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October Surprise?

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Posted on Sep 25, 2012
pasukaru76 (CC BY 2.0)

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

(Page 4)

The liberal hit on Obama has been that the man won’t fight for what he believes in.  The next 43 days will put the lie to that.  He’s ready to fight fiercely for his job by doing his damnedest to tamp down any possible embarrassments, any potential October surprises—and he’s enlisted the U.S. government lock, stock, and State Department in that campaign. So if you want a little horse-race entertainment for the next six weeks, skip the Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia polls, don’t worry about the results of the coming debates, or the court tests on restrictive new voting laws.  After all, there’s going to be no better show in town than the acrobatic contortions of the Obama crew as they work to keep global disaster off the menu until November 7th.

It should be a lesson in what a declining superpower can (or can’t) still do: a shining tale of great power management and luck or a sobering parable of what is no longer within the grasp of such a power on this planet of ours.

In the meantime, it’s Obama against the world and the horse-race question is: Will he make it to November 7th and a second term?  Think of that as Obama’s problem.

But there’s another far less entertaining problem few are thinking about right now. Consider it our problem.  The Obama people are understandably focused on the election.  Being of a managerial frame of mind, their thoughts don’t tend to run to the long-term anyhow. I doubt they have, at this point, put a second’s consideration into what’s likely to happen, if they manage to keep everything under wraps, 44 days from now—and beyond.  It’s not as if war with Iran, disaster in Afghanistan, chaos in the Middle East, a staggering Eurozone, a stumbling Chinese economy (in the midst of seaborne saber rattling), rising oil and food prices, climate change, and so much else won’t be as threatening then.  None of these are problems, however managed, that are going away anytime soon or are likely in the long run to prove particularly manageable from Washington.

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The question for the rest of us is: What the hell happens next?   It’s one you better start thinking about because the Obama people, much as they want to rule the roost for four more years, don’t have a clue.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Engelhardt discusses an “October surprise” world and the presidential election, click here or download it to your iPod here.

Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt


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