— T.S. Eliot, “Murder in the Cathedral”
The nation happily put Barack Obama in the White House. But you get the feeling that President Bush never left.
America is still fighting two and one-half Bush wars.
In Iraq, the fighting continues despite withdrawal of U.S. combat troops. In Afghanistan, President Obama orders a surge à la Bush. In Pakistan, Obama maintains war by proxy, sending drones and helicopters to kill, maim and destroy.
The U.S. occupation of Iraq still rankles. America has 94 bases there. The State Department is building two diplomatic outposts in Iraq, each costing $100 million, with a private security force of 7,000.
An Iraqi son kills his father because he had taken a job with the U.S. military. Patricide becomes understandable.
Obama or Bush, it’s still permanent war. Obama or Bush, it’s still the American empire circling the globe with military bases. Obama or Bush, it’s still kidnaping for “extraordinary rendition”: torture at the U.S. Air Force base at Bagram, Afghanistan.
Obama, unfortunately, listens to the military. He forgets that he is commander in chief, that he rules the military. And he forgets that his real bosses are the American people.
Guantánamo is still open despite candidate Obama’s pledge to shut it. (Mario Cuomo, the New York Hamlet, said candidates campaign in poetry but govern in prose. True. But we took campaigner Obama to be more than a hack politician.)
Guantánamo still holds suspects without trial and without due process. Obama’s promised transparency is opaque.
He asks a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit because of state secrets. That excuse, like supposed national security, is nothing more than “covering your ass.”
Surveillance of American citizens continues with President Obama seeking authority to snoop on the Internet. Americans are still being arrested or harassed for the “crime” of demonstrating against the nation’s wars.
After nine years of foolish warfare in Afghanistan, with America delivering death and destruction, the Obama team and the Pentagon accuse WikiLeaks and leaker Pvt. Bradley Manning of risking lives. The hypocrisy is huge.
Obama’s pragmatism and centerism is really Bushism redux.
Moreover, Obama’s half-a-loaf politics is dismaying, giveways rather than real accomplishments.
On the health act, he surrendered without a fight on the essential single-payer plan. Univeral coverage reduces costs and saves lives. Obama even gave up on the much weaker public option. Both surrenders means corporate greed won again.
The finance act is weak tea. Columnist Robert Reich put it bluntly: “The American people will continue to foot the bill for the mistakes of Wall Street’s biggest banks.
“The legislation does nothing to diminish the economic and political power of these giants. It does not cap their size. It does not resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act (strict regulation).”
But Obama did one thing right: naming Elizabeth Warren as consumer watchdog. She will oversee the creation of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection as White House assistant, a bureau she devised as a Harvard law professor.
Warren is a feisty woman who will not be afraid to confront the bankers.
Other good news coming from the White House is the resignation of Lawrence Summers, chief economic adviser to the president. Summers’ loved Wall Street far more than Main Street.
Still more happy news from the White House: the departure of Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff. Emanuel headed the Israeli Mafia in the White House and had a conservative influence on Obama.
At least two others need to go: Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Gates is a warmongering holdover from the Bush team. Geithner is a Wall Street flack.
All the blame cannot be put on Obama. The obstructionist GOP has repeatedly thwarted measures for the good of the American people.
Nor has Obama been helped by the spineless Democratic Party controlling Congress. The Democrats in turn are harmed by the Blue Dog Democrats, who are really Republicans.
Historically, the party controlling the White House loses seats in Congress in mid-term elections. But the losses Nov. 2 could be even steeper.
America is in the throes of a terrible recession and enormous joblessness. Moreover, so many voters are gripped with an anti-incumbent mood.
Whatever the failings of Obama it would be a terrible mistake for the nation’s voters to turn over the House and/or the Senate to Republicans.
Little progress has been made by the Democrats. But none will be made by the retrograde Republican Party.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.