depth charges planted by such powerful cabinet members as Hillary Clinton? None of the above. This is the White House of a man in total control, contrasting markedly with Clinton's fitful supervision of the shambolic White House of his two terms.

But Obama, where it counts, is not in control. Republicans, regarded as certifiably insane by a lot more Americans than disapprove of Barack Obama, face him down and he leaps to do their bidding, even as they kick him in the teeth for not doing more. He tugs his forelock to Wall Street, the defence industry, the oil companies, Monsanto, the agriculture industry, Israel. An appeaser, as Broyles charged. And when the dust of battle rises, he cuts and runs.

Last week the Democrats got a nasty shock when the New York Times ran a story reporting on the battle for Anthony Weiner's Brooklyn district. Weiner resigned from Congress on June 16, done in by Twittering photos of his penis to women, none of them his wife or even a constituent. The Republican challenger is apparently making a strong showing in this traditionally Democratic district. The Times quoted life-long Democrats expressing their discontent in virulent terms.

There are plenty of Obama loyalists out there. I know leftists who still forlornly try to make a case for the man and will stay true to the end. But if they vote for him next year it won't be for any positive reason, such as sent them delightedly to the polls in 2008 in search of hope. They'll gesture to Rick Perry or some other Republican challenger and fall back on the "lesser of two evils" argument.

But will this work with the sort of blue-collar union people and independents who voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 because they thought Carter was a wimp who couldn't handle the economy?

Bill Clinton survived incompetence and scandal because enough Americans felt like somewhat disillusioned brides after two or three years of facing the Real Thing across the breakfast table. "Dump him? For who? Anyway, he's promised me he'll try to do better." He's a flake and a liar, but he's our flake and our liar.

No one feels like that about Obama. He's not a man who elicits mass affection. People whose vote he courts are genuinely confused. Does he believe in anything beyond raising a billion dollars for the 2012 campaign? Now he's on the trail again, assuring people without jobs that he'll put them back to work. It's a very tough sell.

Meanwhile Texas Governor Rick Perry, who entered the Republican race only a week ago, is surging against his opponents. Yesterday's Gallup poll has him in a commanding lead over the 'moderate' Republican Mitt Romney, with 29 per cent saying they are most likely to support Perry. Former front-runner Mitt Romney (17 per cent), Ron Paul (13 per cent), and Michele Bachmann (10 per cent) are next, with four other candidates at four per cent or less.

The conservative Perry's done this by staking out fierce positions, just as Reagan did against Carter. It doesn't matter that the opinions grate on the sensibilities of the liberal commentariat. He's not after their approval. Perry's a tough campaigner, not like Bob Dole, whom Clinton had the luck to face in 1996.

These days, apropos Obama, some lines from a Hollywood classic, Touch of Evil, float into my mind:

Welles: Come on, read my future for me.

Dietrich: You haven't got any.

Welles: Hmm? What do you mean?

Dietrich: Your future's all used up.