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The Far Side of Prudence

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David Bromwich, Professor of Literature at Yale University, wrote an essential essay in Huffington Post two days ago. He flat out nailed it. He teased apart the personality (and character) of Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States, and presented an explanation for the fecklessness, the hyper-prudential, the bi-partisanship mongering that reeks out of the White House these days. I heartily recommend this Bromwich article to you without reservation. I hope you pay special attention to the part where Obama's ward-healing, community-organizing methodology and personality are explained. It goes a long way toward understanding the flaccidity of this historic administration.

I was going to entitle this essay "The Wrong Guy at the Right Time," but reconsidered. Bromwich quickly provides alternative titles and at one point says,
... Obama's two opposing traits, the caution and the presumption, have joined with results that are deeply unhappy. He arrogates. He does not indicate. And when the argument is well underway, he starts his major explanation as an afterthought.

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Obama cherishes the ideal of a frictionless transformation of society. It is a wish for aesthetic harmony, which he mistakes for a political goal. Its attainment would be a beautiful thing. But no matter how much he appeals for comity, Obama is certain to give offense to some. Better to choose your times and targets than allow others to force that choice.


In plainer language this means that Barack Obama is failing at being President ... because he is, apparently, constitutionally unprepared to go into the fray and break a few knee caps if necessary. He continues to believe his fantasy about bipartisan solutions. As Bromwich puts it
Pragmatic justifications have been offered to explain his aversion to any contest that implies a clash of opposing interests. Thus Rahm Emanuel said of the disastrously time-wasting courtship of Republican support for the stimulus package: "The public wants bipartisanship. We just have to try. We don't have to succeed." But try every time and you will waste your life. And when did the public say it wanted bipartisanship? The last fair measure was the election of 2008; and the public then gave a convincing majority to one party. (emphasis added)


Barack Obama wants to please everyone. That's his fantasy, but it is our cross. As my colleague in New York City put it the other day when we were discussing the Bromwich essay, particularly the part regarding Obama's fixation with bipartisan solutions ...
One additional point that Obama does not understand is that there is no functioning Republican Party to have bipartisanship with. There are no statesmen in the shell that passes for a political party. There are no intellectual thinkers with any ideas in the empty shell party. But most of all, there are no American patriots in the party. Their patriotism is only to their excessive wealth while using the vast numbers of uninformed voters like the "birthers," gun-nuts, and varieties of sociopaths to demonstrate for them.


I might not have been as kind to the Republicans as Tony, but his points are well taken. Republicans are in a tail-spin of psychological and political withdrawal from the horrendous lies and bullying of the Bush/Cheney administration, still believing that racism is a reasonable core position for a 21st century political party, and rudderless and virtually hopeless and clueless. The yelling and screaming of their minions at public meetings show the Party reduced to a frothing tantrum ... AND YET Barack Obama is helpless to take advantage of it ... or even extricate our country from the pollution from it suffered for the past ten years and now on into his own administration.

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Bromwich ends with the hope that Barack Obama can reverse himself and wise up. He says that if he does not this Presidency will be a failure and all semblance of his leadership foreclosed. We can survive that domestically, with pain, but with a world-wide recession still in progress, with Putin's shirt off on horseback in Siberia and his submarines eerily patrolling our coasts, with Israel hovering over its own little red button, with fanatics in Muslim countries afraid to bring their own cultures into the 21st century, continuation of Obama's failure could be fatal. In any case it will be ugly!

JB
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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)
 

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