The ‘Blame Obama’ Syndrome

Exclusive: The hot new thing in U.S. journalism is to trace the failures of Barack Obama’s presidency to his supposed personality flaws, thus explaining why the unemployment problem has not been solved and why the Democrats are in such a political fix. But this “analysis” is silly, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

President Barack Obama concedes that he is not a perfect man or a perfect president, which is obviously true. Like the rest of us, he makes mistakes and misjudgments. But a new conventional wisdom is emerging that Obama’s personality is to blame for pretty much all that’s gone wrong in America over the past three-plus years.

This narrative holds that Obama’s too aloof, too cerebral, too indecisive, too much of an observer, not enough of a participant; he doesn’t hang out with members of Congress; he disdains hobnobbing with Washington insiders; he doesn’t use his oratorical skills to sell his policies; inexplicably, he’s let his enemies define him.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. (Photo credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Maybe, according to this view, his failure can be explained by his confusion over his racial identity and his childhood insecurities, abandoned by his father and often absent from his mother.

This new conventional wisdom assumes that personality is destiny and thus the failure to fix the problems left behind by George W. Bush is the fault of Obama’s flawed make-up; just when the United States needed a mix of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, it got this social misfit. On Sunday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd summed up this viewpoint in a column entitled “Dreaming of a Superhero”:

“The legendary speaker [Obama] who drew campaign crowds in the tens of thousands and inspired a dispirited nation ended up nonchalantly delegating to a pork-happy Congress, disdaining the bully pulpit, neglecting to do any L.B.J.-style grunt work with Congress and the American public, and ceding control of his narrative.

“As president, Obama has never felt the need to explain or sell his signature pieces of legislation, the stimulus and health care bills, or stanch the flow of false information from the other side.”

To unravel this mystery, Dowd references some recent books filled with pop-psychology about Obama, tracing his shortcomings back to his unusual childhood and his identity crisis as a mixed-race child, raised by a white family but seen as a black youth by American society.

Dowd cites Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, who tracked down a number of Obama’s old chums and girlfriends who offered their insights into his personality and his tendency to deliberate a lot before acting.

“Obama’s caution, ingrained from a life of being deserted by his father and sometimes his mother, and of being, as he wrote to another girlfriend, ‘caught without a class, a structure, or tradition to support me’, has restrained him at times,” Dowd writes.

“In some ways, he’s still finding himself, too absorbed to see what’s not working. But the White House is a very hard place to go on a vision quest, especially with a storm brewing.”

Dowd also cites A Nation of Wusses, a new book by Pennsylvania’s former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, wondering how “the best communicator in campaign history” lost his touch. “The administration lost the communications war with disastrous consequences that played out on Election Day 2010,” Rendell writes.

Dowd says, “The president had lofty dreams of playing the great convener and conciliator. But at a fund-raiser in Minneapolis, he admitted he’s just another combatant in a capital full of Hatfields and McCoys. No compromises, just nihilism.”

The Truth?

But is any of this analysis really true? Or is it just the classic desire of jaded Washington insiders to look for superficial character flaws in a politician to explain the systemic failings of U.S. politics, economy and the news media?

For instance, Dowd ignores the fact that Obama did take risks in office. He pushed for a $787 billion stimulus bill, which while not enough was probably all that he could get politically, especially with Republicans dragging their feet on Al Franken’s Senate election in Minnesota, thus denying the Democrats the 60 votes needed to break a Republican Senate filibuster.

Obama took a big risk, too, in bailing out and reorganizing the auto industry, saving General Motors and Chrysler from a chaotic bankruptcy and dissolution. His health-care reform also was a daring political move in which Obama showed respect for Congress by not repeating the mistakes of the Clinton administration’s top-down approach and instead heeding Capitol Hill’s sense of the possible.

Obama worked hard to bring on board Republicans, like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. Indeed, one of Obama’s biggest political mistakes in 2009 was to waste so much time trying to woo Snowe, giving in to her incessant demands that she not be rushed on her health-care decision.

