Friday, November 14, 2008

A Political Zombie Movie

"Don't let Obama break your heart." A good message to liberals, from Tom Englehardt at Tomdispatch. Englehardt argues that, if you want change, you'd better start demanding it, and to hell with the present calls, from many quarters, for giving the upcoming administration "a chance." Regarding the entrenched interests in the capitol, he says "Leave Obama to them and he'll break your heart."

His piece paints a dire portrait of the Obama administration presently being assembled:

"All you had to do was look at that array of Clinton-era economic types and CEOs behind Obama at his first news conference to think: been there, done that... You could scan that gathering and not see a genuine rogue thinker in sight; no off-the-reservation figures who might represent a breath of fresh air and fresh thinking..."

It's an ugly picture. I like Englehardt's description of this as a "political zombie movie." It's the Administration of the Living Dead and perhaps, effectively, the end of Barack Obama's administration. The man who rode into office trumpeting hope and change seems poised to do nothing more than deliver more of the same. What a surprise, right? I've said it more times than could easily be counted: never put your hope in politicians, folks. It's a fool's venture.

It does make me wonder what on earth Obama is thinking. He's never been any sort of radical but he does have liberal impulses and he was a very active fellow in the Senate. Was the point of being president just to be president? Didn't he have any larger ambitions?

I'm a born skeptic of politicians with ambitions, mind you, but Obama has a lot of the right instincts and, facing the wreckage that is the legacy of his predecessor, could do an invaluable service by showing some sign of vision at this point in history. The country needs some things right now very badly. If he's going to behave as a conservative Republican, which is what the vile presence of these rotting zombies suggests, we would have been better off with McCain, because when McCain did something outrageous as president, the only party that shows any hint of a sense of responsibility wouldn't divide over the matter. This is what happened during Clinton; party loyalty--a worthless commodity, if there ever was one--was forever becoming entangled with the matter of what was actually best for the country.

I disagree with Englehardt's suggestion that what we're seeing from Obama now is merely a consequence of his beginning to be consumed by the corrupt culture in Washington. Obama is a big boy and can make his own calls. The reason there aren't any mavericks or out-of-the-box thinkers on that stage is because he hasn't put them there. And that's a shame.


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