The Unmitigated Gall of O-Dacity

President Obama, as his now less-than-enthusiastic enablers would have you know, is a “pragmatist”, forced to govern from the “center” in deference to his more unstable, trigger happy Republican colleagues whose support he depends on to institute his compromised, watered down policy objectives from lobbyist-written bills for health care reform (sic) to his small ‘s’ troop surge in Afghanistan. Escalating the conflict in Afghanistan, they will tell you, is a “necessary evil”, and a lesser one at that if you compare the president’s sleeker strategy of mass murder to the swifter methods of nuclear annhilation preferred by his Republican cronies. In the same breathe they will tell you that his long term strategy of securing the peace in Empire’s ‘Last-gasp-istan’ reflects his “bigger picture” objectives, overlooking the obvious and cynical politics-as-usual motives for committing more troops to his more “wisely’ chosen battlefield. Never mind that this ill-defined “big picture” is no more than a portrait of a fearful, ‘doomed to serve out one term’ president with his eyes narrowly focused on his chances for re-election in 2012 when he can cite a gradual withdrawal of forces to demonstrate his ability to end wars rather than escalate them — all the while puffing up his “bipartisan” leadership to appeal to the ‘swingnuts’ among undecided voters. (Few of whom, it should be noted, will vote for the dithering Murderer-in-Chief since his appetite for dead Muslims will never match his Republican opponent’s promise to put the remains of Osama bin Laden in his Foreman grill and serve them at his next tailgate party/inauguration dinner).

So now American voters have the choice between a government that will destroy the nation quickly (“You Betcha”!) or one that will perform its controlled demolition of the economy and all its remaining institutions more gradually. For some, meaning those who have the luxury of being insulated from the scorched earth reality of American Empire, this toxic equation is perfectly acceptable. As long as it’s ‘their’ guy in the Oval Office, it speaks of loftier ideals like “compromise”, “bipartisanship” and cold hard number crunching (30,000 additional troops over a two year period … yada yada yada.) It avoids the embarrassing cowboy exuberance of Dr Strangelove and instead lays out a point by point plan to further destabilize and impoverish a traumatized region, spelling out its ultimately violent objectives with the overflown, platitudinous language of a precocious high school Valedictorian.

The standard by which Obama’s liberal supporters measure his “success” (It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it) has been significantly lowered since the reign of little King George when his universally discredited world view outlined the necessity of killing millions in order to avoid a “bloodbath” later on. In a curious reversal of logic and principles, this crackpot notion is what the nation’s hope smokers are now stuffing into their pipes to neutralize the bitter, lingering aftertaste of disappointment and dashed hope. In a position that could be best summed up as “Bush foreign policy bad. Obama’s good”, these one time “anti-war” voters now embrace the same delusional, unprincipled logic that insists the carnage and bloodbaths of the present are somehow preferable to the ones that will ensue if US forces withdraw from the battlefield. It is enough for them that the president avoids the rhetorical gaffes of his neo-con predecessors, even if his actions mirror them precisely.

Bush gave away the Imperial game plan with his inept swagger, revealing the gulag casino state at the heart of his vision of ‘freedom’ both in the US and abroad, while Obama’s more prudent delivery of the same talking points provides a bloodless analysis of his government’s equally murderous objectives. Little King George had the disadvantage of a coronation ceremony that publicly dispensed with any illusion of democracy, and made no secret of his servitude to the crude ‘oiligarchs’ who greased his way to office. Likewise, Obama made his allegiances clear in his first month of office, transferring the entire contents of the treasury to his bosses at Goldman Sachs, while adopting Bush’s global strategy to keep Wall Street coffers stuffed with the spoils of war. Again, the policies of this president hardly differ from those of his predecessors over the last 60 years, most of whom were vetted and groomed for office by the lobbyists whose interests the puppet-in-chief ultimately serves.

