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Friday, May 15, 2009

Okay, Obama Scares Me

The Gay Secretary
Okay, I’m officially getting scared.

For now, let’s just call it a nonspecific, even remote, sense of dread – like the foreboding that often accompanies the first bark of an approaching thunderstorm: hardly an irrational unease, but often a harbinger of nothing worse than a dusting of rain.

Just a sense of unease — yeah, that’s what we’ll call it — for now.

It isn’t that Barack Obama hasn’t been liberal enough for my tastes. He hasn’t, but that’s not what’s unnerving me. It isn’t that he’s starting to break some of his most important campaign promises to the progressive base of the Democratic Party. He’s doing that certainly; but, no, that’s not the source of my unease either. It isn’t even that his administration seems to be placing a higher priority on protecting the pirates of the financial industry than on defending the rights of ordinary workers. They do seem to be doing that and yeah it’s awful, but once again it isn’t what’s scaring me.

No, what’s scary is how often — and in such a short time — he’s simply been wrong — dead wrong. And what’s even more disconcerting is how often this wrongness has been the result of his growing tendency to default to inside the Beltway status quo thinking. Time after time, faced with a choice between new directions and conventional wisdom, Obama has been taking the conventional route.

But the scariest thing of all is Obama’s growing default to the Military/Beltway Complex on Iraq and Afghanistan. Did you hear we’re going to win the war in Afghanistan? We’re going to kick us some Taliban butt and bring peace, capitalism and democracy to the region. No outside force in history has ever had much luck in trying to pacify this tragic but fiercely independent nation, but apparently we’re going to do it. And what’s more, we’re going to do it while at the same time carrying Iraq and Pakistan on our shoulders.

When I think about this ever increasing expansion of our military presence in Afghanistan, I can’t help but hear the echoes of LBJ in Vietnam. He was a president who wanted desperately to pursue other priorities: to do great things; to build a Great Society. But he found himself increasingly sucked into an intractable war he could never win. And just like Obama, he marched into this hell armed to the teeth with the wisdom of the finest minds conventional thinking had ever produced.

As a strong supporter of the president, it pains me to say this, but Barack Obama is dancing with disaster: a potential catastrophe born of a refusal to truly embrace the change he’s come to represent. He is doing much that’s good, but the good can so easily be swallowed up and destroyed by the bad. It isn’t too late to put things right, but the signs that he is willing to do what’s needed have so far been frighteningly few.


American Scofflaw
Obama is simply an infinitely more telegenic and intellectually gifted "pitch man" for precisely the same agenda we got from the Bush Republicans; nothing more, nothing less.

Which is why I wouldn't bet against Obama re-instituting the draft before the end of his first term in office. The military requirements for the campaigns he's signed up for cannot possibly be met with an all-volunteer army, and draft boards have already been set up, very quietly, across this country.

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