I listened to President Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech with the same feeling of growing nausea that I used to get listening to Bush. Yes, hard to believe that the two could ever be compared as public speakers but, with a year’s full of speeches now on the record, the inconvenient truth about Obama is that his actions rarely match his rhetoric.
In each of the four critical areas that define this moment — the crashing global economy, healthcare reform, global climate change, and American militarism — however audacious and stirring his words, Obama’s appointments, policies, and decisions are barely distinguishable from Bush’s.
For the full inside story on the economy, Matt Taibi’s recent piece in Rolling Stone — Obama’s Big Sellout — makes it painfully clear that from the moment Obama took power he turned the economy over to the very same rich scumbags who caused the economic crisis, but who were all major donors to Obama’s campaign.
“This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.”
It is hard to find a single action on the economy that would have been any worse under Bush.
Ditto healthcare reform. Oh, they’re all making noise now about how it’s fine that the public option is dead because we’ll expand Medicare instead, and won’t that be great. Only a) it will never happen, since the same crew of congressional creeps who blocked single payer and the public option are lining up to block this latest plan and b) even if it does happen it is still a massive wealth-producing machine for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Any un- or under-insured folks out there thinking that relief is on the way are seriously deluded. In the end they will change some terminologies and claim some reforms and the system will continue to decline just as it did under Bush.
Climate-change? In advance of the Copenhagen summit, Obama and the American congress did not even address the issue. The strongest message in the American zeitgeist is that climate scientists are crooks and cheaters; Obama made no effort to set the record straight on Climate-gate or to rouse the public for Copenhagen.
Maybe he gets a pass on this one, given that there’s so much on his plate. The sorry fact remains that the state of American environmentalism is as lame and disjointed as if Bush were still in charge.
Finally, as Obama picks up his Peace Prize: I cannot think of single thing that Obama has done — beyond his nifty speechifying — that is in any way better than Bush regarding American militarism and the war on whoever.
The many injustices of Guantanamo; the secret torture prisons and the practice of rendition; rejection of the international treaty banning land mines; sucking up to the Israelis and turning a blind-eye to continued illegal settlements; escalating an unwinnable war that will only destroy more innocent lives and generate new enemies; and through it all, not a hint of the understanding that militarism represents a hellish misappropriation of essential resources.
As during the darkest hours of the Bush administration, we should give up all hope of a peaceful transition to a more humane world. With Obama at the helm things will be getting much, much worse — a total breakdown of the dominant power structure — before there’s any chance of anything getting better.
Michael Sky | ThinkingPeace