The Obama way is to deliver a speech and then retreat, leaving the burden on others to act on his words. They seldom do. Had his aim been to frustrate expectations, he could not have found a better way. Even his speeches were disappointing. Ask not for even one memorable turn of phrase.
Obama's speeches have actually gotten worse. The one he delivered in prime time Wednesday night, outlining his new "strategy" for fighting the Islamic State (IS) -- essentially a hodgepodge of the strategies that created the IS in the first place concluded with a pathetic recitation of golden oldie pieties. The troops are wonderful, the economy is great and we are exceptional.
Republicans are leading the charge, but many Democrats are on board too. So are influential pundits. They all agree that Obama is irresolute, and fault him on that account. Irresolute, he surely is. But this is a good thing, his saving grace.
It was once widely believed that America would be cured of "Reaganomics," as soon as a Democrat again occupied the White House. This was an illusion. There was a better chance of breaking free from "voodoo economics" under the first President Bush. Bill Clinton, Bush's successor, was the most neo-liberal president ever. He was not a true believer; just an opportunist. But, as a Democrat, he was able to bring the "opposition" along. In the process, he institutionalized the Reaganite turn.
Reagan and Bush, along with some of their more prescient advisors, understood the importance and delicacy of U.S.-Soviet (later Russian) relations. They sought to forge a Russia policy that would end the Cold War forever, diminishing the likelihood that the stocks of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction that both sides held in obscene abundance would ever be used.
Clinton and his foreign policy team threw caution aside. They encircled Russia, and humiliated them. Their aim was to insure that it would never again rise to the level of a great world power. The Russian economy has largely recovered from what kleptocratic Russian politicians, abetted by America and other Western powers, did to it. Therefore it can no longer be humiliated with impunity. What was folly when Clinton was in the White House is sheer idiocy now.
BushII destabilized the entire Middle East region. There is no indication, even now, that he understands the dangers in starting two full-scale wars, and several lesser ones. Obama is too intelligent not to know better. Nevertheless, he, like Clinton before him, brought continuity, not change; and, again like Clinton, he made everything worse. Thus, for some two and a half decades, the foreign policy of the world's only superpower has been based on reckless triumphalism and clueless ineptitude.
The conventional wisdom has it that American politics is highly polarized; and, indeed, it is. But when it comes to promoting neoliberal nostrums, continuing the Cold War, and (inadvertently) promoting Islamist fanaticism under the guise of a war on terror, "bipartisanship" has always been the order of the day.
No President can touch Obama's raised expectations that were crushed. Disappointing voters expecting constructive change is a longstanding party tradition. By crushing expectations as Obama did, Americans' basic rights and liberties are now more in jeopardy than ever before. Clinton institutionalized Reaganomics. Now Obama has institutionalized what, only six years ago, still seemed just a temporary glitch in the forward march of American democracy. (Andrew Levine)