As I was commenting on a friend’s blog, I reviewed Obama’s victory speech in 2008, and realized, at least to my mind, an ironic déjà vu.
Not too long into His Majesty Bush The Second’s reign, right after 9/11, we had the world rally around us. Along with the tremendous good will came the potential to bring enormous positive impact to the world, had we used restraint and followed the rule of law to bring the perpetrators to justice. We all knew how that was not so, and how we followed a reactionary, criminal, xenophobic, and imperialistic path externally. And the destructive, criminal, too-big-to-fail-eventually-bailed-out financial industry and big investment banks armed with fancy math derivatives and high-powered computers trashed our already weak economy internally. And get this, His Majesty Bush The Second got RE-ELECTED in the midst of all this. Yay American democracy!
The Bush dynasty was finally over, for now. Along came The Saviour, The Chosen One, with remarkable oratory skills and seemingly radiating transcending, above-the-fray power. After reading his excellent book “Dreams from My Father” (highly recommended still, even with my total disillusion of Obama today) and his so-so “The Audacity of Hope”, and his campaign promises at the time, I enthusiastically canvassed for him, knocking doors, and cast my first general election presidential ballot as an American to the Democrats.
Now HOPE is here. Once again the world rallied around us. In fact, the bunch of increasingly irrelevant Norwegian old men awarded him the Peace Prize simply because he is not Bush. (Granted, I don’t want to discount the significance of our first black/inter-racial president.) Once again, like Bush, Obama could have used the tremendous good will to do enormous good to America and the world.
Therein lies one of the most enduring attributes of Obama’s legacy: in many crucial areas, he has done more to subvert and weaken the left’s political agenda than a GOP president could have dreamed of achieving. So potent, so overarching, are tribal loyalties in American politics that partisans will support, or at least tolerate, any and all policies their party’s leader endorses – even if those policies are ones they long claimed to loathe.
This dynamic has repeatedly emerged in numerous contexts. Obama has continued Bush/Cheney terrorism policies – once viciously denounced by Democrats – of indefinite detention, renditions, secret prisons by proxy, and sweeping secrecy doctrines.
He has gone further than his predecessor by waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, seizing the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process far from any battlefield, massively escalating drone attacks in multiple nations, and asserting the authority to unilaterally prosecute a war (in Libya) even in defiance of a Congressional vote against authorising the war.
Domestically, Obama kept the insiders and Goldman-Sachs in charge of our financial industry, as per our tradition in the last several decades. And the economy is still in disarray.
So there you go. That is Déjà vu in my dictionary. This coming general election, I will show up, but I won’t cast my ballot to any candidate.
I won’t allow comment for this one. I’ve got plenty to do!