Yesterday President Obama gave a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas.
As I read the text of the speech this morning (after seeing some clips last night), it read like something reminiscent of what we heard at the height of his 2008 campaign for the presidency.
Let's face it; the man is brilliant, eloquent and inspiring. That's why he was elected in 2008.
Back then, that eloquence and inspiration touched a nerve in the majority of the American people and in a leap of faith (for we really didn't know the man) elected him elected in 2008.
But this is December, 2011 and this president is up for re-election in 11 months, so his speech yesterday, though not billed as a campaign speech, was in fact full campaign oratory.
Significantly, Obama showed no evidence of the placating and appeasement of the Republicans that we have witnessed and been forced to endure these past 2 years and 11 months. In fact his only positive reference to Republicans was his citing of Teddy Roosevelt who busted up the trusts during his time in office and was later to champion the working man advocating the 8 hour day, a minimum wage for women, unemployment insurance and the progressive income tax.
Yesterday was pure vintage Obama of 2008, hitting these chords i.e. "those at the very top grew wealthier but everyone else struggled, banks packaging risks, handing out huge bonuses using other peoples money, regulators looking the other way, the greed of a few, irresponsibility across the system" et al. There was even indirect reference to the occupy movement "sparking protests though out the country" and "occupying the streets of New York and other cities". He even mentioned "1% values or 99% values", a clear reference to the main theme voiced by the occupy movement. There was even reference to the great disparity of income between "the top one percent" whose income "has gone up 250%" and the incomes of most Americans have fallen by six percent". Also "this kind of inequality"hurts us all". This "inequality distorts our democracy"runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder". Whew!
But was this acknowledging and highlighting some of the truths' and honesty expressed by the people in the occupy movement or an attempt to co-opt it? What are we to make of this "Obama"?
The man is running for re-election. He's in full campaign mode i.e. saying anything he thinks will help him get re-elected. What is one to make of his "alluding" to some of the same language used by the occupy movement i.e. "inequality, income disparity between the 1% and the 99%", (those things a majority of people easily recognize and identify with because they were first openly expressed and brought into focus by the occupiers)?
So much has "gone by the boards". Let's look at the reality of his presidency:
- Obama began by announcing Guantanamo would be closed within a year. It's still open.
- In the financial realm he surrounded himself with Wall Street insiders like Lawrence Summers and Tim Geitner, both advocates of deregulation of the financial industry whose reckless, fraudulent excesses caused the sub- prime mortgage bubble to burst and with it the financial meltdown and subsequent great recession. These appointments were a clear nod to favor Wall Street financial interests whose largesse contributed the most money to Obama's campaign in the general election of 2008.
- To date Obama's Justice Department has brought NO criminal investigation and prosecutions of any of the Wall Street banks or any other of the financial mortgage speculators, especially "Countrywide Financial" who was the biggest underwriter of suspect sub prime mortgages.
- No members of the Bush administration which authorized torture have been brought to justice.
- Drone strikes and missile attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen have increased under the Obama administration.
- The war in Afghanistan has been expanded.
- The policies of extraordinary rendition, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention of suspects and denial of habeas corpus continues unabated.
- Assassination of American citizens has been authorized and carried out.
These are some of the actual comings and goings of this administration and certainly not an exhaustive listing.
Of course yesterday's speech alluded to none of the aforementioned, but they are fact and not fiction.
So are we to ignore the reality of Obama's first term in office and expect the "transformational presidency" to miraculously appear in a second term?