Those delays allowed the Right to organize Tea Party opposition and not surprisingly Snowe ultimately joined her Republican colleagues in filibustering the health-care legislation. Fearful of angering the GOP Right, she voted to keep the bill even from reaching the Senate floor. Her opposition also forced Obama to surrender the “public option” as the price for lining up the most conservative Democrats.

And, regarding Dowd’s claim that Obama didn’t use the “bully pulpit” to sell his domestic policies, that simply isn’t true. Obama has taken his message to Congress and out to the country often and eloquently. Remember, it was during one of his addresses to Congress on the health-care law when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, shouted out, “You lie!”

Last year, Obama took his demand for a new jobs bill on the road, traveling to states and districts represented by his Republican opponents and pointing out decaying infrastructure that needed immediate work. His failure to break the legislative logjam wasn’t for his lack of giving speeches.

As for foreign policy, Obama’s key errors were not indecision but in trying not to offend George W. Bush’s loyalists. Instead of kicking out Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Bush’s top commander, Gen. David Petreaus, Obama kept them on as a sign of continuity with Bush’s war policies, even though Obama’s political “base” wanted a dramatic break.

As a further concession, Obama refused to hold Bush or any of his subordinates accountable for their crimes of state, including torture and aggressive war. Given the economic crisis facing the nation and his hope for some Republican cooperation Obama shelved meaningful investigations of his predecessor’s wrongdoing.

And when it came to pulling the trigger on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the drone strikes that have slaughtered other al-Qaeda leaders, Obama has been anything but indecisive. Rather than some fretting Hamlet, he has behaved more like a “Dirty Harry” character.

But none of that reality would mesh with Dowd’s preferred narrative of a psychologically-tortured soul sitting in the White House searching for his personal identity, incapable of action or even an ability to explain himself.

A Bigger Problem

What Dowd and other Washington pundits don’t want to acknowledge is that the failings of the Obama presidency have much less to do with his personality flaws than with the corrupt nature of the Washington Establishment, of which they are a part.

It’s easy to blame Obama or find some “Eureka!” moment in a comment by an old girlfriend. It’s much harder to look into the mirror and recall all the times the New York Times and other major news outlets bent to pressures from Republican administrations and the Right in general.

The pundits don’t want to acknowledge this systemic problem because it would diminish their lofty self-images. Despite all their acclaim and best-selling books, their own weaknesses are a big part of the mess the nation is in.

Over the past several decades — after Watergate and the Vietnam War — the Right built a vast media apparatus to browbeat the mainstream press. And, as mainstream journalists sought to avoid the career-killing “liberal” label, they traded journalistic principles for a little protection. The American Left also shares in this blame, being mostly AWOL in this “war of ideas.” [See Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

As the U.S. news media retreated from its Pentagon Papers/Watergate glory days of four decades ago, the Republicans also built a potent political attack machine, learning how to bully Democrats with great success. Big money bought clever attack ads and many of the courageous Democrats were targeted and defeated.

These trends have been underway for four decades but only recently has this reality penetrated the consciousness of the Washington Establishment, finally prompting two committed centrists, Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, to detect the reality. They penned a recent Washington Post Outlook article entitled “Let’s just say it: the Republicans are the problem”:

“In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

But that GOP transformation wouldn’t have been possible if there had been serious pushback over the past four decades, if the U.S. press corps had done its job, if Democrats had stood firm in demanding accountability, and if the Left had not closed down or sold off much of its media infrastructure after the Vietnam War was over.

Since that time, a series of miscalculations and acts of cowardice by American journalists, Democrats and progressives have enabled the most corrupt and dishonest elements of the Republican Party to run wild, like a herd of rabid elephants. [For details, see Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep.]

Obama’s Fault?

A more difficult truth may be that we, the American people, are collectively at fault for this political/media dysfunction. But it’s a lot easier and a lot more fun to blame President Obama for not being a superman who could swoop in and immediately solve all these intractable problems by himself.

Yes, Obama did make mistakes. He can be fairly faulted for not recognizing early that his bipartisan outreach was a fool’s errand, that the likes of Olympia Snowe lacked the courage to buck party discipline, that he would get no credit from the Republicans for giving a pass to George W. Bush regarding his misguided and criminal policies.

