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In defense of Obama

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rick Staggenborg, MD       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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It is fashionable for the radical left to describe President Obama as some kind of evil Bush clone. The consensus seems to be that he is personally dedicated to making sure that Sasha and Malia grow up in a world totally dominated by the kind of people who have always subjugated African-Americans and now treat all average Americans like second-class citizens. This simplistic way of looking at a man in a unique historical position should embarrass anyone who calls himself liberal. It resembles the black-and-white thinking style of Tea Party supporters.

Conservatives are having a more rational discussion of the flaws of the Obama administration than radical leftists, at least if you turn Fox off and tune into more respectable sources of conservative viewpoints. No, not Jonah Goldberg or Charles Krauthammer. Not pseudo-intellectual hack writers but genuine, thinking conservatives. The kind that pointy-headed liberals claim don't exist. You know, Americans who don't happen to agree with their basic philosophical assumptions. How do they expect to have a national discussion when they assume all conservatives are morons? They must think that even as a minority they will somehow force their views on people for whom they show contempt. The fact is, no one is going to hold the President and Congress responsible if we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us. We need to do it together, conservatives and liberals sending the same message about what we want and holding government to it. This could start with a broad-based opposition to attacking Syria.

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Left-wing critics cite the fact of Obama's economic advisers being among those most responsible for the financial crisis, his promises to step up the Afghanistan War and drone bombings and his taking single payer off the table as evidence that he is totally "sold out" to corporate interests, especially the banksters. It is true that they contributed lavishly to his campaign, eventually dwarfing the amazing amount he raised from small donors. Do they think anyone could have gotten elected in 2008 without that money, let alone the post-Citizens United 2012 election? They also seem to have no idea what it takes to get anything done when you are President.

In fairness, the same criticism could be made of his unquestioning supporters. It is not enough to say that Republicans block every good thing he tried to do, so he needs to work on what is "politically possible." Nothing is possible if you don't try! He has ignored many critical issues or at best paid them lip service. A leader is supposed to persuade the People of what needs to be done to, such as addressing global climate change and establishing a rational foreign policy, two issues that are intimately related.  Of course, making this point is taboo in a political system dominated by neocons and neoliberals whose basic policies on these issues differ only in details. Republicans and Democrats do argue about whether it is good for the economy to use tax money to create jobs and whether the social safety net should be only damaged or destroyed, but these differences won't save a fundamentally flawed economy that is only going to get worse if banksters aren't brought to justice and the Trans Pacific Partnership becomes a reality.

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If you aren't too angry to read on, please bear with me. I am on your side.

Representative democracy depends on citizens having a respectful conversation. Only when we can demonstrate consensus can we legitimately talk about "the will of the People," let alone "the 99%."  If we continue to divide ourselves and blame "the other side" for all the problems, Congress and the White House will continue to do as they please, regardless of poll data showing that a great majority of Americans agree on critically important issues that Congress and the President ignore for fear they will lose favor with those to whom they feel they owe their offices. They tell themselves they have no choice: they must compromise so that they can "serve the People" the best they can in a system completely corrupted by special interest money.

Today, Americans should look at President Obama's record in a whole new light. Not as all good or all bad, but judged by the standard of what may be the only viable way for the President to get in a position to "be the change that Americans need."  On Saturday, he reversed himself (okay, with equivocation) and insisted that Congress weigh in on the decision to intervene directly in Syria. That was not in the plan that Obama's handlers had. Judging from the recommendations of his national security advisers, that plan hasn't changed. They are clearly still calling for an action that would have made Bush blush. Indirect support of the al Qaeda-dominated "Free Syrian Army" will fail to topple the dictator-du-jour.  

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The insane rush to war at the risk of sparking WW III may have been too much for the normally compliant President known for "leading from behind." He might have real doubts. He might have had them even before escalating the war in Afghanistan and agreeing to take part in the illegal assault of Libya. How can anyone know what is in a man's heart? Those who assume he always lies about his intent do not seem to consider that he feels compelled to act as he does because he cannot do otherwise without the people behind him, unless he wants to risk the fate of JFK.

Obama has never admitted that Assad was carefully selected based on the fact that his country is inconveniently situated between Iran and its European market, but he didn't write the script he was following. It was based on a plan developed over the years in think tanks funded by corporations that stood to benefit from control of oil and gas supplies in the Mideast and from the wars that would be essential to securing that control. The object of the plan is to assure that US-based energy interests will dominate the Mideast supply by cutting off a proposed pipeline from gas-rich fields in Iran and off the Syrian coast to Europe in a deal that would benefit Russia. And people say that Putin is just a hardass with a jones to give the US a hard time!

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I am a former Army and VA psychiatrist who ran for the US Senate in 2010 on a campaign based on a pledge to introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood. Now that the general public is beginning to understand the (more...)
 

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