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Ear to the Ground

The Long Arc of Obama’s Presidency

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Posted on Aug 7, 2011
Flickr / nasa hq photo

There are plenty of reasons to shout about Barack Obama’s performance as president, and sharp, strident indictments of his White House failures are in abundant supply. But for those whose ears are ringing, Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen’s gentle dismantling of the major disappointments of the last two and a half years should both calm and edify. —ARK

Drew Westen in The New York Times:

... Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it. He never explained that decision to the public — a failure in storytelling as extraordinary as the failure in judgment behind it. Had the president chosen to bend the arc of history, he would have told the public the story of the destruction wrought by the dismantling of the New Deal regulations that had protected them for more than half a century. He would have offered them a counternarrative of how to fix the problem other than the politics of appeasement, one that emphasized creating economic demand and consumer confidence by putting consumers back to work. He would have had to stare down those who had wrecked the economy, and he would have had to tolerate their hatred if not welcome it. But the arc of his temperament just didn’t bend that far.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, August 9, 2011 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment

@Anarcissie
“Capitalism is a form of collectivism”
Except that left to its own de-vices it aggregates to fewer and fewer owners with larger and larger equities.
Capitalism issues in economic elitism.

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By Lew Ciefer, August 9, 2011 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

By Anarcissie, August 9 at 1:24 pm

Capitalism is a form of collectivism—that is, it’s a mode of forming economic collectivities.  Traditional corporations are, of course, authoritarian and plutocratic, governed by their wealthier investors.  Historically it is associated with strong state power, and major early capitalist enterprises like the East India and Hudson’s Bay companies, or the railroads in the U.S. in the later 19th century, were started with grants of monopoly power and the provision of military services and government contracts.  Laissez-faire seems to be a sort of religious myth which touches the ground at very few points, if any.

Even back in the 1950s, sociologists noted that the leadership, staff, operatives and prominent supporters of both parties were far more like one another than they were like the rank and file of either party.  The secret used to be better kept.


Yes it can be expressed that way—kinda sorta—albeit you’re leaving out all that thingy about property rights. We do have words to describe what you’ve gone to a lot of trouble to not say ... mercantilism and neo-mercantilism.

All human institutions have a common major weakness ... Homo sapiens. It’s not the theory or the system as much as it is humans manipulating the institutions and systems for their advantages.

Pure Laissez-faire is as impossible as the biggest myth of all—anarchism—with the definition of mankind being able to reject all forms of coercive authority and control and still live peacefully. Ain’t gonna happen. There’s no perfect system but there are better systems and the best system we’ve come up with so far is free individuals making their own choices.

Superfly and his ilk not only believe that they know how to plan the economy but also every aspect of human life. We know how arrogant and, more importantly, how deadly such an idiotic mindset is because the U.S.S.R., Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, The Divine’s North Korea, etc. are still fresh in out memories.

When an individual gobbling 2,000 calorie lunches paid for with other people’s money tells others to eat carrots… well…

What’s taking place in London is due in large part to the Welfare State; idiots destroying their own neighborhoods. Marx’s lumpenproletariat.

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By Anarcissie, August 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

Capitalism is a form of collectivism—that is, it’s a mode of forming economic collectivities.  Traditional corporations are, of course, authoritarian and plutocratic, governed by their wealthier investors.  Historically it is associated with strong state power, and major early capitalist enterprises like the East India and Hudson’s Bay companies, or the railroads in the U.S. in the later 19th century, were started with grants of monopoly power and the provision of military services and government contracts.  Laissez-faire seems to be a sort of religious myth which touches the ground at very few points, if any.

Even back in the 1950s, sociologists noted that the leadership, staff, operatives and prominent supporters of both parties were far more like one another than they were like the rank and file of either party.  The secret used to be better kept.

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By gerard, August 9, 2011 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Lew Ciefer:  By “based on the myth ...” I meant that Wall Street (actually controlled by hidden manipulations)  allows (encourages) the laissez faire myth in order to persuade economically unsophisticated people that some infallible and impersonal force is in control of (determines) what happens in the economy, not the (fallible or unprincipled) people who are actually controlling/manipulating it.