Unlike the “despots” and “gangsters” we seek to uproot in ‘Bushbamastan’, our leadership’s more refined methods of impoverishing and terrorizing the populations overseas are preferable (honorable even) owing to our success in projecting our barbarism through an upgraded and more attractively packaged hologram. It’s enough, the Hologram’s supporters insist, that its empty, bellicose rhetoric simply mimics the cadences (rather than the content) of a beloved slain civil rights leader. Anyone who endured Obama’s insufferable Nobel acceptance speech (the one where Bush Jr’s crayon doodles, scribbles and Jell-O pudding stains were not too much in evidence) can recognize the familiar, chest pounding refrain of endless war, and the attendant infantile platitudes about the ‘justness’ of military aggression.

Awarding the current US Murderer-in-Chief the same prize that was bestowed upon Dr Martin Luther King Jr in 1964 is yet just another example of the Corporate State’s ability to subvert dissident thought and action into establishment enabling PR. The same institutions that rely on Bono to lend legitimacy and rock star “cred” to their violent neo-colonial agenda have now appointed a youthful former community organizer to head their global operations. In Bono’s case, the peace activism of John Lennon was successfully reconfigured to serve the interests of the ruling class as ‘New Labour’ rallied rock stars and other “anti-Establishment” figures to rise up and allow a new super elite to emerge. We can see the same brain trust at work as neo-cons embrace ‘feminism’ to justify their unending war on the Muslim world, invoking the dreaded veil to get western women on board with their military objectives.

“The Saviour of Hope” by virtue of being an African American man with much lauded oratory skills not so subtly evokes Dr Martin Luther King Jr in the same way a carbonated beverage laden with high fructose corn syrup can be associated with sex appeal. Image trumps substance in every political PR campaign and consumers can be relied upon to put wishful thinking ahead of common sense and reason. Where MLK’s Nobel acceptance speech was unequivocal in its denunciations of using violence to bring about peace and justice, Obama by contrast, used the Oslo stage to justify colonial aggression. The most cringe-inducing part of Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech was his perfunctory, condescending little nod to Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Ghandi — peacemakers infinitely more deserving of the honor than the preening prize winner on the Oslo stage in terms of character, courage and integrity. After giving them a verbal pat on the head, he went on to drone that unlike them, ‘He’ actually “governs” and therefore must deal with “the world as it is”. The implication here is the sacrifices of these great men in the name of peace and justice occurred in a less significant fantasy world that “legitimate” leaders like him don’t have the time to indulge. You could say that it was the first time the American president actually demonstrated any of his much vaunted and sorely lacking O-dacity. Sadly, this sudden outburst of “ballsiness” is the kind most often associated with “WTF?” (as in “Did he really just moon his audience and say ‘Kiss this’ to his peace advocating Nobel predecessor?)

In his pre-Oslo speech on the subject of escalating the violence against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan by committing more troops to the already war-ravaged region, he erroneously cited Al-Qaeda as a threat to the region’s security, despite Al-Qaeda’s mostly chimerical presence in Afghanistan. It should be noted that the Taliban, contrary to the president’s knowingly false assertions, does not have a global agenda, but merely a domestic one. It seeks to remove US forces from within its borders, whereas Al Qaeda is a borderless, loose knit band of brothers atomized throughout the Muslim world, and whose threat to global security is largely dependent on our fluctuating quotas for turbaned scapegoats. For Obama to deliberately conflate these two entirely different entities, while insisting that US security hinges upon our ability to kill anyone who stands in opposition to our Imperial aims, is an unconscionable and egregious act of cowardice, right up there with Colin Powell knowingly making the case for the invasion of Iraq with false intelligence.

Any way you look at it, military occupations are doomed to fail by their very nature — a fact that our educated and well-read president is undoubtedly aware — making his case for escalating his war of choice all the more reprehensible. Just as there is no correct or proper way to administer slavery, or carry out acts of rape or torture, there is no “wise” or “judicious” way of using military force for non-defensive purposes. It’s convenient to label every individual who actively opposes the presence of these troops in their region ‘Taliban’ (“enemy combatants” we don’t have to add to any civilian casualty lists) when in fact, active and often violent opposition to the US led occupation is not limited to these bearded bogey-men, but carried out by ordinary people defending themselves against foreign occupation of their land. If anything, the Taliban are the tragically inevitable outcome of the political vacuum that emerged as a result of centuries of Imperial misadventures in that particular region and elsewhere in the Muslim world. They are not, as the president falsely implies, some virulent manifestation of mental illness brought about by “incorrectly” interpreting the Koran, but a desperate response to a complete breakdown of Afghanistan’s civil society, thanks to decades of colonial subjugation. The continuing presence of foreign troops only ensures more violent resistance to the values and institutions we seek to impose through military force, whether it is Taliban-led opposition to the occupation or some hastily formed militia without a globally recognized brand name. Against all reason, we believe that the defeat of the gangsters and warlords overseas is a necessary and just cause, while ignoring the threat posed by our own criminal class to the economic, political and social well-being of our plundered “Homeland” as rogue banking institutions (enabled by their political and military counterparts) use global financial markets as incendiary devices to destroy competition.

