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I Still Like Obama

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Anyone who enrages Republican wing-nuts as effectively as Barack Obama can't be all bad. In fairness, he does it without trying. In fact, just the opposite, he reaches out to them, which infuriates them all the more.

Afghanistan is the largest concern in terms of the decisions Obama has made. It's a textbook military blunder, not to mention a reinvestment in US Military domination of everyone, everywhere. Reinvestment is the right word for it. The fact that the US Economy is an epic disaster and we really still have two wars underway is no coincidence.

There is room for cautious optimism
that Iraq may be winding down as an active military operation. However, the chances that the US will relinquish control of Iraqi oil production, really, are not very good. An extended occupation and long-term manipulation of the Iraqi governmental process, and Iraqi natural resources, are all but certain.

All of which can be argued to be "business as usual" for the American President. I guess what I like about Obama is that I get the sense that he would like to, for lack of a better word, change things. The missing link here is what kind of pressure is Obama facing behind closed doors? Even in the public realm we're seeing unprecedented resistance to Obama's attempts at reform, from conservative Republicans and Democrats alike.

I like the things Obama has tried to do: Health care reform, foreclosure mitigation, his comments on the outrageous decision by the Supreme Court's five corporate lawyers to essentially duct-tape a for-sale sign to America's electoral system. All of these things are a departure for an American President. He is indeed trying.

What concerns me are the things Obama has agreed to: An extension of the US Campaign in Afghanistan, an acceptance of the Bernanke-Geithner "Wall Street must be saved," mantra, a don't-ask don't-tell policy on torture past and present.

I guess what redeems Obama for me is that he agrees to these things without losing his disdain for them. I wanted change, and in fairness change really hasn't come yet. The intriguing thing is that Obama may actually want these changes too, and seems to. My impression is that he is meeting resistance in a number of significant forms.

To understand what happens at the Oval Office, you first have to understand that the one called "president" is just a guest, literally. The president is there for either four or eight years, but he -- or perhaps someday she -- is surrounded by people who frequent the Oval Office over the course of decades, not four-year terms. These people may be lobbyists, Pentagon types, CIA, etc. They are very adept at bringing pressure to bear to achieve their aims. Things like, "You cannot do this or the consequences will be grave," get said by those who have said them before. Sure, the president has the final say, but the pressure-bringers have far greater experience, and far greater numbers.

The tea party crowd is merciless and relentless in their condemnation of Obama, but there is another group that stands just as ready to indict and convict Barack Obama: Progressives. Progressives are just as unyielding in their judgment of Obama, just as determined to derail, to thwart, to oppose, what they see as unacceptable governance. Progressive social objectives may be better reasoned and better argued, however, at the end of the day we may be seeing a Faustian synergy developing between two groups with diametrically opposed social agendas. Progressives and tea-baggers working on separate but parallel tracks to discredit the same president. Strange bedfellows indeed.

We now have a bona fide intellectual in the Oval Office -- such things are rare. This is a man of understanding and insight, but his power to achieve change for good is not greater than the dedication of his supporters. Obama has to rally his supporters through a visible commitment to action, and his supporters must be willing to stand tall beside him.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News:

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