AUGUST 19, 2011 6:49AM

still more "change only THE idiot could believe in"

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The Shocking Pattern of Obama Repeating Some of the Worst of George W. Bush

August 18, 2011  |   



Is it too soon to speak of the Bush-Obama presidency?



Obama forged a continuation of the Bush years, doubling Bush's war in the Arab world, hiring staff from the Bush Administration, and tossing civil liberties aside for "security."
The record shows impressive continuities between the two administrations, and nowhere more than in the policy of “force projection” in the Arab world. With one war half-ended in Iraq, but another doubled in size and stretching across borders in Afghanistan; with an expanded program of drone killings and black-ops assassinations, the latter glorified in special ceremonies of thanksgiving (as they never were under Bush); with the number of prisoners at Guantanamo having decreased, but some now slated for permanent  detention; with the repeated invocation of “state secrets” to protect the government from charges of war crimes; with the Patriot Act renewed and its most dubious provisions left intact -- the Bush-Obama presidency has sufficient self-coherence to be considered a historical entity with a life of its own.

The significance of this development has been veiled in recent mainstream coverage of the national security state and our larger and smaller wars. Back in 2005-2006, when the Iraqi insurgency refused to die down and what had been presented as “sectarian feuding” began to look like a war of national liberation against an occupying power, the American press exhibited an uncommon critical acuteness. But Washington’s embrace of “the surge” in Iraq in 2007 took that war off the front page, and it -- along with the Afghan War -- has returned only occasionally in the four years since.

This disappearance suited the purposes of the long double-presidency. Keep the wars going but normalize them; make them normal by not talking about them much; by not talking about them imply that, while “victory” is not in sight, there is something else, an achievement more realistic and perhaps more grown-up, still available to the United States in the Greater Middle East. This other thing is never defined but has lately been given a name. They call it “success.”

Meanwhile, back at home...

The usual turn from unsatisfying wars abroad to happier domestic conditions, however, no longer seems tenable. In these August days, Americans are rubbing their eyes, still wondering what has befallen us with the president’s “debt deal” -- a shifting of tectonic plates beneath the economy of a sort Dick Cheney might have dreamed of, but which Barack Obama and the House Republicans together brought to fruition. A redistribution of wealth and power more than three decades in the making has now been carved into the system and given the stamp of permanence.

Only a Democratic president, and only one associated in the public mind (however wrongly) with the fortunes of the poor, could have accomplished such a reversal with such sickening completeness.

One of the last good times that President Obama enjoyed before the frenzy of debt negotiations began was a chuckle he shared with Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric and now head of the president’s outside panel of economic advisers. At a June 13th meeting of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a questioner said he assumed that President Obama knew about the difficulties caused by the drawn-out process of securing permits for construction jobs. Obama leaned into the microphone and offered a breezy ad-lib: “Shovel ready wasn’t as, uh, shovel-ready as we expected” -- and Immelt got off a hearty laugh. An unguarded moment: the president of “hope and change” signifying his solidarity with the big managers whose worldly irony he had adopted.

A certain mystery surrounds Obama’s perpetuation of Bush’s economic policies, in the absence of the reactionary class loyalty that accompanied them, and his expansion of Bush’s war policies in the absence of the crude idea of the enemy and the spirited love of war that drove Bush. But the puzzle has grown tiresome, and the effects of the continuity matter more than its sources. 

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So many here willing to skewer bush the lesser; so few, here willing to apply the same standards to obama!

I'm gone for the night.

Later, Y'all.
Excellent piece.... speaking as a Conservative, W was a mistake bathed in blood and Obama is a man balancing on the edge of infamy. God help a country that worships politicians... Rated.
Maybe, just maybe, both Bush and Obama know things that us peons (and those who wish to do us harm) don't need to know and/or we wouldn't know how to handle.

I'll give both of them credit and note how each got gray hair quickly while in office. Lotsa stress unlike bloggin' in cyberspace.
David Bromwich says it all for us. And the final line:

"But the puzzle has grown tiresome, and the effects of the continuity matter more than its sources"

Whether Obama has the heart of a crook or a coward, the results have been the same.

thanks, mark! libby
Obama has spent so much time blaming Bush for our troubles that it takes rare insight to recognize all the similarities between them. Nice job.
Thanks for visiting, Stephen - posted this before, but it is outstanding enough, that it deserves repeating:

"Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. "

"Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star" May 7, 1918
Maybe, just maybe, both Bush and Obama know things that we know and DO need to know and WOULD know how to handle.

Throw the vermin out!

Thanks for visiting Joisey.
Toritto, thanks for Your steadfast support of my blog.

My thoughts, why vote for obama when one can have a real repugnican't, instead of a liar posing as a democrap?

