Category Archives: USA

I Didn’t Want Obama to Fail But Now I Think I Do

First of all, I’m a Canadian and Obama is the President of the United States. So what do I care about this foreign leader? Easy. He’s the president of the most powerful country in the world. The bulwark of the entire world system. What happens in the USA affects us all.

Secondly, it’s true. I didn’t want Obama to fail. I actually said that I wanted him to succeed. At the time, there were worrisome trends and now, well, now the facts speak for themselves. Obama is merely the re-branding of the desperate monstrousness of late US-capitalism:

Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.

That quote is also taken from an essay linked to in an earlier post. But reading these missives (one and two) from “a tiny revolution” really made me think that time has run out for Barack Obama to redeem himself and the USian political scene. One:

This is the fatal flaw of liberals, which comes screaming to the fore whenever the Democrats they revere are in power: they genuinely believe they have an ally in the White House who shares their concerns and cares about what they have to say. The fact that in Obama’s case we already have mountains of evidence to dispel that fantasy—even after so little time—matters not at all; like all dogmatic beliefs, this one is proof against reason. And the fact that people who labor under such a towering delusion also spend so much of their time accusing others of political naivete is just one of the many brain-numbing ironies we get to enjoy whenever a Democrat becomes president.

And two:

This is part of a Los Angeles Times story on the recent U.S. bombing in Afghanistan that killed about 140 people:

Piercing wails rose into the antiseptic-scented air where four blistered
and bandaged little girls lay in side-by-side hospital beds. One of them,
5-year-old Ferishteh, writhed and cried almost continuously, unable to find a
position that did not cause her pain from the burns that covered her arms, legs
and torso. … Nurses and doctors said Nazbibi’s father, Saeed
Malham, rarely left her bedside … “When they told me what had happened, I
fainted under a tree,” he said. Then he rushed home, returning to a village
marked by destroyed homes and fresh graves.

And here’s Barack Obama, in Sderot, Israel in July, 2008:

“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep
at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.”

How many people have the rockets from Gaza killed? Let’s say ten. How many
people were killed as Israel did everything in its power to stop that? At least
100 times as many. Thus, according to the rules as articulated by the current
president, Afghans may now kill 14,000 Americans.

That may seem like a lot, but fair’s fair.

Yesterday, I linked to a wonderful article “In Praise of Revolutions.” In it, the author (Serge Halimi) says:

However desirable they may be, revolutions remain rare. They require simultaneously: a broad mass of dissatisfied people who are prepared to act; a state whose legitimacy and authority are challenged by some of its usual supporters (as a result of economic incompetence, mismanagement of the military or crippling internal divisions); and finally, pre-existing radical ideas that question the social order and which, though they may be held only by a tiny minority to begin with, are capable of attracting all those whose loyalty to the old order has crumbled.

This being so, the demands of social movements are primarily defensive – as can be seen at the moment. They aim to re-establish a social contract which they believe to have been broken by the bosses, landowners, bankers and governments. Food, work, shelter, education, prospects: not (yet) a glorious future but “a vision of the present stripped of its most painful aspects” . It is only later, when the inability of those in power to fulfil the obligations which legitimate their power and privileges becomes apparent that the question is sometimes asked outside militant circles: “whether kings, capitalists, priests, generals, bureaucrats, etc, serve any useful social purpose at all”. At this point, it is possible to talk of revolution. The transition from one stage to another may occur quickly – in two years in 1789, a few months in 1917 – or may never happen.

And maybe that’s what’s happening here. Alexander Cockbourn is sometimes too much of a smartass for me, but I appreciated it when he said that bush II trashed the US empire better than anyone else and that Obama’s ability to restore that crucial thin patina of respectability to it is something that opponents of empire ought to fear. Whether it’s a Repugnican run empire or a Democrat empire, it’s still a hateful, oppressive, inhuman empire. US power (military, economic, cultural, scientific) is still enormous. US government debt-to-GDP ratios are at sustainable levels despite all the hand-wringing about bush II’s debts. But the ability of the country to compel absolute compliance over two-thirds of the world is fading. And what it has to do to maintain this compliance becomes increasingly physical and messy internationally and increasingly reliant on growing economic inequality and oppressiveness domestically. bush II managed to get millions of USians angry and active, questioning their political system, and Obama seemed tailor-made to quell this anger, restore the lost faith among more intelligent USians, and get the empire back on track. But Obama’s thin facade cannot mask the inhumanity of his mission. Perhaps betrayal at the hands of Barack Obama will galvanize enough intelligent, angry USians into sincerely questioning the political-economic system they live within.

Obviously, this extended debate about wanting Obama to fail or not was inspired by Rush Limbaugh’s blunt admission that he wanted Obama to fail. Limbaugh hated the mildly progressive veneer of Obama’s Democratic Party and wanted it to be discredited. Limbaugh was widely condemned by almost everyone within the Democratic Party and leftwards. Limbaugh, like me, wants a “revolution” to result from this failure. So how do I differentiate myself from Limbaugh? In the first place, Limbaugh’s also a racist who wants black people in general to failbecause it validates his own white-shit existence. Secondly, when it comes to understanding how society works, Limbaugh is a complete moron. His gift is to be able to articulate his own moronic opinions and those of other losers in quick time. But at its core, whatever “revolution” Limbaugh hopes to bring about will be marred by its own deep-seated insanity.

Special note: This has to be one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever read.