I don’t wish to denigrate the assassination of Osama bin Laden on Barack Obama’s watch. It is a sterling achievement and one that is long overdue. But, to hail that as a great feat of leadership is a bit difficult for me to accept. That is to be the legacy of a man whose entire style of “leadership” is consensus decision-making and bi-partisanship? I ask you, where is the hallmark of a real leader in all this? If truth be known, he may have had the final “go head” on this one, but I would hazard a guess that it came in the wake of consensus-building, big time. It just isn’t in his nature to do it any other way.
He is getting a lot of good press and, of course, the media personalities are fawning all over him and hailing him as the great leader. The memory of those who died on 9/11 and their survivors have waited a long time for this. However, I would ask, “What has our Great Leader” done for the massive numbers of Americans who are suffering unmercifully because of his betrayal of them and his sell-out to massive wealth, big business and the elites of our society? Are their lives any less precious? I hardly think so. The pain of the victims of 9-11 has long vanished. The pain of those suffering and yet to suffer at the hands of the plutocrats and the oligarchs is still to be measured. Their stark agony remains with no end in sight. Milk this for as much as you can get out of it, Mr. President. You have yet to convince me you even know the definition of the word “leader,” much less how to be one.
Let’s take a few moments to focus on some of President Obama’s more notable achievements.
He was going to bring those guilty of criminal behavior during the Bush Administration to justice. What did he do? He decided we should look to the future rather than dwell on the past. The entire lot of them got off Scott free and is living the good life among us.
He was going to close Guantanamo Bay Prison, do away with secret trials and military tribunals. What did he do? Nothing. They are still in effect.
He was going to do away with warrant-less wiretapping and other spying activities on civilians. What did he do? Nothing. They are still viable.
He was going to do whatever it would take to stimulate the economy and create jobs. What did he do? He virtually ignored every recommendation made by some of the finest economic minds in the country, and brought back all the key players from the Clinton Administration who set us up for this catastrophe. The result is a weak and totally ineffective recovery, at best, if not outright stagnation. But, the boys who brought this down on us continue to flourish and prosper at the taxpayers’ expense!
He was going to reinstate the controls on financial industries that were, essentially, the essence of the Glass-Steagal Act, in order to prevent this from ever happening again. What did we get? He invited the very ones who perpetrated this catastrophe into the tent, met with his happy band of former Clinton rogues, and co-opted Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. They got their heads together and produced the weakest, most ineffective set of regulations one could possibly imagine. The result is that those most responsible for the debacle are thriving and flourishing at the expense of the taxpayers. Ben Bernanke has provided them with taxpayer funds at little or no interest so they, in turn, could re-loan the funds, with interest, that enabled them to make even more money at the expense of the taxpayers.
He was going to re-open the provisions of NAFTA in order to make it more favorable to the interests of the workers in the United States. What did he do? He met with the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada, the result of which was his reaffirmation of the provisions of that agreement and a commitment to strengthen it even further to the detriment of our national interests.
Home mortgages have gone through the roof with repossessions of homes at an all time high. Millions of Americans have lost their homes and have been put on the street, while the stench of corruption and criminal improprieties in that market have gone unnoticed and unpunished. Their plundering of the market has barely slowed.
He was going to do great and wondrous things in order to provide the citizens of this country with affordable healthcare that would cover virtually everybody. He was an avowed advocate of a public payer option and government negotiated prices for prescription drugs. What did we get? He invited the bandits from the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies into the tent (secret White House meetings) and we ended up with no public option and no negotiated prices for prescription drugs. Instead, we got a convoluted program that requires the acumen of a Philadelphia lawyer to comprehend, and we are led to believe that we have the greatest healthcare plan in history.
He caved in to the Republicans and the Tea Baggers, and agreed to a two-year extension of the tax cuts for the rich in exchange for a paltry 10-month extension of unemployment insurance for the massive numbers of Americans out of work. It was hailed as the greatest thing since paper clips and we were expected to bow down in grateful humility for his acumen and compassion on our behalf. Now, in the wake of the brilliance of his Debt Reduction Commission, he is on a kick to reduce our National Debt on the backs of the working people and poor of this country. He will not acknowledge that we don’t have a debt problem but, rather, a revenue problem. Although he is blustering about raising the taxes on the rich and on corporations, which are at best two years away, I seriously doubt they will ever become reality. It is the stuff of a good speech but not the substance of his reality.
He has refused to focus on the need for scaling back our massive financial commitment to the military/industrial complex. In cahoots with the defense establishment, he has engaged in an exercise of smoke and mirrors to convince us that he will embark on significant reductions in those areas, all the while playing games with the numbers so they end up with even more money. Ah, such is the price of empire!
Then there is the never-ending bluster about taking on the unfair trade practices with China. My question to him, after lo these many months of rhetoric, “Where is the beef?” I doubt that we will ever see it.
Where has our illustrious leader been when public workers took on the Oberfuhrer in the Governor’s Mansion in Wisconsin? Did he give them the moral support they warranted? He was no where to be seen and is not likely to make an appearance in other places that are under siege by the Republican juggernaut hell bent on the mass destruction of public institutions and workers’ rights in places such as Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey and other places yet to bear the brunt of their assaults. Where is this great leader of the Democratic philosophy of government to be found?
Where is the President in the lives of the families of Appalachia, trying to eek out a life supported by meager wages, all the while bearing witness to the rapacious destruction of one of the greatest ecological treasures in the nation, as coal companies level mountains and pollute valleys in their never-ending pursuit of more money?
Where is the President in the lives of those in the Rust Belt, disenfranchised from honest labor because of the wholesale loss of jobs to cheap labor markets in foreign countries? How are they to survive and ascend the ladder of the American Dream?
Where is the President in the lives of those along the Gulf Coast still waiting for the recompense that was supposed to be forthcoming from British Petroleum as compensation for their wanton destruction of the Gulf of Mexico and those who are dependent on its health?
Where is the President in the lives of the Midwestern farmers who bear witness to the destruction of a way of life that has long been the backbone of these United States of America? Where is there hope for them as agribusiness gobbles up valuable farm land for their genetically modified crops and the production of food grains for ethanol?
Where is the President in the lives of those who shiver from the cold because they can no longer afford to pay the price of oil to heat their homes?
Where is the President in the lives of those who have to further cut back on their meager assets in order to fork over the price of gasoline for their cars, now approaching five dollars per gallon?
Where is the President in the lives of all those who have seen their retirement programs vaporize before their very eyes because of the shenanigans of the financial slight-of-hand antics of investment bankers?
Where is the President in the lives of those who can no longer afford to go to college in order to better themselves and their families?
Where is the President in the lives of those who have gone off to war, sacrificing their lives because there are no jobs to be had at home, sworn to protect the lives and life-styles of those who exploit them and their families for the almighty dollar? What, I ask you, is noble about that?
Where is the President in the lives of the Native Americans, long ago exiled to remote reservations, consigned to a meager existence just in order to survive, with the faint hope that the white man will someday realize the error of his ways and show them the respect they deserve? But, that is ancient history with faint hope of any discernable change.
Where, Mr. Obama, are you in the lives of all those who believed in you, supported you and voted you into office, only to be totally betrayed by all that you have either proven to be or not to be? About all your base can do, at this point, is wait for the other shoe to drop in order to see what other morbid surprises still await us, as you toss us another crumb, capped off with a lofty speech and the promise of better things to come.
Change we can believe in? No matter what you may choose to call it, Mr. President, your record has shown you to be less than the real deal. For the sake of all those who need to believe in you, I wish you were.
May 4, 2011