It’s Not (Only) About Obama
by Sean G. Murphy
February 22, 2008
It is curious, yet oddly illuminating, that so many media blowhards (the predictable conservative and especially the liberal) who seem most surprised—and increasingly nonplussed—by Barack Obama’s success are the ones with the most to lose. Not their notions of safety and security or their concerns for country and community; but rather, the one thing that matters above all: their relevance. Their credibility, of course, has already taken a beating, at least what shreds of it still cling to them, having been beaten about by the proverbial winds of change—change now being the dreaded C word for those scribes allergic to introspection and unwilling, or possibly unable, to consider their culpability for the sorry state of our union.
To be clear, these are the same pundits who sniff with haughty exasperation at the so-called “cultish” elements of the Obama phenomenon. It seems quite safe to predict that there will be much more of these holier-than-thou admonishments in the weeks ahead, and it is a certainty that more ink will be spilled over Obama’s ascendancy than tears shed for the current war—that one without an end in sight, which they did much more than they’d care to admit in helping to facilitate. It will be instructive to keep in mind that most of these inside-the-beltway intellectuals were not exactly thinking outside the box during most of the Bush years. At least until it was way too little, way too late. Effectively herded into the bullpen that Bush, Inc. built, their collective wisdom was nowhere on display during the unfolding of Operation Iraqi Freedom. To recap, this pusillanimous posse displayed exactly what makes them so often insufferable, and predictable: a pack mentality without the will to confront, much less question, the obvious spin, spoon-fed from a crusading pack of Neocon hyenas who, with the zeal of true believers and the arrogance of true imbeciles, dedicated all of their energies toward conning a country—still susceptible from 9/11—into what (shock and awe!) is already considered one of the foremost, and costliest, blunders in American history.
But everyone already knows that, right? Herein lies the rub: some people predicted it all. Tons and tons of them. Alas, not many of them had access to their own bylines and MSM readership. And yet, the prevailing myth these myopic enablers now desperately hope to propagate revolves around a malevolent administration that hoodwinked us all into war. Shucks, if only we knew then what we know now…Nice try. The (literally) silent majority of news-actors, columnists and Sunday talk show circuiteers couldn’t be bothered to do anything as radical as actually examining what was painfully apparent to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about anything relating to the Middle East (a PhD in Iraqi relations was not a prerequisite here). Or, anyone who might have taken the time to revisit the rationale provided for the U.S. exodus from Iraq—a carefully considered diplomatic decision that, not quite ironically, was widely reviled by the armchair architects of the current fiasco. And yet these are the same folks who wish to be taken seriously, now, when commenting on current events involving everything from the surge to the (suddenly) suspicious ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In short and in sum, no one should be surprised if any (or all) of these self-appointed legislators of what comprises (and compromises) the status quo protest a tad too much, as they collectively represent the antithesis of change.
Which brings us to Hillary Clinton—she of the steely resolve, years of experience and judgment to lead on Day One. The same Clinton who, with one and a half eyes already on ’08, calculated, then, that the only way to bolster her credentials as a would-be Commander in Chief for an eventual (and inevitable) White House run was to out-hawk the more bellicose self-preservationists in her party (Hello, Mr. Lieberman!). In short, she sold out principle, common sense, and a distressing slab of her soul (or, at the very least, anything approximating genuine concern for innocent lives—American and Iraqi) when she, along with many others who should have known better (Hello, Mr. Edwards!), rubber-stamped Pee Wee’s big adventure. And, importantly, she has since steadfastly avoided articulating anything other than an unconvincing, and often incoherent, string of cop-outs and equivocations. This, to listen to her stump speech, is the type of leader America desperately needs following the same Bush years she did more to help than to hinder.
(A quick and semi-painless side note about the punch-drunk driver of the stray-talk express, the man who has—with astonishingly little ROI—pandered his blackening heart out to the lunatic hardliners who, apparently, still can commission the GOP’s seal of approval. The former prisoner of war was—famously of infamously, depending on how far to the right you can tilt without falling over—against torture before he was…for it? By his own admission he has recently come to refine his views, all of course in a timorous attempt to assuage the party Poobahs, begging the question: where does that leave this prototypical one trick pony, now? Big Mac without the moral authority—or at least moral indignation—on whether the U.S. can tolerate torture is like Rudy G. without the opportunity to pimp the deaths of several thousand New York citizens. Put simply, the real McCain has assumed control, and no further discussion of his otherwise nonexistent platform is necessary.)
