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Time for Obama's Long Form Presidency

By       Message Robert S. Becker     Permalink
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Waiting for Change by Eric Allie

Now that the president has delivered proof positive he's legit, at least to all three undecided sloths, when does he begin to prove he's a legitimate, history-making president ready to "win the future"?  When does Mr. Obama wake from slumber, get on the boat of history, cross the Jordan, and begin working to deliver the Long Form of his Promised Land?  That starts not in Hawaii, nor over the rainbow, but by leveraging the greatest bully pulpit in the world and displaying a presidential learning curve. 

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Hell, the sterling bully pulpit is about the only residual piece of American exceptionalism extant.

Does the drama begin now, say, Obama freeing himself from the corporate octopus, his own risk-aversion, and transcend the "silliness" plaguing his constituency, natural born and otherwise.  For once I'm with the unequivocal president, "We do not have time for this kind of silliness." Okay, how about tomorrow shedding your loyal embrace of Republican entrenchment that smothers federal spending, taxation, and budgetary projections -- compacting government to the size of a bathtub? 

Change means change

How about abandoning the imperial mindset inherited from a most hated, militaristic administration, bogging us down and threatening bankruptcy?  Or don't trust job-production comes after this self-induced bust by capitalism finally turns boomward -- if it does, any time soon for middle Americans?  When do we confront the "silliness" of the Bush-Cheney juggernaut that misused terrorism to discard our Constitution, due process and civil rights?  Here's an easy one -- apologize for the inexcusable, pre-emptive "silliness" of declaring jailed soldier, Bradley Manning, guilty for "he broke the law."  Obama's expanded his commander-in-chiefdom across military tribunal, judge, and jury.

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Reversing Obama's own "silliness," a.k.a. regression to the mean-spirited, would thrill countless former supporters -- frantic there'll be four more years of the slow Obama boat to the status quo.  When does this president find a genuine voice of his -- and learn the political craft of getting his way on something significant, not cowed by Republican "bipartisan" shafting? 

Hold your horses, this skeptic also endorses a second declaration: "We are not going to be able to solve," Obama said, "our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers."  Well, chatting up fractional, compromised, half-solutions to complex problems, then catering to reactionaries strikes me as a painful side show. Does not this White House, oddly handing out the Long Form after obnoxious, fraudulent hucksterism from the Donald, serve distraction by carnival barkers?  Why not hold the line, letting Trump the non-candidate choke on his own non-issue?

True Legitimacy Stills Silliness

Widespread Obama silliness ends not by confirming what every rational being knew (the birthplace), but showing you understand you desperately need the liberal and progressive wings to win re-election.  Why not regret openly attacking your base, nothing less for me than bad politics, bad electioneering and, frankly, bad manners?  Bad faith enemies won't care if you talk nice to your '08 supporters. 

In a perverse, dim-witted way, Birtherism obsessed about one critical political and spiritual issue for Obama, or any leader -- legitimacy of power. When does the electioneering stop, the candidate shucks his old skin, and he grows fully into the daunting job he won, battling for his agenda?  Though winning grants initial legitimacy, the ultimate legacy comes after only real achievements under duress, even losing in a noble cause.  All presidents face unexpected dramas, but what new information about any major issue is now at hand that wasn't known on Inauguration Day?   

Summary: stalled wars, inconclusive or worse, with a new one growing; credit, except to the rich, blocked; foreclosures, worse; job growth, miserable; restoration of civil rights, non-existent; union-busting, a growth industry; energy plan, non-existent; deep Gulf oil drilling, approved; price checks on health care, theoretical at best.  Good news, in short, rarer than hen's teeth. 

And the Reward: Re-election?

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Yes, yes, the president can be articulate (though most honest off the record), and great on ceremony (though his speeches have sagged, more vacuous than ever).  I celebrate Elizabeth Warren and a few other progressive appointments -- yet any survey of our big issues shows the change guy I voted for hasn't yet shown up for the job.  Rahm Emanuel did, with predictable results.  Ditto, Joe Biden, a forgettable, gaffe-ridden V.P.  And the twin bankster enablers, Summers and Geithner, performed as expected (protecting paper assets, not job growth), along with Gates at Defense (militarism rationalized).  Hasn't this safe team demonstrated only what it takes to kept the mainliner afloat even, bite my lip, stay the course.  I know very few smart observers without substantial qualifications about Obama's performance, and none truly enthusiastic.  Many are morose.

Perhaps I cling to an historical model that no longer applies, perhaps this time is "different"-- the reactionaries are exceptionally craven and strong, corruption from money and influence-peddling overwhelming, and international complications beyond the ken of human wisdom. Sure, global environmental thresholds loom like never before -- and our complacent, safety- and comfort-driven species, seemingly allergic to planning and projections (and science), blunders on. 

Yet history also informs us the worst case from public pessimists of any age were specious, that humanity muddles through, and human ingenuity pushes forward.  Few, certainly not I, expect miracles, nor Promised Land from this directionless president.  But all the more reason this is a good time to demand our ship of state begins to address, if not admit catastrophes.   Those ignored rarely go away.  It's not like there aren't many to choose from -- and great presidents have looked upon challenges as opportunities to show one's mettle, not throw one's hands up in frustration and gridlock.  


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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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