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Still in Search of the American Dream
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NEW YORK – Don’t … stop … thinking about tomorrow. Fleetwood Mac is back. The roaring 1990s are back. Bubba is in da house. The American dream is back with a bang. The nightmare is over.

Or is it?

How can any living politician anywhere in the world even pretend to rival former US president Bill Clinton’s charisma, delivery (with substance) and authority? His Awesomeness gave it all for US President Barack Obama at the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. He may well have sealed Obama’s reelection all by himself.

Professor Bubba managed to sell the most flimsy of all hopes; an unfulfilled promise, transmogrified as Obama as the only possible conduit to that long lost fuzzy happiness of the 1990s.

And all of it based on fiscal rectitude and humanitarian sweep; a balanced budget; higher taxes for the exceedingly wealthy; protection for a battered middle class; profound concern for the plight of the poor and the excluded.

And all of this accomplished via a smack down – a meticulous taking apart and tearing to bits of every single Republican “issue”, in almost excruciating detail.

Compare it to an empty chair last week winning the shootout against an aging Hollywood icon – not to mention a hapless Republican presidential candidate.

And all this after First Lady Michelle Obama had knocked it out of the park the day before, or – to subscribe to a Latino soccer metaphor – hit un golazo!.

Michelle Obama for president? Certainly Michelle Obama for her president. Clinton was all about urgence and exigence. Michelle was all about what kind of man lives and breathes behind complex policy decisions. Compare it to the Romney couple. While it’s hard to escape the explosive racial subtext, it’s more a case of rich white American royalty sure of its divine entitlement versus “the usurpers” – a struggling black couple who reached the American dream from the bottom up based on their talent and drive.

To quote the empty chair’s interlocutor, you gotta ask yourself one question; Who you’re gonna trust?

Michelle in fact pulled a Bubba – by directly linking her Barack’s biography to President Obama’s policy decisions. Can’t ask for a more powerful political pitch. Example: “We were so young, so in love, and so in debt” – because of a student loan which was higher than their mortgage. The punch line: “That’s why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid.”

Learn to forget

Still the key question trespassing all these extremely polished, sometimes fiery speeches at the Democratic convention – from Massachusetts governor Duval Patrick to San Antonio mayor and new Latino sensation Julian Castro – has been whether the US is better off now than four years ago. There’s no possible positive evaluation if one sticks to this straitjacket.

So the timeline was duly stretched. From Michelle to Bubba, a case was made that the real Obama as ultimate champion of the (restored) middle class American dream will only be able to fulfill, or at least start to fulfill, all the promises if he’s granted a second term.

What’s certain is that Michelle and most of all Bubba were transcendental enough to make one forget, for instance, each and every aspect of Obama’s troubling (to say the least) foreign policy – from the broken promise to close Guantanamo to the drone-based shadow war frenzy.

Take a look at the Democratic political platform.[1]See here

A confrontation with China as a possible peer competitor is more than visible under all the platitudes. The Middle East is essentially a matter of “an unshakable commitment” to “Israel’s security” and “robust security cooperation” with those paragons of democracy, the petro-monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Iran is nothing else than an aggressive purveyor of “destabilizing activities”.

And all this while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hit Beijing to once again lecture the Chinese. As the Global Times[2]Hillary reinforces US-China mistrust, Global Times, Sep 4, 2012 mercilessly put it;

“As secretary of state, Clinton fails to present Americans with this simple logic: In the long run, the US can only compete and cooperate with China on an equal footing, and it will have fewer and fewer resources to dominate and curb China.”

Not to mention that Michelle and Bubba also made possible to forget Bubba’s mantra – “it’s the economy, stupid” – in ways certainly unforeseen by the First Lady and the former President.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers – the US’s fourth largest investment bank – will be four years old next week. That was the straw that broke the financial camel’s back – unleashing a global disaster that still lingers. To quote Rimbaud, this financial Drunken Boat is what actually swallowed what would have been a global epiphany; Obama’s 2008 victory.

True, expectations were so immense he could not possibly meet them, even though he appeared, and positioned himself, as the ultimate personification of Hope. Eventually, Obama seems to have been reduced to the role of just a cog in the infernal machine.

The bottom line – despite all the soaring heights reached by Michelle and Bubba; Obama won’t be the new Roosevelt. There won’t be any New Deal – among other reasons because Republicans have done the impossible to sabotage it.

Still, Michelle and Bubba were brilliant enough to make legions forget that Obama didn’t crack down on Wall Street; the Justice Department, for instance, won’t prosecute Goldman Sachs. That income inequality in the US keeps getting worse. That some of the US’s most profitable corporations paid less than zero taxes between 2008 and 2010.[3]Thirty Of America’s Most Profitable Companies Paid ‘Less Than Zero’ In Income Taxes In Last 3 Years: Report , The Huffington Post , March 11, 2011 That only five too-big-to-fail mega-banks control 56% of the US economy. That the absolute majority of jobs created during the Obama administration are only low-wage.

Yesterday’s gone…yesterday’s gone. Michelle and Bubba, at least rhetorically, have relieved the American dream. But how equipped is Obama – the man and the leader, not the myth – to deliver the real deal?


[1] See here

[2] Hillary reinforces US-China mistrust, Global Times, Sep 4, 2012

[3] Thirty Of America’s Most Profitable Companies Paid ‘Less Than Zero’ In Income Taxes In Last 3 Years: Report , The Huffington Post , March 11, 2011

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Barack Obama, China 
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