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Obama gains power to change world

Service, accountability, responsibility in a new era of just goals

Rare mix of ideals, ideas, and freedom from partisan ideology

Bush loots till, shutters operation after pawning furniture

Obama speaks in front of his own idol
As George Bush smiles atop his tattered 22% approval base, and waves off his last round of deregulation as a parting gift to his successor, our new grown up President has arrived in Washington to deal with the mess – the smoking ruins of the US and world economy, the collapsing global environment and the dysfunctional military operations abroad – that is his inheritance. But is Obama up to the job?

We believe he is more than up to it. We still believe that Obama is possibly the only man in the world that can and will save us from ruin.

Obama’s cool warmth

Not only is he notoriously cool, calm, collected and determined in the face of possibly the greatest challenges ever to face a new President, but as we never tire of celebrating, this man has the independent intellect to develop his own ideas and the vocabulary to express them, drawing on the best information, proposals and ideas from the contacts and advisors he has harvested over the years from seemingly every strata of society in widely disparate regions of the world, including even his political opponents, such as John McCain.

Of course, worrywort progressives who are infatuated with Ralph Nader and other truthtellers, who Alas have little or no idea how to win the power needed to implement their idealistic vision of human behavior, have already given up on Obama for choosing a largely centrist, Clinton graduate and often hawkish Cabinet, with the sole exception of the Labor secretary.

What they don’t seem to appreciate is that now that Obama has received proper briefings as to what is really going in at the top echelons of US and world government and politics, he has swiftly adjusted to the new data. Naturally laptop critics on the Web and in armchairs around the world, lacking these insider briefings, will not understand why Obama has changed, as they see it, from the man they imagined from his campaign pledges.

But as the New York Times has made clear, in a front page article yesterday by David E. Sanger, Obama’s change in image is merely the result of tacking before the winds of reality that are invisible to outsiders. Or only partly visible. Many of the changes that have taken place over the 710 days since Obama announced his brilliantly successful run for the Presidency are obvious enough, since at that time the ticking time bomb of subprime mortgages and the global credit freeze it harbingered had not exploded on the front pages:

2 Years After Campaign Began, a Different World

The Dow was at 12,580, on the way to 14,000 that summer. General Motors was making money selling cars even while reporting some concerns about “nonprime mortgages” held by its financing division. And the greatest worries about China and India were that their economies were growing so fast they could overheat.

Obama reassesses

In support of our argument that Obama is adapting to cold reality in the privileged context of proper briefings, we have these lines in the same article:

But the shifting reality has done more than force a change in focus. It also led Mr. Obama to re-examine his assumptions about a range of issues, hone his thinking and reach out to new advisers, some of them drawn from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, some of his aides said.

When it comes to national security in particular, some of his aides see a subtle but distinct shift over the last several years, opening him to the influence of advisers who sound significantly more hawkish than he did two years ago.

So while the world has changed, Mr. Obama has changed with it. But how much?

Aides to Mr. Obama since his arrival in the Senate say his views have not changed as much as some liberal supporters and commentators contend. From the day in 2002 when he stated opposition to the Iraq war, he has said he is not against all wars. And on some issues, including that of striking at terrorism targets in Pakistan, he has sometimes been to the right of both Democratic and Republican rivals.

Yet while he might have been less ideological all along than his initial campaign positioning suggested, his emphasis since the election has been on pragmatism. It is particularly striking that he has signaled, without saying so, that his breaks with the Bush administration will not be as complete as many liberals are hoping. In response to Vice President Dick Cheney’s admonition not to turn his campaign rhetoric into policy until he has taken office and learned “precisely what it is we did and how we did it,” Mr. Obama told ABC News last week that it was “pretty good advice.”

Not that Obama with his varied background is a sucker, as Sanger notes:

Two years ago, Mr. Obama’s views on Iraq dominated the headlines as he began his campaign by emphasizing his differences with Mrs. Clinton.