But it is a cop-out for Dowd and other pundits to blame the national catastrophe on Obama’s upbringing and character. To do that, Dowd and the others have to create false narratives to deceive the American people.

Thus, their recitation of what went wrong over the last three-plus years leaves out or downplays the fact that Bush left behind economic, budgetary and geopolitical disasters. They also avoid the systemic question of how the Washington Establishment has been complicit in the catastrophes.

Perhaps, Dowd and similar writers just can’t resist the catnip of a narrative based on personality. It’s so much more novelistic than non-fiction truth-telling.

So, gone is the reality that when Obama took office, he faced a collapsing economy, an unprecedented fiscal mess and two open-ended wars. Gone, too, is the evidence that Republicans recognized that their fast route back to power was to delay, block and sabotage every reform that Obama tried to implement, even if that would worsen the suffering of millions of Americans.

Down the memory hole goes the fact that Obama did try to sell his policies and when he did, many of the same pundits complained about his “partisanship” and his poisoning the well of possible compromise with the Republicans. Now, these pundits fault him for not being more aggressive in taking on the GOP.

The truth is that even a combined reincarnation of FDR and LBJ, mixing FDR’s rhetorical eloquence with LBJ’s arm-twisting savvy, would have failed in the face of the modern Republican opposition and the current American media.

If Republicans from the FDR and LBJ eras had the numbers they do today and the audacity to filibuster virtually every proposal Social Security would not have passed, nor would Medicare be a reality today. Those landmark laws succeeded because FDR and LBJ enjoyed large Democratic majorities and/or cooperation from responsible Republicans who put country ahead of party.

Though Roosevelt and Johnson certainly faced their share of press hostility, the pervasiveness of right-wing media was not what it is today, with the impact of right-wing talk radio, Fox News, a multitude of well-funded Internet sites, not to mention the Right’s large stake in the old media of books, magazines and newspapers, including Rupert Murdoch’s print empire.

It’s silly to think that if President Obama had spent more time rubbing shoulders with this breed of Republicans that they would have joined in a national effort to reduce joblessness. From the first moments of his presidency, the Republicans and the Right understood that keeping the jobless rate high was their best hope for reclaiming the presidency in 2012.

But, according to Dowd and similar pundits, it’s all about Barack Obama’s identity crisis and his personality quirks, supported by an imagined history of his presidency, a false narrative that ignores what he actually said and did.

Dowd’s so-clever column should be saved as a perfect example of how the major news media with its fondness for superficiality has failed the country.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

22 comments for “The ‘Blame Obama’ Syndrome

  1. sammy
    June 10, 2012 at 23:27

    REPUBLICAN TRAITORS Have Been Planning to Crash the Economy Since January of 2009

    On January 20, 2009 Republican Leaders in Congress literally plotted to sabotage and undermine U.S. Economy during President Obama’s Inauguration.

    Robert Draper’s book: “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives”, talks about a four hour, “invitation only” meeting with GOP Hate-Propaganda Minister, Frank Luntz, the below listed Senior GOP Law Writers literally plotted to sabotage, undermine and destroy America’s Economy.

    The Guest List:
    Frank Luntz – GOP Minister of Propaganda
    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
    Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
    Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA),
    Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX),
    Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX),
    Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
    Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA),
    Sen. Jim DeMint (SC-R),
    Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ-R),
    Sen. Tom Coburn (OK-R),
    Sen. John Ensign (NV-R) and
    Sen. Bob Corker (TN-R).

    Why isn’t the pathetic msm covering this? Of course we know the answer.

  2. incontinent reader
    June 9, 2012 at 16:37

    Ignoring armchair psychologist doodlings, and taking it as a given that Obama is educated and smart, what is left for some of us disaffected geezers? Maybe his record? Ain’t that enough?

  3. Dan
    June 8, 2012 at 18:11

    I am unsubscribing from your RSS feed. I used to check your news site frequently because of the critical perspective it provided, but lately the articles I’ve been seeing have been no different than the drooling Obama worship found on MSNBC or any of the rest of the mainstream media.

