Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be

President Obama’s No-Win War: Presiding While Black (PWB)


The President of the United States is engaged in a no-win war. Not with Syria, but with the hard big-W White far Right of The Dead Billionaires Club and their political monkey wrenches, the Tea Party. The majority of Mr. Obama’s polling problems still stem from PWB: Presiding While Black.

If Mr. Obama endorsed breathing, he’d be accused of genocide, as lemming Teahadis dropped dead from asphyxiating themselves.

A recent CNN poll that suggested that 51% of Americans don’t believe that President Obama is “honest and trustworthy” [1] Could this be the same 51% of white racist Americans who believe in the birther myth that President Obama is a Kenyan, and not an American citizen? [2]

Mr. Obama is dogmatic, but the President who oversaw one of the shortest recoveries from financial disaster, on his watch has:

  • Added 1.56M more jobs, a 7.6% reduction in unemployment in five years, much more than George W. Bush did in eight through far more prosperous and less politically contentious times; [3]
  • Placed us back on the path to energy independence.  We now produce more than we import, with 13% more drilling rigs in operation, crude oil production up 29% and imports down 33%, and wind and solar power up 157% [3]
  • Made bailout recipients pay back what they owe before bonus dole outs,
  • Preserved the auto industry, America’s last great mega-employers, which are flourishing;[3]
  • Restored the shattered stock market, sending the S&P soaring 96%; Improved bank reserves to Basel III standards, although lost to Libertarian Republican gridlock meaningful financial controls reform still on the agenda;[3]
  • Crushed Al Qaeda in ways to which neocon hawks only paid lip service and padded pals pockets with billions in the “hunt” for Osama bin Laden.[3]
  • Passed landmark health legislation that will provide millions access to care, improve pre-natal care that will bring healthier new citizens into the world, and reduce the strain on emergency rooms as a primary care point.[3]
  • Pushed through a 4.6% increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans making more than $450,000 a year to offset nearly a decade of disastrous Bush-era tax gifts that sent our deficit soaring. [3]
  • Invested and provided incentives to corporates for badly needed infrastructure repairs of our aging bridges, tunnels, airports, sea ports, and roadways and electrical grid that will yield dividends for generations to come; [4]
  • Signed both Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law to protect Americans from Wall Street excess;
  • Put into play consumer protection and accountability standards for those seeking a higher education to end the gouging by America’s colleges and universities; Ended the private lender gouging in student loans that left a generation of Americans with mountains of debt behind their BAs, BSs, MAs, MSs and Ph.Ds. [5][6]
  • Put liberal sacred cows like Social Security and Medicare reform on the table for negotiation;
  • Allowed the Keystone XL pipeline project to continue in spite of large liberal demonstrations against it.
  • Encouraged Treasury repurchases of high debt bonds to reissue debt at a fraction of the interest rate which has brought our national debt down to its lowest levels since the 2008 melt down. [14]
  • Increased border security staffing 6%. Changed visa system in Mexico to improve legal crossings; [3]

The Obama Administration has really been the only force driving the conduct of the People’s business, and doing so through the gauntlet of the 112th and the 113th Congress the two worst legislative bodies in U.S. history [7][8], and a post-Citizens United playing field where billions of dollars are being stockpiled into gridlock.

This track record also points to Mr. Obama as a centrist, not the fire-breathing socialist bogey man that these very rich elites and their billions in advertising spin poor white and paranoid Right Americans into frothing at the mouth about.

Proof of that centrism may be the more modest degradation of Mr. Obama’s approval numbers with liberals, which spiked to 13% in July, double its May figure, in large part due to the Snowdon leaks of NSA data mining operations. [9]

Liberals are already upset with the president for putting Medicare and Social Security reform on the negotiating table without good faith from the Libertarian Tea Party, and for use of drone strikes to wage war on jihadists hiding in civilian populations.