That day in Springfield, Mr. Obama animated his supporters with talk about how Iraq was the wrong war. “It’s time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else’s civil war,” he said.

Then, it would have been hard to imagine that in less than two years he would ask President Bush’s defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, to stay on, along with the White House “war czar” for Iraq and Afghanistan. Or that he would choose a secretary of state who portrayed herself as more hawkish than himself and a national security adviser who is a former Marine commandant.

In March, as it was becoming increasingly evident that he would prevail over Mrs. Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Obama began talking about Iran as the nation that “poses the greatest challenge to American interests in the Middle East in a generation,” and he vowed a few months later never to let the country obtain a nuclear weapon.

His openness to a broad range of viewpoints on national security has become more pronounced with each daily presidential briefing and with deeper dives into National Intelligence Estimates, which his staff says he reads with some skepticism. That is not only because of what the intelligence agencies got wrong in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

“He approaches the intelligence reports the same way he approaches a lot of the things he reads, whether it’s a story in The New York Times or a report from the ground,” said Denis McDonough, a longtime foreign policy aide who is often charged with finding answers to questions Mr. Obama raises. He contends that those who think Mr. Obama has drifted toward more hawkish views were not listening to what he said during the campaign about Iran or Pakistan or Hamas.

In other words, Obama is a literate man who has learned to take what is written by anybody within a system with a pinch of salt. Added to this is the fact that he has to take over whatever President Bush has implemented secretly, such as the covert effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.

As far as we are concerned, a thoughtful family man with a way with words is a President we can trust.

From Books, New President Found Voice

Mr. Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father” (which surely stands as the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president), suggests that throughout his life he has turned to books as a way of acquiring insights and information from others — as a means of breaking out of the bubble of self-hood and, more recently, the bubble of power and fame. He recalls that he read James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and W. E. B. Du Bois when he was an adolescent in an effort to come to terms with his racial identity and that later, during an ascetic phase in college, he immersed himself in the works of thinkers like Nietzsche and St. Augustine in a spiritual-intellectual search to figure out what he truly believed.

In the same front page article in the Times today, Michiko Kakutani reports dead pan that President Bush “raced through” 95 books in 2006.

Nice comparison, Michiko.

The practical idealist

<b>President Bush greets Liberty, the lucky turkey he pardoned </b>Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Gaza – Obama will have his hands full on the foreign policy front as soon as he ascends the Oval Office throne. None of this is our business, of course, except that we wanted to point out how it all signifies Obama’s essential pragmatism, and a not unscientific tendency to act on information and evidence rather than pure and often petty ideology.

Anyhow, that is why we think it is appropriate here at this point to list the basic parameters of the problem which concerns us most of all, the economic fizzle. How much air has been let out of the balloon so far? How much money has the government/will the government devote to reinflating the barrage balloon of hopes and expectations and will it succeed and when in lifting it off the ground?

But before that, we wanted to celebrate once again the literacy, the open mindedness, the empathy, the wide and deep roots and the informed scientific practicality of our new Pres, whose chief overriding virtue is his evident desire to bring the country together and serve the whole community of the country and the world, and not narrow interests.

Tomorrow, we fully expect 27 minutes of an address to equal Lincoln’s in word and spirit.

18 Responses to “Obama gains power to change world”

  1. yello Says:

    TruthSeeker Sir,

    This man indeed has one hell of a mess to clean up, if he is genuine. If he is not, expect Bush III except without the incompetence. Though if he is truly genuine…..well, the ruling psychopathic PTBs have always dealt with threats to the status quo.

    To understand the pathocratic nature of our world, I suggest you peruse this link

  2. MacDonald Says:

    Dear Yello,

    Of course Obama is genuine, a genuine run-of-the-mill democrat bowing ot all the same itnerests al other run-of-the-mill democrats have been bowing to. He has never, or very rarely, claimed anything else in words that matter.

    Our ‘ost simply takes perverse pleasure in posing as the consummate substanceless Beltway insider, who will always see moves to the Right (Wall Street and aggressive foreign policy) as realism or pragmatism.

