Obama The Idealist Confronts Obama The Realist; Obama The Candidate Wrestles With Obama The President
Written by Paul I. Adujie
It was as if President Obama said to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, thank you for the peace prize, but, excuse me, I have wars to fight! As if in rebuke and repudiation of the award.
The above statement is one way to interpret the seeming simultaneous upping of the antes in Afghanistan with additional the 30,000 troops as the practical realities of a president who inherited two foreign wars versus, the contrasts and contradiction of a president who is being celebrated worldwide, and the cynosure of this years Nobel Prize awards’ pomp and pageantry.
It will be recalled that millions of tongues wagged in the United States and worldwide, when President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His admirers were elated in their delights, at the award, by the Nobel Prize Committee, as indicative of a repudiation of President Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, who took unilateralism to a new level, and made it an art form. Additionally, President Obama’s supporters also saw the award as a ringing endorsement of Mr. Obama’s multilateral approach to global issues, where he seeks and prefers diplomatic solutions, while proclaiming other nations as friends and partners in a universalistic sort of ways.
Conversely, President Obama’s opponents, critics and outright detractors, expressed disapproval and sundry negative views or analysis regarding Mr. Obama as one of the awardees of the Nobel Prize. They argued that it was quite premature, as Mr. Obama has barely completed one year as president of the United States. And as a consequence, there are no measurable accomplishments or achievements with which the Nobel Prize Committee could have possibly predicated the this famous award bestowed upon Mr. Obama.
It was vigorously argued, perhaps, even meritoriously, that Nobel Prizes were usually bestowed on those persons with retinue of accomplishments in their chosen professions or careers and or political leadership roles played. Furthermore, it was postulated, that most awardees usually become recipients at the tail end of their roles, and sometimes, even posthumously.
President Obama at winning the Nobel Peace Prize, seemingly joined his critics, at least outwardly, he appeared to have done so, when he conceded that the award to him was undeserved, because he was just getting started on the tasks of his presidency, a Herculean undertaking, no doubt. Perhaps President Obama’s public comments which followed the announcement of his award, and his address at the ceremony upon actually arriving to receive the award, can be seen in one of two ways. First, that Mr. Obama’s comments encapsulated his sincere and forthright expression regarding his early fortune; Or, that Mr. Obama was only attempting to assuage his critics by seeming to agree with them, and thereby, deflecting the critics’ negative attention from his person. But either way, his comments appeared to have been tastefully appropriated and well rendered.
Personally, Mr. Obama was my candidate for president in 2008, for several reasons. In him, I saw endless possibilities, both in substance and symbolism. I reasoned that Mr. Obama’s election would be progress, it would be a cleansing moment of atonement for America. Atonement for the horrors and brutalities of slavery, segregation and institutional racism. I thought that it would heal continental Africans and all peoples of African descent, and that Mr. Obama’s election as president of the United States will be redemptive for all races, and in that, I saw endless possibilities for the entire world. I also thought of human progress in the very immediate Black community sense of self-worth as defined by all the negative imports of life in America, nay, life globally, where race is still a major factor and determinants of life’s outcomes.
I thought, boundless energies would be unleashed, horizons would be broadened. He will inspire and motivate all, but, more particularly so, for continental Africans and all peoples of African descent globally. In short, I thought that so much was riding on Mr. Obama’s political ascendancy. And after the preceding eight years of President George W. Bush, who foisted two foreign wars upon the world, just as Mr. Bush’s administration’s capitalism without regulations caused a global financial and economic meltdown, festooned upon the whole world, electing President Obama could not have come a moment too soon. In him I saw redemptive, transformational and transcendental American presidency.
Luckily for the United States, the world and me personally, Mr. Obama turned out to be a super, unique and spectacularly impressive candidate. He stayed on message and he had full grasps of national and international issues. He made be incandescent look easy. He made being brilliant and professorial seem a walk in the park on a summer day. He made his opponents appear petty, disorganized and self-destruct.
And then, he won!
President Obama’s election has unleashed, inspired many in America and worldwide. It has removed fear, hopelessness and cynicism hitherto pervasive among many in the world.
Then his subsequent public pronouncements started to appear too calibrated to lower expectations. Some of us noticed. But brushed it off, as the proper tone to set, in order not to appear as if he was gloating or not to appear as mean in defeat. Many therefore applauded when he selected Mrs. Clinton into his administration, even though she came across as very acerbic, belligerent and corrosive against the man who would be president, as his opponent, all through the electioneering season.
It was also thought that the lowering of expectations may serve Mr. Obama’s presidency well, when and if he delivers remarkable results on his campaign promises
But, President Obama is becoming something of an ambiguous phenomena. Mr. Obama the candidate was attacked by Republicans and conservatives, as more liberal than the late US Senator Edward Moore Kennedy from Massachusetts. He was even described as being to the left of leftists. He was castigated as a socialist and redistributionist and worse.
However, since his inauguration as president of the United States, President Obama has become something of an enigma. He has remained entrenched or even buried and sidetracked by his foolhardy continued insistence on bipartisanship with the Republicans, even though the Republicans have persistently demonstrated the Republicans that they are splendidly uninterested in bipartisanship and that their only interest is winning the next election . The Republicans have demonstrated this on many issues, among which are President Obama’s Health Care Reform, The Second Stimulus Package or TARP, as well as President Obama’s nomination of Honorable Justice Sonia Sotomayor, now of the United States Supreme Court. In all these instances and more, the Republicans voted strictly on party line and so, there is clearly no bipartisanship to be had, and yet, Mr. Obama keep insisting on this nonexistent concept.
In the Health Care Reform debates during the summer, Mr. Obama’s political opponents, conservatives and most Republicans, Mr. Obama was ridiculed and called all manner of unprintable names, such as socialist, fascist and even the unpardonable appellation of being castigated as Hitler! And as a result, I have argued that President Obama and his party, the Democrats and the Independents who support him, should concentrate and focus and the prodigious and vigorous pursuits of public policies for which they campaigned and for which they are identified. They should thereafter be seen as being derailed or frustrated by the conservative and the Republicans, instead of the Democrats and their Independents supporters appearing to be in disarray and in ambivalence on essentially Democratic or Liberal public policies.
President Obama has become an exemplification of these middle of the road public policy ambivalence or even outright middle of the road public policy confusion. It is as if there are too many compromises and deference by President Obama and the Democrats, it is beginning to looks as if, Mr. Obama and his political party are now, right of center right in their political convictions or policy positions. Too many concessions have been made to accommodate Republicans and the so-called “Blue-Dog” conservative Democrats, so much so, that there is now a blurring of policy differences between the ultra conservative Republicans and the Democratic Party!
Accommodating and cooperating with the other political interests is a good policy overall, but, it should not be so much so, that, there are no long discernible policy differences between the governing Democratic Party, and their Republican Party counterparts, who are a minority, and as such, the current political orphans, who have demonstrated that they would do anything and everything which advances their chances at electoral victory in the upcoming midterm elections and the general elections in 2012
It my strong view therefore, that President Obama and the Democrats should focus and concentrate on the hot pursuit of their core policy thrusts, which are representative, of the Democratic party. This is what the American electorate want and still demand, hence the repudiation of the Republicans at the polls in November 2008.
Currently however, President Obama and the no so cohesive Democrats, have literally, been giving aware the store and the warehouse to the Republicans and their conservative domestic and foreign policies. The Republicans are against using part of the unspent TARP funds to generate employment. The Republicans also dragged the extension of unemployment benefits for so long, before it eventually passed, meanwhile, those are the sorts of unnecessary hardships and sufferings inflicted on the electorate, for which they are not likely to quickly forget or be forgiving.
President Obama is the president for all Americans. It is understandable therefore, his pronouncements and actions are not perceived as special favors to the African American community; but even so, we must quickly add, that Mr. Obama knows the structural imperfection of America, which has historically, disfavored and disadvantage African Americans. Hence the Civil Rights Laws and such efforts made by presidents who were themselves not African Americans, such as President Lyndon Johnson and President John Kennedy before him. African American have made progress, but still fare badly, comparatively.
The indomitable Reverend Jesse Jackson recently put it succinctly, when he said that the government should and must, intervene to rescue those who suffer from the structural lopsidedness of America. A structural defect which ensures that those at the bottom wrung of the American society bear the brunt of the economic meltdown and global financial crises. American structural defect, ensures that when America suffers a from an economic recession, African Americans suffer deep economic depression, for instance, the current unemployment rate in America is approximately 10% whereas, in the African American community, especially in certain age groups, it is between 20% and 35% unemployment among African Americans, college educated and all.
The government intervened to bailout Wall Street, and Automotive Industries, the government should intervene to bail out poor people, hunger hurts the poor, black and white. Mr. Obama’s government have bailed out Wall Street, it is time to bail out Main Street! The Reverend Jesse Jackson makes a profound argument for President Obama to urgently intervene and rescue our peoples with a package targeted towards minorities and women, those at the bottom of the economic ladder, a package, through which racial and gender inequalities in the economy should be addressed.
President Obama’s Health Care Reform is another one of his wonderful ideas. And it is on of his core public policy issues, which if successful, could transform the American society in profound and crucial ways. The extraordinary cost and expense of health care, have led to bankruptcies of many individuals and families in the United States. The American Health Care System, as currently configured, is too divisive in social, economic and racial effect.
Furthermore, President Obama and the Democrats, seemed not to be willing to do anything, different, regarding the two foreign wars unfortunately inherited by President Obama’s administration. President Obama’s speech at West Point Military Academy, coupled with his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech which could very well have been titled, “I am A War President and I have Just Wars to Fight and That Is What A Commander In Chief Does!” Is the best argument that President Obama’s American war and foreign policies are not at all different from those of his predecessor Republican President George W. Bush.
Listening to President Obama’s above mentioned speeches to West Point and Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, many conservative, Mr. Newt Gringrich the former speaker of the US House of Representatives and Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times, applauded Mr. Obama for an amazingly remarkable speech. These are two speech which many conservatives have repeatedly praised as akin and identical to what in all intents and purposes, could have been delivered by the former President George W. Bush! Can these praises of President Obama be interpreted in any way, as complimentary and representative of the true public policy stances of the Democratic Party? I think not! President Obama and the Democratic Party would have to compare being praised by the Republicans and conservatives, as similar in contradiction and oxymoron value, as when an abolitionist would have in similar circumstances, say, 150 years ago, slavers praising public speeches by self-avowed abolitionists!
In all these, I must state that I am of course aware that public policy formulations and implementations can be quite complex and more intricate than a candidate may have first thought, especially, as an establishment outsider. It is also conceded, that idealism is very quick to clash with realism of governance; and the realities of the United States and the world at large might be night and day for a candidate compared with an actual public office holder.
President Obama and the Democrats have shifted away from the ideals of the Democratic Party. In the Health Care Democratic Party now appear ready to abandon and jettison the “Public Option” which was initially promoted by the Democrats. It is crucial to have “some” Health Care Reform at all. But must it be watered down so much, that is almost meaningless. Nevertheless, a reform is sorely needed in the health care sector.
President Obama have had the singular “luck” of inheriting American loss. These inherited losses are the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and the American and global economies in debacles. I take the view that President Obama the candidate, have been subdued and marginalized by Obama the president.
President Obama with his dispatch of additional 30,000 American troops to the “just-war” in Afghanistan, seem to have made an about face of 180 degrees, as he now mouths Thomas Aquinas, John Locke and Von Clausewitz on just wars and war of necessity and tool of policy by other means, respectively; As well as Michael Walter copious theory about just and unjust wars
President Obama during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, sound as if intent on addressing America’s political right, the Republicans and the ultra conservatives right-wingers at home. President Obama acceptance speech during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies, sounded as if a continuation of his speech at the West Point Military Academy in New York, delivered approximately a couple of weeks before his Nobel Prize speech.. After watching President Obama for almost a year hence, I feel like writing a news flash, titled, Obama Wrestles With Obama and Obama the idealist wrestles with Obama the realist who wrestles with Obama the candidate who then wrestles with Obama the president who in turn wrestles with the peace loving Obama who wrestles with the commander in chief the war president
President Obama’s historic election and probable presidential legacy remains to be determined, after all, he is just in the first year of his first term of a possible 8 years of two terms. Currently though, Mr. Obama is so nuanced and so delicately balanced in the right of center right. Mr. Obama now sounds and appears as if he subscribes to a Winston Churchill mantra of “Never stand up when you can sit down and never sit down, when you can lie down” In my harsh assessment, Mr. Obama is his first year at the presidency, seem to have yielded his core policies and his campaign fundamentals to the Republicans, and, in doing so, he has struck the appearance too engaged consummate expediencies.
President Obama has satisfied the Republicans and conservatives with his expansion and escalation of troops and war strategies in Afghanistan. This is welcome news for those whose profits are assured in what is the super structure on steroid, which is also known as the American Military Industrial Complex. Too many wars are fought in the name of American citizens, the same citizens who are deprived of health care and employment creations, even as more blood and treasure is squandered in these foreign wars!
Or is it that President Obama is deeply anti war, deeply conflicted about wars, and yet orders up additional troops, escalating a war, but, argues that he does what a “head of state” has to do anyways? Why stand up, when you can sit down, why sit down, when you can lay down? It seems.
It is perhaps to early to judge President Obama as to what would be his presidential legacy. But, after eight years of a seemingly anti intellectual presidency of Mr. George W. Bush, Mr. Bush, who governed with a sort of moral certainty, and inspiration from his gut instincts, we now have the professorial, contemplative, deliberative Mr. Obama, who is savvy-suave and over-analytical as a president, who is on the verge of being afflicted with over-analysis paralysis. This analysis paralysis, could portend his legacy. It could act as a downside or drawback in his pursuit of his presidency’s domestic and foreign policies.