But getting back to Billary. To their credit, the worst couple have outdone themselves, surpassing even the most skeptical critics’ depiction of her as a callous, divide-and-conquer Queen Bee. The Clintons, clearly, won’t do half-measures. The earth cannot be too scorched after their machinery has made its way through town. It is, to be fair, a remarkable achievement: to alienate some of the most devoted advocates of Bubba’s eight-year tour of duty (which, in any reasonable analysis, was more than half-hindered by the best efforts of those monomaniacal GOP goons who, in Slick Willy, found their once-in-a-lifetime white whale; just like in the book, the final confrontation was brutal and bloody, but the behemoth, coasting on the goodwill of forgiving, and/or appropriately indifferent citizens, remained mostly unscathed and lived to dive again into safer, and more lucrative waters).
For anyone who, understandably, is exhausted from that “us vs. the world” mixture of triangulated antipathy and distasteful entitlement, it is understandable why one would not exactly look forward to four-to-eight years of an all-in, Winner-Take-Little war of attrition, played with (White) House money. Everyone knew Hillary’s wrecking crew would resort to any available tactic from the dirty tricks arsenal, and invent new ones on the fly. But who could have imagined her husband, the so-called “first black president”, pulling a thinly veiled Strom Thurmond after Obama’s South Carolina victory? Again, this was not politics as usual so much as the most sickeningly cynical of appeals to the worst angels of a historically red state. Not to mention an electorate that would otherwise be justifiably celebrating authentic progress (for the party, for the country).
And yet, it has been the awkward attempts to explain how she was on board with respecting the agreement to officially ignore the Florida and Michigan delegates before she came to her senses, (of course, in a fashion that could only be described as Clintonian, she had ensured that her name was on those ballots, just in case), that seemed to serve as the final straw for many fence-sitters. Who, in the end, could stomach an administration that, at best, is going to be loathed by 49% of the population? We’ve had eight years of animosity, and that commenced with a candidate who—as opposed to Hillary—had an ostensibly clean slate coming in. (This, of course, is not meant to insult the many millions of voters who saw through the prepackaged snake oil that substance-free clown prince was hawking in 1999; if anything, it should serve as a rude reminder for the voters who, overcome with apathy—or naiveté—endorsed Ralph Nader or, worse, sat it out in 2000 altogether.)
None of the above, incidentally, is to suggest that a Hillary Clinton presidency would not be incalculably more genuine, productive and rewarding than George W. Bush’s imbroglio. It would. Nevertheless, to see the imperfect couple perfectly content to engineer a campaign that believes a divided—if not partially destroyed—party is preferable to the unimaginable notion of actually losing, it remains refreshing, and quite fortunate, that we have other, better options.
Obama, as all but his more intractable foot soldiers would concede, has some work to do. And frankly, even that is in many ways a relief. Playtime is over and we can’t afford another cocksure child who knows that he has no qualms with not knowing shit. Besides, as we learned from Gore and Kerry, (among other things) policy wonkishness is overrated in campaign season, particularly when the competition is John “100 More Years” McCain. Also, anyone who actually suspects that Obama is, thus far, a triumph of stylish rhetoric over substance is advised to pick up a copy of Dreams from My Father, or take a closer look at his achievements in Illinois or, tellingly, the unassailable success of the campaign he has overseen.
The smart money says he is up for the challenge and, crucially, will most certainly surround himself, as intelligent and secure adults tend to do, with intelligent and secure associates. Still not convinced? Try this: the names Wolfowitz, Bremer, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Gonzales—or any of their ludicrous ilk—will be invited to influence or infest an Obama administration. And, unless she wakes up soon and accepts that an inevitable force of history (not her story) has passed her by, neither will Hillary Clinton.