Obama On The Ropes

I have been warned by a fellow-blogger whom I respect not to push the parallel between Barack Obama and George W. Bush too far, though the similarities are at times disturbing. So I will stay away from that button. But I will push another: in attempting to please everyone, Obama once again proves that you can please no one. This time it is about the pilfering of private information in the name of “national security.” As a recent story notes:

Into his fifth year in office, President Obama knows well attacks from the right. Obamacare, Benghazi, IRS shenanigans, he’s taken his lumps from Republicans and conservative activists. “Impeach him!” many cry. Only occasionally is he whacked from the left (see Guantánamo Bay prison camp).

But these days, it seems like the roles are reversed. Liberals are after Obama, while the likes of Republican political operative Karl Rove are in his corner.

The subject, of course, is government secret surveillance of phone records, a vacuum-cleaner approach whose purpose is heading off terrorist attacks but which pokes into what most people think of as private information.

It would be an exaggeration to insist that we are headed for Orwell’s world of 1984 — a few years late. But at the same time, there is some truth in the fact that this sort of nosing into the privacy of citizens of this country, presumably guaranteed by the Constitution which the President is pledged to serve is un-American, if it doesn’t smack of totalitarianism. It is certainly Machiavellian, since it embraces the notion that the end justifies the means — any means, apparently. It’s not at all clear that our “national security” is at risk, except in the minds of the paranoid. This is assuredly not something we would have expected from this man when he was elected, and the fact that he is pleasing Karl Rove is doubly unsettling. The man seems to lack a backbone: he is unable to find a principle he can embrace and defend. He is perfectly willing to disappoint those people who voted for him in the hope that he would lean at least a little bit toward the left on one or two important issues.

But he has ordered an escalating number of drone strikes in the Middle East, and inhibited the right of reporters to write what they regard as the truth. Further, he has shown himself unwilling to take a strong stand against the Keystone Pipeline, which many conservationists regard as the penultimate step toward environmental disaster. And recently he has indicated his willingness to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list, virtually guaranteeing open season on those animals that have struggled to make a comeback. And now he is checking on our phone calls and private correspondence. In a word, he is disappointing those who elected him to office seemingly because he doesn’t seem to know where he stands on any given issue and is willing to bend with the wind. And I dare to say that the wind blows strongest when it issues forth from the hot air that inflates the greed of the corporations that are increasingly finding this man to be their friend (I am thinking on Monsanto here, primarily, but the Koch brothers must be sleeping more soundly at night realizing that this man doesn’t seem to care in the least what they might do with their millions.)

In any event, even those who continue to support this president and hope that he will eventually “come around” must admit that he is far too conciliatory, too eager to please. As a result he seems to have managed to alienate folks on both sides of the political aisle. And in that regard, the parallel with George W. Bush does break down.


5 thoughts on “Obama On The Ropes

  1. It’s curious, Hugh, as to where Obama really is going. I at first believed he just lacked a spine, as I’ve often written, but now I’m not so sure. I don’t know if the power of the office has gone to his head, if he’s been sold a bill of goods by his advisors and the military, or if he is a Republican in sheeps clothing, as I’ve also written about.

    He’s not even 6 months into his administration, and is already self-destructing. We don’t know his agenda or goals for his 2nd term, and his actions oppressing the news and whistleblowers is chilling, at best. He has become as secretive as his predecessor, and almost as paranoid. His claims of looking out for are 100% safety ring false (who ever asked for that?) and his comment that this state requires lots of discussion is laughable, since he never asked us in the first place about its implementation.

    We don’t know what he really stands for, and what he is willing to go to the wall for. More importantly, we don’t know what he is truly against, since he seems to have rolled over on everything, including citizens privacy.

    Good blog, even if it does raise more troubling questions.

  2. He does try to please everyone and get fairly and unfairly vilified for it. I think it is hard to take moderate stances these days, especially when the opposing party is waiting to leap on an issue. I agree with your assessment about being on the side of Karl Rove (who has sanctioned criminal activities that led his aide going to jail) should give you pause that what you are doing may need rethinking. Recognizing nothing is private anymore when people share so much (as Barney noted in his recent post), having a Big Brother peaking into things gives many pause.

  3. why would one want to take wolves off the endangered list? because their habitat is dwindling and they;re killing livestock?

    the past week has brought many headlines thru this slow internet connection, but enough that i see a pattern – many people are baffled about what’s happening to our country, how it is no longer the land of the free. others are worried if they speak up and out, they’ll be put on a watch list – it reeks of everything except a free country.

    this was another ‘what if’ prompt that came through today:

    now that i am home (for 30 hours!) i am back to slow internet unless late at night.

    • It’s good to have you back. I think you are right: there is considerable confusion in this country about where we are and where we are going. Our leaders seem to be blindfolded.


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