For folks who were fans of the late, great American comedian Bill Hicks, they likely will be familiar with one of his more memorable routines wherein he is 'riffing' on about a Global Power Elite that rules the world. In this routine, Hicks unveils a secret induction ritual of sorts, a rite of passage that takes place once new presidents are ensconced in the White House.
In order to keep each president properly briefed on who actually wields power in the home of the brave and beyond, and discourage any altruistic notions about changing Washington and the world for the better via the power of the Oval Office, without any preamble, a cabal of dark-suited people representing the Powers that Be (PTBs) of the New World Order sit him down in the darkened, smoke-filled, windowless Situation Room in the White House bunker and show him hitherto unseen film footage of the actual JFK assassination.
In Hicks' not-so-fevered, conspiratorial imagination, this unique piece of historical cinema verite vividly reveals the Crime of the Century from a completely different angle than seen in the famous Zapruder footage. Only this time the fatally offensive projectiles (plural) can be clearly identified as coming from behind the white picket fence atop a certain grassy knoll to the right and in front of the presidential motorcade, the scene replete with a rifle-packing assassin fleeing the area pronto. After the presentation finishes, the lights turned on, and the smoke clears, the PTBs have only one thing to say to the by now ashen-faced, freshman POTUS:
"Any questions, Mr President?"
Once the look of abject fear, shock and horror subsides and the blood drains back into his face, accompanied by the sudden realisation that being president isn't going to be quite what he expected, his composure regained, his response goes something like this: "Nah sh*t man, Arrhhm down with that, let's go bomb Basra!" The cigar chomping PTBs, who by now are all smiles and bonhomie, slap the freshly minted Prez on the back and say in unison: "That's our boy. Great to have you on board!"
As darkly amusing as Hicks' bit is, there can be no doubt that for many of us, the scenario may be uncomfortably close to the truth, and you don't need to be a paid-up member of the 'tin foil hat brigade' to think that.
With this opening in mind, it is now time to ask the following question about the incumbent POTUS. To wit: What happened Mr President? Like many folks, this writer had high hopes for Number 44, and vividly recalls the night of the election win in 2008 wherein Obama's speech to the nation was as electrifying and as inspiring as anything I can remember in the annals of US politics. And I'm not even an American! (Did we see a tear in Colin Powell's eye?)
To a Blind Nation (A nod as Good as a Wink)
Such was Obama's ascendancy to the highest office in the home of the brave that it seemed even for the most jaded, nay cynical, of political observers that America had taken a turn for the better, and not just for America's sake! Like many of my fellow Australians and doubtless many other non-Americans, it was hard not to feel elated about the prospect that this Sometimes Great Nation had turned the corner. America had woken up to the reality it actually could be a genuine force for good in the world, and it finally had someone in the Oval Office who both understood what was at stake and could bring that change about.
Such a reaction was of course not unexpected after the Bush/Cheney years, and the message of hope and change was destined to resonate with many. By any measure the Bush regime was the most disastrous presidential 'experiment' up to that time, and we will return to George II's reign shortly. But sadly it seems increasingly obvious the buoyant expectations of the future ushered in by Barack Obama's election were misplaced after all.
For those of us prepared to consider this notion, the big question is this: Was Obama co-opted by the PTBs after he was elected a la the Bill Hicks scenario? Or was he a Judas-Goat from the off? For those unfamiliar with the term and the intent of the metaphor, it's enough to know that before the slaughterhouses became all 'assembly-lined' and mechanised, the Judas-goat was used to mingle with and gain the 'trust' of the animals, whereupon it would then easily lead them up the ramps to meet their ultimate fate. Readers will get the drift.
The answer to this is hard to know for certain of course, and in seeking some clues all we can do is reflect on Obama's rise to high office and especially his record. Of course there are plenty of people who have done that and continue to do so, and this is not my main purpose herein. What may be a more useful exercise is to look at the Office of the President, and examine the actual power and authority the Oval One (to use Gore Vidal's priceless phrase) is capable of exercising. This hopefully might give us some useful additional insights.
But as always, a little dose of history is in order. After 9/11, Bush's Pax Americana morphed very quickly into (a) Pox Amerikana, an unprecedented, raging, out of control geopolitical pandemic for the zeitgeist, and again, the consequences and outcomes of which will be with us forever and a day. That is unless the next generation beyond Obama can find and administer a cure before it is too late, because it appears even six years after Bush this virulent strain of empire mired hubris and overreach is not going to croak of its own accord anytime soon.
Truth be known, even pre-'Dubya', the American Empire was probably already something of a Pox Amerikana. It had in fact been heading in that direction at a rate of knots. This was especially so since the Fall of the Wall, when it could be argued the rot of triumphalism really took hold. Bush II's true 'genius' -- his one lasting achievement and the one that almost certainly will define his legacy -- may have been bringing America's particular and peculiar malaise out into the open for us all to see. Which is not to suggest that "all" of us are "see"ing even now, as a nod is as good as a wink to a blind nation as it were.
Now the spread, virulence and mortality rate of the Bush 'Pox' may not have been foreseen at the time by most. But this is surely one case where even a little objective hindsight confers great clarity, although any such "clarity" now one both expects and fears may be of the 'too little, too late' variety as distinct from 'better late than never' kind.