We look back in horror and astonishment at the brutal methods Latin America’s Generallissimos applied to terrorize their own citizenry, when thousands of innocent civilians were “disappeared”, yet we seem unable to summon similar outrage as thousands of our colonized subjects are mercilessly slaughtered, confident that our murderous rampages somehow fall into the “lesser evil” category. We are similarly reassured by Obama’s reliance on anonymous drones to kill villagers in remote mountainous areas as opposed to the cruder methods of mass murder as applied in Iraq, where the poor, dumb grunts on the ground have to brutalize the populace at gunpoint in order to “secure the peace”.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the American middle class is similarly ‘disappeared’. We applaud with one hand gripping the remote control and the other clutching a box of Krispy-Kremes as the Dow Jones responds positively to a “jobless recovery”. We further apply our intellectual laziness to the task of justifying yet more power-enabling double standards as our leaders institute socialist safety nets for Wall Street’s money hemorrhaging casinos under the banner of “Too Big to Fail”. Now that Goldman Sachs has appointed one of their own to the nation’s highest office, its well-heeled Ponzi schemers will never have to adhere to the rules of a so-called ‘free market’ economy, unlike the rest of us fattened, slaughter-ready serfs who have to bear the costs of rewarding corrupt financial institutions for their failures. Luckily for them, Wall Street’s top tier risk takers won’t have to face the consequences of their greed-motivated acts of terrorism, owing in large part to their success in having their own profiteers serve as government appointed ‘watchdogs’ and ‘regulators’ to facilitate the smooth and endless flow of public funds into corporate coffers. We have learned too late that the president’s much vaunted “O-dacity” is just another term for his jaw dropping displays of “unmitigated gall”, whether it’s accepting a peace prize while waging war, or overseeing the fraudulent bank bailout and comparing this act of government-led larceny to FDR’s New Deal.

We are a nation of hypocrites, cheering on acts of resistance and civil disobedience overseas in one of our branded color ‘revolutions’, while remaining fearful and compliant at home, unwilling to take on the the dirty work required to maintain a democracy. Our apathy only ensures that we are beholden to a system whereby consumers can ‘choose’ between a Mccandidate who drives a fuel inefficient clown car or one who is chauffeured in a hybrid limousine; where one party belligerently institutes corrupt, wasteful policies and the other one entrenches them further under a subverted slogan of “Change”. By justifying our knee-jerk support for the President and his misguided policies with the excuse that our dissent would only empower the clown car contingent, we have become the Kool-Aid drinking alternative to the Teabagger Party.

Jennifer Matsui is a freelance writer living in Tokyo. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Jennifer.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Ben said on December 22nd, 2009 at 9:27am #

    Great article!

  2. Stella Dallas said on December 22nd, 2009 at 12:14pm #

    Jennifer, I find that your measured use of hyperbole in describing the surreality of Obama-nation provides a more accurate description of the world I live in than a year’s worth of op eds in the Washington Post or the NY Times, the function of which is to convey to the rabble (meaning, us) the idea that all systems are functioning normally, and that we still live in the best of all possible worlds, even as the world is unmistakably collapsing around us.

    As Naomi Klein, Glenn Greenwald and some others have noted, the uniqueness of President Obama is his ability to recast what were, just one year ago, the off the wall, outrageous crimes of the mad cowboy from Crawford into reasonable and permanent fixtures of American democracy, with bipartisan support in Congress and the near universal admiration of most of the world.

