Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How Obama Became Bush (and Worse)

Barack Obama came to his history making inauguration in 2008 like a Caesar. His entourage rolled into Washington DC like a Roman triumph. Millions flocked to see the nation's first black President take oath and turn their back on George W Bush who departed for Texas with an approval rating that was the worst for any departing president since Nixon. Bill Clinton won in landslides and became the first democrat to win two terms after FDR and yet he never won 50% of the popular vote. If seen in terms of popular vote it is a fact that a majority of the country voted against Bill Clinton. Clinton's approval ratings, even today, is something that Obama can only yearn for. Bush scraped by the 50% in 2004 after the humiliating controversial win of 2000. In 16 years no candidate had so comfortably won the plurality of the popular vote as Obama did in 2008 and then repeated in 2012. Today, Obama's approval rating matches that of what Bush had at his 5th year. If predictions come true Obama would've led Democrats to a defeat in the coming midterms the same as Bush did in 2006.

Gone are the soaring dreams. Gone are the lusty cheers of 'yes we can'. To cap it all, this week fellow liberal and Democratic Senator, from California, Dianne Fienstein has accused CIA of spying on computers used by Congressional staff. The man who rode to office promising America that he is the opposite of Bush now looks not just like Bush but, alas, like Nixon.

Edward Snowden, I now agree, is a hero. He laid bare an Orwellian state at great personal cost. Whatever his motivations maybe what he did was a signal service. The tentacles of Obama's state apparatus has shocked a nation beyond compare. New York Times called it 'data hoover' (referring to a popular vacuum cleaning brand name).

The unravelling of the Obamacare rollout was an embarrassment for a candidate who sought to prove that 'smart' government will disprove the critics of 'big' government. Big government is not to be feared, the candidate reasoned, if it was smart. After spending $300 million the government rolled out a website that was unmitigated showpiece of shame. Time magazine cover story ripped into what a botched rudderless rollout it was. Obama sailed to his unexpected re-election on a much a written and admired data operation. When it was his money he engaged the best. When it was the tax payer money he was disconnected and did not care what was happening.

President Bush, much to his own detriment, refused to fire Donald Rumsfeld even as Iraq slid into chaos and Abhu Ghraib became notorious. He was pilloried for sticking by loyalty. Presidents don't like to fire senior staff because it shows they erred in picking them up in the first place and accepting that something went wrong seriously. Obama has steadfastly refused to fire his Secretary of Health Kathleen Sibelius for the Obamacare rollout debacle.

Bush came to office pledging 'nation building at home not abroad'. Candidate Bush said America will no longer be the world's 911 and that America must be a humbler power. Then 9/11 happened and the rest, as they say, is history. Obama came to office vowing to end wars. He succeeded in ending the Iraq war but drags on in Afghanistan. He stunned his voters by retaining Bush's Secretary of defense Robert Gates and then proceeded to infuriate his voters by adopting Bush's Iraq surge model in Afghanistan.

When Romney said that Russia is America's enemy number one the media, the Obama campaign and finally Obama himself mocked him for that. Obama delivered a punch line at a Presidential debate on foreign policy telling Romney that "the 80's called and they want their foreign policy back". America laughed and Romney was defeated. Today Romney has the last laugh while Putin shows Obama who is America's enemy. Now a majority of Americans also agree with Romney.

Obama, who thinks his gifts of oratory are unmatched powers for persuading anybody to 'follow' his lead told the Russian Prime Minister Medvedev that after the 2012 election he'll have more 'room' to negotiate. The remark, which Obama thought was said privately, was broadcast to the world courtesy an open mic. War weary America shrugged it off saying "well thats ok. He is right in a way" and re-elected Obama.

'America is declining' is a theory floated by anyone who wants to write a bestseller. Its a cottage industry. Obama believes that he is midwifing America's transition from a super power to a 'first among equals' nation. American exceptionalism is now a dirty idea. Unable to tame spending Obama is goading the Pentagon to downsize the American military to levels before World War II. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor America was less prepared for war than Netherlands. The new idea that's gaining currency is that no longer America needs to have an army of this size to fight two ground wars. The new wars are won with drones and cyber hacking we are told.

When Bush left office many predicted that Obama will America lovable again. After all candidate Obama was cheered by thousands of Germans even without any significant foreign policy ideology. Apparently Germans forgot that once upon a time they cheered Reagan's bluntness in telling "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall". Today America is hated no less than it was under Bush. In parts of Pakistan, Eastern Europe and other places there is nothing but hatred and disdain for Obama's listless leadership theory of 'leading from behind'. 'Leading from behind'? What's that? France wanted to invade Libya with America leading from behind. They ran out of ammunition, literally, in one week. So much for a world that can carry on without America.

Liberals who chafed at Bush's legislation for secrecy and torture are now squirming in shame seeing Obama draw up lists of who should be killed in the Oval office. When Obama administration frames guidelines in such a way as to undercount civilians killed in drone attacks the preening pompous liberals squirm in silence.

Trying to discredit Hillary and Bill Clinton Obama often decried 'the politics of divisiveness'. Bill Clinton retorted that he fought the fights that needed to be fought. Obama's voters swooned at the promise of a new era of civility and comity in that most fractious blood littered battlefield in all of earth, Washington D.C. Today Obama announces in his state of the union speech that going forward he will working without Congress with a 'pen and a phone'. What a fall from the lofty arrogance of a silver tongued orator who thought he could remake the world with words.

Ah, words. Who would've thought that Obama will be the least persuasive salesman on every key policy initiative that he sought to roll out. His admirers blather that he talks 'professorially' that many fail to understand and therefore fail to support his policies. I guess in their idea a professor is one who is inarticulate and confuses his pupils. Obama went to Bill Clinton, that famed triangulator, to help sell his dreams.

During the heated primaries of 2008 the most heated debate was at South Carolina. Seeing her dreams of a coronation slip away Hillary turned pugnacious before the South Carolina primaries. Obama, in a back handed compliment, told a radio interviewer that Ronald Reagan was a transformative president. Hillary pilloried him for calling Reagan as transformational. Then Obama qualified that what he meant was not a compliment.

I watched Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg gate in which he flung the gauntlet to Gorbachev and clearly spelled out the contrast between the free world and communist totalitarianism. He did not mince words. He underlined the vast destruction that communism inflicted on half the world and the sickening poverty it brought upon continents. Its a clarity of version and boldness in articulation that Obama can only dream of.

America is not a country in decline. America is ready for turning the 21st century too like the previous as an American century. What America needs is a President, a leader, who sees that America is that fabled city on a shining hill.

Today Washington Post reports that NSA has the ability to record 100% all the telephone calls made in a certain country (identity unknown) and also replay calls made 30 days prior. What a denouement for a man who declared in his first inaugural speech, an unremarkable speech, that America need not choose between values and security and that such choices are false choices indeed.

Obama has earned his place in history as America's first black President. Nothing more. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its refreshing to see a obama critic post from a desi!...I am getting sick of desis becoming pawns of the democrats.