Guest Post by Jay -- Ottawa
What can I say? Obama’s long list of betrayals and our repeated howls – yes, both his stuff and our stuff, two halves forming one absurdity -- are getting tiresome.
Here we go again with this week’s reversal of EPA standards on air quality, the latest item to be appended to the “Obama Scandals List” (see Blog Roll to your right). And the Administration’s rationale for such perfidy? Clean air kills jobs. Yeah, right.
Obama negotiates another raw deal for the people in time for Labor Day. Piecemeal give-backs by Labor in return for Management concessions: such is the way in labor-management negotiations today. In order to get more jobs from corporate world we have to “give back” our lungs to the corporate world. Akin to belt-tightening, so Karen calls it – what else -- bronchiole-tightening.
The human psyche can absorb just so much Beckettian tragicomedy before everything seems unrelentingly absurd. Words and civic action to restore reason end in futility. We lately discover all the levers available to us are connected to nothing. Unless you choose to go down the road of barking madness or culpable ignorance, the only reasonable attitude in face of Obama’s Act I is cynicism. I can’t wait to vote for him again in 2012 for Act II as the lesser of two evils. That’s what the stronger souls who are still operating on the plains of reason and pragmatism are advising us to do week after week, despite betrayal after betrayal. Four more years for the Man Who Turned Himself (and the country) Inside Out! We’ll find out in January 2013 which word comes after cynicism.
At first – that is, shortly after January 20, 2009 – we were merely confused. Was Obama up to something clever? A deep game? Some kind of political jujitsu? Why on earth was he choosing a hawk for Secretary of State? Why Wall Street enablers like Summers and Geithner to help Main Street back on its feet? Why a senator in the pay of the private health insurance industry to lead a reform away from the profiteering of private health insurance? Why Obama’s expansion of war while basking in the glow of the Nobel Peace Prize? Why the stretch-out of Guantanamo and the shrinkage of the Fourth Amendment?
Obama Doctrine? It boils down to surveillance and assassination by drones, complemented by routine violations of sovereignty by crack teams with the right stuff. Some of those drones cruise day and night over the Homeland itself. More I cannot say because it’s so secret.
Most of us who tune in to this blog are no longer confused. As a few analysts have insisted, Obama is not incompetent. He has not been duped, “turned” or cowed. The 2008 Democratic champion for reform was always a man from the enemy camp. In 2008 the military-industrial-financial-security complex maneuvered a Trojan Horse into view with the help of its media complex, and we fell for it. To do what Obama has done repeatedly tells us he lacks integrity and decency at his core. We now realize we’ve been had. Obama is most comfortable ingratiating himself before moneymen. As long as they have his back he can ignore the polls.
It’s come to this: Most of the people in power today ignore “we the people,” whether we vote for them or vote against them, whether we tune in or tune away, whether we petition, campaign and demonstrate en masse or remain docile and stay home. What social contract?
We are in for a long season of pain. For a few years we were like the patient who refuses to accept the diagnosis from the insistent doctor. Why can’t we do or not do the political equivalents of smoking, devouring sugar and fat and never exercising and yet not get away with it? The national myth tells us it’s impossible for America to stroke out like other empires. There was only one Dark Age in history, right? Some of us, like the Tea Party faithful, have turned to quacks. Chris Hedges on the other end of opinion advises us to hide away in small self-sufficient communities of like-minded people well apart from the corporate-dependent, corporate-supporting majorities unwilling to give up the insupportable life style that’s killing us and the planet itself. Take an Amish or Mennonite or Shaker friend to lunch to learn more.
Finally, after a season of denial, we are – quite supinely, considering the viciousness of the assault against us in the class war -- reaching the point of accepting decline, deprivation and pain as constants, the new normals, companions on the long grey road ahead. If an American fruit vendor, Tunisia style, were to immolate himself before the gates of the White House or on the steps of the Capitol or the Court, nothing would happen. Hundreds of tragedies unfold every day in this country. This year almost as many soldiers have died by suicide as were killed by the enemy. Thousands of Americans who once lived in houses are gravitating south better to endure their new life under the stars. We tolerate these trends because we ourselves have not been bankrupted – yet -- by unemployment, the theft of retirement savings in Wall Street accounts, a tricky mortgage or the hospital bill of a spouse. Solidarity is a strictly Polish thing; individualism is the American thing.
As for the “American Exception,” that turned out to be nothing more than a blip in history, the short years from around 1945 to 1980. Is it too late to salute those years of middle class advancement on this Labor Day? Anyway, it’s over. Hang up your dignity. We are being herded back to the old imperatives. Oligarchy, the default mode of political organization since the beginning of time, is once again back in place just about everywhere.
Yes, yes: Frailty, thy name is Obama.
But, to be fair: Frailty, thy name is the electorate, whole and entire.
Happy Labor Day.