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Alexander Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn
13 Jul 2012
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Thank You Mr. Greenspan, Thank You Mr. Bush

Comment

A country with a terrible history of racism and racist violence has elected a black president. Looking at the ecstatic crowd in Grant Park, Chicago, the moment Obama was declared the winner, one sees with vivid force that many Americans haven't had much of a chance to feel proud of their country for a long time. Young Americans, particularly blacks and Hispanics, yearned for all the affirmations that the Obama campaign has represented, and their joy was manifest and moving in Grant Park, Times Square and other venues across the country.

Equally striking was the rapidity with which one saw a new zeitgeist flaring into life on all the networks — America is a country eager to stand tall once more in the eyes of other nations. Not the nation of stolen elections, of Guantanamo, of renditions, but the nation that elects a black man to the White House. The commentators fell over themselves to repeat the message that America is showing a new face to the world.

What sort of face? I was struck by the first reaction to Obama's victory speech by Rachel Maddow, MSNBC's rapidly rising left-liberal star, who seized on this line: "A new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down: We will defeat you." "I was delighted," Maddow exclaimed, "to hear him say in such blunt terms, 'We will defeat you.'" She went on to snarl against "nihilists," "nuts" and "crazies" seeking "world domination" with all the fervor of a right-wing radio shock jock or, for that matter, Bush or Cheney.

Maddow's reflexive comment was a salutary reminder that it was only a decade ago that liberalism's laptop bombardiers were hustling Clinton into ordering the bombing of civilian targets in the former Yugoslavia. The wisdom, as yet untested, is that Election 2008 is registering as big a sea change in American politics as did 1932 for the Democrats with FDR and 1964 for them with LBJ. Patrick Buchanan, who helped invent conservative politics in the age of Nixon, said mournfully that the Conservative Revolution is over, and George Bush has been the gravedigger.

Not surprisingly, the commentators were eager to stress the bipartisan nature of Obama's victory. "His ability to govern," David Gergen said, "will be in his ability to withstand a stampede (by Congress) to the left." Another CNN panelist invoked the mandate given to "the center-right coalition." Obama, should he espouse any genuine effort toward positive change, will be reminded of this supposed mandate many times in the press, as will Nancy Pelosi and her communist accomplices in the House.

Organized labor put tremendous effort into getting a veto-proof Democratic majority of 60 in the Senate and was disappointed. I'm sure that many in the Democratic high command will heave deep sighs of relief at still having Republican obstructionism to blame when labor's objectives, such as the Employee Free Choice Act, get put on the back burner.

Since 1948, every incoming Democratic president has pledged health-care reform, and every one of them has been routed by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Congress can surely beat off any presidential challenges to the Pentagon budget. Obama has promised early action to close Guantanamo and to end torture and renditions, which will be simple ways of improving the Empire's image. In terms of political change, one can invoke 1932 and 1964, but the strongest parallel is really with 1960 and John Kennedy, repository of so many youthful hopes. Of course, it wasn't long before reality caught up with the hopes and overtook them, with deepening involvement in Vietnam and the disaster of the Bay of Pigs. There will be similar bruising engagements with reality in the months ahead and prospects of far greater popular alarm and discontent when the full extent of America's weakness becomes apparent.

"I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election," John McCain said in his farewell remarks. Actually, there was a lot he could have done. He ran an awful campaign. Obama is enveloped in an aura of inevitability, but let us raise a final toast to that vital ingredient, luck. Give me lucky generals, said Napoleon. Never was there a luckier candidate in the timing of economic collapse, the ultimate October surprise, for which I suppose we can really thank Alan Greenspan.

We are in for a season of overstatements. America's racist demons laid to rest? Virginia voted 52 to 47 for Obama, and at the same time voted 64 to 35 for the white Democrat Mark Warner for Senate. Exit polls established that only 39 percent of whites in Virginia backed Obama. As David Swanson remarked on election night, "What put Obama over in Virginia was not the end of racism but the end of support for George W. Bush, whom 72 percent of voters said they disapproved of." Above all else, Nov. 4 was a day of savage rejection of a sitting president and of unbounded joy at the prospect of his imminent departure.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
What did in McCain and the GOP is simple; given total power for most of the last 8 years, they revealed themselves as a bunch of people who, if hooked up to a greed meter, would burst it. As for Obama, he's clearly an intelligent and, I think, decent man who will make things better and perhaps get Americans to become more active as citizens, but the powerful forces that control us didn't get where they are by backing down. Time will tell. Bush and Cheney? May I suggest George eat more pretzels and Dick put more salt on his french fries?
Comment: #1
Posted by: michael nola
Fri Nov 7, 2008 11:20 AM
Sir;... What Mr. Gergen said was huey... There is not going to be a stampede to the left... There may be a stampede toward justice and equity in this land, but the necessity of dealing and wheeling in a world with so many who have so much at stake, and so much of the old, dragging them back into the past will keep us just about dead center, and I do mean dead.... Some people who spend a great deal of their lives sowing division say secession because they can take no lesson from the past... But for the majority of us; we are looking for a new day, and I would say a new form, meaning a new form of relationship, a new form of government, and new form of economy, and even a new form of understanding of each other and what it means to be human... I am proud of us... I never doubted my ability to see black people as equals, endowed with the same rights as myself... But I doubted my fellow Americans... I did not think we had the courage to make that fateful step into the future, all together and on purpose... It is a triumph of hope over fear... It is the victory of dreams over pain... I was so wrong, and I am so proud; and I do not doubt that if Mr. Obama was deprived of all his senses and had left only the ability to love that he could make better choices than Mr. Bush or Mr. Mccain... Some things no man can give to another... You cannot give a man brains or the sense to use the ones he's got... You cannnot give a man ambition, but Mr. Bush had that... And you cannot give anyone a sense of consequences, that is, that people get hurt, suffer and die, as a consequence of stupidity, and it never says Stupidity as a cause of death on the certificate, so people never take a lesson from it... WE have plenty of mean hearted, uneducated, superstitious people in this land... We see what happens when they get a hold of the process... But they have gone no where, and will go no where, and the only thing that is going to cure them in the least is working government... To see ourselves empowered by government we have to see them empowered, but that should have the same meaning for us both... If democracy is going to work, government must be able and willing to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves... Other than that, it should leave us be so long as we mind our own affairs.... We need to fix government, and Mr. Obama is only a step in that direction... To fix government means no individual issue, and no local issue will be held hostage to a national party goal... We can have anything we want from government, and we will never get anything we want from government so long as parties can trade on our needs to satify their wants... And I want to tell you, laws are made for the benefit of a handful of people in this country which hurt everyone... And laws are made to curb individual behavior that hurts no one but the few who engage in it, -until law makes them suffer... People with twisted minds and twisted souls have been running this place for a long time because hate appeals to the godlike, but it is not right, nor just, and it does not serve peace, freedom, or prosperity... Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Nov 8, 2008 8:18 PM
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