Bring It On!

Holding the Olive Branch in a Mailed Fist

December 4th, 2008 | by Omnipotent Poobah |

Resolution!A year ago everyone thought Iraq would be the big issue of 2008. McCain bolstered his position by emulating Yosemite Sam’s fine wartime performance while Obama emphasized how unlike Shrub he was by speaking in complete sentences. In the end, the economy won out - mostly because it’s hard to avoid a huge smoking hole in the ground.

This sort of shift isn’t unusual. Faced with people being blown to bits or being unable to buy an SUV the size of Guatemala, Americans will go for the Escalade every time. We don’t like wars because they’re messy and defy simple solutions - especially when a simpleton is in charge. We still haven’t gotten over the fiction that the resolution to every war is to bomb our enemies until they glow.

Now, the election’s over. The economy isn’t under control and soon nothing will be left in the treasury except lint. Obama is quick to say there’s only one President at a time. But when the sitting President is AWOL, Obama finds himself being the one to calm the markets and convince everyone that through some stupendous combination of happenstance and brilliance the economy will rise from the ashes before all of us have shuffled off this mortal coil.

A Festering Boil on the Ass of America
But the war is still there, like a festering boil on the ass of America. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that our foreign policy situation is as bad or worse than our economic sludge pit. You have to hand it to Texas’ Original Village Idiot, when he screws something up, he does it big, bold, and lastingly.

Obama’s shift to foreign policy is already underway. The political gossip has centered almost exclusively on his national security and foreign policy teams for weeks. No one gives a fig who’ll be the Treasury or Commerce secretaries.

No matter how large the domestic challenges or how loudly people scream, almost all Presidents spend the lion’s share of their administration jetting around the world keeping Molotov Cocktails from exploding. “Pressing issues” like health care, the economy, or education always end up lost at the bottom of a pile of burning policy papers, and so, never get solved. If there was the political will to deal with these issues, they would have already been “reformed”.

I bet Obama will end up being the much the same - regardless of his extraordinary interest in the economy. People may want the Escalade, but only if they can have cheap gas and feel safe from nutcases living in Pakistani caves - and just for good measure, so does every other Tom, Dick, and Darfur on the planet.

Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe Obama personally believes he can effect change - they all do when they take office. But Washington and the world have a way of unraveling even the most well-intentioned politicians. With the twin malevolent easter eggs of the war and economy George left on the White House lawn, Obama will have his hands more than over-full to move on to all those “pressing problems” that only become more pressing every year.

The Prophet of Change
Despite his claims as the Prophet of Change, Obama is a good old fashioned politician if noting else. He has the knack of making people feel better about themselves and the world than the events would indicate. In order to make change, you have to use some tried and true, bald-faced, ugly politicking. In other words, to get change you don’t necessarily do things differently, you do them smarter and harder than the opposition.

Obama likes coalitions and will no doubt start from that point of view. But coalitions are slow to build and slow to move. Sometimes they need a kick in the ass. That’s why no one should fool themselves into thinking that Obama’s calls for bipartisanship are synonymous with a push-over kinder and gentler President.

Here’s hoping that he’ll be able to wield the mailed fist and olive branch equally well.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • e-mail
  • YahooMyWeb
Sphere: Related Content

Post a Comment