Thanks again - Your visits are appreciated more than You'll EVER know.
EXCELLENT comment, LibbyLiberalNYC, from one known to do Her homework assiduously.

I'll opt for both a crook AND a criminal.

Thanks for stopping by and Your ALWAYS inspirational, logical, and thoroughly researched posts.
Thanks, Arthur for Your effusing praise.

You are ONE who gets it, and with all the morons and cretins, here, defending the indefensible, people like You are needed, now more than ever.
The resistance needs a cause celebre. I am all for postmodern multiplicities, but you cannot mount a half decent fight for long without some kind of centrifugal force. Free Nukes perhaps?
Blanket the world with Nukes for a better tomorrow.

That's an irresistible platform for anyone to adopt.

Thanks for that, Dr. Lee
The empire circles the drain, faster and faster.
Nice to see my dependable buddy, ONL visit my blog. Talk about: "The empire circles the drain, faster and faster."

Nat Hentoff writes today:

"Also, Americans of all political parties, faiths and backgrounds are themselves obligated to insist that this administration, like Bush-Cheney's stop preventing lawsuits on these war crimes from even being heard in our courts under the perversion of "the state secrets" doctrine.

We owe it to our next generation and those following to take responsibility for our worldwide shame of having become a torture nation. As we condemn other nations' crimes against their citizens Syria, Libya, Zimbabwe, et al our government makes it easier for those countries to escape accountability by utterly denying our own complicity in the cruel, inhumane, degrading torture that has given terrorists around the world so valuable a means for recruiting more terrorists.

Not one of the aspiring Republican candidates for the presidency next year has said a word about this. And Obama cherishes their silence."

Thanks for stopping by, ONL.
Speaking up primarily (so far; more a little later maybe) to express my ongoing thanks to all of you. Mark, I want _particularly_ to thank you for including the link to the original Alternet article. I'm afraid (h*** I _know_!) I have a bad case of "princess and the pea-ism" when it comes to language style choices and sometimes recoil from a particular choice the way my shoulder felt the few times I ever shot a rifle (in ?"innocent"? youngsters-on-summer-vacation target practice). Being able to read the full original helped me get perspective on the full context of the original article as source for the particular words picked up here. It used to be said "a picture is worth a thousand words" -- for me "the jury's not in yet" as to that opinion -- but I will say the most sickening impact on me of reading the original Alternet photo was that ghastly photo of BHO and OHB. Anybody else happen to see it?

Again, Marks, thanks and all of you commenters, too! R
Oops, "sorry guys" [and gal ;-)]. Of course one doesn't "read photos". Ah weel. Still trying to get a few more of you involved to help me learn more techniques for use and incorporation of visuals in my posts and to my blog page. I wish Kate and creek [sic?] were here right now to help me just post in pin yin or sump'n. :-(
PodunkMarte, thanks for visiting.

I scour the web for voices that echo my opinions, but express them, far better than I ever could.

I rarely, if ever fail to source my material, and I'm happy that You found value in the Alternet link - I suspect few bother to follow the link for more, but You, in Your short time, here, have shown Yourself to be not just an ordinary member.

I know little html, which would allow You to do things like embed pictures, YouTube, bold, italicize or underline text, but I've found that learning from others, smarter than me, is what keeps me going.

I have bookmarks and documents on how to do all these things, written by Rob St. Amant, Kent Pitman, and the unbelievable Catherine Forythe, which I will share with You, shortly, in the email I owe You.

Thanks, again, for visiting.
I'm so glad that you are pointing this out-you're spot on. I never expected Obama to be another Bush. I thought he was the liberal alternative to Hillary- WRONG!! We need a liberal alternative to Obama.
Insomniac p.s.:

[Some of my best OS friends are in way different time zones from mine as I'm sure is true for all of us; so sometimes -- when nothing immediate is urgently pressing -- I'm at the computer at weird (locally-defined) hours. Hence "insomniac" note.]

First, I did want to clarify the typo in my earlier comment [in case it matters by now ?! ;-)]: The photo in the Alternet article was of OHB and GWB. See, between acronyms and the serious underlying issues, I sure can make a mess of my comments here!

Hoping enough more comments will keep this thread a live for quite a bit of time!
It's a TRULY special occasion to receive a visit from a new commenter, John, and I DO, DEEPLY appreciate it.

As I've stated, elsewhere, I think an incoherent foreign policy, combined with an, equally,incoherent foreign policy will spark a serious primary challenge to the liar-in-chief, which will fatally wound his chances for re-election.

ANYONE with a backbone would be avast improvement over the spineless one with the tongue of a serpent.

Thanks, again, for making the time to stop by.
Worry not about typos, PodunkMarte - I sure do commit my fair share of them.
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