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The Silence of Barack Obama

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Oddly convergent in their anger, incoherent visions and ambitions, the silent and frightened majority of economically traumatized middle class Americans is flanked by the Tea Party on the right and the Occupy Wall Street Brigade on the left. Both of these movements are attempting to tap into a populist surge that seems to have the entire world in its grip right now. It’s no coincidence that Neo-Liberal economics, flawed, abused, undermined and plundered, is beginning to approach its day of reckoning, and consumerism is now being seen as a bill of goods.

When he arrived in the White House on a wave of “change” in January 2009, America projected its hopes on this mild-mannered, consensus building manager. Obama would fix the situation. Sadly it soon became clear that the ship of America has a jammed rudder, a big leak, and is on course to squander its vast human, natural, productive and institutional resources on the shoals of wanton profiteering and the injustices of globalization. He could do nothing with the tools at his disposal. Gamely the President tried to work with Congress, only to be let down by recalcitrant moderate Democrats, who insisted on dissipating legislation into a shapeless, only vaguely useful, and eminently avoidable goo. The lobbies, stronger than ever, did their work, supported by Supreme Court decisions so political and craven that they would make a grown man wince.

And here we are, headed towards a double-dip recession, the markets running riot, the deficit hawks winning the battle of White House hearts and minds, and our poor President listening to the counsel of a Treasury Secretary who keeps Lloyd Blankfein on his speed-dial, and a Chief of Staff who’s last resume entry was JP Morgan Chase. He even let Elizabeth Warren, the most able of the economic fighters walk to fritter away her skills on a run for the Senate. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. And now, the President covers the country imploring the people to tweet their representatives to pass his very reasonable job’s bill.

The truth is that all this is coming a little too late. In late 2010, the President backed down from canceling the Bush tax cuts there and then.  And the new Republican House, given its strength and moxie by the brownshirts of the Tea Party, were then able to stare down the Oval Office, again and again. Even the debt deal, so carefully crafted by the White House, looks like just another maneuver that will be ignored. And now the storm is deafening, and nobody is listening to the President. In other words, he didn’t get ahead of the story, which just happened to be the biggest story of all. It’s a story which strikes at the very heart and soul of this country. Money, who gets it, and what they do with it.

What should the President have done?  He should have said, again and again and again and again, that Wall Street Is The Enemy. He should never have continued the bailout until Wall Street, chin deep in the sucking quicksand was begging for mercy, and he extracted real concessions from them. Derivatives trading banned, Consumer practices reformed, Securities trading curbed. Investment banks returned to partnership status, and Glass-Steagall restored. He should have toured the country like Mother Theresa at soup kitchens and in foreclosed homes, giving genuine relief on mortgages and bankruptices. He should have given huge tax breaks to business to add jobs at home, and fined them for outsourcing the same jobs abroad. He should have got away from DC and spent his time with the people. He should have said there’s too much bad stuff going on at home for us to mess with Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East. We’re getting out. We’re taking a break. We’re focusing on fixing things back home. And he should have lambasted the GOP as the true purveyors of “class warfare”, accusing them of using the poor to support the rich. He should have done this each and every day, five times a day, tirelessly, convincingly, incessantly. He should have become the leader we wanted him to be.

His silence right now is deafening.


Written by coolrebel

October 5, 2011 at 3:20 am

Posted in Washington

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