Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Game Over: Obama Will Never Become a Transformational Leader

I'm not an Obama-Hater. I am just no longer a fan. I do not regret campaigning and voting for him in the last general election. I still figure him to have been a better POTUS than John McCain. By far. But I have more than a slight case of buyer's remorse for my not having loved Hillary Clinton more in the 2008 primary. Oh well. I still believe Barry's last name starts with an 'Oh' and not a 'zer0'.

I liked what Max Hastings said about Barry O so much yesterday (As Afghanistan falters and the Middle East burns, how Obama is missing in action), that I just have to amplify parts of his article.

.... Obama’s foreign policy is characterised by caution: towards Iran, China and now Libya.

.... America’s allies are bemused by the almost Trappist silence of this U.S. President, his reluctance to engage with many of the huge things that are happening both to his own country and to the world.

.... He entered office proclaiming ‘yes, we can’, and declared a nobly ambitious agenda.

.... The President, like his Democratic Party, has set his face against doing anything meaningful about America’s unsustainable burden of debt.

.... He proclaimed a commitment to peace in the Middle East, but Israeli stubbornness, endorsed by much of Congress, has confounded him.

.... This cool - indeed cold, cerebral - man understands the world’s and his own country’s problems better than almost any American President in history.

He entered office as a crusader mantled in a glittering white cloak. Yet he lacks a vital political gift, which empowered Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan: the ability to make the American people feel good about themselves.

His remoteness reflects an arrogance rooted in a curious lack of interest in people save as a political study. While the world welcomed Obama as a transformational figure, he shows no sign of wishing to fulfil any such grand role.

Indeed, the White House is obsessed with a single issue: how to get its man re-elected in November 2012.

..... Americans who inhabit the real world - which means the majority - recoil from the Republicans’ excesses as much as we do from the extreme Right in Britain.

They look with gratitude upon a President who, whatever his limitations, never speaks or acts less than rationally. But it is dismaying to see this brilliant man’s accomplishments fall so far short of the world’s hopes.

..... I am still convinced of the power of American creativity and energy to pull this country through its current troubles, to maintain pole position in the world for some decades yet.

I am much less sure, however, about whether Barack Obama will fulfil his extraordinary potential as a national leader.

A Washington admirer of the President urged me: ‘Don’t lose faith. If he gets re-elected, Congress will have to give him a break whether the Republicans like it or not. He may still do fine things that astonish us.’

Yet to do great deeds, a leader must fight tough fights. Obama has sat on his hands while many of the policies he trumpeted when he came to power ... have vanished into the sand.

A warm admirer of the President in 2008 says: ‘I must admit that I’m disappointed in him.’ Millions of Democrats share this view, while millions of Republicans hate him.

For those of us who embraced Obama’s professed idealism and high intelligence back in 2008, his passivity is depressing and frustrating.

Given the way the American system of government works - or often does not work - maybe this would-be visionary President was bound to succumb to the sordid demands of machine politics.

We dreamers will keep hoping Obama may still lay claim to greatness. But he is leaving it awfully late.
Let me explain why I have not included criticisms of specific foreign policy decisions or indecisions.

It used to be said that the occupant of Oval Office in the White House is the most powerful man in the world. That is no longer the case. In this century, armed expeditions into nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan have squandered our national military and economic resources such that the unipolar world promised Americans was D.O.A.

Now we have Lillputin image of - putively - the world's largest and most powerful democracy merely witnessing historic events instead of rising to the challenges they pose.


  1. With such a weak Republican field of potential presidential candidates, I think Obama is strictly in 'don't-do-anything-to-rock-the-boat-and-I'll-get-re-elected' mode. That's not leadership.

