dimanche 6 mars 2011
You're Blowing it, Mr. President.
I'm still waiting for someone to say to Barack Obama, "If you want to earn your Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. President, now's the time."
Indeed, President Obama could be taking advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities handed to him both domestically and abroad by the always dysfunctional Republican Party and the rioters in the Middle East and northern Africa. Yet it seems the Constitutional Law Professor President's grasp of history is as rusty as his equally dysfunctional grasp of the US Constitution.
Let's look at the Republican Party's recent attempts to shut down the government until a stopgap bill was passed by the Republican House. The Republican "Young Guns", apparently led by an already fractious Tea Party caucus, were setting up a showdown on Main Street, USA, the bait and switch of this generation, in claiming, "We really don't want to shut down government but we will if we have to to teach them evil lib'rals Dutch Uncle lessons in fiscal responsibility."
As Frank Rich said in his last article for the New York Times, Republicans weren't so much blind to history as taking a jaundiced squint at their other failed revolution of 1995, when they actually had shut down government with major political fallout, and tried to engineer it as a tail to be pinned on the Democrat donkey if it ever did come to pass.
After the stopgap bill passed, it worked to some degree: The MSM were eager to declare the averting of a crippling government shutdown as "a stunning victory" for the Republican Party with the Democrats portrayed as losers gasping in the dust of Republican fiscal brilliance and heroism.
But nothing could've been further from the truth. The Republicans still have not even begun drawing up a plan to create jobs (the unemployment rate being lowered from 9.6 to 9% last month was merely incidental and, as always, misleading), still have not come up with a plan to reduce runaway spending that's adding to our nightmarish deficit and national debt, still have no workable alternative to the Obama health care overhaul and still have not addressed the root causes of our budgetary shortfalls (***coughtaxcutsfortherichcough*** ***cough gaspIraqAfghanistancoughahem***).
Obama could be taking full advantage of this just as Slick Willie had done in the wake of the Republican shutdown of government over 15 years ago. Then House Speaker Newt Gingrich proved to be a foil worthy of Clinton just as Tip O'Neill was to Ronald Reagan a decade before that and President Clinton, a masterful political infighter if ever there was one, climbed through the ropes with alacrity.
Yet it seems the president's reserve of special venom is reserved for liberals and those of "the professional left" who criticize him and his dysfunctional, pro Wall Street policies far less effectively and viciously than Republicans and Tea Baggers who keep screaming for the birth certificate and tell one outright lie after another about him.
If Obama was worth his weight in Koolaid powder, he'd call out these Republican hustlers and grifters and ask them for solutions to our budget woes other than cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, PBS and Medicare. Then again, the president preemptively cut himself off at the knees last year when he once again caved to still-minority House Republican demands to extend the crippling tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% for another two years. Obama hardly even addressed the fact that the GOP was shamelessly holding a critical unemployment extension hostage to these reckless and greedy demands.
Another issue, this one foreign policy-based, is one on which our Nobel Peace Prize president has no authority. After saturninely clucking his tongue and serenely observing the carnage in Iran in the summer of 2009, Obama is now calling for Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's resignation and publicly deploring the violence in Libya and directly insinuating his way into pro-democracy Arab unrest for the first time since the riots in Tunis.
But then again, if whiteboarded history is any guide, perhaps Obama is hoping that he'll be retroactively hailed as a law-giver by future generations for merely stepping in only after the spoils have been seized and the dead buried. Such a useful fiction worked for Reagan and the inevitable fall of Communism and still does.
But hanging back in the wings and waiting to address Libya almost exclusively is not stemming the tide of human blood that ran down the streets of Cairo, Tunis, Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen and certainly not to this day in Libya. And you'd think the Libyan strongman ought to make this a nobrainer. If his bizarre umbrella speech and conspiracy rhetoric of the unrest being plotted by Osama bin Laden and hallucination pills didn't reveal Gaddafi to be the Michael Jackson of dictators, nothing will. The only thing Gaddafi knows how to do effectively these days is to kill his own people.
Obama could be seizing the unrest and thirst for democracy in the Arab/Muslim world as a mandate for the end of dictatorial and/or monarchical tyrannies, to have his State Department lead the way toward diplomatic rather than military solutions like Carter did with Begin and Sadat at Camp David.
But Obama is living up to Maureen Dowd's caricature of him as statecraft's answer to Mr. Spock and seems loathe to take on even unworthy straw men like the Republican Party and clearly insane and clueless dictators who have clung to power for far too many decades. And Obama, aside from the soaring but empty rhetoric that inexplicably earned him a Nobel Prize nomination a week and a half in office, has shown himself to be an even less forceful and effectual leader than Jimmy Carter and that's saying something.
Obama has proven to be a miserable failure on every front. He is a disgrace in the ring, overhyped, and over powered by inferior opponents, the political version of the 1990 Mike Tyson versus the GOP's Buster Douglas, a man who only snarls and counterpunches against his own backers in his corner.