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Obama Is All Talk, Nothing More
(Naomi Klein, Alternet,January 18, 2010)
Though it's too soon to issue a verdict on the Obama presidency, we do know this: he favors the grand symbolic gesture over deep structural change every time. So he will make a dramatic announcement about closing the notorious Guantánamo Bay prison - while going ahead with an expansion of the lower profile but frighteningly lawless Bagram prison in Afghanistan, and opposing accountability for Bush officials who authorized torture. He will boldly appoint the first Latina to the Supreme Court, while intensifying Bush-era enforcement measures in a new immigration crackdown. He will make investments in green energy, while championing the fantasy of "clean coal" and refusing to tax emissions, the only sure way to substantially reduce the burning of fossil fuels. Most importantly, he will claim to be ending the war in Iraq, and will retire the ugly "war on terror" phrase - even as the conflicts guided by that fatal logic escalate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. . . . This preference for symbols over substance, and this unwillingness to stick to a morally clear if unpopular course, is where Obama decisively parts ways with the transformative political movements from which he has borrowed so much . . . Another way of putting it is that Obama played the anti-war, anti-Wall Street party crasher to his grassroots base, which imagined itself leading an insurgency against the two-party monopoly through dogged organization and donations gathered from lemonade stands and loose change found in the crevices of the couch. Meanwhile, he took more money from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate, swallowed the Democratic party establishment in one gulp after defeating Hillary Clinton, then pursued "bipartisanship" with crazed Republicans once in the White House. . . . The risk - and it is real - is that the response will be waves of bitter cynicism, particularly among the young people for whom the Obama campaign was their first taste of politics. Most won't switch parties, they'll just do what young people used to do during elections: stay home, tune out ["go local"].

[COMMENT by Lorenzo: But, of course, locals always survive Empires.]



posted by Lorenzo 10:53 AM


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