Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It’s taken me a while, longer than most of my friends, to face up to Barack Obama’s accommodation to the powers that be. He is the most powerful individual in the world — only within terms imposed by a system stronger than any president. So far, when his promises and proposals require confronting entrenched power, he bows to a pragmatic perception of “reality”. That means retreating and weakening chances for meaningful change on almost every critical issue. It now means being the standard bearer for escalating the disastrous war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I don’t question Obama’s desire for significant reform. Nor, as difficult as the struggles are, do I doubt the capacity of the people to achieve changes that a majority voted for with enthusiasm a year ago. The “Obama coalition” showed what was and is possible. On the other hand, the ultra-right is far more dangerous than ever and is counting on Obama’s failure. Preventing that failure and its consequences calls for a fight to change the Obama Administration’s self-defeating course of weakness toward Wall Street and compliance with the military-industrial complex.

The biggest problem for Obama, and for the country, clearly is the economy. That has compounded every difficulty in moving a progressive program forward. The great need is for a serious investment in putting people to work. There is no longer room for hesitation and timidity.

No one can know where things would stand if Obama risked being bolder on the stimulus and universal health care, or in defying rather than appeasing the war hawks. What we do know is that the course we're on is not headed to the promised land embraced by so many at the beginning of the "Obama era".

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