The Slow Motion Presidency

by Daniel Russ on June 23, 2010

The problem with Obama is that he is perfect reflection of the rest of the Congress and the corporations/lobbyists: Utterly and totally out of touch with the people in the country that elected him and that he supposedly represents. Furthermore, he deigns to even reflect the anger and frustration of people on both sides of the party. “I didn’t get elected to have a tantrum,” he said on an interview not long ago.

President Barack Obama

Well let’s talk about that shall we? And maybe let’s have a tiny discussion about leadership. You can go through US military history and find that Marines said to the last man, that no matter how bad it got Chesty Puller inspired them. He would show up on a blood soaked beach-head and walk through a bunch of Marines that had taken 50% casualties, and the rest of them looked like they had been shot at and missed, but shit at and hit. Still, when he came through looking, talking to people they felt a ramrod up their asses. This brave Marine would never hide from a fight or the truth and his men felt it. Twenty years after the Mad Men era of advertising, and about a decade a ago, I worked at GSD&M, and the CEO, Roy Spence inspired me. He would call us together in the main rotunda here in the modern architecture in Austin, Texas. We called the space the Roytunda. He said in 1998, “In the next five years, we are going to become one of the top five considered agencies in the country for the best brands in the world.” You know what happened? We got there. He cajoled us and kidded us and when we were pissed he was pissed. Whether you liked him or he drove you crazy, you felt like there was someone in command. Obama could learn a thing or two about when to emote and when to give into what I once heard called the Democrat’s bete noire: “the tyranny of even handed ness.”

You know why the tea party is making gains even though many of them are bat shit crazy? Because they accurately reflect the raw anger that working class people feel when bankers who ran this country into a ditch get to keep their bonuses. I am no conservative let me tell you. But one thing about W, he moved his agenda forward. The great Hope we elected fights by the Marquis De Queensbury’s rules and the Republicans and lobbyists are cage fighting him.

James Howard Kunstler of www.kunstler.com, offers this:

“President Obama’s speech to the nation a week ago was designed as a kind of blowout preventer for the legitimacy of the federal government. It did little to stop the hemorrhaging of confidence in political leadership. A nation foundering in a crippled vessel in the horse latitudes of collective purpose on a sea of red ink looks to its captain – who puffs a few platitudes into the tattered sails and retreats below decks to pace and stew. This is a society truly lost at sea, where even the friendly dolphins are turning belly-up and the dying seabirds stare accusingly under their cloaks of crude oil. The feeling grows that we can’t do anything right. Will someone please turn off the TV?”

The always-brilliant Charles Blow writes in this morning’s column The Thrill Is Gone. He puts it perfectly: “It is becoming increasingly apparent that the magic has drained away. Even among his most ardent supporters, there now exists a certain frustration and disillusionment — not necessarily in the execution of his duties, but in his inability to seize moments, chart a course and navigate the choppy waters of public opinion.

What’s left for many is a big plume of disappointment and sadness lurking just beneath the surface.

Desperate to escape eight-years of an abusive relationship with a reckless cowboy and scared by a calculating John McCain who chose a feckless running mate, America was charmed by Obama’s supernal speeches and inspired by his vision of a happier ever after…He wasn’t always elegant in method or clear in message, and that allowed the more cynical side of America to find a footing and feed its fear.”

Obama should take a weekend off of golf and watch a little WWE. You see, this is how the emotions of America run. There is the good guy and the bad guy. The good guy doesn’t cheat and the bad guy’s manager hits the good guy on the back of the head with a folding chair and runs out the ring. The bad guy lies and bad mouths the good guy. People wait months and pay thousands to finally see the good guy get the best of the bad guys. The wrestling promoters understand that if the good guy never gets the bad guy, this gig ain’t gonna sell tickets.

I think it would behoove him to remember that we elected to do something that mattered right now. Not just get the crap kicked out of him. And certainly not a watered down health bill that takes effect years from now, nor a rapped knuckle to people who took shitty worthless securities, spray painted in it in gold and sold it as AAAA investments, and then bought insurance if the shit they stole started to stink.

Mr. President, trust me, throw a Goddamned fit. It might upset you a bit, but at least the rest of us will all feel better.

When BP’s chairman said he didn’t know why the well blew, I wanted to march in there and yell: “You have GOT to be FUCKING KIDDING ME! You lying scumbag.” When Blanfein said the Goldman Sachs swindlers would not give up their bonuses, I wished I were Obama and I would have run down to the podium and said “Well how would those that got those bonuses feel if I tested out whether that waterboarding thingy actually works? You know what? I have intelligence analysts saying that good results have come from it. I think I’m gonna give it a try…..Guards!!!!” When Holder apologized to BP for the “shakedown”, I wanted to march into the chamber, seat myself at the podium of Senators and say: “How far up your ass are those lobbyists? Tell you what, I am going to suspend your seat for now and have you sent down to the Gulf in a BioHazard suit to clean pelicans for a while….Guards!!!” When two thirds of Americans wanted a public option in the health bill, and it didn’t even appear, I wanted Obama is address the entire Congress and say “Starting now, there will be no free top shelf health care for any of you. You will have to buy the insurance you can afford. Don’t worry you’re all bloody millionaires. In fact, there will be no salaries for any of you, no weekends, no trips, and sessions will go from 8 to 8 seven days a week until there is a public option in the bill. And the first one of you who talks to lobbyist, even by texting, will be tied to a chair and made to watch Ishtar four times. If you’re married to a lobbyist you may not have contact with them until your term is over.”

