Chris Floyd makes many good points about Obama. I see much that he does. However, Chris doesn't see the spirit. He doesn't see absolute, living truth (righteousness; harmlessness) or life (God) beyond the flesh.
by Chris Floyd
Monday, 09 June 2008
Last week, I wrote a piece on Barack Obama's victory in the race for the Democratic nomination: "Degrees of Significance." This has elicited a comment from a long-time reader whose views I respect; I'd like to respond at some length, because I think he brings up an important issue. For readers joining us from Air America, where I'm guest-blogging this week, you might want to check out the earlier piece first to get the whole picture. But here is the comment:
Chris...if you write off Obama before he's even achieved the presidency, you might as well pack it in. Because then it's all just pissing in the wind, isn't it? There's no hope of change, there's no hope of America becoming better, there's no hope of anything changing and we're all on the slippery slope to extinction. After struggling in the mire of corruption for so long you've lost (understandably) perspective. Take a short break, go somewhere nice and quiet, don't read newspapers, the internet or watch TV. Then have another look.
I'm not "writing Obama off" — whatever that means. I'm just looking at what he is actually saying, his actual positions, and what he has actually done — and not done — in the U.S. Senate. In the previous post, I noted a long list of actions — both substantive and symbolic — that Obama could have already taken from his position of national power, then I concluded: "But he did not do so; he is not doing so now; and there is no reason to believe that he will do so in the future, despite the eloquent lip service he occasionally pays to one or two of these points."
Of course, I can't predict the future. Anything is possible, and perhaps Obama will astound us all with a new American revolution that will restore the Republic and dismantle the vast military empire America has built over many decades. Perhaps he will declare an end to the "War on Terror" — the use of massive, nation-breaking military force, state terror, torture, rendition, secret prisons, concentration camps, and Constitution-stripping tyranny — to deal with isolated groups of extremists that pose no existential threat to the United States. Perhaps he will establish a "Truth Commission" to investigate and prosecute the many high crimes of the Bush Administration. Perhaps he will change his position on Iraq, and call for a genuine withdrawal of all American forces there. Perhaps he will change his bellicose position on Iran, which he enunciated so forcefully to AIPAC recently. Perhaps he will forthrightly condemn the American-backed "regime change" invasion of Somalia, which has created the worst humanitarian disaster in the world (outside of Asia's recent natural disasters). Perhaps instead of stoking fears about the non-existent "Social Security crisis" — and attending to the many Wall Street bankers and elitist lobbyists on his team — he will call for the repeal of the draconian Bankruptcy Bill, he will shift billions of dollars from the Pentagon to the rebuilding of New Orleans and the restoration of the thousands upon thousands of refugees to their homes. Perhaps he will do all these things, and more — even though he has not given the slightest indication whatsoever that this is what he would do in office.
Rather, in many cases, the opposite is true. He says he will do "everything, and I mean everything" to stop Iran from getting a single nuclear bomb like the thousands in the American arsenal and the hundreds in Israel's arsenal. He will take "no options" off the table in this feverish quest, including, one can only assume, the Hillary-like "obliteration" of Iran and its 70 million people. He has pledged to enlarge the American military machine, already gorged to monstrous, unmanageable size by blood and corruption. This in turn will guarantee the continued militarization of the American economy and our foreign policy, geared toward the continual fomenting of "war and rumors of war" to justify the all-devouring machine. He pledges to continue the "War on Terror," but to do it "better, smarter," and perhaps even expanding it into Pakistan. He pledges to leave behind an unspecified number of American troops in Iraq "and the region" — forces that will continue to launch attacks in that broken land, sowing more hatred, more blowback for America.
These are simply facts, drawn from Obama's own speeches and position papers. What sort of "perspective" should we take toward these facts? Should we squint real hard and pretend they're not there?
Here's another example. Obama was recently asked a straight question about the mountains of evidence that Bush and his top minions deliberately created a regimen of torture for their Terror War captives — a regimen which they acknowledged would lay them open to prosecution for war crimes under U.S. and international law. (Hence their relentless drive to establish the "principle" that the president is above the law.) In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, Obama was asked if he would, as president, order his Justice Department "to aggressively investigate if crimes were committed." As I noted in an earlier post on this:
It goes without saying that Obama does not give a straightforward answer to the question. He does not simply say: "Yes. I will aggressively investigate all criminal activity by the Bush Administration and bring the perpetrators to justice." Instead, he twice offers a rather odd locution: he will, he says, order his attorney general to "review the information already there" and find out if there are inquiries that "need to be pursued." Obama's emphasis on basing his actions on "what we know right now" seems puzzling, until you tie it to a later passage in his reply, when he speaks of his attitude toward impeachment.
Obama says that any decision to pursue "investigation" of "possibilities" of "genuine crimes" would be "an area where I would exercise judgment." He stressed the need to draw a distinction between "really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity." He said he would not want "my first term to be consumed by what would be perceived by Republicans as a partisan witch hunt." He then tied his thinking on torture, illegal wiretapping, aggressive war and all the other depredations of the Bush Regime to his stance on impeachment:
"I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings. And I've often said, I do not think that would be something that would be fruitful to pursue. I think impeachment should be reserved for exceptional circumstances."
In other words, very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of launching a criminal war of aggression based on deception is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of the investigative and prosecutorial process of impeachment. It might just be a "very dumb policy." Very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of knowingly, deliberately creating a regimen of systematic torture is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of impeachment; it might not even be worth further investigation by the Justice Department. It too could just be a "dumb policy" that we should forget about – especially if Republicans are going to make a fuss about it. [Emphasis added]
Again, what sort of "perspective" should we adopt toward these public statements? No one is forcing Obama to make them. I am doing him the honor that so many of his fans won't do: listening to what he really says, and believing that he means it. Should we not look at the reality in front of us — instead of the blinding light of celebrity and the gauzy images, "like trees walking," projected by wishful thinking?
If you read the rest of Chris's post, you'll see Chris having a difficult time seeing the rest of the light.