by Steven Jonas, MD, MPH
crossposted on Buzzflash.com
Oct. 29, 2009
Last week, we discussed why President Obama was heaven-sent for the GOP, pre-election. In my view (disagreed with by several commentators who made their cases very well I thought), he was the only prospective Democratic candidate who could have beaten John McCain. This was especially true if the Bush Administration had somehow been able to postpone the bursting forth of the economic crisis for less than two months. As is well known to BuzzFlash readers, it had of course been building for several years under Georgite economic policies. It is likely in retrospect that the “free-market” decision to let Lehman Brothers go bankrupt was, first, in their minds, the way to put things off. For if they had known what was going to happen both to the economy and their election chances, they would have done everything in their power to prevent that occurrence.
But anyway they didn’t. The global financial system did partially collapse. Stock market prices around the world dropped dramatically. And Barack Obama did win the election. Just to reprise my argument of last week, if McCain had won, things both domestic and foreign would have been even worse, in many cases much worse, than they are under Obama. After all, McCain would have for the most part following Georgite policy. (Oh, you think that a Democratic Congress would get in the way? Given what they are doing, rather not doing, with a Democratic President in the White House, I doubt it.) But then, just think. All the blame for our current problems caused by Georgite policy that is being tossed at Obama could be laid at the feet of — the Georgites. Ohmygosh. How much fun that would be (for us commentators, that is. Not for the millions, indeed potentially billions around the world who are suffering in many different ways because of them). Which leads us to a discussion of how Barack Obama has been heaven sent for the GOP since his election as President.
It begins with what was in retrospect a major mistake made by his campaign: to make a major feature of “why elect me?” “Looking ahead, with Hope, for Change” and “Changing the Way Washington Does Business.” And it was done without too much attention paid, and for the most part only in general terms, to change from “what” in terms of policy and from “whose” way of doing business. Some of us thought that was a Big Mistake at the time but we were not consulted for the most part, and if any of us were, our advice was not taken. It is so ironic that the biggest indicator that Obama was having nothing to do either with the Rev. Wright or Prof. Ayres was that both of them, had they actually been involved in the Obama campaign, would surely have been pushing him, very strongly, to take on BushCheney head-on. At any rate, his principal advisors obviously came to the conclusion that not to attack the Georgites very much was the way to go.
Whether following that path was the only way to go to win the election — we will never know. But we do know what the adoption of that strategy meant for the content of the election debate and for the projection/protection of Obama’s policies since he became President. It meant that during the campaign “hope” and “change” became highlights. What Bush/Cheney and Georgitism (the highest [or lowest] form of neoconned neoliberal Reaganism, otherwise known as “every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” from each individual to the family of nations as a whole) brought to/wreaked upon our nation and the world was not much discussed. For example, how Bush/Cheney military/’security’ policy actually weakened rather than strengthened our defenses and national security by, for example, ignoring the warnings of 9/11 and way overextending our armed forces in Iraq (to say nothing of lying us into that war) was little referred to. How Georgite policy made the financial crisis almost inevitable. How part of the motivation of the massive tax cuts for the rich and the resulting war-driven deficits was, in Grover Norquist’s term, to “starve the beast,” which is how they refer to the Federal government. For the most part, these issues didn’t come up.
Furthermore, the creation of “the negative atmosphere” in Washington was not a bipartisan creation. It was a Republican creation. What they have done since the election, from Limbaugh’s declaration “I want him to fail,” to Jim “No homosexual teachers in the classroom” DeMint’s declaration on “Obama’s Waterloo,” to the McConnell/Boehner Congressional strategy of “we will never say anything but no” is to prove the point.
So why has the President been heaven-sent for the GOP since he has been in office? Two reasons. Because of the way he ran his campaign, he removed from his arsenal all of those weapons he had for laying the blame for all of our current crises at the feet of George Bush. Sure the Republican Scream Machine would have screaming “blame game.” (That of course is something they never engage in [ho, ho, ho]. If you can stomach it, listen sometime to Giuliani or Gingrich talking politics and just count the seconds until the word “Clinton,” Bill that is, appears. But that is really neither here nor there. Of course Republicans are hypocrites. It seems to be genetic with them.) And so what? That is exactly the game that Obama should be playing.
Who cares what Beckoning Savagely Le-vinitating O’RHannibaugh say? They will never make nice, nor will, for that matter, McConnell/Boehner, to say nothing of Cheney of course. Obama was left a zillion booby traps, major ones that are public, ranging from Afghanistan to (the loss of) Zoological diversity (and perhaps some not public ones, such as possible rogue right-wing cells in the military and the CIA). But he has almost totally prevented himself from talking about them, except on occasion almost in passing.
Finally he was heaven sent for the GOP because until very recently at least (and knows, he may get back to it) he has pursued the Impossible Dream of “bipartisanship” with a Party that simply will never say anything but “no,” not even “no thank you.” There are some elected Democrats, such as Congressmen Alan “the Republicans’ answer for ‘no insurance’ is die” Grayson of Florida and Anthony “Single-Payer” Wiener of Brooklyn, NY, and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who know which end is up, are ready for battle, and are in fact battling. But the President seems to shy away from doing so, whether by nature or by design it doesn’t matter.
Barack Obama is a very smart man, possibly one of the three smartest (Jefferson and Lincoln being the other two) to ever occupy the White House. But he is now in a position where being a professor of Constitutional Law and a community organizer doesn’t cut the mustard. He is faced by street-fighters, and very good ones. If he is going to be able to abandon his current role as heaven-sent for the GOP, he is going to have to undergo some major changes. If he does not, he stands in serious danger of becoming as I wrote on TPJmagazine.us recently, the next Democratic one-term President, and the country will be the worse for it.
Bush, Cheney and the Georgites planted the wind. Obama is reaping the whirlwind. He may not realize it. If that’s the case, he had better wake up pretty soon. If he does realize it, he really ought to tell the rest of us all about it, beginning with just who planted the wind that as a whirlwind is wreaking such havoc. And oh yes. Labeling Fox “News” as a GOP tool is a start. But it’s just a start.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a Columnist for BuzzFlash, Dr. Jonas is also a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Senior Columnist for The Greanville POST, http://www.cjournal.info/; a Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, http://lists.psalience.org/mailman/listinfo/ths; a Contributor to The Planetary Movement; and a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century (POAC); http://www.oldamericancentury.org/index.htm.
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from the archives:
President Obama and the One-Term Democratic Presidencies by Steven Jonas, MD, MPH
I don’t understand on what basis it is that it can be said that Obama is probably one of the three smartest men to ever be president. The inexperience of Obama to Washington politics, and his overal lack of experience is evident. That and the fact that he has the Dumbcrats behind him!