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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/3/11

Is Obama to Blame for America's Mess?

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Not that restored Republican rule would ease the pain of the American people. Indeed, it would likely make things much worse for many, especially if Republicans go through with their plans to privatize Medicare and end the "Ponzi scheme" that Perry calls Social Security.

But at least the Republican Party would be happy, and the Democrats wouldn't raise too much of a fuss because they always want to be seen as the "reasonable" ones in the room. Remember how they -- and the U.S. news media -- responded to Bush's seizure of the White House in Election 2000 by urging Americans to accept his "legitimacy." [For details, see Neck Deep.]

So, if the American voters acquiesce to the GOP hostage-taking -- and give control of the White House back to the Republicans -- there likely would be a surface calm, at least among the politico/pundit class of Washington.

There also would be some derision directed at "loser" Obama, maybe some stories about his quirky personal behavior like those articles about Al Gore growing a beard after his "defeat" to Bush, all to reinforce how thankful Americans should be that another straight-shooter like Rick Perry is in the White House.

As with Bush's presidency, Americans could expect an enforced public unity with dissidents being rhetorically tarred and feathered as "unpatriotic" or "treasonous." From brandishing guns against Obama and waving "Don't Tread on Me" banners, the Tea Party would redeploy itself as a paramilitary defense perimeter for President Perry.

The Washington press corps, which has grown accustomed to going "on bended knee" for Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan, would be comfortable in its subservient position again. Remember how the mainstream media bowed to Bush for at least the first six years of his presidency, including helping him make his false case for invading Iraq.

A Rick Perry Presidency

The real question about a Rick Perry presidency is how far could the American people be pushed before they collectively realize their backs are against the abyss. Surely, more scapegoats would be presented -- Muslims, socialists, atheists, Iran -- but what happens if millions of Americans catch on to Buffett's insight about the rich winning the class war.

As their dreams are crushed, will Americans continue to embrace the "government is the problem" orthodoxy of Ronald Reagan and the "free market" fantasies of Ayn Rand? Will they accept their gradual reduction to economic serfdom (in the form of joblessness and homelessness) under the boot of all-powerful corporations?

The answer to those questions could play out painfully over the next few decades or they could be addressed right now with Americans acting both foresightedly and practically. There is still time to build a movement for rationality and common-sense solutions to problems.

And, while America's political problem is indeed bigger than Barack Obama, he certainly could play an important role by finally engaging in that debate he keeps promising about what an effective government can do for the people.

Arguably, one of Obama's early mistakes was in surrounding himself with advisers who were committed to making today's broken-down system work, rather than undertaking a dramatic overhaul of the entire process.

Many top aides were recycled officials from the Clinton administration, including White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Some were longtime Republican operatives, like Defense Secretary Robert Gates, or bureaucrats closely tied to Wall Street, like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Together, their limited vision was confined to simply patching up the old system -- both domestically and globally -- achieving more "continuity" than "change" from the Bush administration. While that might have been understandable given the economic crisis and the two wars, their approach shut out any serious structural reform.

So, instead of subjecting the gambling banks to the shock of short-term nationalization and stringent new rules, Obama continued a policy of stabilizing them with taxpayers' money. Instead of terminating the stalemated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he kept them going with promises of gradual withdrawals.

Instead of demonstrating that the United States really meant what it has said regarding international law and human rights, Obama let Bush and his subordinates off the hook on torture and other war crimes. He didn't even authorize a serious public inquiry into these abuses.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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