    The fact is there is no evidence Obama has changed his mind on anything, much less his Presidential Advisors. Nobody not even the NYT, can know whom he was initially going to choose by looking at who was around him 7 years ago.

    Hogwash from first ot last word. But unfortunately the Truthseeking one insists on getting all the political news he needs from the (Times’) weather report, instead of seeking out informed blogs.

  3. MacDonald Says:

    An illustration of the remarkable intelligence and pragmatism of this man, according to his staff and the NYT columnist. is that he reads the National Intelligence Estimates with “some skepticism”, not least because they were wrong about WMDs in Iraq.

    So what is Obama sceptical about? Well, WMDs naturally. That is why he disregards the National Intelligence report that says Iran stopped trying to develop a nuclear weapon years ago. The new ideology-free Preznit has tacked in the winds of realism, which is why he recently went on TV and stated without shred of proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

    Change, Deja Vu is thy name.

  4. Carter Says:

    Economic and foreign policy pressures aside, I’d be leery that he has open mindedness for the culprit HIV, given that the inaugural phenomena has a pronounced use of Bono’s presence.

  5. Truthseeker Says:

    One should point out that Obama’s statement recently as to the time frame in bringing the economy round was possibly “many years”. This man is a practical realist. However, the jeering squad of professional cynics here would have it that he is a liar and a conman. One thing these shallow geniuses should remind themselves is that Obama came from nowhere and in a year or two snatched the top political prize from the Clinton machine which had locked it up in a steel safe.

    This is a man who does what he says he will and does what he has to do to do it, and has shown how to penetrate the fortress of power from within and take it over, without showing the slightest sign of selling out on the way, but doing it with such honesty that no one has been able to lay a glove on him among all those who like to tear down anybody who rises above them.

    Only cynics are sceptics when faced with a man whose personal qualities are so obvious that they must and will find expression in his policy making and leadership, let alone his speeches. In the end in case you don’t appreciate this fact, literacy past a certain point is honesty.

    Anyone who can’t tell that Obama is the exact opposite of Bush internally as well as externally can’t tell a lion from a hyena, and raises suspicion that they cannot judge character from appearance, behavior, family, speech and accomplishment.

  6. Truthseeker Says:

    Just to clarify, one should say that the shallowness one detects in this silly and wretchedly small minded lack of faith in our new Savior is emotional, not intellectual, of course – the mental genius of our distinguished contributors is always stratospherically elevated. No, we are merely referring to the apparent lack of love in the lives of those who are apparently blind to it in Obama’s life. All one can do is plead with them to reflect on the facts which should be obvious signals of where our great Leader is coming from – his impressively tall and supportive wife, his two darling and much beloved daughters, to whom he gave total attention before turning on stage to his election night acceptance speech in Chicago, his willingness to take up and use a paint roller today in the service of his community, after going round shaking hands warmly and personally with students at the high school in a seemingly endless sequence on CSpan, etc etc.

    For God’s Sake, outliers, recognize a genuinely warm blooded and generous community leader and loving husband and father when you see him, miraculously alloyed with a great intellect and leadership talent on a national and even global level.

  7. MacDonald Says:

    Ok, ok, I recognize it; Bush was a great President, a great family man and a great leader, and I’d love to have a beer with him.

  8. Truthseeker Says:

    MacDonald, you seem to be confused…. your comment seems to be entirely irrelevant. But perhaps by some mysterious process you have connected it to the topic under discussion and can remember the route through which you traveled through the jungle like tangle of your neuronal circuitry for your swift canoe to reach this seemingly disconnected island of comment amid the Niagara of counterpoints which have been raised against you and threaten to sweep your iron barrel over the precipice of misperception into the whirlpool of incomprehension, before it bobs up triumphantly in the placid downstream of acquiescence to new enlightenment.