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By Lew Ciefer, August 9, 2011 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

By bodhidharma, August 8 at 6:38 pm

QuantumBubbler, your tirades show that clear thought is something far removed from your world.  Obama a ‘commie’? Just like the Wall St. bankers who back him.  Certainly couldn’t accuse them of being capitalists.  Black Panthers at the polling stations? I wish.  The only ones there are Tea Partiers.
Mr. Kramden, on the other hand, your comments were very well thought out, and a pleasure to read. Obama, like most of our elected officials, are bought and paid for by the corporate elite. The left swallowed his promises hook, line, and sinker, with just a few, like Naomi Kline, warning that they needed to keep the pressure on, because Obama was not the progressive they imagined.  I voted for Nader, myself.  If a lot more Americans had, this country wouldn’t be in the mess it is today.

Actually Barry Superfly is quite the America-hating neo-Marxist with respect to his collectivist tendencies. Like all commie/socialist ‘Enlightened’ he’s all for redistribution of other’s people wealth. (As in definitely not his.) Communism is subversive and works to corrupt from within so there’s nothing unusual about Supefly’s acting like a capitalist while working to destroy the U.S. economy in order to institute an even worse State planned and controlled system; which always fail and produces want, suffering and death.

The U.S. does not have—as some like Gerard has claimed—a laissez-faire economic system. There has never been a pure laissez-faire system in history. No where! It’s impossible with fiat money. In free market economics the government doesn’t tax the citizenry to bail out corrupt bankers on Wall Street or Main Street; they fail and the prudent banks and businesses step in to fill the need. Free market forces were working to pay just retribution to the criminals on Wall Street and their cohorts in government but the State—of which they are a large part and purchase—stepped in to protect them from the just consequences of their actions. That’s not free market.

What the Empire has become is basically a Police State with both fascist and commie/socialist traits. And anyone believing that the same group who legislated/deregulated the country into this mess is going to fix it is delusional.

The Ruling Elite has really been having fun with the dumbed-down American public. First they gave us a diminutive John Wayne with a belt buckle bigger than his brain and now they’ve given us a hybrid Rooster/Huggy Bear jive walker/talker who can read a teleprompter with the best of ‘em. What’s next? Barbarella?

Let’s party…

The game he plays he plays for keeps
Hustlin’ times and ghetto streets
Tryin’ ta get over
That’s what he’s tryin’ ta do y’all

Takin’ all that he can take
Gamblin’ with the odds of fate
Tryin’ ta get over, Tryin’ ta get over
Tryin’ ta get over, Tryin’ ta get over
Woo Superfly…

(-Curtis Mayfield)

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By Lew Ciefer, August 9, 2011 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

By QuantumBubbler, August 8 at 2:12 pm

“Like most Americans, at this point, I have no idea what Barack Obama — and by extension the party he leads — believes on virtually any issue.”

His mommy and daddy were Communists. Uh. They dumped him to his grandparents, they were Communists. His ‘preacher’ of 20 years prays for America to be covered under rooster sh*t.

Are you extremely STUPID? Do you have a serious brain disorder?

Please, keep it up. You’ve no idea how much I’m enjoying this.

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By isafakir, August 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment

our arc has become our lusitania

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By bodhidharma, August 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment

QuantumBubbler, your tirades show that clear thought is something far removed from your world.  Obama a ‘commie’? Just like the Wall St. bankers who back him.  Certainly couldn’t accuse them of being capitalists.  Black Panthers at the polling stations? I wish.  The only ones there are Tea Partiers.
Mr. Kramden, on the other hand, your comments were very well thought out, and a pleasure to read. Obama, like most of our elected officials, are bought and paid for by the corporate elite. The left swallowed his promises hook, line, and sinker, with just a few, like Naomi Kline, warning that they needed to keep the pressure on, because Obama was not the progressive they imagined.  I voted for Nader, myself.  If a lot more Americans had, this country wouldn’t be in the mess it is today.

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By frang, August 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From Pam Martens in 2008:

“Wall Street, known variously as a barren wasteland for diversity or the last plantation in America, has defied courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for decades in its failure to hire blacks as stockbrokers. Now it’s marshalling its money machine to elect a black man to the highest office in the land. Why isn’t the press curious about this?”

http://www.counterpunch.org/martens05052008.html

Another question should have been and should now be, “Why weren’t self-described liberals/progressives continue to ignore this?”

