It took three weeks. My limited confidence in the Obama administration is dead.
I will be the first to admit I didn't begin with much confidence. I'm highly critical of the executive branch as a constitutional entity, and also critical of federal government on a lot of points. And what's more, I'm argumentatively dismissive (putting it mildly) of liberal idealism.
So to put it right out there, I was dismayed at the way Obama ran his campaign, because while it was deeply inspiring to millions of people, and he seems like a generally intelligent fellow who will certainly be a better president than his direct Republican competition, it did not detail any sort of plans for the next four years outside of general principles.
This put me in the unfortunate historical perspective of waiting for him to fail. And not without a certain schadenfreude, either. Since from the presidential race of 2004 I have been bashing my head into the liberal wall of Bush-hate, which I of course do not disagree with, but yet I am constantly frustrated by its hopeless belief in a Democratic messiah. This is the real problem--Obama himself can't be blamed for the failure of the political populace of which he has found himself the head. If the people ever really demanded actual change, we would get it. Instead, we get posturing, because that is exactly what the people demand. If it is so important to replace Bush, than wouldn't we want someone with a clear plan emphasizing the changes, rather than a nebulous plan based on a categorical emphasis of "Change" itself? The most frustrating part was the zeal of the liberals who would claim that any left-leaning or progressive cause one might suggest is of course included in the Obama platform, because if you are interested in any particular change, Obama must be your candidate. Naturally. It became impossible to argue with these sorts of liberals, because like any messiah-followers, they attributed miracles to their leader not based on refutable facts, but on Belief itself, (a key component of the ideology of Change and Hope, by the way). So, I thought: Obama will be elected, he'll fail to change much, and then all the liberals will finally wake up from their Bush-induced fever dream, and we can get down to actual political business in this country in 2016.
This isn't to say I didn't "hope" myself. Obama's language was quite relieving and stimulating, especially after eight years of bureaucratic bullshit. Hearing him across the debate podium from McCain almost made him sound like a college professor. I could like a techno-president. And the first African-American president is probably a history-book milestone long overdue. Furthermore, I feel anyone willing to step up and try and promote progressive change deserves a chance. After all, I'm not about to run for president. Okay, Mr. Obama, let's see what you can do. Here are the keys.
This hopeful attitude ended yesterday, when simultaneously the new Democrat Senate approved the stimulus plan, and when Geithner announced the financial rescue plan. All hopes for a new day are dashed, and it will be business as usual in America for the next eight years. Which, as you might be aware, is not very good at the moment.
First--the financial plan has no real change. It is the same things the Fed has already been doing, only more of it. Yes, the credit markets are easing, so it appears it is working. But the credit markets were always the effect, not the cause. We'll see what the "stress-tests" of banks reveal, and what is done about them, but when the banking system is only surviving with massive quantitative easing and still not lending money (in other words, everyone knows it is broken) what will a stress-test show? Why would they admit the banks are insolvent now, when they have not yet? It certainly isn't as if they have a plan for insolvent banks.
Second--the reason they don't have a plan for the banks is the biggest sign that Obama is just like every other president we've ever had. They will not nationalize, until it is a complete disaster. The well publicized interview of Obama by Terry Morgan says all: we will not nationalize. Why? For two reasons: one, because the amount of money in the banks needing nationalization is too large; and two, because the American of "private capital" will not allow it.
Do you see what he is saying here? American business is BIGGER than its government. The big banks are too large, too powerful, too culturally pervasive to be nationalized. Obama has capitulated--the capitalists are running the country. It's only because the banks are so publicly unpopular right now they can force them to do anything at all--the people's hate for the banks is even greater than their hate for the government.
This is the opposite of change--this is reinforcing the power and economic system of America simply because it is big and powerful. If Obama's commitment to do what needs to be done in the name of Change was anything other than a talking point, all the banks' books would be on his desk right now. He could nationalize them. Real people--us, out here in America, are pissed about getting ripped off by the banks everyday. What do we care? Serves those investors right, who are still profiting on our losses. But he doesn't. At who's word? Who would suffer if banks were nationalized? Bankers and investors. Who would gain? Us. Business as usual, we get the shaft.
Third--tax cuts?!?!? Are you kidding? All the economists with any statistics under their belt at all are saying massive spending is the only way out. And so the Democrats are adding tax cuts and cutting spending from the bills, in order to gain Republican support that isn't showing up when the votes are counted. What part of progressive change is bargining with the opponents of change? Especially in such a crucial piece of legislation, the failure of which could cause the failure of the world economy, why would anyone seek to water down the measures with appeals to the people who caused the problem? Tax cuts from the last eight years contributed to the bubble economy, and now they are the fix? This attempt at moderation is going to drive the whole thing into the ground.
It really is disappointing, but not as much as it is depressing. From a historical perspective, twenty years down the road, it will be disappointing. But when you see the end of the world coming, and people doing nothing to stop it, everything looks pretty grim. It's going to continue this way, too. The reason I say "in eight years" is because he will obviously be re-elected. Why? "Give him more time," they'll plead. Like a true messiah, he'll be allowed to re-predict the rapture as many times as he likes. Meanwhile: what will be the next thing to be compromised? Climate change? Maybe sea levels will only come up ten feet in Manhattan. Technology initiatives? Maybe the RIAA will only be able to read half of people's emails. The enivironment? Well, I hear pandas are mating pretty regularly in captivity now, so maybe we can do the same with all the polar bears who are getting tired of swimming. Think I'm pessimistic? You're goddamn right. Call me when you see the upside.
Predictions for 2012
5 years ago