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Our Unheeded Warnings to Obama

By       Message Robert Parry       (Page 1 of 12 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Reprinted from Consortium News

Editor's Note: In the days after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, we published a three-part series warning him of dangers ahead. However, the new President chose to ignore all our warnings. So nearly two years later, it might be a good time to assess whether our concerns were valid or not.

The first story argued that the Republicans remained wedded to "slash-and-burn" politics and therefore Obama's desire for bipartisanship would go unrequited.

The second reminded Obama that Bill Clinton's decision in 1993 to shelve investigations of Reagan-Bush-41 wrongdoing earned him no reciprocity from the Republicans and that doing the same regarding Bush-43 would bring similar results.

The third challenged the advice from Establishment Democrats who were urging Obama to keep Bush's Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a gesture of bipartisanship. Our article suggested that Gates, a devious careerist with longstanding ties to the Bush Family, was not to be trusted.

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[For the latest on how Gates joined in manipulating Obama in 2009 regarding the Afghan War escalation, see's "How Bush Holdovers Trapped Obama."]

We invite readers to comment on the three articles by Robert Parry that are reprinted below:

--Can the Republicans Change? (Nov. 9, 2008)

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Amid the global euphoria surrounding Barack Obama's victory and the hopeful talk about a new bipartisanship in Washington the Democrats are forgetting a powerful truth: modern Republicans are tied inextricably to slash-and-burn politics.

Even if some Republicans did want to shift toward a more bipartisan approach after more than three decades of successfully using "wedge" tactics and armed with a right-wing media infrastructure built to destroy opponents such a change might be impossible.

The idea of transforming modern Republicanism into some less partisan form might be like trying to train a boa constrictor which fork to use at the dinner table.

In recent years, whenever Republicans have talked about repudiating "partisan rancor" as John McCain did at the Republican National Convention it is followed by another binge of partisan rancor, like Sarah Palin's ugly rhetoric about Obama "palling around with terrorists" or McCain's own smearing of Obama as a "socialist."

Think back, too, on George W. Bush's sweet talk in Campaign 2000 about his "compassionate conservatism" that would respect opponents. That was followed by the bare-knuckled suppression of Florida's votes and then despite his tainted victory as a popular-vote loser Bush's hard-ball determination to enact a right-wing agenda.

After the 9/11 attacks, when Democrats and many other Americans swore off partisanship in the cause of national unity, Bush seized the moment to arrogate unprecedented powers to himself. Then, in fall 2002, he exploited America's fear and anger to push through a pre-election Iraq War authorization and still branded the Democrats as soft on terror.

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In 2004, Bush and his political guru Karl Rove set their sights on a "permanent Republican majority" that would relegate the Democrats to a cosmetic appendage to what would really be a one-party state, with the Republicans controlling all levers of government power and backed by an intimidating right-wing news media.

For Bush, the notion of bipartisanship became: Do whatever I say. Otherwise, you get billed as unpatriotic and un-American deserving of abuse and even physical threats, like those meted out to the Dixie Chicks for daring to criticize Bush at a pre-Iraq-invasion concert.

Similarly, anyone who threatened Republican electoral dominance could expect steady doses of smears, like the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry's Vietnam War heroism. At Bush's 2004 convention, some GOP delegates wore Purple Heart Band-Aids to mock the severity of Kerry's war wounds.

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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 It's also available at

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