We are all acquainted with the insanity of the extreme right that insists Obama, a creation of Wall Street and marketing, is a communist, but what of the insanity of the left/middle that continues to insist that Obama is “weak” when all credible evidence points to the exact opposite?  Or the insanity behind the “but what about Bachmann?” meme that strives to box us into doing the same thing over again, this time hoping for a different result?

At this point, if no candidate emerges to offer Obama a primary challenge and no viable third-party candidate emerges, I think the best idea put forth so far is the one given to us by Alexander Cockburn: vote for Romney.  It’s unlikely he’d do worse and it will finally rid us of the disaster named Obama along giving us the bonus of knowing that he was taken down by the left.

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By Ralph Kramden, August 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I voted for Nader, and he did warn us all that Obama was a Wall-St. puppet. However, I’m not thumping my chest, I just see how the powers-that-be took so many of us for a ride. Race did play a role, how were we to suspect that a black man would be a Wall-St. mole?  Now I understand Obama: twelve years at the University of Chicago? Doesn’t that say it all? He is a Friedmanite, a believer in barbaric, brutal capitalism. Next he will be advocating for the return of slavery. Kucinich is right, Obama got the deal he wanted now Obama will hide behind the Republicans as they dismantle Social Security and Medicare (he will be seen applauding in the background.) He will of course, claim he was powerless to stop the lunatics, when all along he has been part of the choreography. Please, those of you who haven’t already, read Naomi Kline’s “The Shock Doctrine, Disaster Capitalism.” There is a method to their madness, they did it to Russia, Chile, Greece, UK, China and now the financial class is bringing it all back home. Under the guise of some disaster or other, the benefits of the many are dismantled and turned into profits for the few. Obama is the figurehead for the executive committee of the ruling class. When the revolution finally explodes, watch how the ruling class and their henchmen will portray the revolt as savage banditry. Just take notes on the comments coming out of London by the very same people which were part of the Thatcher-Murdoch cesspool. The ruling class was never ever indifferent, callous, never executed, assassinated, disappeared, tortured anyone.

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By Blu, August 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow, just Wow, the dogs are howling today - “Shaft” “Shucker and jiver” “The Black President”

Disgusting

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By Robert Hauptman, August 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Terrific article.  However, there’s a lot more to the situation than he describes. 
There’s a lot more than just Obama failure.  The noted historian, Arnold Toynbee,
made an in depth analysis of 20 civilizations that failed throughout history.  Of
these 20, he determined that 19 failed due to forces from within.  Franklin, in
response to a question on what the founding fathers accomplished, noted that
they have given us a republic, if we can keep it.  Madison’s opinion of the new
nation was that it was an interesting experiment in democracy and would last
about 200 years.  We are now well beyond that point.  Eisenhauer warned about
the military-industrial complex.  His warning should have been about the
military-congressional-presidential-industrial complex.  I believe the US is
rapidly failing due to forces from within.  The question is not whether, but when? 
Is it possible to salvage the mess we’ve created?  Who knows?

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By Ms. Kit, August 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

“Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen’s gentle dismantling of the major disappointments of the last two and a half years should both calm and edify.” This statement drew me to read the article, which was very disappointing - it did neither.

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QuantumBubbler's avatar

By QuantumBubbler, August 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

“our problem is not due to spending on things like the pensions of firefighters”

So pensions for firefighters that require 40 more firefighters to finance the pension are ‘no problem’? Oh! Did an ‘attorney’ tell you that?

You need to see a mathematician!

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By Copeland, August 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

Barack Obama has turned out to be a hollow man, on the surface a buffer and
shock absorber for all the abuse that the right-wing is capable of dishing out.
Yet he is still calling for compromise, after he openly aided and abetted the
cause of austerity. He played a crafty game and offered up Social Security,
Medicare, Medicaid, like tasty morsels into the greedy maw of disaster
capitalists. And a little while afterward, the White House announced huge salary
increases for Obama’s staff, with no concern for the callousness of doing that,
while the lives of the elderly and poor have been offered as sacrifices in his
political game.

Obama doesn’t care what his former constituency thinks; because he and his
minders are busy cobbling together a new constituency from the politically
amorphous, ill-informed, frightened millions, who are keen for compromise,
even if it must be Obama’s fairy tale compromise.  The smooth talker, the
deceiver, has disarmed opposition to the corporatist agenda, and has furthered
that agenda much better than a Republican president could have managed it.

