An excerpt from “The mystification of change“, James Bowman, The New Criterion, January 2009:
If you believe that everything the 43rd president did was wrong, it must be equally easy to believe that everything the 44th will do must be proleptically right — even when he does exactly the same things as his predecessor. This was the inescapable conclusion from the praise heaped by the media on the new president’s new “pragmatism” in his cabinet appointments — which included what would in any other circumstances have been the astonishing volte face of retaining in his own cabinet President Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.
Hardly anyone seemed to remember by that point how central to the early Obama candidacy had been its complete and total opposition to the Bush administration’s defense and foreign policy. The President-elect’s attitude at that time had been essentially the same as that of John Kerry who, when asked in 2004 what he would have done differently, answered “Everything.”
A man whose tenure of public office consisted of 8 years in the Illinois state legislature and barely 2 in the Senate tried to make up for his lack of experience with appeals to the shock troops of the anti-war Left by smearing his main rivals for the nomination simply for having voted to authorize the administration to wage war in Iraq. What might — indeed, must — otherwise have seemed, therefore, an egregious betrayal of the anti-war forces which did so much to bring him to power made scarcely a ripple in the press.
On the contrary, the Obama partisans therein vied with each other to congratulate their hero for it.
Even the few who did protest, at least those in the mainstream media, did so in an almost apologetic tone. David Corn of Mother Jones, for example, was afforded the hospitality of the columns of The Washington Post to mention, with a gentle, Jeeves-like clearing of the throat: “This Wasn’t Quite the Change We Pictured“:
“… For some progressives, Obama’s opening moves may not feel like the change they anticipated. But there’s no rebellion yet at hand. Many are probably holding their breath and waiting to see whether Obama can hijack the establishment for progressive ends.”
Hijack the establishment that he himself has put in place? That really is playing a deep game. But when you want to believe as badly as Mr. Corn and a great many others want to believe, I guess it makes sense.
More straightforwardly approving was Peter Beinart, writing in Time magazine, who went so far as to reassure his fellow progressives that “it’s precisely because Obama intends to pursue a genuinely progressive foreign policy that he’s surrounding himself with people who can guard his right flank at home.”
All during the campaign, there was not a single Democrat, candidate or supporter, who had a good word to say for the policies of the hated Bush administration. Candidate Obama himself exceeded all his rivals in denouncing them and branding himself as the candidate of “change.”
You remember “change,” don’t you? I seem to remember that it included change not only from all taint of Bushery but also from Clintonism. Could the media have forgotten that already? And yet here he was adopting Bushite measures and Bushite and Clintonist men (and women!) precisely in the area-defense and foreign policy — where “change” had been most expected and being congratulated for it. There seemed nothing that he could do which would turn the Obamolaters into critics. The New York Times was even discounting the possibility that the new president might, in spite of his very specific and explicit promise, keep the prison for foreign terrorists at Guantanamo Bay open.
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Some posts on the FM site about the Obama Administration:
- Our metastable Empire, built on a foundation of clay, 3 March 2008 — We can elect leaders with vast ambitions (foreign for McCain, domestic for Obama), but can no longer afford them.
- How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008 — The Presidential campaign rolls on in the seventh year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being in which nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Barack Obama.
- Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008 — At what point does criticism of Obama’s charisma and rhetoric become criticism of leadership itself — and blind faith in technocratic solutions so loved by policy nerds?
- Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008 — Obama’s statement about America may be the simple truth; this may be why so many find it disturbing.
- These days all American Presidents are War Presidents (part 2), 13 September 2008
- Biden’s gaffes are a threat to American’s complacency!, 13 September 2008
- America gets ready for new leadership (or is it back to the future?), 14 November 2008
- “Don’t Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart” by Tom Engelhardt, 21 November 2008
- Obama supporters mugged by reality (and learn not to believe in change!), 9 December 2008
- The transition between Imperial reigns: what will it mean for America?, 16 December 2008
- Lind explains why Obama’s foreign policy will fail, 14 January 2009
- About Obama’s coronation – wisdom from Fred, 23 January 2009
- Obama opens his Administration with a powerful act that will echo for many years, 4 February 2009