Obama called the Gulf well blowout “a slow motion disaster.” There is one thing worse than a slow motion disaster: one that coincides with a slow motion presidency. A lot of people on the left who were fooled into believing that Iraq had WMDs also liked Bush’s confidence and the way he seemed to get things done, even if some of it might be considered illegally. A lot of those in the center left felt torture was appropriate after 9/11 and lots of people respected the force of American will, like marching into Iraq and knocking the shit out of the Saddam. I don’t think it was a necessary war and we certainly didn’t improve matters in the Mideast or at home with the lives and the budget this war is eating up. The point here is that people at least had the confidence that when W set out to do something, good or bad, it got done. Even Obama’s big wins seem like muddy waters, victories so bloody and insubstantial that they just leave you numb.

Obama is surrounded by a Congress that floats around in a bubble largely unhampered by the problems of every day people. He is surrounded by a media that has deteriorated from actual journalism of Walter Cronkite to the pre –chewed talking points, non existent intelligent analysis and pointless petty guess-who-is-cheating-on-whom infotainment. The US press is mostly a limp dick on the left and a hardy right wing that lacks any fact checking and accountability at all. And they call Obama a “Liberal”. What a joke. We still torture, we have added thousands to the Graveyard of Empires (Afghanistan), we still have no habeas corpus, and we are still plagued by problems we heard about ten years ago that still haven’t been addressed much less fixed. We have spent so much of our resources on weapons and so little on schools that we now produce bombs that can find capitols around the globe that our children had no idea existed. Obama hasn’t given up one iota of the authority that Bush grabbed. The infrastructure of the country is crumbling, the economy is still teetering, and with less money than the TARP funds, Bush41 at least was able to set up the Resolution Trust Corporation that sold all the insolvent houses and solved a big budget problem. Lobbyists get to spend 24/7 with our candidates while we get a few minutes in a booth every few years. All the while we have a Supreme Court that has now allowed corporations in essence, Personhood, so they can keep Congressional coffers comfortably full.

Liberal, my ass.

He needs to stop patting himself on the back for changes that can’t be felt or appreciated by people worried where they will live when the cops come to evict them. There’s that saying: when you’re up to your ass in alligators it’s hard to remember you were there to drain the swamp. People who are desperate don’t give a shit if you have corrected some bad arcane Congressional procedures. They want help. They want a President who will make a difference in the next few months not years down the road.

Yes, he’s done a lot. But if he doesn’t start getting mad pretty soon, he will lose the Congress and Senate and afterwards almost everything he accomplished will be repealed and further watered down.

The real problem is not left or right. It’s a problem for everyone. We have seen the curtain pulled back. We see a moribund oligarchy that defends its riches and authority and opaqueness with the hands of corporate ventriloquists up their butts. Just today on Boingboing an article is excerpted that shows me my instincts that Obama isn’t really that different from the rest of the corporate hacks who have everyone by the balls isn’t completely unfounded: “The current financial regulation bill — in a provision passed by both the House and Senate — would change that by allowing shareholders with 5% of the stock to come together and propose additional names for the ballot. But the White House is trying to gut this proposal at the last minute, and they’ve done it in an incredibly sneaky way — they removed the letter s from the end of the word shareholders.

Now instead of shareholders whose stock adds up to 3% coming together, you have to be a single shareholder with 5% of the stock all by yourself. And for most big companies, there just isn’t anyone like that. Take GE, for example — its biggest shareholder only owns about 3.4% of the company.

So by removing a single letter, they managed to make this provision completely useless.”

At this point who is speaking for America? Who in power really plans to make a difference rather than create a same clowns, different circus sort of three card molly of money and power? It feels very much like the age of American exceptionalism is over. People keep saying they want their country back, but from whom? The left? We’re just a red herring. If you want to take back the country, you have to know who owns it: Large corporations and lobbying firms. We all desperately want someone to make us feel better, not with platitudes, but with the honesty and will and authority to change bad policy and do better. To stop the theft and lying and perfidy.

You know when Congressional officials say this a time for prayer that you have completely lost the faith people had in you to do something without a miracle or a Deus Ex Machina out of Greek poetry.

He needs to to do something.

He needs to hurry.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Corsair8X June 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Now THAT article needs to bloody get around!

Don’t ever forget how he left a huge group of supporters during his campaign to meet with the Bilderberg group.  

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