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By Kit, August 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This quote drew me to read the article.
“Emory University psychology professor Drew Westen’s gentle dismantling of the major disappointments of the last two and a half years should both calm and edify.”
I cannot understand why you think this “gentle” article would either calm or edify any reader.

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By AxeMan: 70 in 2010, August 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Calm and edify? Gentle dismantling? Are we on parallel universes? I read the
Westen’s piece in the NY Times, and my partner and I said, finally, someone is
laying it out. But instead of calming and edifying we were both enraged. Our
votes were split in the primary. We fought a little about it. But we found a level of
excitement and satisfaction when he won and won again, although I didn’t buy
his organizer/populism. Alinsky would roll over if this is what anyone calls a
community organizer. Behind the smooth, he was nearly as corporatist as Hillary.
We will be told that we have no choice when the time comes, and that really
grinds me. REALLY grinds me. And that there isn’t a single Democrat who step
up and take the mantle tells us much about this country. The Hamlet metaphors
way back then are really true. When I was 12, back in 1952, I really liked Adlai
Stevenson because he seemed so thoughtful. I’m not twelve any more. I
understand what having a set means, and I know damned well when I don’t see
it. It means nothing that I find him interesting, smart and likable. Many years ago
I had the wonderful luck of seeing a Fassbinder film with I.F. Stone and a friend
of his. After the movie, Stone said, “I know bullshit when i see it, especially
German bullshit. This was bullshit.”

I am frightened to death about what’s ahead.

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By morongobill, August 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

Arthur Silbur’s superb response to Drew Westen’s drivel:

http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2011/08/impotence-of-intellectual-elite.html

The money quote in my opinion:

“Drew Westen tells us that, “over the last several years,” he has worked “as a messaging consultant to nonprofit groups and Democratic leaders.” In that work, he has “studied the way voters think and feel, talking to them in plain language.”

“A messaging consultant.” Huh. Translation: Westen helps those intent on wealth and power achieve their aims. That is, he sells himself to bloodthirsty, criminal motherfuckers so that they can sell shit to people while pretending it’s prime rib. Some call it “war,” some more accurately describe it as “criminal, aggressive war in service of American global hegemony”; a “messaging consultant” calls it “kinetic military action.” Some call it a deliberate scheme to enrich already hugely wealthy insurance companies; a “messaging consultant” calls it “health care reform,” when health care is the one element notably omitted from the plan. And so on. “

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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By starfish, August 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

I think Obama is doing EXACTLY what he was hired by the Rich (Mostly White) Guys to do—screw the rest of us.

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By Rixar13, August 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

“Had the president chosen to bend the arc of history, he would have told the public the story of the destruction wrought by the dismantling of the New Deal regulations that had protected them for more than half a century.”

I do agree but, where to turn? Michele Bachman?

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By Lew Ciefer, August 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

The Left’s leg-tingling Savior is nothing more than a higher-in-melanoma, George W. Bush, with a slightly superior skill reading teleprompters. Much to the Left’s dismay; he’s proof positive that affirmative action isn’t and does not an intelligent and capable man make.

He is to the Left everything, perhaps a tad more, that Dubya was to the Right.

I don’t understand your sadness. Is it not true that most of you here despise the Empire and desire its fall? Well, it’s about to collapse. Why aren’t you happy? Is it because the final collapse is likely to happen with the ‘Super Shaft that the Left built’ at the helm of the sinking ship?

You need to learn to stop hating and love Obamageddon!

C’mon guys perk up, lets’ party ... altogether now…

Who is the man that would risk his neck
For his brother man?
SHAFT!
Can you dig it?

Who’s the cat that won’t cop out
When there’s danger all about?
SHAFT!
Right On!

(Isaac Hayes)

Oh yeah right on brothers! Bwaaaaaaaa!

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By gerard, August 8, 2011 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

How much of the behavior of the “ruling class” is based on the myth of the market—laissez faire, the market naturally knows best, just don’t interfere, let it do it’s thing?  How is it that people smart enough to promote wars for money, exploit resources for money, throw people out of their homes and let them die in the streets for money, are so stupid and cruel?

