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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Obama the neo-con is no longer in the closet
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Obama the neo-con is no longer in the closet

for those of us who've been waiting for obama to rip off his mask and reveal his true self, andrew levine, writing in counterpunch, claims that has now happened...
[W]ith what remains of organized labor finally beginning to fight back, and with the Occupy movements of last fall getting ready to burst forth again, American politics is no longer just an electoral circus in which two semi-established parties huckster their offerings to “moderate” voters. Because Democrats and Republicans are beholden to the same interests and because there are few differences between them that are not merely stylistic or cosmetic, our electoral politics has long been mainly of sociological or even clinical interest; what called for an explanation was why two such likeminded parties became so polarized, why they couldn’t “all just get along.” Now we have more important things to concern us; real politics is back.

But Obama is still relevant, especially in an election year, when our media can be counted on to work overtime covering every facet of the horse race, while ignoring matters of graver consequence. It is therefore timely to reflect on the trajectory of Obama’s governance to this point, and on one rather startling development in the Obama story that has emerged in recent weeks – his newfound willingness to trumpet neoconservative ideas.

Obama, or at least the Obama of term one, will be remembered, above all, for disappointing the hopes of the constituencies that put him in office. He will also be remembered not just for having raised the level of ambient hypocrisy, but for the audacity with which he talks the talk, while walking a very different walk. The more Obama waxes ‘populist,’ the better the rich do, and the more corporate criminality flourishes. The more he speaks of peace, the more the drones fly, and the more his very own Murder Incorporated (Navy Seals and the rest) spread murder and mayhem.

He gets away with it, in large part, because he’s good at fooling some of the people all of the time – not all liberals, but a sizeable number of them. Once it becomes clear to all that the Republicans will nominate their least scary contender, expect those liberals to make fools of themselves big time. No longer can they make a case for Obama by playing up the absurdity of a Trump or Cain or Bachmann presidency. Soon, they won’t have Newt Gingrich to kick around any more either. Expect Rick Santorum too to go the way of what Google says he is — unless, as in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, Romney again miscalculates and underspends.


But Obama’s readiness of late to signal approval for neoconservative ideology marks a new departure. What makes it all the more astonishing is how unnecessary it is. It is not as if anything is changing at the policy level. In deeds, not words, Obama has always been a practicing neocon; from Day One he could justifiably have declared “we are all neoconservatives now.” But he had too much sense to do anything of the sort — then.


Unless we have all been wrong about how smart Obama is, it could hardly be because he finds neocon musings intellectually engaging. And we can only hope that he isn’t testing the waters, seeing how much liberals of the Obama-is-the-best-of-all-possible-presidents school will accept. The most likely explanation is that, with an election coming, this is a calculated move on Obama’s part to close what space there is that separates him from Romney, the better to capture the rightward veering center.

Whatever the cause, there are indications of late that Obama has taken on board Kagan’s main contention – that American power is not in decline; that, quite the contrary, we are on the threshold of another glorious American century. The plain implication is that there is no hard crash in the offing, and therefore no need for the empire to change course. American world dominance isn’t over yet, and won’t be for the foreseeable future. And for this, the argument goes, the world can only be grateful.


But until now he has at least tried to be discreet about it; he was just a closet neocon. Now that is changing. Is it because he feels that the pressure to go to war against Iran is becoming irresistible, and that the wisest course for him, in an election year, is: if you can’t beat them, to join them? All that is clear for now is that the neocon con is back, and that it is happening not just in the Romney campaign – and, for what difference it makes, also in Gingrich’s and Santorum’s — but also, blatantly, at Obama’s instigation.

at least perhaps now, we can step away from the cognitive dissonance that has plagued those of us who have continued to cling to the "hope and change" mantra...

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