The Nonentity in the White House
Baker comments on Obama's West Point speech of 1 December 2009, in which he first said that we have to limit our troop commitment in Afghanistan, because our own priorities come first, and then announced that he was sending 30,000 more troops there. He continues:
"How could this be? It was the question that Obama's most fervent supporters had been asking themselves for months, as their candidate discarded almost every vision of a new America, a new world, that he had described during his campaign. By the time of his West Point speech, health-care 'reform' had already been transformed into yet another scheme to transfer wealth to the richest corporate interests in the country. The stimulus program had been botched, the promised money delayed and diverted from badly needed public projects into unhelpful tax cuts. The banks had been bailed out but not the people, and any significant proposals for repairing our infrastructure, addressing climate change, re-regulating the financial markets, or rebuilding New Orleans were generally acknowledged to be dead letters.
"Now, with the president's decision on Afghanistan, our foreign policy settled back into its familiar pattern of endless war for unknown purposes. To people who had been clamoring for real change in how we work and consume, how we live in the world and with one another, this retreat to the failed policies of the recent past was stunning. No other president in our history had so thoroughly spurned his political base in so short a time....
"The party that claims to represent all progressive interests in this country proceeds with its impervious, self-interested agenda. The administration's stated priorities for the near future are to balance the budget before a deep recession has abated and to commit the nation to a long-running war in a dysfunctional Asian country that we neither understand nor care about--thereby promising to repeat, simultaneously, the two worst mistakes made by liberal presidents in the past seventy-five years. As for the long term, the White House will form a commission bent on cutting 'entitlements,' such as Social Security and Medicare, that are the bedrock of retired Americans' prosperity...
"It is increasingly clear that [Obama] never intended to challenge the power structure he had so skillfully penetrated....There is no longer any meaningful reformist impulse left in our politics. The idea of modern American liberalism has vanished among our elite, and simply voting for one man or supporting one of the two major parties will not restore it."
Translation: Game over, folks!