Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Two Months In, Hopey's Hands Are Hardly Clean

Barack Obama is a cool guy. Barack Obama is a smart guy. He got elected largely thanks to these qualities, and thanks to many people's sound sense that there was no way a McCain-Palin administration would have turned out well.

Alas, he's an American politician, and what's more, an American President, so Obama also happens to be vaguely duplicitous (his handling of Afghanistan and the financial crisis) and conformist (his caving in to corporate America on certain environmental issues, and to AIPAC and its Christian zealot supporters on Charles Freeman). 

The Geitner stimulus plan is retarded, for a few reasons, and several of the decisions Obama has made on civil liberties are mirror images of Bush administration policies. The economic "dream team" he's assembled are mostly well-paid, process-minded technocrats who will achieve nothing in the way of serious reform. Many of his signals on Iran and Israel-Palestine have been very encouraging, but it remains to be seen just what his actual policies will be.

Meanwhile, he appears to be serious about doubling down on the Afghan War, which strikes me as a futile endeavor. 

I didn't expect Obama to be some kind of Black Jesus, but I did think at least some of his policies would implement meaningful change. His performance in certain areas--ordering the closure of Gitmo, appointing someone like George Mitchell, offering a holiday video greeting to the Iranian people and thereby appealing to them over the heads of their theocratic government--has been good, but his handling of the economic crisis is just more of the same technocratic tinkering that will do nothing but postpone the next financial disaster, not prevent it. 

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