Monday, May 27, 2013

The Reluctant Imperialist

Obama: "I may assume the right to attack any country, and kill anyone, anywhere in the world, whenever I want, but at least I'm all thoughtful and conflicted about it.  Just as I know you are in supporting me."

This hurts me more than it hurts you?  He's the victim, the focus of our sympathy, here?

He is fast winning the prize for the most manipulative and deceptive president I've ever seen.


Another fine analysis by Glenn Greenwald (see also, this at FireDogLake, and this at Miami Herald)..

Excerpts:

The hallmark of a skilled politician is the ability to speak to a group of people holding widely disparate views, and have all of them walk away believing they heard what they wanted to hear. ... I've personally never seen a politician even in the same league as Barack Obama when it comes to that ability...
what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama's speeches have very little to do with Obama's actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.
What Obama has specialized in from the beginning of his presidency is putting pretty packaging on ugly and discredited policies. The cosmopolitan, intellectualized flavor of his advocacy makes coastal elites and blue state progressives instinctively confident in the Goodness of whatever he's selling, much as George W. Bush's swaggering, evangelical cowboy routine did for red state conservatives. The CIA presciently recognized this as a valuable asset back in 2008 when they correctly predicted that Obama's election would stem the tide of growing antiwar sentiment in western Europe by becoming the new, more attractive face of war,.. However bad things might be, we at least have a benevolent, kind-hearted and very thoughtful leader doing everything he can to fix it.
The clear purpose of Obama's speech was to comfort progressives who are growing progressively more uncomfortable with his extreme secrecy, wars on press freedom, seemingly endless militarism and the like.  No progressive wants to believe that they placed such great trust and adoration in a political figure who is now being depicted as some sort of warped progeny of Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney. That creates internal discomfort and even shame. This speech was designed to allow progressives once again to see Barack Obama as they have always wanted to see him, his policies notwithstanding: as a deeply thoughtful, moral, complex leader who is doing his level best, despite often insurmountable obstacles, to bring about all those Good Things that progressives thought they would be getting when they empowered him...
the speech was heavy on feel-good rhetoric, mostly designed to signal that unlike the mean and simplistic George Bush - who presumably pursued these policies thoughtlessly and simplistically - Obama experiences inner turmoil and deep moral and intellectual conflict as he embraces them. ..
Obama may do things you progressives find distasteful, but at least marvel at how thoughtful and torn up he is about it all. ..
Benjamin Wittes similarly observed that Obama's speech seemed written to align the president "as publicly as possible with the critics of the positions his administration is taking without undermining his administration's operational flexibility in actual fact." In other words,... "the president sought to rebuke his own administration for taking the positions it has — but also to make sure that it could continue to do so." ...
That's what makes it such a classic Obama speech. And that's the point: his speech had something for everyone, which is another way of saying that it offered nothing definitive or even reliable about future actions. ... Until one sees actual changes in behavior and substance on those issues, cheering for those changes as though they already occurred or are guaranteed is the height of self-delusion.

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