    That’s the surreal part, and your prose does a fine job of conveying the deeply unsettling nature of the subject. Congratulations!

  3. Don Hawkins said on December 22nd, 2009 at 5:24pm #

    Anton in your aforementioned comment you sound like an educated person and keep reading DV and I don’t watch Fox New’s or TV in general much anymore the stupidity has reached new levels in the best of times the worst of times. Calm at peace the truth the knowledge.

  4. beverly said on December 22nd, 2009 at 5:40pm #

    An electronic thumbs up to Jennifer M the author, and, Anton the commentor. No one could have said it any better.

  5. Don Hawkins said on December 22nd, 2009 at 6:06pm #

    Ohhh! Great warrior!

    Wars not make one great!

    “You must unlearn what you have learned.” “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will…”

    “You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. Use the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack. ” Yoda

    “You must unlearn what you have learned,” Oh that’s foolishness look around everything is just fine granted a few minor problems but have you seen our so called leaders lately it’s all under control. We will be back to normal before you can say qualitative easing. The last few wars we were great and think of the side benefits all that oil. We used the force for knowledge and defense never for attack. Yoda he was just a character in a movie about the empire or something like that.

  6. polack in idaho said on December 22nd, 2009 at 7:41pm #

    I think more than enough was said about this self-caricature of president. The question is, what now? I think that what is in order is a fat, huge, stiff, middle finger shown by the progress-minded people in US to O’Bomba, and the rest of Demublicans. They have to be slaughtered at the polls, to learn a lesson. Support the few good people (Greystone, Kucinich) for what they are or may be worth, and to hell with the rest. If this means Palin/Joe the Plumber in 3 years, so be it. Otherwise those Democratic f****ers will never learn.
    At least that’s my suggestion. I don’t have a vote anyway, so you may say, easy for me to make demands. But this has got to stop – I mean, the voting of well-meaning people for “anybody but” the next Attila the Hun. As we can see, “anybody” is no better, and in some respects perhaps worse than the dreaded Attila.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 23rd, 2009 at 8:09am #

    Excellent article. Obama’s removal of his disguise of ‘Hope’, to reveal his true features, occured as soon as he appointed arch-Zionist Rahm Emanuel to Chief of Staff. As the Chicago Jewish News, on October 24, 2008, smugly revealed, Obama was a Zionist ‘Manchurian Candidate’, carefully selected, promoted, financed and controlled for years. Not only does no candidate ever approach the throne in the US pathocracy without being a creature of the hereditary, parasitic, ruling elite, but the now utterly dominant fraction of that elite, the Jews, had a boy who they can boast, and have done so, that he is the ‘first Jewish President of the United States’.
    Obama is the very archetpye of the ‘House Negro’ in Malcolm X’s parlance, the slave who cares more for his master (in Obama’s case the Zionist Jews)than himself, let alone, God forbid!, the other slaves. Obama’s Peace Prize speech was a carefully crafted insult to MLK, and Gandhi,reminiscent of the calculated insult of replacing a black legal hero, Thurgood Marshall, with a Black Quislingt in Clarence Thomasl. Obama’s African speech, in Ghana, chosen, deliberately as the venue because it is to be the site for AfriCom, the US military HQ for subverting Africa and opposing China on the continent, was another nasty diatribe of barely concealed contempt, lecturing and hectoring Africans in a manner that George Bush would never have attempted.
    I’m certain Obama is the most dangerous demagogue and plainest psychopath I’ve seen for a while, and there’s lots of competition. His peculiar malignancy is to mask policies even more foul than those of his predecessors behind a black face and facile rhetoric. That the ‘useful idiots’ still acclaim him is part ideological conformity and part moral imbecility and cowardice. Another agenda at play is to ensure the post-Bush Presidency is one term, with a return to Republican control by 2012 at the latest, and the thorough demoralisation of a generation of ‘hope fiends’, put off the corrupt US political sham for life, ensuring majorities for Rightwing Christian Zionist fruitcakes.Obama has been the US elite’s cleverest coup for generations. You could almost admire their Machiavellian audacity, and weep for how easily they pulled it off.