EMPTY GESTURES, much symbolism and eloquent rhetoric with a larding of promises on stem cells, the environment, a new attitude toward America's allies, and similar moves has given hope to those who expected real change to materialize at some point in Obama's administration, but, this is noteworthy, as the weeks become months, nothing that would signify a significant departure from business as usual is discernible in Obama's appointments or policy choices. Already, segments of what might judiciously be classified as left-liberals (i.e., Rachel Maddow, Naomi Klein) are increasingly impatient with Obama's timidity and, brilliant speechifying aside, with his apparent lack of moral fiber. In the article below, Mike Whitney, building on the late Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize speech denouncing America's hypocrisies, asks the question we all want answered at this point: Who is Obama, and whom does he really serve?
A Tapestry of Lies
BY MIKE WHITNEY
ABOUT A MONTH BEFORE Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski appeared on PBS's Charlie Rose Show and was asked whether he thought Obama would be a good choice for president. Brzezinski paused for a minute, peered at Rose out of the corner of his eye, and answered, "Just think of the symbolism." As soon as he said that, Brzezinski and Rose broke out into laughter as though they were sharing a private joke.
Brzezinski was right, of course. Obama was the perfect choice for president. Not because of his experience. He had none. He was a two year senator with a resume' small enough to fit on the back of a matchbox. Still Obama had what Brzezinski and Co. were looking for, symbolism; the kind of symbolism that connected him to people around the world and made them feel like one of their own had finally clawed their way to the top. Even better, Obama was a charismatic populist who could fill stadiums with adoring fans and put a benign face on America's interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. What more could Brzezinski hope for? After 8 years of dragging "Brand America" through the mud, the country would finally get the emergency facelift it needed and begin to restore its battered image as the world's indispensable nation.
For leftists, Obama has been a total bust. He's escalated the war in Afghanistan, increased the cross-border bombings of Pakistan, hemmed and hawed about prosecuting war crimes, refused to actively lobby House members to make it easier for workers to organize (EFCA), and surrounded himself with bank industry reps who've committed $12.8 trillion to sinking financial institutions with no assurance that the money would be repaid.
Apart from a trifling bill on stem cells, Obama has done absolutely zero to confirm his bone fides as a liberal. The truth is, Obama is neither liberal nor conservative; he's simply an inspiring orator and a skillful politician who has no strong convictions about anything. If he achieves greatness, it will be because he was thrust into a crisis he couldn't avoid and reluctantly acted in the best interests of the American people. That possibility still exists, although it seems more unlikely by the day.
Foreign leaders are clearly relieved to see the last of George W. Bush, and they appear to be willing to give Obama every opportunity to mend fences and break with the past. But Obama has made little effort to reciprocate or show that he's serious about real change. The emphasis seems to be more on public relations than policy; more on glitzy photo ops, grandiose speeches and gadding about from one capital to another, than ending the chronic US meddling and militarism. Where's the beef or is it all just empty posturing?
No one's ready to write-off Obama just yet, but he needs to show he's the real-deal by taking steps to ratchet-down the war machine and reign in the corporate elites and bank vermin. But is it really possible for one man--however well-meaning--to change the course of a nation by standing up the gaggle of racketeers who pull the strings from behind the curtain? Keep in mind, America's history of violent interventions, unprovoked wars, color-coded revolutions and coup d' etats has a long pedigree that stretches from Bunker Hill to Baghdad. That river of blood did not begin with George Bush and it won't end with Barack Obama. Every generation has produced its own litany of crimes, from Wounded Knee to Nagasaki to My Lai to Falluja. In Harold Pinter's Nobel acceptance speech, the playwright invokes one such incident which epitomizes the pattern of hostility which has been repeated over and over again wherever the Washington mandarins detect opposition to their iron-fisted rule.
Mike Whitney's specialty is scathing analyses of the plutocratic status quo. He does not sit well with centrist temperaments.
[CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE]