Support WhoWhatWhy
FRESH TAKES | news, content and perspective you might not find elsewhere

Obama: “Yes, I’m in a Can”

As I noted the other day, Obama is increasingly isolated—and increasingly making some very bad choices of company. His current best friend is the US chief of UBS, one of the most offensive banks imaginable. So while he’s on the stump saying how he relates to Occupy Wall Street, he’s got this Wall Street slickster occupying the presidential hot tub.

The essence of Obama is to make gestures that will please everyone, but to do it without genuine enthusiasm or pleasure—and therefore please no one. Ordinary people feel he cares not a whit about them, and the moneyed class resents his occasional populist-firebrand rhetoric. It is a mark of cynicism to operate like this. It is also not necessarily a winning formula for a politician. And for a country, it is a disaster.


If Obama wants to inspire, he has to pick sides. And that’s not so hard to justify when one side constitutes almost everybody, and the other maybe one percent of one percent.

Now, to be sure, taking on the big boys is full of risks. We write about those at WhoWhatWhy all the time—including here and here.  Presidents who buck the established order face great peril.

But when you do choose to take that position, you can’t just do it kinda sorta, when poll numbers demand action. You’ve got to hunker down, figure out who your real friends are, get protection (literal and figurative) and go for it. That is, if you have it in you to do so. Ron Paul’s growing popularity, and bursts of interest in figures like Gingrich and Bachmann and Cain (before gaffes, deficiencies and attack ads cut them down to size) shows that perceived gumption goes a long way with the public.

Obama, on the other hand, most decidedly does not tend to “go for it.” (His lack of a cooperative Congress is no excuse, since leadership by example can on its own make things happen.)

To be sure, he has installed administrators throughout the government whose inclinations are to actually carry out the mandate of their agencies (gasp!)—on the environment, education, consumer protection, workers, and more. In that sense, at least, he is the polar opposite of George W. Bush.

But on the things that really matter to the elite of the elite within the One Percent, he is nowhere. Nobody has gone to jail for the picking of the American pocket by the banksters; no one has even been indicted.

Now, if none of the actions that led to the Great Recession constitutes a crime, then the president should be pointing that out and talking about tough new laws. (The wealthy have always understood that as long as you control the law, nothing you do can get you in too much trouble.)

As we have noted, Obama failed to take action to directly help homeowners, even as some regional Federal Reserve (!) economists were urging him to do exactly that. Meanwhile, he gave the bankers, the hospitals, the insurance industry, the military contractors, pretty much whatever they wanted.

The illegal wars, torture and other crimes and shames perpetrated by the Bush administration have gone unprosecuted and generally unacknowledged by the administration.

His all-important Justice Department tends to go after small fish, and largely victimless crimes (86 percent of the prison population, more than half of those drug related—excluding those Wall Street types who use illegal drugs in their penthouses, risk-free). Last year Attorney General Eric Holder said the department’s  top priority was protecting Americans from terrorism (apparently not of the economic sort—nor of the Saudi sort), followed by crime prevention (apparently not of the economic sort), and then protecting Americans from financial fraud (apparently not of the large-scale sort), and finally, protecting the country’s “vulnerable populations” (but apparently not from the biggest thieves.)

Obama occasionally alludes to the rot in the hearts of so many people at the highest levels of the financial system, but does nothing about it. And as I pointed out in the UBS banker piece, turning one of the worst exemplars of that system’s corrupt tendencies into one of his closest friends represents either a reckless blindness to the messages he is sending, or a deliberate thumbing of his nose.

But why should people be surprised by Obama? The system only lets “system types” thrive and get to the top. The only system types who shake things up are those who derive the confidence to do so from their own privileged background, like FDR and JFK. Obama himself was merely the representative of the fact that certain “acceptable” people of mixed race with proper demeanor and “credentials” would now be welcomed to the feast if they behaved properly. He never really established a track record of leadership or boldness prior to running for president. People just fell in love with their projection of what “Yes we can” meant.

But what matters now is what comes next. What matters is whether he will be re-elected, and if so, whether as a lame duck with “nothing to lose” he will do what 99% of the country longs for him to do: take aim at the core corruption and greedy self-dealing that is destroying America.

Obviously, to stay in the game, he must to some degree play the game the way it is being played. But he can howl hard about how unhappy he is with it. And he can speak directly about ways in which as a second-termer he is going to lead the charge in fundamentally challenging the corruption.

More and more, it seems Obama’s message is, “Yes, I’m In a Can”.  That’s not very inspiring. And it’s not going to get him—or us—where we need to go.




Comment Policy:
Keep it civil. Keep it relevant. Keep it clear. Keep it short. Identify your assertions as fact or speculation. No typing in ALL-CAPS. Read the article in its entirety before commenting.

Note: As a news site dedicated to serious inquiry, not a bulletin board, we reserve the right to remove any comment at any time, especially when it appears to be part of an effort to push a deceptive, unscientific, false or narrow ideological line. Posts that scapegoat by ethnicity, gender, religion or nationality will also be removed.
  • Buelahman

    Surely you don’t really believe that Obama will ever do anything except what the 1% wants him to do? You do realize that he is as corrupt as any politician who has ever lived and is playing his part, as directed.

    • Morocco Bama

      Yep, he’s part of the team, and he will be rewarded for his zealous loyalty, and his prowess as a charlatan extraordinaire.

      Obama’s just the lipstick on the pig. He’s the label on the box and/or bottle. He’s the pitchman….the frontman. He dutifully waits for his daily orders about what to do and what to say.

      You could put an eggplant, I like this one, behind the desk in the oval office, and the course of events would remain unchanged. You could even bequeath the newly appointed eggplant with a Nobel Peace Prize just for posterity’s sake, and the course would be the same. The Office of the Executive is important in its role as a rubber stamp, and the fabricated perception it purveys to a dumbed-down population with their collective heads so far up their i-asses, they think that they are represented and that their vote counts for something.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t judge Obama on his promises, I look at his record, and it is dismal. Failed healthcare reform, escalated wars, further dismantling of our bill of rights (latest is detention without trial), inability to lead congress, the escalated drone attacks and innocent casualties of our global conquests. I can no longer support his policies, just telling me that if I waste my vote, or don’t vote means I help a crazy republican into office no longer motivates me.

  • AnBheal

    Yeah, if the best the Dems can come up with as a reason to vote for their Republican-in-Chief is that: when Bader-Ginsberg’s shrivelled quasi-corpse collapses on itself like a black hole, Barry will appoint a non-crazy slightly-right-of-center jurist sure to pass muster with Arlen Specter and Mitch McConnell…..well, that just ain’t enough anymore.  I’ll probably write-in for a genuine progressive.

  • sanctimonious purist

    Rocky Anderson 2012!

  • Pingback: Orwell as antidote to Obama | Odd Man Out

  • Shw

    Well, if we can only vote for Republicans, I suppose Obama would be my choice.

  • Cej_me

    Nothing will change for the US as long as the Israel lobby are making all the decisions for the president and America.

  • Anonymous

    Taking a good look at this 2012 election we have the Obama apologists who are deaf, dumb and blind to any factual, but negative statement that has been levied at Obama.  You also have a MSM that refuses to allow any coverage of third party candidates.  Add to this the low information voter who is in reality  the over exposed to MSM propaganda voter; TV talking heads and political ads.  The Democrat National Committee is heavy duty in this mix with their hand out for every cent, their refusal to listen to their party members who want a primary, threats to cut off all support for non conforming candidates who don’t support the Obama the great message 100% and but, of course pushing the fear of a possible GOP Supreme Court appointee.
    I’ve probable left out some stuff that should be in this mix of the American business as usual politics.  Not a very pretty picture.

  • Edward Rynearson

    obama’s campaign finance chair was credited with being a pioneer in the securitization of subprime mortagages.  her bank was seized by the FDIC.

  • Anonymous

    Paul is the real deal.
    Geo. W. Obama?
    Enough said.
    Likewise  MittNewtRick Obama2 (Bush3)