BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
Who is Barack Obama?
"E, I don't think the President is trying so much to be a kiss-up to the Republican Party as he is trying to show that he cannot help it if the Republicans have decided they would rather be unprofessional and not fit to hold the offices they hold in Congress. Think about it. If he came down to their level, what would his credibility really look like? He's still trying to show that he's the President for everyone, no matter if some want to be ignorant. A lot of times people mistake kindness for weakness. NO, I am not looking at him through rose-colored glasses. I'm being realistic. He has a hard road to navigate, and his choices are bad and worst ."
Much of what you say is true, Rosemary, but that doesn't explain why he's circumventing not only the U.S. Constitution, but international law to give the Bush/Cheney regime a pass on their war crimes. He's betraying a serious case of American arrogance by declaring that we need to look forward, and not backwards. He's a constitutional scholar. He knows full well that's not his call. He swore to uphold the Constitution, and through extension, the rule of law.
So as much as I like the president personally, I can't ignore such a serious circumvention of the law, and blatant assault on American ideals. So I'm speaking out because I have a responsibility to speak out. It's not just government's role to uphold our values, that's the responsibility of each and every American citizen. We cannot just sit back and expect justice to prevail - we must raise hell to see to it that it does. And we must always give principle priority over politics. If it were not for malcontents speaking out on principle, President Obama would be in a cotton field instead of the White House.
The man that I though I voted for, and supported so passionately, would be the very first to recognize that his failure to adhere to the rule of law in this matter diminishes America. He'd understand that his failure to act creates a class of people who are above the law, and sets an ominous precedent that will allow future demagogues to act with impunity against both the American people, and the people of the world. Who's to say that the next group of tyrants won't start by rounding up 'suspicious' Muslims, then Black Muslims, then Black people? Why shouldn't they - we've set a precedent saying they can do it with impunity. Obama is supposed to be protecting us from that slippery slope, but instead, his proposed course of action is to look the other way for political expediency. That's not a change I can believe in.
So some things are more important than worrying about providing political ammunition to the opposition. I'm more concerned about becoming so loyal to one man or ideology that we allow ourselves to be caught flat-footed like so many others throughout the course of history. I wonder how many families were destroyed by financial ruin after blindly opposing healthcare reform during the Clinton administration, for example, who put ideology and blind loyalty before common sense when some politician told them that healthcare reform constituted socialism? Thousands I would guess. So if the Democrats were on their game, instead of anxiously caving in to the insurance industry, they would have gathered up some of these people and featured them in political commercials during this current debate.
Because yet again, the Republican leadership is using that very same tactic to manipulate their base. Yet again, they're manipulating the people who have blind faith in their leadership to promote the status quo. And once again, they're actively exploiting the concerns of their base over being displaced by minorities and having 'socialism' disrupt the lives that they've come to know - even though many of them can't even define socialism.
But while many of us on the 'left' like to make fun of these people as dim-witted (as I just did), I actively correspond with many people on the right, and they're far from ignorant. The fact is, many of them are quite intelligent. It's just that they feel such a vested interest in refusing to accept the glaring reality before their eyes, that it's causing them to cling to a group who is blatantly acting against their best interest. And if we're not aggressively vigilant, the very same thing can happen to us.
Now don't get me wrong, I doubt very much that President Obama is a demagogue. I think he's a good man, and potentially, a great president, who's simply taking a course of action that I disagree with. But then, the Republican base feels the same way about that people they support. But we can render this issue moot with a simple rule of thumb: We must never forget that we're dealing with politicians. We must always remember that their very profession centers around the manipulation of smoke and mirrors, which makes it incumbent upon us to always hold their feet to the fire - liberal and conservative alike.
We must never allow ourselves to become so blinded by what a politician is supposed to represent, that we ignore what his actions say he actually represents. History has taught us that we must ALWAYS judge ALL politicians on what they DO, not what they say - and that includes Barack Obama.
So just call me cynical, but I need a very important question answered: If we're willing to exhaust our treasury and sacrifice the lives of our youth to chase Osama Bin Laden for allegedly killing just under three thousand Americans, how does that square with president Obama casually waving off the fact that Bush and Cheney killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children as inconvenient to address?
I have a problem with that kind of 'justice', as every American should, because it was done in our name. So as much as I like President Obama, simple logic tells me if he doesn't have a problem with such a glaring injustice, I have to consider him a part of that injustice - an injustice that will never allow America to be completely safe.
This attitude that we have, and that President Obama seems to share, that the United States can walk away from the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people as simply 'collateral damage' is nothing short of American hubris. And I cannot be comfortable with any president that's willing to embrace such a philosophy, because as long as the lives of Iraqis are deemed unimportant, so is mine.
America needs to wake up. While we're demonizing the people of Asia and the Middle East, we need to recognize that we wouldn't even have a conflict with these people if we weren't meddling in their part of the world. They're not over here - we're over there. How can I break into my neighboor's house, wipe out his family, and have my pockets filled with his possessions, then claim I was acting in self-defense? There isn't a court in America that would accept such a defense.
So America doesn't have to spend trillions of dollars to protect our security. That money could be spent on educating our children, providing affordable healthcare, and revitalizing our infrastructure. All we have to do is 'just say no' to the military/industrial complex, and stop meddling in the affairs of others.
Thus, when I look at President Obama, even in spite of how much I admire him, I have to ask myself, "doesn't he know these things?" If he doesn't, we have a problem with his intellectual acuity; but if he does, we have a much more severe problem - why is he continuing to play a game that's causing the death and suffering of so many people around the world?
So Rosemary, when I speak of President Obama caving in to the Republican party, I'm not just talking about on the single issue of healthcare, I'm talking about caving in to the status quo - which is much more serious, and goes directly to the issue of his overall character. During the campaign he promised change. That leaves me asking, where, and when?
So yes, many progressives in this country are mad as hell, and not just over a frivolous partisan issue. They feel lied to. They know that Obama's not dumb. He knew exactly what message he was sending when he campaigned on change, and so do we - so we're going to hold him to it.
So while I reserve the right to criticize President Obama, it's not because I've turned on him, but because I'm pulling for him. I'm pulling for his integrity. I'm pulling for his intellectual honesty, and I'm pulling for his sense of global humanity to overwhelm political expedience. In short, I'm pulling for the fact that he's one of those great men that just may need to be dragged up Mt. Rushmore.
Tell Gaddis I said hi.
Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does. Sphere: Related Content