Drew Westen’s op ed in the NYT (“What Happened to Obama?”) is interesting, especially for the New York Times — it’s about as close as they have come to finally considering the obvious: it’s not that Sir Change-a-Lot is bad a negotiating or overwhelmed by the Republicans; it’s not that he doesn’t know what he wants or wants to do too much for too many people all at once. It’s that he genuinely wants exactly what he’s been getting — only, what he wants is not what we want, not what the country needs. That makes him a shrewd operator — but a disaster of a President.
What we’ve gotten is what’s desired by Obama’s rich friends on Wall Street (i.e. their sucky banks — not “the economy” — got bailed out after they gambled other people’s money away), it’s what the military wants (viz. the President’s leap to support his Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and argue that it’s better to cut Medicare than the Pentagon) and it’s of course what the old-school Republicans want — not the tea bagging morons, but the few remaining crusty old-school conservative Republicans like Boehner and Cantor. When you cut thru the sheen of charisma and the toothy smile, Obama is just one of them: a well-healed, golf-playing beltway insider, perfectly comfortable with the good ol’ boys, not likely to upset the apple cart or inflict Change.
It’s clear by now that he has been a pretty monumental disaster of a President (forget the FDR that he aspired to be on the campaign trail — even if we were to lower the bar and just use the medical world’s noble notion of “first, do no harm” his reign has been a failfest); it’s no longer a question if he can accomplish anything — the answer is no, because he doesn’t want to, at least nothing positive. The only remaining question is: how he hopes to get himself re-elected with a track record like this? Lying to us all about Hope and Change isn’t going to work a second time around (it better not — “fool me once” and all that…), but given the disarray on the Republican side, there’s always the option of running as the genuine Bush Lite that he is this time around: not pretending to be a progressive, not giving voice to ludicrous notions about ending wars, notions that he clearly had no intention of carrying out when he got into office. No, he could simply go full retard and hope that there’s enough left of the middle class for a ticket of “God, Guns and Social Indifference” to secure his re-election as the moderate Republican he really is.
If he gets re-elected, then we’ll know that we’re stuck with four more years of his painfully inappropriate policies. Realizing that the GOP has moved so far to the right, dragging the Democrats so far across the centerline, it’ll essentially be as if the ghost of Reagan was reborn in the guise of a charismatic black man. The idle rich will get richer, the poor will get less for their taxes, the US will continue to be seen as and act as a pariah state, increasingly marginalized and hard-pressed to bully and fight its way to influence and resources. We will have no solution to the energy crisis, we’ll be further in debt (rich people don’t pay taxes, and poor, unemployed people don’t make money on which to pay taxes — but the wars must still be fought, and the subsidies to big oil/big agro/big pharma must still be paid out), our infrastructure will be beyond repair (better to blow up other people’s bridges far, far away, than fix the crumbling ones at home), and there will be even fewer jobs for our evermore overweight and illiterate kids that don’t involve memorizing phrases like “you want fries with that?” or “welcome to wal-mart.” The surveillance state will be strengthened (after all, you can’t trust people with things like freedom), basic civil rights eroded. Four more years of what we’ve had since ’08, in other words.
If, on the other hand, Obama gets called on all his bullshit and the few people still eligible and sufficiently motivated to vote decide that they’d rather go with Bachmann/Palin/Overdrive or whatever apocalyptic ticket of ignorance and hate manages to win the GOP primary, then we’ll be marginally more screwed. More faith. Less thinking. Not a happy thought. And Obama will no doubt resort to that old tried-and-true Democratic campaign scare tactic of pointing out the boogeyman scenario to convince the skeptics to the left of him (those dirty fucking hippies whose votes he’d like, but whose opinions don’t matter, even when they prove to be right time and again) that they’re better off with him than with “the other.”
It really will speak volumes about his dismal failure to lead if the best he can do in 2012 is to point out that he’s at least a better alternative than Rick Santorum and hope that we fall for it.