Vive Le Canada

Political paralysis American style
Date: Monday, October 19 2009

   Obama must be recast as the Hollywood hero

It is said the office of the President of the United States is the most powerful political office on earth. Not only do the American people look to him for leadership but so too do those of so many other countries. This is the era of globalization and American hegemony. All too often what Washington says goes.


The president of the United States is also commander-in-chief of the most massive military juggernaut the world has ever seen-and will ever see-as it is not sustainable and its days are numbered.


It is said the office of the President of the United States is the most powerful political office on earth. Not only do the American people look to him for leadership but so too do those of so many other countries. This is the era of globalization and American hegemony. All too often what Washington says goes.


The president of the United States is also commander-in-chief of the most massive military juggernaut the world has ever seen-and will ever see-as it is not sustainable and its days are numbered.


He is also the CEO of one of the world’s greatest economies. But here too the global dominance of this economy is also threatened as there is a looming debt crisis to be dealt with, military spending is out of control, the American dollar as the international standard is being challenged and the country has to reconcile huge trade deficits.


 Being the president in more grandiose terms might be considered being The Ruler of the World! But as this newly minted presidency reveals itself the question persists just how much power really exists in the office of the president? To what degree is he no more than a titular leader like the queen of England, or; put in more blunt terms is he simply a hostage to the office where he is just the mouthpiece for the real power?


 When Barack Obama was running for the presidency he had no problem attracting the huge funding necessary for a presidential candidacy. Not only did it come from the average American but corporate donations flowed in as well. Obama was seen as the reform candidate to put America back on track and undo the atrocities of the Bush regime. Later in the campaign when it was evident he was to be president-elect Barack Obama was touted as the new Roosevelt who was going to cut a new deal for Americans.


When presidential candidate Ralph Nader suggested to Fox News that it remained to be seen whether Obama was going to be an Uncle Tom or an Uncle Sam to Americans his comment caused outrage-at least at Fox News- but Nader stated very succinctly what many were wondering. There were already growing signs Obama would not even have a say what sort of uncle he was to be. He had accepted tens of millions in corporate donations and when he started to form his cabinet it was mainly Clinton era retreads-a presidency that ended in disillusionment and failure and as one wit suggested, “Clinton was the best Republican president the Democrats ever elected.”


This quip was very perceptive as it hit on what was happening in American politics (and is also happening in Canadian politics). There is an insidious fusion of political parties to where it matters little who is elected as parties do not run on issues but on rhetoric and practice what has been termed “junk politics.” They rule in accordance with the wishes of lobbyists, where the public good is usurped by the corporate good-thus the corporate welfare state, a plutocracy on the road to fascism, and democracy turned upside down and inside out.


 This fusion has been consummated with the Obama presidency as it is clear that Obama is a man alone at the top where initiatives, specifically health are undercut by his own party and an intransigent and vindictive status quo.  


In his article on Open Democracy, Obama’s Great Test, journalist and author, Godfrey Hodgson comments:


Barack Obama is increasingly coming to look like Lyndon B Johnson, a brilliantly gifted politician whose ambition to build a "great society" was sacrificed because of the war in Vietnam.

He genuinely wants to move away from the frozen folly of the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century, but he is not willing to take the political risk of acknowledging America's responsibility for the problems he wants to solve.

Moreover, he has not really shown himself willing to confront the roots of what has gone wrong with American foreign policy.



The key phrase here is: He genuinely wants to… But does  Hodgson know for a fact Obama really does have the fire in his belly to make these changes, or; like Bush before him no more than errand boy for his keepers-in the likes of Cheney (said to be the most powerful vice-president ever), Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the clique of Washington neoconservatives who conceived the PNAC?


It becomes a matter of critical speculation as to whether  Obama is still driven by his stated ideals or is he merely minding his keepers and doing the rote presidency. Even if he is still driven by ideals he has little chance of any success unless he leads a like-minded team of key administrators and elected party officials. There is every indication that for Obama the like-minded team is not in place. The pall of the previous Bush regime hangs over this presidency like heavy gauge chain mail, there is no light and little movement-just rhetoric and obfuscation. It appears a talented president is being held hostage by a malicious status quo.


In initiating even the most modest health care reforms Obama has been accused of being a Hitler, a Stalin, a Saddam Hussein by the hysterical Right. There has been scare mongering, and accusations of him being a socialist, communist and fascist. These are laughable accusations as Obama is without doubt the most powerless president ever. He is surrounded by recycled keepers and opposed by an unrelenting status quo.



Obama also appears as the victim of bully boy politics and there is only one way to deal with bullies-political or other wise- face them down, challenge them, and their intellectual and moral depravity will run like the blood of a gutted pig. Roosevelt apparently took great joy in skewering those who opposed his reforms and he knew too well reform would not come without political bloodshed.



Obama has been accused of being a friend of big government when Bush’s supporters grew impatient with him on the same issue. Bush used the spurious war on terror to create a massive sprawling bureaucracy in Homeland Security that leaves Americans no more secure. Universal government run health care would be a huge step toward more efficient and cost effective health care for Americans. This has been proven in numerous other countries over and over yet American legislators and ruling elites resist this change for not so mysterious reasons of their own. Any self-respecting fiscally responsible conservative should latch on to universal single payer health care in a minute- but not in America.


Pundits are all ready speculating that Obama is well on the way to being a one term president. Only time will tell. But it matters not as the office of the president is now hostage to a malicious warmongering status quo that is beyond scrutiny and accountable to no one.      


 In the history of democratic societies there has never been a greater disparity between what government delivers and what people want and this is ever so true in present day America and, unfortunately, is a global trend. So called Western democracies have little room for complacency as democratic deficits like financial deficits are ballooning out of control.


When the Bush regime went to war in Iraq it was an orgy of propaganda and out right lies. It was also a war that earned universal condemnation even before it started. The world saw the largest peace demonstrations ever- over a million people in London alone- yet the war went ahead anyway. The present war in Afghanistan is opposed by the majority of Americans, Europeans and Canadians yet it persists. Polls show that the majority of Americans have wanted universal health care for decades yet legislators stubbornly resist anything that comes close. While the American government makes the fatuous claim it is fighting a war on terror, it is regarded internationally as the leading terrorist state and the greatest threat to world peace and security.


People everywhere see through the hideous and transparent deceptions yet are powerless to derail them. On one hand the office of the president has been disempowered  and on the other the American people are disenfranchised.  Between the people and the president is a self-serving and truculent status quo that imposes a political paralysis on the country. The institutions of democracy are no longer dynamic but frozen in time.


In 1963 the movie Seven Days in May graced the screens of American theatres. It was a political thriller that pitted president Jordan Lyman(Frederic March) against the villainous General Mattoon Scott(Burt Lancaster). Scott as Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff plots a military insurrection to seize power from Lyman as the duly elected president. The plot is discovered and Lyman saves the country.  While the story is told in typical Hollywood stereotypes it has great relevance to today’s America as there has been an insurrection, a seizure of government. The only difference being that in real life the insurrection is more insidious, more complex and not so easily challenged.      


If Obama has any hope of reviving his presidency, and making even a beginning on rescuing America’s democracy he must go to the people in defiance of self-serving legislators and the powerful vested interests that impose this paralysis. He must, like the fictional Jordan Lyman, become the Hollywood hero who saves the country. 



Hodgson’s article is available at:





Robert Billyard 2009 ©


Robert Billyard is an artist and writer living in the bucolic hinterlands of British Columbia Canada. He reads widely on history, politics and social issues. He is also a fan of great movies.


This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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