Thursday, November 04, 2010

Sic transit gloria Obama


Sic transit gloria Obama

By Pepe Escobar

So United States President Barack Obama has publicly admitted he and his party took “a shellacking” - and there are “easier ways” to learn political lessons.

Yet an astonished globalized world may be forgiven the temptation to reduce US politics to a digital cartoon - with the Tea Party to the right, fire-baggers to the left, and the incoherent masses stuck in the middle with anger. (For the Tea Party, government, any government, is the ultimate "evil" while for fire-baggers, Obama is at best a Republican lite.) And all this in a

toxic context where the US Supreme Court has graphically shelved democracy by allowing free-flowing corporate funding of candidates.

The American right's "road map" for these past two years has been to declare Obama an abysmal failure since January 20, 2008, and to do absolutely zilch to help the country out of its political/economic/cultural quagmire. Now - at least in theory - their bluff has been called by the American electorate.

Or has it? To talk about incoherence is a huge understatement. Americans have told exit polls they almost equally blame Wall Street (35%), Bush (30%) and Obama (23%) for the current economic disaster. Obama royally screwed up by bailing out Wall Street the way he did. But now the electorate has decided to reward a whole bunch of clowns and crooks who caused the debacle in the first place - among other things by endorsing George W Bush's tax cuts and two trillionnaire, unwinnable wars. The tearful John Boehner - probably the next speaker of the House - is very tight with (what else is new?) financial lobbyists. Angry Americans voted - once again - for Wall Street.

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right

The heart of the (sorry) matter is that Obama and the Democrats did not even strive to meet the great expectations awakened by the 2008 "Change we can believe in" collective rapture. They sowed the seeds of their own doom instead. No wonder they were deserted en masse by young people, ethnic minorities, pacifists and environmentalists while at the same time masses of enraged centrists, moderates and independents sought refuge in the right. Add to it the electorate's gullibility in its manipulation by corporate media.

The verdict is out on whether Obama 2.0 will be your typical, dialogue-averse, hardcore Washington gridlock or, as Obama insisted in his White House press conference this Wednesday, a move further to the right towards a compromise with the uncompromising Republicans. On both options, in an US increasingly configured by corporate power as a neo-feudal plutocracy, what passes for "democracy" will be the loser.

Moreover, it's absurd to hope that Obama will connect with his inner Martin Luther King and suddenly start to walk on water and lead the masses to the Promised Land when the absolute majority of working class/middle class Americans - manipulated by special interests and indoctrinated with conservative dogmas such as taxes are evil - don't even know what they are supporting anymore.

The kiss of death

Amid this wasteland, for progressives California at least will function as a consolation prize - via "quirky" Jerry Brown back at the governor's mansion, pulverizing billionaire Republican and former eBay chief executive officer (for 10 years) Meg Whitman, who thought she could literally buy an election, spending a staggering $142 million, most of it her own money (talk about "fiscal responsibility" ...) on an ultra-negative campaign.

Even tough some of her proteges in the House did well, the fact is most of Sarah "I can see Russia from my house" Palin's endorsements proved largely to be the kiss of death - as in Delaware, Colorado, California, Nevada, West Virginia and Alaska.

The wackiest of the Tea Party running for the senate were total failures - such as Christine "the witch" O'Donnell in Delaware. In Nevada, Sharron Angle collapsed facing Democratic senate majority leader Harry Reid essentially because she ran an ultra-racist, anti-Latino campaign in a state where the Latino vote is crucial (75% of it ultimately went to Reid). Angle and O'Donnell were too much of a freak show anyway.

As for Rand Paul, now the Republican senator from Kentucky, sound minds suspect he is little else than plain scary. Paul's victory speech was quintessential rightwing populism - government derided in apocalyptic tones as less than worthless. Were Paul to try to filibuster the next senate vote inevitably increasing the US national debt, he could conceivably plunge the country into default, provoke a further depression, and wreak economic hell all around the world.

How's that for a rookie record?

The reality test for the Tea Party will be whether it can break away from incoherent blabber about no new taxes, the Fed, "evil" progressives, assorted conspiracy theories and "legislative action" outlawing Obama's birth certificate or will they actually try to propose sound policies to improve the system. Don't bet on it.

Flash forward to 2012; to the sound of Aretha Franklin singing Don Covay's See Saw - "going up, down, all around/ like a see saw" - scores of US voters will have finally noticed they threw the bums out just to bring in another basket of equally lame bums.

Beware the white Obama

United States corporate media is not emitting a peep about it but Obama should really start worrying about his white mirror - Marco Rubio, who has just won a senate seat for Florida. Rubio, 39, intelligent, good-looking, good orator, promises the world to people and has "American Dream" written all over his bio.

Born in Miami, raised in Vegas (where his Cuban exile parents worked hard in a hotel), good football player, hard-working college student, law degree, Catholic, blonde wife from a Colombian family, four kids - as a bonus to the establishment Rubio is not a wacko (althoughPalin loves him unconditionally). Mike Huckabee - former presidential candidate and now Fox News pundit - says he's "our Obama, with more substance". And crucially, his political godfather is none other than Jeb Bush. Establishment Republicans won't allow Palin to grab a presidentialnomination even over their dead bodies. Thus Rubio may be their savior for 2012.

An inept/indecisive Obama allowed Republicans to get away with murder - as in not being held accountable for the monster financial/economic mess and on top of it being allowed to exploit and profit from the all-American rage provoked by their "policies". Now, after the "shellacking", it's about time for the president to show some balls and start playing offense. He could start by firing everyone at the White House. It won't happen. Get ready; white Obama will eat him for breakfast in 2012.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at