Thursday, September 5, 2013

Inferno pants

Children taunt each other with “liar liar pants on fire” – whose etymology dates to William Blake’s 1810 poem “Liar.”  Watching cable news or reading various posts on the Internet – we see that the grown up version isn't all that different.  PolitiFact adopted the phrase in its determination of politicians who they determine are less than truthful.  Blog writers tend to go hyperbolic and use inflammatory rhetoric to make their points – something I have diligently tried not to do over the past three years and 165 posts.  Today could be different.  Today I can understand why names are called, and there is now the risk that the pants aren’t just on fire – they’re an inferno.
President Obama did not have my vote in 2008 or 2012.  My policy differences with his platform are significant.  He articulated a vision for the country, a set of ideals and a variety of plans to fulfill his goals.  A majority of registered voters (but a minority of constituents) chose his plan over the other options.  Twice.  Arriving at the Oval Office it’s inevitable that one’s perspective changes.  Going from criticizer-in-chief to commander-in-chief dictates a different strategy. 

Anti-war, passionately and effectively poked  holes in all of the errors, mistakes and fallacies of a nation engaged in multiple wars
Won the Nobel Peace Prize and has transferred troops out of Iraq to Afghanistan.  [The U.S. in 2013 has no troops in Iraq, but instead funds tens of thousands of private contractors (former US Military) there.]
Expanded U.S. presence in Africa’s war, deploying thousands of “advisors.”
Had US lead the bombing of Libya and is advocating the same in Syria. 
Maintains a private kill list where he alone determines who lives and dies, including Americans. 
Health Care for everybody
“Obamacare” is insurance reform that benefits for-profit entities while not increasing access to care or addressing medical costs. 
Spoke of fiscal responsibility and reducing the deficit while growing the economy with "green" jobs.
The economy’s slow recovery still has some 22 million Americans under or unemployed.
Trillion dollar deficits look to continue and have mortgaged the future for generations.  Presidential predecessors racked up some $13 trillion.  Obama has added another $4 trillion. 
The constitutional law professor he swore he’d follow the rule of law.
He guaranteed transparency. 
Under his leadership the U.S. government has the ability to spy on its own citizens without any due process. 
For the first time in American history journalists have been indicted as ‘co-conspirators’ and ‘traitors’ for doing their job.  Administration officials who leak information favorable to the Government are not sought out but those who reveal something embarrassing are charged as criminals.

Each of Candidate Obama’s promises were punctuated with the refrain “Yes We Can.”  The country, even those of us who didn’t vote for him, were left with a sense of optimism and confidence that while he was unlikely to achieve all that he hoped – we could count on him to work within the framework he provided.  As President it’s all about what can’t be done.

These differences are vast.  It’s not that just one policy has changed due to circumstances.  George W. Bush (43) campaigned against “nation building” and after 9/11 focused his entire administration and foreign policy on doing just that.  While I passionately disagree with that choice– at least Bush explained the disconnect, and owned it. 
It’s not just the conservatives or tea-party members who are upset with the President.  Matt Damon, the liberal actor-director put his feelings very genteelly, and quite accurately:  “Obama broke up with me.” 
Barak Obama had the potential of being a transformational figure in world politics.  He rose to that for LGBT rights – becoming the most pro-gay President in history.  We need more of this.  Can he restore within himself and the country the hope and inspiration that has gone from a strong flame to just a flicker?  He has to, for the world needs Candidate Obama.  He can do better and he must.  Can he?  Yes he can.  We may not agree on the how – but he must succeed.  We’re here to douse the embers, not fan the flames.  It's in nobody's interest to have a President whose pants are a flaming inferno.

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