    “Rather than fretting Hamlet, he [Obama] has behaved more like a Dirty Harry character.”

    It’s kind of nauseating that you equate Obama’s cowardly murder of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya as some kind of heroic cowboy action, praising him for his “decisiveness.” You go on to create a straw man of Obama’s critics, claiming that they are hung up on his personality flaws, rather than addressing their beef with his actual policies.

    How much longer can Obama supporters keep dragging out the old line of “Hey, he inherited a messed up economy, give him a break”? Obama passed the largest military budget since World War Two. He appointed Timothy Geithner, the boy toy of Goldman Sachs, to be treasury secretary. He signed a free trade agreement with Colombia that the Republicans were drooling to pass under Bush but were unable to get through. And he took the ban off of offshore drilling that Republicans had been squealing for for years, then allowed BP free reign to spew oil into the gulf at their heart’s content without bringing any of the truly guilty to justice.

    Clinging to the president’s side at this point in history is not only burying your head in the sand, but it makes you complicit in genocide.

    • Gregory Lynn Kruse
      June 9, 2012 at 10:35

      Everything Obama has done should elicit a vigorous “Hurrah” from the Republicans, neocons, whatever, but they are clever enough to criticize him for being one of them while they refuse to acknowledge his membership.

  4. OH
    June 7, 2012 at 18:42

    It doesnt matter WHY Obama wouldnt pick up that easy victory on a silver platter that the Republicans kept trying and trying as hard as they possibly could to hand to him on that debt ceiling crisis last year. Obama didnt want to mint those platinum trillion dollar coins because it would have been a “constitutional crisis”. A “constitutional crisis”. Never mind that we already had a hostage crisis and a national crisis. A real constitutional crisis is when the guy who took an oath to defend the constitution wont do it, becuase the NDAA might get filibustered. Oh no, like the Republicans would REALLY KILL MONEY FOR THE MILITARY just because Obama might not sign off on idefinite detention provisions for US citizens. Obama should have vetoed the NDAA. Hey dont blame me, dont attack me, it isnt the fault of people publicizing the bad things, that the predictable result is alot of disillusionment. I am not a Naderite, I voted FOR Obama in 2008 AND in f—ing 20 f—ing 10!!!!

  5. rharwell
    June 7, 2012 at 08:42

    I believe there is a great deal of truth in what Dowd penned. Others have also done a superb job of analyzing Obama–His weaknesses and strengths. What is clear here is Parry is still blinded by the light of Obama and has lost his perspective on this sociopath become psychopath bloodlust Warrior in Chief. Obama has done far worse in 3 years nationally and globally than Bush 2 did in 8 years. Why these intelligent journalists can ‘t give up the Obama Kool-Aid is beyond me. It’s like they have some Jim Jones addiction and can’t wake up from the nightmare to reality. Obama is a traitor, a liar, a war criminal who has protected war criminals and is the driving force behind an agenda to create enemies faster than they can be recognized. He seems determined to force Pakistan to give the US what it wants in order for the drone strikes to halt. Obama has learned how easy it is to pull the trigger and create carnage without having to feel guilt or witness any of it. A true psychopath. He has come into his own and this is the real Obama.

