Obama’s report card after one year

Developing Just Leadership

Abu Dharr

Muharram 15, 1431 2010-01-01


by Abu Dharr (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 38, No. 11, Muharram, 1431)

One criticism hurled by Barack Obama’s opponents during the 2008 presidential campaign was that he was a Muslim. To his lasting shame, Obama called this a “smear.” We know he is not a Muslim but to call this a smear is beneath contempt. This, however, is only one problem with Obama.

He is no doubt a gifted orator. In fact, a fair criticism of Obama would be that he is cut from the same cloth as Arabian rulers in the Middle East: they all believe rhetoric substitutes for real action. In his year in office, Obama has demonstrated this amply. With his soaring rhetoric, Obama mesmerised people — Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They thought a messiah had come to deliver them from the ravages of the George Bush era that had inflicted so much harm on the US and its economy. Its image lay in tatters globally. But what most Americans ignored was a simple truth: Obama, a black man, was not installed in the White House so that he could rearrange America’s political landscape. His mission was to polish its jaded image. In this, he has been quite successful. Even while expanding the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and now threatening to extend them into Yemen and Iran, Obama has presented himself as a “peacemaker.” TheNobel committee’s award of the peace prize to him is more reflective of the kind of peace the West believes in rather than peace per se.

But Obama has been a huge disappointment to most Americans as well. Republican Scott Brown’s victory to the senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts since 1972 is reflective of this mood swing. A year ago there was widespread jubilation at the rout of the Republicans and end of the Bush presidency. Obama has only himself to blame for the rise of the hard right in America.

Immediately after getting the Democratic Party nomination, Obama attended AIPAC’s convention to bow before the gods of Zionism and worship at the Zionist temple of Israel. His first act as president was to appoint an Israeli soldier and citizen, Rahm Israel Emanuel, as his chief of staff. He retained Robert Gatesfrom the Bush era as Secretary of Defense clearly signalling that the wars would continue. And he brought the two most pro-Wall Street financial manipulators — Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers — to oversee his economic policy. Obama abandoned the very people that had reposed so much faith in him and voted with their feet.

During his election campaign, Obama had warned: “The greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You [young supporters] have shown what history teaches us — that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it — because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.”

Obama’s declining political fortune is related to the choices he has made. He has indulged in the same old politics by appointing the same old Washington and Wall Street insiders that he promised to replace. But it would be simplistic to assume that he really meant to bring about change. He is a slave of the white establishment that wanted him in the White House to create the impression of change so that they can continue their unbridled plunder.

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