In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

What’s Obama smiling about?

Posted by seumasach on April 18, 2009

Michael Harris

Ottawa Sun

17th April, 2009

The Obama presidency is becoming a reverse fairy tale: The prince is turning into a frog

Elected as an anti-war candidate, he has dispatched 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, stepped up CIA drone killings in Pakistan, and given the order for the world’s most sophisticated navy to blow away three pirates in a skiff. Like his predecessor, the current Chider-in-Chief has lectured European nations on their failure to supply more troops to the mission. Don’t they know NATO is just another American division? 

As for Iraq, the promise to end the war is turning into a Clintonian exercise in twisted diction. It all depends on what “withdrawal” means. The dates for leaving are as blurred as a bad forgery. It doesn’t matter. The president can hardly say he’s pulling out when as many as 50,000 U.S. combat troops are staying behind to guard the gas station. 

What about integrity in government? Judging by his gutter-ball series of appointments and attempted appointments, I am beginning to think that either his vetting process was actually looking for crooks or the president is moving in the wrong circles. 

Obama put a tax-cheat in the U.S. Treasury, tried to put an even bigger tax-cheat in Health, and only reluctantly dropped an accused influence peddler as commerce secretary. He can’t even get a Kennedy into the Vatican as America’s ambassador. Didn’t he know the Pope doesn’t approve of abortion? Didn’t any of the Chicago millionaires around the president know that Caroline Kennedy does? 

Remember all that change coming? George Bush spied on Americans illegally and then said it was OK because the terrorist surveillance program was all about national security. Candidate Obama and his running mate were shocked and appalled. 

But in the first court test of those illegal wiretaps, Jewel vs. National Security Agency, the Obama justice department moved that the case of an American citizen be dismissed because “state secrets” might be revealed. 

Wasn’t that the whole point! Dirty little secrets about crimes committed by government and the telecom companies were supposed to be revealed. Otherwise, why was Obama shocked and appalled when Bush broke the law in the first place? 

Obama was once all in favour of truth in government. When the Bush administration recalled the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, for using the word “genocide” to describe what happened back in 1915, then Sen. Obama noted the “cowardice” of the state department. He added that “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that leader.” 

But in Turkey, President Obama became a sly diplomat, refusing to use the word “genocide.” “If they (the Turkish and Armenian people) can move forward and deal with a difficult and tragic history, then I think the entire world should encourage that.” Turkey’s help in Iraq and the guarantee of safe transit of oil across the Caucasus are apparently still needed. 

The list goes on — denouncing torture but no torture trials, not putting war costs in his nation-killing budget, mute on inevitable tax increases … 

And then there is the economy. Appalled as a candidate at the profligacy of the Bush years, the president has made his predecessor look like a piker. He has misappropriated money from the overwhelming majority of responsible citizens of the United States to fork it over to the most rapacious practitioners of organized theft the world has ever seen. 

Makes you wonder what the guy on the big lily pad is really smiling about. 


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