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Neither an agent of change nor a man of peace

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Michael Payne
Message Michael Payne

President Barack Obama is still trying to portray himself to the American people as both an agent of change and a man of peace. Truth be told, he is neither. After one year in office it is now crystal clear that he simply is not the leader that he appeared to be; that the persona he tried to project was merely an illusion. And now Americans find themselves trying to cope with the reality that real change is not coming and the march to perpetual war will continue.

By now most Americans are sick and tired of hearing any more about health care reform because Mr. Obama and his cohorts in Congress have totally corrupted the process; but I must bring it up once more as it is one of the prime examples of Mr. Obama's key policy reversals. No matter how much he tries to deny it, during his campaign, he made numerous references to his support for a strong public option in health care reform. He never was able to sell his reform plan to a skeptical American public because he never explained in plain, understandable terms what it meant to them.

From the time he entered the White House, you could clearly see that he was backpedaling on the issue of the public option and trying to make it go away and finally it did. Progressives know that the public option was the centerpiece and the most critical part of health reform because it would guarantee competition within the insurance industry. Now he has thrown the public option under the bus and disclaimed it. Could it be that he just doesn't have the stomach to go up against the mighty insurance companies and their lobbyists? Better yet, that he never had the intention to confront them on this critical issue?

During the campaign, we heard him make many statements about how he would deal with the Washington Establishment and bring real change to the way our government operates. He would no longer allow the powerful special interests and lobbyists to dominate the legislative agenda in Congress. Well, sad to say, nothing whatsoever has changed and cozy relationships between special interests and our elected representatives in Congress have reached new heights. Under current toothless campaign finance rules, clear conflicts of interests are condoned because the handouts are called campaign contributions; let's call them what they actually are bribes.

Our president is giving Corporate America a free pass. As much as he rails against the "too big to fail" banks he is failing to demand strong regulations to put an end to their financial abuses that caused the economic crisis. Geithner, Summers and Bernanke, tools of Wall Street, continue to rule economic policy while Paul Volcker and any number of other economic heavyweights sit on the backbenches. Mr. Obama has not called for any kind of legislation to put curbs on the outsourcing of American jobs overseas, even while our once solid manufacturing base is being disseminated.

It's been reported that President Obama and key staff members all read, "Lessons in Disaster" before he made his decision on committing more troops to Afghanistan. This excellent narrative by author Gordon M. Goldstein of the decisions and actions of the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations, leading to the buildup of our military involvement in Vietnam, shows how each of these presidents dealt with the enormous power and influence of the U.S. military during that time. JFK stood up to the generals and admirals, Johnson did not.

To think that Mr. Obama and his advisers could read that account of the many mistakes, miscalculations and arrogance of Johnson and his advisers, and the terrible, tragic consequences of their decisions, and then blindly go down that same foolhardy path, is almost incomprehensible. They had the opportunity to learn from history but they chose to ignore those lessons and made the grave decision to escalate our involvement in Afghanistan. Historians will not be kind to this administration in future years as they write of how this president duplicated Johnson's mistakes and led America into a massive, very costly quagmire.

Mr. Obama does not like confrontations. He will never be compared to Washington, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt or FDR, not that they always made the right decisions, but that they were very strong leaders who would not acquiesce to the military or other powerful influences. But our current president seems to think that he can lead by being some kind of mediator or conciliator to establish harmony between all parties in the government or the military. America needs a strong, fearless leader, not some kind of mediator.

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