  No use railing about the benighted people who believe in this or that religious myth or ethnic folk-tale. It is crystal clear that educational reform needs to start at the top—at Harvard Business School, for example.  And throw in a few courses in ethics and morality at Yale and the other five “top” Schools of Law that are pretending our present courts are dispensing justice.
  Now here’s a real news “story” for you—Mr.Corporation Marries Miss Banks at the Church of the Holy Money Bags on Wall Street and President Obama will act as ring-bearer. Send us your last dime to help sanctify this holy union.

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By Anarcissie, August 8, 2011 at 8:03 am Link to this comment

It’s a story, all right: a fantasy, a fairy tale.  I guess this is going to be the new line, seeing as how it showed up in Pravda, I mean, the Times.

So the ruling class is off in the corner sucking its thumb and telling itself fairy tales.  Wonderful.

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By m@earth, August 8, 2011 at 7:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The long heaving sigh Obama is producing in the nation is that salty recognition
that the two party system is broken beyond repair, and has damaged the country
and its implied arc of that as a nation by the people, and for the people and that
the corporate citizenry of the United States of America has indeed taken control.

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By RayLan, August 8, 2011 at 6:29 am Link to this comment

Obama is the biggest hoax perpetrated by big corporate marketing. Not suprising since they bought him.

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By Dr Bones, August 8, 2011 at 4:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Actually, I think Mr. O is just your typical politician.  Tells you what he thinks you want to hear (lies) while making whatever deal will bring him more campaign money and power for himself or party.  It’s all about raising money and doing what rich people and global corporations want.  And seeing how CEOs only care about the money they make which is tied to next quarters profits, ninety nine percent short term thinking.  It’s like a mad, mad, mad, mad, world.  Wipe out the Gulf, the Arctic Sea, our air, pump toxic drilling chemical into ground water, burn up the planet, refuse to reform banking and health care, blow up other nations for their resources.  Just totally insane.

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By rumblingspire, August 8, 2011 at 1:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I no longer believe in Presidents.  This one shattered rule of law.  He had a man ambushed and killed without trial.
He’s tainted.

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By Skinny Dog, August 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm Link to this comment

We need Captain Kirk, and we got Mr. Spock.

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Not One More!'s avatar

By Not One More!, August 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm Link to this comment

Vote Third party. Vote for peace, justice, and liberty for all.

“Those who already enjoy democracy, liberty, and human rights, in particular, should not allow their own personal happiness to lull them into forgetting the many others who are still struggling against tyranny, slavery, and poverty; and all those who are suffering from unimaginable forms of oppression, exploitation, and massacres.” Wei Jingsheng, Chinese Human Rights Advocate, and political prisoner in China for 15 years.

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By Not One More!, August 7, 2011 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Obama’s actions (and the democrats and republicans) are only a surprise or mystery to those who haven’t realized that their primary motivation is to appease the corporate elite.

Some people who are ‘surprised’ were either untruthful with themselves, unwilling to look at the previous voting record, or just hoping.

These people- Obama, Kerry, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, all support the death penalty, all support cuts against the poor and sick, are willing to send people to fight for a war based on a lie, but still mouth the words that they care about you. Maybe for some people that works. Not for me.

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By Not One More!, August 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm Link to this comment

The story is short and sweet. Obama doesn’t care about you. The democrats don’t care about you. The republicans don’t care about you. The corporations don’t care about you. End of story.

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By SteveL, August 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

Completely convinced that no one in either party in Washington DC ever reads history books.

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By Textynn, August 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would agree with almost every word of this article
but I don’t believe that what has transpired is
because Obama is weak or can’t comprehend the problem
at some level. In the words of Dennis Kucinich,
“Obama got the deals he wanted.“http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/kucinich_says_obama_got_the_deal_he_wanted_20110804/

When the banks were pulled up in front of congress to
tell us where all the trillions of taxpayer money
went we go no answers. The banksters merely said they
didn’t know, hadn’t figured it out yet, basically
refused to answer.  Who could forget this little
jewel covering the testimony of Inspector Coleman by
Rep. Alan Grayson.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=PXlxBeAvsB8&list=PL50F17B91B87E0189&index=5

Then during the TARP hearings we heard from Neel
Kashari. He didn’t say much that made a lot of sense.
Just a lot of spuddering and no answers for why they
did nothing to help the actual people whose money
they doled out to the banksters and their bankster
buddies around the globe.  The one thing he did say
was that we need to cut “entitlements”. Kashkari
being a rep of the banksters and a Goldman Sachs
squid extension.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl6sixD3NhA

No, if Obama is who he said he was he would have
happily welcomed Single Payer advocates to the table. He may not have been able to do much for them against the super power of big MHI money but he would have been glad for their input on the conversation steering for a better deal for the people.  Obama showed who he really was by having these people arrested.  Doctors and nurses and other Health care professionals arrested like thugs.  It was disgraceful and the truth about Obama and who he was really for was in front of all of our faces. 

