BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
Could Obama Fall Victim to a Change We Can't Believe in?
The biggest problem that Obama currently faces is becoming a victim of his own effectiveness. During the campaign he raised the nation's expectation so high that just being a good president won't do. He promised a change that we can believe in, which led many of us to believe that he intended to trash the way business is done in Washington, but that promise seems to be totally inconsistent with what seems to be his irrepressible desire to hold hands and sing Kumbaya with the very Republican leaders from which we wanted a change.
This has fueled the growing suspicion by many that both parties are beholding to the same cabal of power, and only feign having differing philosophies toward governance. That suspicion lies very close to the surface for many Independents - after all, that's why they're Independents in the first place.
And President Obama hasn't helped himself in that regard. For a man who is ordinarily so politically astute, even before he became president he did a curious flip-flop on the FISA issue. According to Greenchange.org, on October 24, 2007, Bill Burton of the Obama campaign indicated, "To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." But by June 20, 2008, Obama issued a statement reversing his position, indicating that our national security needs were more important than his objections.
That deeply disappointed many Independents, since a citizen's right to sue a telecommunications company for invading his or her privacy in violation of the law has nothing to do with national security. Those are the very constitutional rights that we're trying to keep secure. But while many Independents have kept that in mind, at least Obama had the integrity to take that stand prior to our making the decision on whether or not to vote for him.
But then once he was elected President, Obama made another curious statement with regard to the criminal activities and alleged war crimes committed by the Bush administration. In spite of the fact that there are strong allegations and prima facie evidence of torture, and some of the most unconscionable violations of the Geneva Convention since the Nuremberg trials, President Obama stated that he wanted to move the nation forward, and not look back.
Many Independents have two problems with that. First of all, President Obama seems much too willing to move forward with regard to the fat cats, while lower-ranking personnel are rotting in prison. That's in direct conflict with the American ideal of equal justice under the law. And secondly, since most of these atrocities were committed against the citizens of other nations, it is the height of arrogance for us to be "the deciders" of whether or not those responsible should be held accountable. That also runs contrary to American ideals, and the concept of "a shining city on the hill."
And now we're talking about sending thousands of more troops to Afghanistan. The question is, why? The nation has yet to be provided with a reasonable explanation of why we should be meddling, once again, in another country's internal affairs. One would think we would have learned something about the futility of that by now. It's a recipe for disaster.
There's only two legitimate reasons to have our troops in that part of the world. The first is obvious - to make damn sure the nuclear missiles in Pakistan don't fall into the hands of Al Qaeda. The second reason is to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. So why can't we simply pull out of Afghanistan and deploy enough troops in Pakistan to protect the missiles, then let the CIA and law enforcement deal with Osama? That way we save both treasure and lives, and we're not creating more enemies for the United States by killing innocent people.
But many Independents suspect that there's another agenda afoot. Actually, Cheney's giving it away. Independents recognize that Dick Cheney has absolutely no integrity, so when he gets passionate over an issue we know to follow either the money or power. Thus, many Independents suspect that what's actually behind Cheney's insistence that we go recklessly rushing into Afghanistan has much more to do with Halliburton's bottom line than it does America's best interest. And while Obama has shown himself to be an excellent president in many ways, his one shortcoming - and a shortcoming that may very well bring him down in the end - is his tendency to try to appease the stupidity and greed of the GOP.
The President needs to recognize that there is nothing he can do that's going to make him acceptable to the GOP - that is, unless he agrees to appoint a Republican vice president, then resign. By now it should be clear that even while he's asleep, the GOP is trying to hatch plans to destroy him. So by spending more time thinking about them than he is his base, he's playing right into their hands.
I mentioned power as one of the reasons that Cheney's trying to rush the president into Afghanistan. I wonder if the president has considered the fact that Cheney just might be trying to get him to make the same kind of mistake in Afghanistan that the Bush Administration made in Iraq in order to take the Iraq issue off the table for the 2012 election? If during the 2012 campaign America is bogged down in Afghanistan with the useless death of thousands of U.S. troops, all of a sudden, Bush, Cheney, and the GOP won't look all that bad. The president should think about that possibility, since the machinations of Dick Cheney makes Machiavelli look like a trainee.
On the other hand, if the president would have the CIA go after Osama Bin Laden (through the use of intelligence, instead of blindly shooting at rocks), then pull out of Afghanistan, and make an agreement with the government of Pakistan to help them protect their nuclear arsenal, he'll be looking pretty good in 2012, and he won't have the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops to have to justify.
And he'd look even better if he allowed Attorney General Holder to do his job with respect to the Bush administration's war crimes. First, he'd firm up his base by restoring their confidence that he stands for the rule of law, and he would also allay the fear that he might be a puppet, controlled by some powerful cabal.
Another upside to that is that once Holder begins his investigation into the Bush administration, there's absolutely no doubt that he's going to find criminality, cronyism, and corruption seeping so deep within the GOP that Republicans will be so busy snitching on one another, and covering their own asses, that they won't have the time to plot against either him, or the American people.
Now, THAT, would be a change that we could believe in.