  6. Paul G.
    June 6, 2012 at 07:15

    Spot on evaluation of the mainstream media. As a former therapist, I can say blaming or excusing Obamascam’s weaknesses on his inadequate childhood is like excusing your mugger because his daddy was a drunk- mushy, bleeding- heart liberal nonsense. He is 51 years old and has attained the Presidency with, at the time a majority in both houses(less the filibuster) a grown up, no excuses. He squandered that majority with the help of his wussy party, negotiating like Neville Chamberlain. He used the energy of well meaning progressives to get elected and then sold them out, as many of the commentators have illustrated. When asked about that, his then chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel said, “…what are they going to do, vote Republican”?
    When he appointed Larry Summers(whose accomplishments include helping ruin Asian and Russian economies) as head of his economic council, the game was up. No Republican forced him to do that, yet it set the stage for his biggest mistake, the mishandling, and misunderstanding of the “Great Recession”. Notice that the article doesn’t mention the bankster bailout, the largest rapid redistribution of wealth upward in US history and the subsequent lack of prosecutions for the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American public, ponder this for a moment, it is astounding! Oh but he is going after Bradley Manning, God’s gift to the journalism profession, as well as prosecuting various whistle blowers for espionage, so much for “transparency”. I keep wondering what Martha Stewart, who spent three years in the slammer for a little insider trading, thinks about Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein and their like running around free collecting their bonuses and continuing their financial piracy,i.e. Facebook fiasco.
    The issue is not how much he compromised his ideals, but whether he had any to begin with. The question is,”Who owns him”?
    As far as his health-care reform being a daring political move, remember that it was based on the Heritage Foundation’s plan; and the public option was dropped in a sell out to the private hospital lobby.
    FDR was confronted with a strong Republican opposition, as well as a plan by Prescott Bush and some of his Wall Street cronies to stage a military coup; but he did prevail, though he had a much stronger left and labor movement on his side. His genius was to inspire the American public to use the bully pulpit. Obama’s inspiration ended when he took office and his halo fell off.
    When staring at the headlight of the on coming, Romneynut, train wreck it is easy to get frightened, but let’s be real about Obamascam. With friends like him who needs enemies.

    • Paul G.
      June 6, 2012 at 15:02

      P.S. Our brave President wouldn’t come to the aid of his compatriots in Wisconsin with a personal stump visit. What does that say?

      Those who snooze, lose!

  7. Jay Diamond
    June 6, 2012 at 05:07

    Robert Parry Writes:

    “” For instance, Dowd ignores the fact that Obama did take risks in office. He pushed for a $787 billion stimulus bill, which — while not enough — was probably all that he could get politically, especially with Republicans dragging their feet on Al Franken’s Senate election in Minnesota, thus denying the Democrats the 60 votes needed to break a Republican Senate filibuster.””

    Much as I revere Bob Parry, and I really do, it is absurd to premise a presidency on attaining a 60 vote majority in the senate.

    No presidential candidate can assume such an unlikely majority, and bank his success or failure on attaining it.

    A president had better have a plan B.

    In addition, if I knew from jump street that Obama’s stroking of America’s vicious right wing movement was a frail and hopeless act of self abnegation, he should have as well !

  8. June 6, 2012 at 03:08

    “A more difficult truth may be that we, the American people, are collectively at fault for this political/media dysfunction.”

    A lot of words and hot-air expended before cutting to the chase … then ignoring it anc carrying on from there. Anyone who exercised any due diligence at all knew that Obama was playing the electorate like a musical instument before his election, that he was going to turn into a merciless imperialist after he was elected. And anyone who takes 800 million bucks to win election has a lot to payback … Obama paid back like gangbusters … 800 billion, 1000:1 … with his banksters reclamation act.

    Everyone wanted change without changing. And now even though things are much worse are unwilling to accept the responsibility for their previous unwillingness to accept responsibility.

    I haven’t read the times since the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, although I had read it everyday for thirty years prior to that, and I never read Dowd. What did she write when Obama was running? Dollars to doughnuts she was Miss Hopey-Changey herself. Now the fault is with Obama’s crossed stars and not with tight-assed little self.

    Now the ‘new’ campaign is afoot, once more, to vote for Obama as the lessor of two evils. It is absolutely plain that voting for Obama is evil, and not at all evident that he is any less evil than his evil twin, running on the flip-side of the Demoblican ticket.

    If we had rejected this utterly bogus ‘vote for evil’ pitch in, say 2004, and begun then to build an alternative we’d have one by now. We didn’t so we don’t. That is ceratinly not an argument for not starting now to build an alternative. Building an alternative is the only thing that will end the wars, the assassinations, restore our constitution, and allow us to repair our financial system.

    The Pew Polls, 38%, and Gallup Polls, 44%, show independents ahead of either Demoblican brand, both of which are in the 20%’s. The Gallup poll points out that when Demoblican ‘leaning’ voters are taken into account, mirabile dictu, the Demoblicans divide us right down the middle, and get all our votes.

    Maybe we ought to come up with an alternative? Duh?