Some may have believed it was poor judgement but
people that know how people really act when a person says one thing and does the exact opposite could see him for who he is.  Obama is a very conceited man. He really thought he could play us and serve the rich.  He really thought he could make the big boys happy and feed us a bunch of sweet nothings like a womanizer with a mistress.

I will not vote for this man no matter how repugnant the Republican party candidate is.  There is nothing that will compel me to vote for Obama who will no doubt launch another crisis that we feel we must relent and vote him in to stop. Then he probably will pretend to cave anyway and not even follow through on the one thing.

Totally done. Totally see this man for who he is.  He has given the elite the strong hold in their moment of weakness when the people came together to stop them and they have played us like fools while they continue to clean us out of everything America stood for.

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By the worm, August 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

We deluded ourselves by believing that Obama represented “Change You Can
Believe In”.

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By lasmog, August 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

I wonder, how long into Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign did he declare that men like Summers, Geithner and Emanuel would be running his administration?  I suspect that a candidate’s political intentions are thoroughly briefed by the political establishment long before any support is offered.  If Obama had declared in 2007 that men like Feingold, Kucinich and Sanders would be key members of his administration, his candidacy would probably have screeched to a halt. I suspect we delude ourselves into believing that each new president offers the country a chance for a fresh new start.

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By MeHere, August 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

Interesting article on What Has Happened to Obama.  To a number of us, Obama
and his fellow Democrats were quite predictable. The question we need to explore
is What is Happening to the American Psyche that is not eager to seek a different
vision for a new era beyond the two parties. There’s no shortage of evidence
pointing to the corruption embedded in the electoral process.  One would think
that that alone would be enough reason to want to transform our political system.  But it is not happening.

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By sophrosyne, August 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is a fair account and very sad.  Obama is a man of real, if limited ability but he sold out of Israeli interests, oil, the military hawks and Wall Street.  He lacked integrity.  Our enthusiasms were misplaced.

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By gerard, August 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

P.S. “Stories” are big now, in anthropology, memoire popularity and the search for something to believe in.  Mr.Westen proposes that a “story” from Obama would have changed recent history.  He says:  “A story isn’t a policy. But that simple narrative — and the policies that would naturally have flowed from it — would have inoculated against much of what was to come in the intervening two and a half years of failed government, idled factories and idled hands.”

America has been living on a “story” for a couple centuries now, and it’s the story the Teabaggers are trying to re-present so we can all “live happily ever after.”  No, no, mister!  It’s vision that was and is needed, and a plan, not a narrative complete with beginning, middle and end. Good policies
“naturally follow” from good plans.

Americans need, first of all to know what is going on.  They need to know what is needed from THEM as input to influence and control their own government. They need for their government to listen to THEIR stories of anxiety and disappointment and fear. They need for someone with common human sense to turn off the military-industrial spigot and stop flooding the world with violence and pain. They need to be welcomed in Washington, in the marble halls of confusion and deceit and money-pandering. They need to be encouraged to speak out.

Instead, they are arrested, threatened, treated as fools or villains. It’s their sons and daughters who are dying in Afghanistan or getting soused every Saturday night at some bar on any one of 400+ military posts in God knows what foreign nation.

Stories! You ain’t heard nothin’ yet! Maybe one reason the Pentagon isn’t interested in bringing them home is the stories.

Excuse my rage—but the idea of Obama needing to tell us a story is a maddening figure of speech at this time in our nation’s history!

