gt actual likeness

WHAT WENT WRONG
Assessing Obama’s Legacy
by David Bromwich
HARPER'S, JUNE 2015

After reading this thoughtful, sometimes insightful, article, it occurred to me that the writer pretty much ignored domestic policy, except for the so-called Affordable Care Act that bears the President's name, but little of his input. It would be more accurately called “Pelosicare.” The non-closure of Guantánamo Bay prison is mentioned, but that’s only an issue because he pledged to close it (in his first year). Also, Obama promised to end domestic spying, which also didn’t pan out.

Oddly, the essay precedes an assessment of the BP oil spill in April 2010, another example of Barack Obama’s hesitation allowing the problem to spiral out of control. What about other domestic policies that have prolonged what Obama liked to call the “worst recession since the Great Depression,” while expanding the income gap between the wealthiest 1% and everyone else in the US? Under Obama, the middle class have endured stagnant wages and reduced job opportunities, with minorities hurt the most.

Obama ignored immigration for his first few years, then illegally granted amnesties by executive orders, without confronting the main problem of illegal immigration, except by helping to change the term from aliens to immigrants. In a way, changing words is the best he can do, since he has no clue how to move legislation. As Bromwich puts it, “Barack Obama sets great store by words. He understands them as a relevant form of action — almost, at times, a substitute for action.” Almost?

  debt chart

What about his failure to address systemic problems, such as bureaucracy and the national debt [chart] spiraling out of control? Obama’s policies reflect his total ignorance of economics and of practical solutions, in large part due to his lack of practical experience and, as explained in the article, Obama’s inability to work with other politicians to achieve progress, or at least, something. The article explains the essence of the Obama administration. The President considers himself above other politicians, even those in his party. Therefore, he does not build relationships, even with his own cabinet, which met only nineteen times during his first four years. He believes his own hype which, unfortunately, is just that.

Harper's cover 6/15

Then there’s the most transparent administration since the Great Depression, which is actually the most opaque ever. The writer touches on that, and does note that “Obama has done little to counteract the regression of constitutional democracy that began with the security policies and the wars of Bush and Cheney.” Then Bromwich repeats the talking point that the administration “has been entirely free of political scandal,” forgetting such activities as the IRS targeting political opponents, followed by the ongoing cover-up. Some say his deception on such travesties as Benghazi, with collusion from the press, may have changed the outcome of the 2012 election. And by “some” I mean me.

Bromwich observes that “President Obama does not seem to control his foreign policy,” a major understatment. Most experts see no foreign policy, except reacting to problems that are always unanticipated, at least by the administration.

America’s clueless electorate assumed that putting a ‘Black’ man in the White House would end racial tensions in the nation. Of course, race is an artificial construct used in many societies, not just the US, to subjugate parts of the population. George Orwell’s book Burmese Days describes how this occurred in British colonies. Even though the native population was no darker than their colonisers, I remember one of the characters saying, “They’re all nggers,” conveying the reality that discrimination has nothing to do with make-believe race, everything to do with keeping the captors in their place.

Obama’s constant campaign speeches have exacerbated divisiveness, pitting one group against another for political gain. It was as foolish to believe that electing a Black man — any Black man —would solve a problem, as it would be to believe that electing a woman — any woman — would solve anything. A Black woman perhaps.

Writes Bromwich, “His predecessor was worse, and his successor most likely will also be worse.” Impossible! Misguided policies are better than misguided policies run ineptly.

[See: WTF Went Wrong? Warning: not free to non-subscribers.]

17 JUNE 2015
 

©2015 GT Slade

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