26 August 2009

Obama's parallels with LBJ miss key point

As the parallels pile up, one of the widely voiced fears from the limp liberal voices in the U.S. news media is that the war in Afghanistan will prove to be Obama’s Vietnam, suggesting that his domestic agenda, most notably healthcare reform, will be sabotaged by the costs of fighting an increasingly unpopular war, the reasoning goes, just like LBJ’s support for the Vietnam War prevented him from realizing his vision for a Great Society.

The trouble with that view is that Obama choked the life from any hope of economic fairness even before he was elected when he endorsed the shameful bailout of Wall Street to the tune of $750 billion and then enlisted a line-up of perpetrators—the likes of Paulsen, Bernanke, Geitner and Summers—to fix the same mess that their policies, actions and greed created in the first place. The hope that Obama represented for so many Americans shot itself in the head before it assumed the presidency.

As if to underscore that betrayal, earlier this week Obama reappointed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Days before that, the mainstream news media was falling over itself in reporting Bernanke’s assurance that the global recession appears to have bottomed out. Then the media outlets would typically introduced viewers to their business correspondent, oftentimes an entire gaggle of them, who would “analyze” the six or seven words of the Fed chairman by mindless repeating them while nodding their heads and ignoring the obvious: the Fed’s policies helped to produce the economic meltdown and Bernanke was either unable to see the crash coming or saw it and chose to ignore it.

The good news is that bedrock of the hope that Obama represented is still intact: millions of the Americans who believe healthcare is a right, not a commodity, who believe that torture by any name is never justifiable, who believe foreign policy should be directed by diplomacy, not led by military brutality, and that genuine democracy cannot exist alongside grotesque economic disparity. It is up to those same Americans to take the nation where Obama cannot or will not.

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