Senior Fellow, the Center for Transatlantic Relations
Posted: February 12, 2010 01:29 PM
The enigma that is Barack Obama grows day by day. Contradiction after contradiction, abrupt gear shifts, perpetual motion that never reaches a destination. 'Obscene' Wall Street bonuses suddenly transmute into well earned rewards for a good guy golfing buddy; the imperative to act boldly on the jobs crisis means placing it the callous hands of Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley of health care fame; the plotting of exit strategies from Afghanistan by 2011 becomes a 'long as we have to' occupation. All these contrapuntal reversals against a sound track of non-stop exhortation and a restless shuttling from one photo-op to another. Who is this guy, anyway?
Far-fetched? Let's take a clear eyed look at what President Obama actually has done and said. He placed his supposedly signature health care reform initiative in the hands of those dedicated to thwarting it, he has curried favor with the criminally incompetent financial establishment, he orphaned the proposal to help underwater homeowners through the bankruptcy courts, he stiffed the trade unions on the loosening of rules for organizing workers, he has retained all of Bush's policies on surveillance, he has refused the slightest chastisement of the CIA and their mercenaries, he has retained Bush's practice of Executive statements interpreting legislation, he has followed a behind closed doors style of policy-making, he has followed the Pentagon hawks in escalating the war in Afghanistan, he has made repeated advances toward the evangelical right. This is the behavioral pattern of a deeply conservative personality and conventional thinker who tips his hat to every establishment he encounters.