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By Ralph Kramden, August 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is one of the more beautifully written, insightfull, incisive articles I’ve read all year, and I do read tons of them. I would quarrel with the statement that being a psychologists necessarily means one is a scientist: psychology is a wanna-be science, although, as a psychologist one is trained in the protocols of science. I wonder about Obama and his character flaw. I wonder about a man who has no compuction to send his goons with instructions “when you see him kill him,” as he did with Osama. Then we have the poor boy hypnotized by wealth and power, sort of the way OJ was. Many revolutionaries such as FDR, Teddy,Lenin, Castro, Che, Mao, came from the well-off if not the wealthy class. The poor of origin are more likely to be seduced. Martin King did not grow up poor. Cesar Chavez did, but I believe there is a pattern. As to his lack of cojones, maybe there is a mamma’s boy here. Or maybe Obama is just a bully: he kneels before the powerful and kicks the weak, a modern Mussolini. I have another theory, and using Ockham’s razor, the most likely: this man knows that the way to end-up being able to afford a three-million wedding, weddings, for his daughters, as poor-boy Clinton did, is to follow the dictates of the ruling class. The conservatives have a cradle-to-grave welfare program—-just tow the line and we make sure you will be richly rewarded with speaking fees, a position in one of those Koch-Coors-DeVos financed think tanks, Murdoch-financed books, etc. Remember, Obama, 60% of the Senate, 40% of the House are millionaires. $1,700 a month in Social Security? Hell, they pay that much in electric bills, or to park their yatchs. It means manure to them, yet it is a lifeline to millions of US citizens. The Bastille may be approaching, but remember,when the time comes, the rich and their courtiers had an opportunity to feed the hungry, ease the suffering, clothe the naked, house the homeless, provide jobs, yet they chose greed instead.
Obama reminds me more of AlCapone,Mussolini,Kissinger in terms of personality disorders.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, August 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

In the decades and years to follow, who or what president Obama, did or was, will be
the stuff of many a college term paper. Dissection, of his psyche, will rival, the great
psychological dissections, of George W. Bush.

Sounds like at least one member of academia, is getting a head start on Obama’s
psychological postmortem after his coming defeat at the polls.

Was he a CIA, mole, or double agent of the plutocracy? Was he the O.J. Simpson of
American politics? Or just a weak little shit over his head, from the start, a narcissistic
pretender who could never understand the wreckage his self indulgence caused to real
people and real lives.

One thing is for sure, the lefts destruction, was cleverly facilitated by the lefts own wish
fulfillment, it’s myths, and beliefs caused a cult like devotion to the belief that someone
was more qualified to lead, simply because of what they looked like, instead of their
ability to lead, and fight for all Americans.

In the forty years ahead that it will take to recover from W.‘s presidency, and the 20 it
will take to recover from Obama’s, America will come to resemble T.J., on the weekend.
Maybe that’s for the best, since we will no longer be able to abuse the rest of the world
with our lunacy.

I look forward to the coming comic potential of the Rick Perry and President Obama
debates, I’m sure I will be well entertained. President Obama, will have a chance to
persuade everyone, that he too is a devout right wing Christian.

  This will provide even more material for college professors in the future.

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By the worm, August 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

I found this to be one of the most insightful articles about Obama I have read.

Reading other commenters on this article, I came across a sentence I must share.

Speaking of the voters selection of Obama for President in 2008, the commenter
wrote:

“The heady excitement of 2007-8 was ultimately an example of handing over our
cow for magic beans.”

Wow ! Thank you, who ever you are ! Finally, I have the metaphor to describe
exactly how I feel ....

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mackTN's avatar

By mackTN, August 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Actually, I think remedies abound; they all start with leadership and vision and a
willingness to fight for what you think is right instead of caving in.  Even the
Democrats have become expert at giving up.  Gabrielle Giffords practically got
out of her sickbed to come to D.C. to cast her “give up” vote.  Having been
injured neurologically, she’s the only one with an excuse. 

Obama seems to think that bold leadership and compromise are mutually
exclusive.  In doing neither, he often gets nothing. An affordable health care bill
that is not affordable for people who pay premiums. Foreclosure help that
doesn’t help because it won’t confront the banks. A weak stimulus that was
more like a painful stream from someone suffering from prostrate trouble.
WTF?

When you make deals with the devil, the devil always wins.

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sallysense's avatar

By sallysense, August 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

weren’t most obama votes kinda like buying a car without taking it for a test drive first?...
as checking him out by way of researching him and his previous work records…
might have shown potential buyers that he really wasn’t worth their vote!...
or at least that’s how this’un felt after some laps on that test course!...

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By gerard, August 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

A plausible analysis—1

Helpful suggestions for remedies—0

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