    Regrettably it may be that we will have to grant you that Barack Hussein Obama failed us in delivering too rapidly a speech which did not rise to the greatness of Lincoln at this watershed moment in history. Perhaps it will look better in print. It is a grave mistake to speak too rapidly on great occasions, as Chief Justice Roberts just did before him, resulting in the new President having to pause in taking the oath of office as he tried to make sense of the Chief Justice’s lead, which may even have been misstated, something which Tivo replay will allow us to check shortly.

    Yes, replay reveals that Roberts said “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully” and then when Obama paused at “execute” – possibly wondering whether he should follow the incorrect formulation “to” – then said “the off- faithfully the present office of President of the United States” at which Barack Obama, having grasped the fact that Roberts was trying to get both his feet into his own mouth at the same time, went ahead with the correct formulation.

  9. Truthseeker Says:

    MacD, here is a front page quote from the Times today for your comfort, as follows:

    “I haven’t seen the change. Until he does something, he’s just like all the rest of them to me. He ain’t done nothing for me. Everybody’s making promises.”

    The speaker is Joe Lewis, who lost his job four months ago as a maintenance worker in a chain of convenience stores in Columbia, South Carolina, lowering his income from $370 a week to $180 unemployment which he is now having to apply to extend.

    Possibly Mr Lewis has heard that Wall Street has run off with most of the money in the public piggy bank without any result anywhere in the US, let alone South Carolina.

    However, as with Y2K we know that if swift remedial action had not been taken to rescue our bankers we would all be in real trouble.

  10. Truthseeker Says:

    The Times gets it almost right:

    I Do Solemnly Swear…(Line, Please?)
    For a couple of smooth-talking constitutional experts, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and President-elect Barack Obama sure had a hard time getting through the constitutional oath of office.

    There was, first of all, a false start from Mr. Obama, who started to respond before the chief justice had completed the first phrase. Mr. Obama ended up saying the first four words – “I, Barack Hussein Obama” – twice.

    Then there was an awkward pause after Chief Justice Roberts prompted Mr. Obama with these words: “that I will execute the office of the president to the United States faithfully.” The chief justice seemed to say “to” rather than “of,” but that was not the main problem. The main problem was that the word “faithfully” had floated upstream in the constitutional text, which actually says this: “That I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States.”

    Mr. Obama seemed to realize this, pausing quizzically after saying “that I will execute –”

    The chief justice gave it another go, getting closer but still not quite right: “faithfully the office of president of the United States.” This time, he omitted the word “execute.”

    Mr. Obama now repeated the chief justice’s initial error of putting “faithfully” at the end of the phrase. Starting where he had abruptly paused, he said: “the office of the president of the United States faithfully.”

    It was smooth sailing from there. All of the words in the oath were uttered, along with “so help me God” at the end.

    People will argue about what the failure to utter the words in the precise order required by the Constitution means. But it will be an academic argument. It is not clear who would have standing to raise the argument that Mr. Obama had not become president as a consequence, and it is hard to believe that any court – or other body – would want to adjudicate the question.

    There is, in any event, no rule against a do-over. When questions were raised about whether Calvin Coolidge should have been sworn in by his father, a notary public, he took the oath again, this time from a Supreme Court justice.

  11. MacDonald Says:

    The meaning of my words is admirably simple, a study in parsimony: the platitudes you lavish on Obama are 90% identical with those lavished on Bush by his Beltway Boy followers. The two names are entirely interchangeable in your rhetorical flourishes, and so I changed them to demonstrate.