  2. Vigilante,
    I agree with you and Fearguth that Obama's lack of leadership is indeed short-curcuiting his initial bold agenda. We must all dedicate ourselves to recapturing Congress in 2012 with real Democrats instead of DINOs to give him the push and the majority he needs to unwrap himself from this cloak of timidity which he has enveloped himself in! This cesspool of teabaggers and conservative Republicans needs to be cleaned out in the worst possible way! Scott Walker has created the seeds of a massive backlash against the GOP. We nust make those seeds sprout into a thick garden. We cannot allow the conservatives to make Obama become the issue. We must make THEM and their crazy for-the-rich-only economic policies become the issue instead!

  3. As the song goes, the man is a walking contradiction,partly truth and partly fiction.
    If they were to make a new book of Great expectations this guy would be a Pip. The great appeaser in my mind is a very slow learner. He really needs to grasp the moment. Yeah I could go over all the things he's failed us on, but you guys already got it. He doesn't have "it". I thought he did when running. Honestly, if I were to pick the best person for the job, it would be Elizabeth Warren. I'm sure she doesn't want the position, which makes her perfect for it.

  4. I'm often accused of hating Obama, always by those who consider deviation from the party line treasonous.They're the Democratic equivalent of Soviet "apparatchiks" - they subscribe to party doctrine and like commissars behind the Red Army shoot those who don't fight hard enough for the party.
    I happen to have principle, and I hate those who murder or support the casual murder of innocent people. I don't mean those who die as a result of war, those terrible circumstances are always with us.
    I mean those who die on account of illegal wars, state terrorism. Shock and Awe, drone attacks.
    Obama consistently voted to fund the war, for that reason I considered him unworthy of support. Anyone who votes to kill women and children for political expediency is unworthy of support, unworthy of holding office.
    Unworthy of winning a Nobel Peace prize.

  5. None of my above comment is even remotely directed towards Jack Jodell - whose principles and plans alluded to above are worthy, as is he.

  6. I've come to understand that so many of the politic Democrats are bunched into either a status quo out of fear of what or who would take his place if he is not supported - for that kind of deer in the headlights fear... Obama has generated... it's really unforgivable. No one is really confident to step past him. The risk of being enthusiastic for a new candidate (which might shock Obama into action or at least resurrect Hope!) is to great a fear of Republican victories. Well, Republicans have sure fire glavinized the Unions and the majority of registered Democrats. I don't suggest a Republican President, no one in their right mind would do that.... Republicans and many Democrats are nothing but corporate whores... even in the face of Japan right now...UNBELIEVABLE! Then there are the Apologists... whom find no blame in Obama. Another unbelievable situation.

    We must gather ourselves. Demand change and demand rights be restored. Demand, demonstrate, protest... I've attended two protests this month already. People are "up" for it. The outrage has hit the population. Those masses that only pay one tenth attention that those of us posting in cyberspace do. What does that tell you about the country?
    I don't regret working for the Obama campaign either. I am wistfully thinking what if Hillary... but that's done too. Mr. Obama has lost many of the people and so he'll be campaigning on corporate money. I'm wondering how large the Apologist Party really is? Surely we'll find out.

    This is an excellent post, Vig.

  7. Goodness, Oso... I think Jack knows we support him and would never condemn his political savvy.

  8. Gwen actually Jack threatened to kill me if I didn't put that second comment up there.He also demanded I change my avatar to a Viking helmet,so the comment was a compromise.

    To a Raider fan even death is preferable to wearing a Viking helmet, or a Twin hat.

    OK I made all that up.

  9. A good move for Obama would be to pick up Elizabeth Warren or a good progressive for VP. I am hoping he takes on Wall Street in his second term. To be shocked that he supports war solutions reveals a lack of analysis (or dim memory) of when the hawk(s) was(were) running for the Commander in Chief. He never hid that! I do fear the alternative to a Democratic President, with good damn reason. The Supreme Court still needs a progressive majority, and the Republicans are COMPLETELY and unrelentingly corrupt, and the few politicians who really care about people happen to be Democrats or Independents. That's reality. We need to VOTE.

  10. I understand you to say, Pinks, that if we can't have a Progressive leadership, at least we can avoid retrogressive leadership. That's your point?