September 29, 2009
By Allan Goldstein
The world is breaking. Chaos beckons, and Barack Obama, the man who gave us hope when he said "Yes, we can," now needs to speak a new phrase. He may have to say it to our generals, he may have to say it to Ahmadinejad, he may have to say it to us. "No, you can't."
Obama, the easy part is over. Dealing
with the rednecks, racists and right-wing dead-enders was duck soup compared to
what's coming now. While we were engaged
in pleasant diversions like debating health care reform and financial
re-regulation real trouble was brewing overseas.
president came into office with a vision of the future and a long to-do list
that the previous administration had either badly botched or sorely
neglected. He knew what he wanted to
spend his political capital on, he knew the approximate direction he wanted to
take the country, he thought he had an idea of the history he was going to
He is about
to be overtaken by events. The anvil
that will forge or crush his presidency isn't going to be the town halls or the
blogosphere, it won't be in Congress or the Supreme Court. It will be, once again, thousands of miles
away, where reckless men are making desperate bets with the lives of millions. It will be, once again, a dozen little fires,
threatening to burst into a firestorm, that test his steel and define his
legacy, as it did to FDR and JFK and LBJ before him.
Iran wants a bomb, Israel
wants to bomb Iran,
Bin Laden wants his audiotaped fantasies to become fatal realities, homegrown
Jihadists with homebrew explosives want to kill, kill, kill.
become a playground for Al Qaeda again, is it a war to win or a quagmire to
avoid? What do we do if Iran goes critical, if Pakistan explodes into civil war, if Moscow sends the tanks into Georgia,
if a ship full of North Korean missile parts sails for Yemen?
the stark choices that are rushing to confront our president right now, at an
ever-accelerating speed. He is the man
who must decide, do we go all in, is it just a bluff, can we let things happen
and live with the consequences? Will Iran get the bomb, will they use it, will Israel wait quietly to find out, will Russia and China help with sanctions or pick
up the pieces after we break ourselves in a war that costs them nothing?
We have a
most reasonable president who now has to deal with a scarily unreasonable
world. This is his test and it's not the
one he was looking for. The 3 AM
telephone is ringing off the hook. What
does he say when he picks it up?
can.” There is still power in those
words. The honeymoon is over, but the
dream is alive, and Obama has more people believing than not. It will take time, but we're only ten months
into an eight year presidency, he has time.
I have no doubt that Obama means it when he says, “Yes, we can.”
are forces afoot in the world that can turn it all to dust, if left
unchecked. From Tehran
to Times Square, nihilists, dictators,
fundamentalists, crazies and crazies like a fox are weaving nightmares and
hatching plans that would shatter our beautiful hopes for a better, more
compassionate world and paint it red with blood.
into power with grand ideas and many plans, as only the best leaders do. He was going to bend the future to his will,
as only the strongest leaders can. He is
trying mightily to rouse us from our gridlocked doldrums and get us moving
forward again. Obama is a moderate by
temperament and a progressive by aim, but a realist above all. He knows that progress is a ratchet, you make
history by moving forward, click by click.
Little victories adding up to big changes, that's how history is
made. Obama knows that and he's doing
it, through all the noise and turmoil and resistance he's pushing forward, pressing
the agenda. When the dust clears and the
naysayers have screamed themselves mute, we'll be further along than we are
today. Obama will have made history.
not just about the history you make.
Sometimes it's about the history you prevent. Sometimes the measure of the man is to stand
athwart history and shout “halt!”
is growing dark, you'd have to be blind not to see that. Obama is not blind. And now we're going to find out if he knows
how to say the words that are not in his nature, and make them stick. “No, you can't.”
San Francisco based columnist, author, gym rat and novelist. My book, "The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie" is the best memoir ever written by a cat. Available on Amazon.com, or wherever fine literature is sold with no sales tax collected.
For those seeking more detail on yours truly, the following is from my website, allangoldstein.com, where you can partake copiously, and for free.
"Allan Goldstein lives in San Francisco with his wife, Jordan, and a minimum of two cats. His op-ed newspaper column,"Caught off Base," has appeared in San Francisco's West Portal Monthly for the past decade. Satire, invective and humor are specialties.
He also blogs regularly on opednews.com and on hypocrisy.com under the pseudonym Snark Twain. Other work has appeared in Spitball, The Baseball Literary Review, The Potomac Review, and several magazines including Rock and Gem and Pilot's Preflight. He is currently at work on his third novel."