  12. Truthseeker Says:

    Random scoop from the verbal flotsam floating downriver today on the airwaves:

    sagacity…..ability to bring people together…. the real thing…plugged in to young people….trustworthy… no nonsense…will change our nation… will change the world… terribly exciting (Harold Evans)… no wussy dove (Simon Schama)… upbeat but sober… brings together ideals and security.. note of humility… will lead with decency… nonprotectionist… large politics rather than petty and small… moral interventionist… Trumanesque… forging a new American Century… realistic about long fight… doesn’t want to be seen as the Messiah… determined to defeat terrorism… commands goodwill in all sorts of causes… new type of politics… will replace Left-Rich Culture Wars… transformative… now anything is possible… a problem solver… neither socialist nor capitalist but blended… pragmatist… beyond the sixties… generational shift… austere and sober… no viewing market as fetish or infallible… strong positions on abortion and gay rights, but does not view as big issues… citizen of the world… new style politics… heals wounds… challenging all human beings to be accountable… almost post nationalist… not soft power… will extend hand only to unclenched fist… recaptures patriotism for the left… recaptures national pride… for liberty and security… will be a fairly conservative presidency abroad… coopted conservative center… incites rapture… top ten speechmaker… symbol to rest of planet of US newly accountable and responsible…remarkably centrist… won’t pull all troops from Iraq any time soon (Koppel)… will have shortest honeymoon of any President (Koppel)… a miracle…

    That enough platitudes for you? Platitudes are the wisdom of the crowd, which according to a recent book you haven’t read is a good guide to the future as long as everyone is thinking for themselves. You can bet on it. See our previous posts on the election outcome, which we correctly predicted a year earlier.

    Our platitudes, as opposed to your own parsnippy attempts to force dynamite into the almost invisible cracks in our new Idol, are drawn from nature, specifically, the plainly obvious (to objective eyes) character of our new President “Watch my next miracle” Obama, SG’s new Man of the Century. We are smug in the knowledge that billions agree with us.

    And character is destiny, in case you hadn’t heard.

  13. Truthseeker Says:

    What will Bush be doing? Apparently nothing. Go for walks and talk to his father about good times in the Oval Office. No one has offered him a job, it seems. Not even Pres “I repudiate your legacy but I will embrace you” Obama. According to Bush Again Defends His Presidency on the Times blog Caucus

    George W. Bush, now the former president, flew to Midland, Texas, after the inauguration this afternoon and told a small welcoming crowd much of what he has been saying in his farewell speeches and interviews over the last few weeks. But in light of Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address today — and the new president’s stark repudiation of what his predecessor left behind — Mr. Bush’s speech almost seemed like a rebuttal.

    “I always felt it was important to tackle the tough issues today and not try to pass them on to future presidents, and future generations,” Mr. Bush said. “I never took an opinion poll to tell me what to think. And I’m coming home with my head held high and a sense of accomplishment.”

    Much of his speech was a defense of his presidency and his decisions, particularly after 9/11 when, he said, “we liberated 50 million people from the clutches of terrorism.”

    Perhaps his dominant theme was that he believed he did the right thing, even if it wasn’t popular and he tried to make the case that popularity didn’t matter. He leaves office with the lowest poll ratings of any president in modern times.

    “There were some good days and there were some tough days but every day was an honor to be your president,” he said. “I gave it my all. Listen. Sometimes what I did wasn’t popular, but that’s okay, I always did what I thought was right.”

    In a recent commencement speech, he said, he noted that he had said: “Popularity is as fleeting as the Texas wind; character and conscious are as sturdy as our oaks.”

    He added: “History will be the judge of my decisions, but when I walked out of the Oval Office this morning, I left with the same values that I took to Washington eight years ago. And when I get home tonight and look in the mirror, I’m not going to regret what I see — except maybe some gray hair.”

    He spoke a bit about the next chapter of his life, saying he hadn’t figured out exactly what he might do. He said that the house that his wife Laura has bought in Dallas _ which he hasn’t seen _ was “the first faith-based initiative of the post-presidency.”

    He paid homage to his father, whom he called “Number 41.” After George H.W. Bush left the White House, he decided he wanted to parachute from airplanes. “My dad is America’s only sky-diving former president and that’s a title he’s going to keep,” the son said.

    When he said he would be relaxing tomorrow at his ranch in Crawford, someone in the crowd yelled out, “You deserve it!”

