Obama's presidency is hardly the vast repudiation of the right wing as it was advertised during his campaign. Obama as the Wizard, as in Oz, lends him an identity that most accurately describes his political ideation apart from his gung ho, progressive, campaign rhetoric. If his presidency could be summarized to date, and if William Faulkner could be asked to comment, he would very likely say, "it is a tale. told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The Wizard of Oz, concealed himself behind a curtain as he brought forth peals of thunder and bolts of lightening. And so Obama pretends to progressive leadership, just as the Wizard pretended to a vision larger than life. But his progressive supporters asked for far more than a politician's wiles, when they helped usher him into the presidency.
The republicans are not as easily tricked. They see a man who, caught out by his own deceptions, must now offer the sops who advanced him to high office, some token form of progressive consolation. Obama's predicament in this regard has inspired the republicans to new heights of destructive malevolence. They can smell his weakness, his self induced neutrality, and they know their attacks will go unanswered as Obama retreats on every progressive front. He is not going to face down the bankers and tell them their wanton greed, when it strangles them again, will not be relieved at the taxpayer's expense. Obama has taken an opposite tack, against the wind. He works to weaken the laws that had kept tax evading corporations from bidding for government contracts.
A single payer plan for national health care? Obama was never serious about any such thing. He will only sign off on National Health Care if it's advantageous to one of his chief campaign contributors among the health insurance industry. But how 'bout a public option? The health insurance industry would collapse if forced to compete with a plan that included a public option. The plan that finally squeaked through Pelosi's House of Cards - the one that was celebrated as if Americans actually won a round against the corporate campaign financiers, forbids individual states from pursuing a single payer plan on their own. It was Christmas in November for health insurance companies. Now it's the Senate's turn to make a public spectacle, as it's antics coincide with Pelosi's House to insure that Americans never realize meaningful health care reform.
For the U.S. Congress to even consider universal health care is, in itself, a progressive development. Even health care's predetermined failure is hardly enough to make any sane person miss Bush the Junior. Obama is much smarter than his predecessor, but Bush Junior charged full speed ahead and damned the torpedos, and unlike Obama ever will, he wrought changes in the U.S. that Americans will unfortunately feel the effects of for many years. Obama will play at being president, and will never break free from the trap he set for himself during his campaign.
"I don't want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us in the war." Obama may now send an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan. And here's another one. "To the extent that we've got a fiscal crisis right now, part of it is prompted by a bullheaded insistence on the part of the president, for example, that we should extend all of his tax cuts, make all of them permanent." The Office of Management and Budget says that making the tax cuts permanent are part of the budget outline Obama presented on Feb. 26, 2009. Obama, while campaigning, promised to reverse the Bush Administrations paranoiac mania for secrecy. He also said he'd see that corporations were held to some degree of accountability. He abandoned both promises upon election.
Independents will likely break towards Obama's opponent in 2012, and so won't many of the progressives who now feel betrayed by his Wizardly campaign performance. Having betrayed his base, he hasn't the will, or the conviction of his own belief, to break free of the trap he's set for himself. Obama will never shake free of his corporate sponsors. After a year he has yet to stand up in any kind of principled response to the republican attacks that question his patriotism, his lineage, his very birth right. But Obama, as his supporters are now realizing, is a conservative republican in the best tradition of Joe Lieberman.
Obama's unfortunate legacy will be regarded as the catalyst that enabled the republicans to replace him in 2012, with an intelligent version of Bush. Obama is involved in a war for the soul of a nation, and seems unaware of the implications. His campaign chattering about reigning in the big corporations, was a contrivance. He knows he was elected as the final defense against the corporate oligarchy that has replaced representative democracy, but he'll stand aside before he will exercise the will to lead. Each day he reveals a bit more of his allegiance to the corporate entity that will finance his campaign for re-election, just as it finances his opponent. Much of his former support has now realized that Obama is a hoax, a cruel approximation of voter's imagined hope. Now he's being seen as a man who can't be trusted to keep his word, and far worse, deliberately deceived millions of gullible and naïve voters.
Obama is the chicken that runs back and forth across the road until it's finally squashed on the centerline. Like the Wizard of Oz, he substitutes noise and fireworks for principled action. He came to office with a clear mandate, but unlike his predecessor who had no such thing but led as if he had, Obama is chained to his corporate masters and is careful to keep from rattling his chains. He will shrink from any confrontation that involves a line in the sand that challenges him to stop across.