That program, though, was not an Obama creation. It was established by the George W. Bush Administration, and defended by then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as constitutional years before Mr. Obama took the oath of office [10]. It is also very difficult to extinguish.  As Asheesh Bhalla at points out: 

“[I]t is the continuation of a program established under the Bush administration with congressional approval. President Obama would require significantly more political leverage to ask the intelligence community to not operate it. A president can only make meaningful reform to the protections of civil liberties where he has the buy-in of Congress.” [11]

The last deep tilt in the President’s popularity came from Mr. Obama’s proposal of  a Syrian air strike  as retaliation for a large scale chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government against its own civilian population. That attack, killed more than 1400 people, mostly non-combatant women and children. There have been dozens of other smaller chemical attacks in Syria over the last few months with weapons that remain on the top taboo lists of governments world-wide.

That same kind of “get tough” approach that Republicans would applaud in a white male president they excoriate for the PWB president, even though it lead to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, putting his prestige and push behind disarming the Syrians of their chemical stocks, though, and a political dialogue that would not have existed had the threat not been made.

Is it all race? No.

Libertarian isolationism gains more favor in political circles after major financial upheavals. FDR faced similar challenges from the parents and grandparents of the same 1%ers who were the Living Billionaires Club in that day.

One of the reasons that we have the office of President of the United States is because the Founding Fathers suspected there would be times when the internal bickering or parliamentary gamesmanship of a popular democracy could compromise the security and/or the international standing of the nation.  

It is why presidents have used their executive privilege to put the military into motion.  

  • FDR backstopped Britain in the days leading up to WWII.
  • Harry Truman did not seek a declaration of war and called the Korean conflict a “police action.”
  • Mr. Truman also sent military advisors to Viet Nam under the same aegis in 1950.
  • Bill Clinton engaged military forces in civil conflicts in the Balkans. Under the guise of humanitarian aid, he attempted to extinguish Somalian piracy plaguing international shipping lanes.  The failure of that operation reignited the anti-assistance movement. 

There have been misuses of that executive power as well:

  • Reagan’s illegal shuffling of money from Iran arms sales to the Contras;
  • George H.W. Bush’s war mobilization in Iraq without congressional approval, that twisted arms into getting that approval with millions already committed to the mobilization and deployment;
  • The George W. Bush Administration’s phony intelligence on WMDs in Iraq that dragged America into one of the costliest and needless conflicts in American history
  • The W Administration’s post-9/11 Big Brother re-wirings of intelligence gathering and use of military force deployed by Mr. George W. Bush
  • Barack Obama’s use of Bush terrorism doctrines to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a jihadist who was also an American citizen. [13]

In all, though, the last five years under Mr. Obama have been a gift basket to both the Right and the Left. Liberals moved the football forward on the health care front, preserved and grew jobs.  Wall Street was successful in erecting a Berlin Wall around its entitlement to sell the same emperor’s New Clothes derivatives that led to the global melt down of 2008-2009, and CEO salaries are at an all-time high. [14].

George W. Bush’s similarly low approval ratings came largely on the back of his two ill-gotten wars, the job exodus that his administration encouraged via their disastrous “outsourcing” policy, and his Criss Angel act on tax cuts in a $10.3T war effort, and other epic economic blunders that saddled the current Administration with $1.3T a year in debt service when he exited.

Barack Obama’s low approval ratings?  With his level of accomplishment, in the headwinds of America’s most powerful elites unleashing unlimited billions on stopping change at all costs, and their placement of Tea Party regulars for a gutting of the People’s houses that get their business done to benefit their 1% masters?

If that large swath of America swayed by Fox News and the barrages of ads and junk-food Republican media could quit buying guns and put down their Kenyan-colored glasses for a moment, Barack Obama’s approval ratings would be a different story.


My shiny two.


About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

One comment on “President Obama’s No-Win War: Presiding While Black (PWB)

  1. Sharon Gladson
    September 23, 2013

    Good article, written fairly.

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