    In the morning, he said, he would make his wife coffee, “skim” the newspaper, call some friends, read a book, feed the dogs, go fishing, take a walk and by that time it will be 8 in the morning. “That’s what happens when you’re a type A personality,” he said, going on to knock his wife’s cooking: “I told Laura I was excited about her cooking again — kinda,” he said. “She told me she was excited about me mowing the lawn and taking out the trash –- it’s my new domestic agenda.”

    He also said he wanted to spend time with his parents and noted, “I’m the first former president to be able to share the post-presidency with both my parents.”

    He said he would be active, adding that he and his wife may be retired, “but we’re not tired out.”

    Of the book he is planning to write, he said: “I want people to be able to understand what it was like in the Oval Office when I had to make some of the tough decisions that I was called upon to make. History tends to take a little time for people to remember what happened and to have an objective accounting of what took place and I’d like to be a part of making a real history of this administration come to life.”

    presumably that “conscious” is meant to be “conscience.”

  14. Truthseeker Says:

    Charlie Rose last night did not say “an historic”!

    “On the eve of the Presidential inauguration, a historic time in the life of our country,..”

    “A historic” as in “Ay historic”!

    I(s the eloquence of our new Pres inspiring higher grammatical standards everywhere on media?

  15. MacDonald Says:

    In a rare confessional moment, Prez. Bush recently admitted to having made a mistake. It was a mistake, he said, to hold a victory speech about Iraq in front of a banner saying
    “Mission Accomplished”.

    To Bush, the human and political catastrophe that is post-invasion Iraq is best summed up as a botched PR move.

    Has anybody ever told him that to have a conscience one needs to be conscious in the first place?

  16. Truthseeker Says:

    Is there no punishment for office holders paid by taxpayers if they undertake vastly expensive and costly in lives policy initiatives on the basis of false beliefs (WMD/Iraq, HIV/AIDS. etc) they peddle to the public knowingly or if unknowingly, without meeting the responsibility inherent in their office of checking out the sources and data they act upon?

    eg 1) George W. Bush 2) Anthony Fauci of NIAID.

    Should there not be punishment for fellow travelers in the media and other institutions with public responsibilities involving claims to truth and accuracy inherent in their operations (eg newspapers of record, doctors and hospitals, scientific institutions etc) who do not trouble to double check their assumptions even when alerted to the possibility of gross error by responsible citizens?

    eg 1) New York Times medical editors and reporters such as Larry Altman 2) doctors writing prescriptions for AZT or other dangerous AIDS drugs.

  17. Truthseeker Says:

    Alas, it seems that Obama’s new grammatical inspiration has not yet reached the new PBS foreign news program World Focus, where amiable airhead Martin Savidge reigns cheerfully, and on the same night (last night, Monday) ran a contribution from a German TV station as follows:

    Report by Victoria von Gottberg for Deutsche Wella TV on sales of various Obama masks and other souvenirs around the world translated by DW-TV into English (voice of male German reading translation):

    “The merchandise allows people all over the world to take part in an historic event.”

    Odd, really, considering how the Germans have a longstanding reputation for doing things with great precision and accuracy with punishment for error ranging up to and including death.

  18. Truthseeker Says:

    Latest news (NYTimes TheCaucus Blog):

    January 21, 2009, 7:53 PM
    Oath Is Administered Once Again
    WASHINGTON – President Obama was re-administered the oath of office on Wednesday evening by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., one day after the two men stumbled over each other’s words during the inauguration.

    Mr. Obama and Mr. Roberts stood in the Map Room of the White House at 7:35 p.m. and recited the oath before a small group of advisers and a handful of reporters.

    Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for the White House, said the oath was re-administered out of an “abundance of caution” because a couple of words were out of place on Tuesday. The White House Counsel’s office thought the original oath was proper, Mr. Gibbs said, but Mr. Obama did a second oath anyway.

    When administering the oath to the new White House staff, VP Biden asked for a copy to read out from, saying his “memory is not as good as Chief Justice Roberts'”. President Obama standing by did not smile at this joke at the expense of the Justice he did not vote for.

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