    If everyone who identified themselves as ‘independent’ in those polls actually acted independently … wrote in the name of someone they actually wanted to be president on their ballots ,… the independents would come in ahead of either of the Demoblican brands.

    The next step is to make voting for whomever you want to ‘legal’.

    And the next step after that is inaugurating run-off elections until one candidate receives a majority of votes cast.

    Call it the Three Step Plan. Call it 1,2,3,freedom. Call it what you want. If we’d begun in 2004 we’d be electing OUR candidate in November and OUR House and OUR Senate.

    We can continue to piss away time until we all die. Or we can vote for real change. I’m down for real change.

  9. PB
    June 5, 2012 at 22:07

    FEC is the big problem which sets up this legalized bought politicians game. Here is the outcome:
    It is obvious why there is no representative democracy for 99% and it is FEC. Parry mentions it not one iota.

    And this also sheds some light about what is really going on in that White House behind the curtains. There is a reason this President signs what it put in front of him.

    This is hardly a story that is exposing the “establishment” or the System!

  10. JessB
    June 5, 2012 at 16:25

    After reading the article then the comments I am beginning to think the negative repliers have hijacked the comment section. I guess I’m just highly specious these days (with good reason). Seems to me no one has considered the facts. The facts are throughout the article, take your time, read some of the links, learn something.

    • F. G. Sanford
      June 5, 2012 at 17:18

      specious: 1. seeming to be good, sound, correct,logical etc. without really being so; plausible but not genuine [specious logic] 2. pleasing to the sight.

      Webster’s New World Dictionary

  11. unhandyandy
    June 5, 2012 at 16:07

    I’m afraid Robert Parry may have finally lost the plot. E.g.,

    “Obama worked hard to bring on board Republicans, like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. Indeed, one of Obama’s biggest political mistakes in 2009 was to waste so much time trying to woo Snowe, giving in to her incessant demands that she not be rushed on her health-care decision.”

    This is exactly the problem.

  12. John Puma
    June 5, 2012 at 12:39

    You suggest: “The truth is that even a combined reincarnation of FDR and LBJ, mixing FDR’s rhetorical eloquence with LBJ’s arm-twisting savvy, would have failed in the face of the modern Republican opposition and the current American media.”

    Interesting, are we to assume that “the modern Republican opposition and the current American media” will magically disappear if we but vote, one more time, for Mr B. H. “I really like W’s US Attorneys, too” Obama?

    All, ponder again the comment of Vivek Jain, above.

  13. incontinent reader
    June 5, 2012 at 12:09

    Obama’s greatest strength was not his putative negotiating skills with an inflexible and singleminded Republican Congress, notwithstanding his perpetuation of many of GW Bush’s policies and inclusion of many of their operatives in his Administration. It was the huge public mandate he received when he was elected. Yet, just to get a “deal” he would, time and time again cave in, when what was needed was strength and fortitude and effective use of the “bully pulpit”, and also accountability, e.g. through targeted prosecutions of the real criminals, instead of targeted assassinations of those abroad who were fighting to be free of our intrusions and predations in their countries.
    Effective use of Presidential power could have turned the MSM into a more honest vehicle of journalism to educate the public about what is really happening in the nation and rest of the world so that the public could rally in a substantive rather than merely political way.

    When he bought into the neocon program and let the national interest be compromised, what did we have left? Even this dance with Iran leaves one expecting a disaster at the end of the tunnel guided by the Likud, since his negotiating tactics would be non-starters for any negotiating partner.

    Whether or not Congress has been bought off or blackmailed by AIPAC and the Likud, systematic revelations of their abuses to the American public would so change public opinion and create pressure on Congress that the playing field would begin to tilt into better balance. Declassification of documents, cessation of the issuance of National Security letters except in the most pressing cases, and the end of the undeclared “war on terror” would begin to bring the judicial system into balance, even with those judges who have shown undue deference to a Presidential War powers predicated on a “non-war”.

