Moments of Delusion

I have written before on my blog site about President Barack Obama’s tepid leadership, fearful and delayed administrative action, even clueless constitutional idealism. In making these arguments I (unfortunately) might seem to share rhetorical space with conservatives (“conservative” is a prehistoric misnomer now applied to knee-jerk, anti-ideological reactionaries simply defending existing institutions and practices of racial, economic, and cultural privilege) who just don’t like Obama for any multitude of trumped-up ideological sins and, implicitly, but above all, his racial identity and liberals/leftists (like conservative, a “leftist” anymore is an institutionalized academic or corporatized or purely rhetorical intellectual [kind of like me] who’s too compromised—it’s impossible to actually commit selflessly and totally to the fight against social, racial, and economic injustice if one’s pension and benefits and the progress toward tenure or institutional legitimacy might be negatively affected—to be an ideological avant garde) who are ticked, like me, that Obama has not lived up to the liberal promise we projected imaginatively onto him.

I only recently heard one luminary “left” celebrity (she must be a radical because of the tattoos), who I actually kind of respect because she speaks her mind without hesitation and is, to all outward appearances, at least, very smart, call Obama a conservative.

Of course, Janeane Garofalo is correct. (As soon as I relocate the video, I will insert it here. Sorry!)

Despite all the rhetorical assurances that Obama made during his presidential campaign in 2008 and during his presidency that he would change the way Washington, D.C. does the nation’s business including, especially, promoting and reinforcing bipartisanship, he seems to only have reinforced conventional politics: inaction or delayed, inept action when catastrophes occur or when crucial, quick decisions need to be effected; compromising legislative policy to near meaninglessness which means that government actually takes no action to change the cozy influence and direction of corporate interest over and against the public/common interest; and a central organizing political strategy of trying to please the conservative opposition that has no interest in bipartisanship instead of relying on core constituencies—the ones who elected Obama, for example—to help push through legislation and reform.

This bass-ackward approach to politics by Obama and his clueless Chicago administration cronies has not only reinforced the negative views of him held by his opponents—it’s too easy for them now to point to his inaction, aloofness, and missed opportunities to claim a clear and effective leadership role as evidence of his emasculation and cultural and racial otherness—but has made him an object of derision and concern for liberal and left commentators and those who previously supported him in 2008.

But Obama persists and, I assume, will persist in his idealistic delusions regarding his ability to make U.S. politics more rational and mature, failing to understand how power, i.e. as in those real people and institutions who wield influence and control resources and technologies, plays its hand institutionally, culturally, and economically. His persistence in believing that some innate power of knowledge and good principles used to positive effect can make positive change happen in some simple and wonderful way is and will be only as good as is his ability to actually use the powers available to him to restructure cultural and political institutions, challenge conventional economic and political wisdom, and, fundamentally, reimagine himself and his position as an initiator and instigator, not mediator or conciliator. In this sense, maybe he should be more like his immediate predecessor 43 in terms of strategy, less a wall-flower adornment and more a take-no-prisoners kind of president.

But then again, I suppose we all have our moments of delusion.

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