    Obama could have gotten the ball rolling by openly telling Netanyahu where to get off, withholding technology,
    loans, grants and weaponry, and by reactivating the many espionage cases that had been closed down because of pressure from the State and Defense Departments. This of course was impossible from the very beginning as his primary sponsor was Lester Crown, who controls General Dynamics the supplier of so much of the weaponry used in the Middle East and elsewhere, and who is a strong supporter of Israel and the current government. So, that also tells us something.

    From a foreign policy standpoint he had opportunities to offer the Third World what China has offered, and even collaborated with the Russia, China and the other BRIC countries to make it a win-win-win situation.

    From a domestic policy standpoint, even his health care solutions, compromised and re-compromised as they were,
    never allowed consideration of a single payer plan, or contemplated that more support for medical and nursing schools that would increase the supply of doctors and nurses in this country, or that help paying the huge cost of medical education in exchange for several years of social service in impoverished communities would have immediate and long term benefits for the nation. Re: income tax, he has been late to the table, and until now it wa easily forgotten that the highest marginal tax rate under Eisenhower was 90%. Re: the current recession, now going into Stage 2, he had the chance to bring on board and listen to Joseph Stiglitz who has been through this and solved numerous crises many times before as Chief Economist of the World Bank and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. The list goes on.

    There is no doubt that Obama was faced with many crises, but his choices, and the continuing rhetoric from hacks like Clinton, Rice, et al, while they are advocating more chaos in the world in violation of rule of international law, is too much to contemplate for another four years, even for a “yellow dog democrat”.

  14. Vivek Jain
    June 5, 2012 at 11:58

    The writing and analyses by Paul Street, Lance Selfa, Glenn Greenwald, Tariq Ali, Roger Hodge, and Michael Parenti really deserve wider audience. All of these authors puncture the conventional narrative about Obama. He’s not a progressive, but a neoliberal, authoritarian militarist. The public should unplug from the establishment media and the pundits, who only offer myths and propaganda.

    • F. G. Sanford
      June 5, 2012 at 13:50

      “When he put off his civilian clothes, he also stripped himself of the political skill he had possessed up till then. Throughout the war…he displayed not a single impulse toward political activity, no ambition to employ statesmanship in foreign affairs…the fact that he led the war not as a statesman but as a commander obsessed with military ambitions, was the crowning misfortune…”

      Abridged quote, Otto Dietrich

  15. george collins
    June 5, 2012 at 10:56

    It may be that some pundits critiques of President Obama are superficial.

    In the same spirit, is it not superficial to suggest, as the often spot on Bob Parry does in his “Blame Obana’ Syndrome piece, an outline Obama’s significant failings without mention of his role in the erosion of personal liberties,domestic and foreign, the arrogation to himself of the powers of the unitary executive, the decision to continue use of Kill squads, participation in plans to use the US military to put down trouble in the US,his appalling, for a Constitutional Law Professor emeritus, game, set match judgement about Bradley Manning’s guilt and ignoring of that whistleblower’s constitutional rights, the continuing US perversion of NATO as an enforcer of US and ally goals vis-a-vis Syria, Libya, Russia, China, and the enhanced militarization of imperialism in general?

    It seems Mr. Parry can excoriate his chosen foes with ease but selectively pulls his punches when honesty and candor demand he use his critical skills even-handedly and call out all heinous conduct, even if he continues to believe Obama is the best his side has.

    I noticed no mention that Bush II could not have created the chaos that he did without the cooperation of the Democrats.

    The choice between greater and lesser evil, when the the latter is grievous as here, is neither.

    • June 5, 2012 at 13:03

      The Presidents of the United States, including Obama have been and are simply Project Managers for the implementation of the Project For A New American Century outlined in their publication of “Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century” available at

      and in their publication “A New Strategy For Securing The Realm” available at

      When the actions of those in the Presidency are considered in the light of these documents, theie actions all make sense. To view them otherwise is to be delusional.

      Oppose these strategies—the Presidents are irrelevant.

  16. maria
    June 5, 2012 at 10:09

    someone may have been drinking the “kool-aid” and may not be in touch with reality and the facts of the economic turmoil in the US and world-wide. Possibly…….

    • clarence swinney
      June 8, 2012 at 07:45

      Campaign time. Never praise opponent. never,

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