American Elephants

Gaze Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair! by The Elephant's Child

From the archives, September 28, 2010:

President Barack Obama was interviewed by Rolling Stone, and is typically modest about his accomplishments.  He tells the Democrats to “wake up” and gaze upon his works:

When I talk to Democrats around the country, I tell them, “Guys, wake up here. We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable.” I came in and had to prevent a Great Depression, restore the financial system so that it functions, and manage two wars. In the midst of all that, I ended one of those wars, at least in terms of combat operations. We passed historic health care legislation, historic financial regulatory reform and a huge number of legislative victories that people don’t even notice. We wrestled away billions of dollars of profit that were going to the banks and middlemen through the student-loan program, and now we have tens of billions of dollars that are going directly to students to help them pay for college. We expanded national service more than we ever have before.

The Recovery Act alone represented the largest investment in research and development in our history, the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower, the largest investment in education — and that was combined, by the way, with the kind of education reform that we hadn’t seen in this country in 30 years — and the largest investment in clean energy in our history.

You look at all this, and you say, “Folks, that’s what you elected me to do.” I keep in my pocket a checklist of the promises I made during the campaign, and here I am, halfway through my first term, and we’ve probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do — and by the way, I’ve got two years left to finish the rest of the list, at minimum. So I think that it is very important for Democrats to take pride in what we’ve accomplished.

We hear from international statistics on education that our kids are deficient in math, science, reading and just about everything except that they excel in self-esteem, where they are right off the charts.  Brings a bit of verse to mind, from Shelley:

I MET a traveller from an antique land
Who said: —Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.  Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

What made me think of this were the 2013 Twitchy Awards for this year’s top 5 most malignantly narcissistic Obama moments: (which made me laugh), and it seemed appropriate to add this Photoshop, but I don’t know who created it.


Reactions: Pride, Dismay, Surprise, Vengeance, Confusion. by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama signed off on a daring pre-dawn raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, believed to be the hideout of Osama bin Laden. The raid by the Navy’s SEAL Team Six ended the long search for the al Qaeda leader and evoked a great sense of pride and gratitude from the American people.  It was, perhaps, President Obama’s finest moment. It was a courageous act on the part of the president.

Liberals have been overwhelmed. The president they were beginning to think would not properly stand up to the hated Republicans exhibited a daring that was a shock to the system of any card-carrying  leftist. E.J. Dionne Jr. expressed it in a column titled “After the Raid We Find Out Who Obama Is.”:

Barack Obama is not the man many Americans thought he was. This sudden realization has transformed American politics. The sheer audacity of the successful operation against Osama bin Laden has forced Obama’s friends and foes alike to reassess what they make of a chief executive who defies easy categorization and reveals less about himself than politicians are typically drawn to do.

Obama is hard to understand because he is many things and not just one thing. He has now proved that he can be bold at an operational level, even as he remains cautious at a philosophical level. …

The president’s rhetoric has often emphasized caring, compassion and community, the language one expects from a moderately liberal politician. Yet as one of his close aides told me long ago, there is inside a very cool, tough, even hard man.

The American people celebrated with emotions ranging from finality to euphoria to vengeance satisfied.  Long overdue, it was universally hailed as a very good thing. But the management of the aftermath began to fall apart. The raid was flawless, after a dramatic firefight, bin Laden was found cowering behind a woman, presumed to be one of his wives, and as he tried to get off a shot, he was killed with a double-tap to the head.

Then the story started changing.  No firefight, no returned fire, wasn’t hiding behind a woman. Everyone was unarmed.  Everyone was watching in real-time from the Situation Room in the White House.  We saw pictures of the President and his Security team watching. No, there was no real-time video.  Of course there was video. The body was evacuated on the helicopter, treated with all reverence and buried at sea with full Muslim ceremony. A daughter says Osama was shot right in front of the family. Some suggest that he was already dead.  The Pakistanis were surprised to find that bin Laden was there. The Pakistanis have known he was there since 2009.

Whew!  The raid may have been elegantly managed and executed by our very capable military. The management of the aftermath — explaining to the American people what happened — has been so incompetently bungled it is astonishing.

The indecision and dithering about releasing pictures of Osama have taken two days. They need to be released to prove to the world that he is dead. They are too gruesome to behold. Because they are disturbing they might provoke Muslim reaction.  We must beware a violent Muslim reaction.  Osama’s attacks on Muslims in Iraq were the last straw and he is no hero.

Hot Air had a wide-ranging column on liberal reactions to bin Laden’s death, and IowaHawk has a hysterical piece, as usual.

The Justice Department is still trying to investigate the CIA personnel who had anything to do with the enhanced interrogation (waterboarding) that produced the intelligence that led to the final location of bin Laden.

Obama will go to Ground Zero tomorrow to lay a wreath. President Clinton and President Bush declined to accompany him.

The Tragic Collapse of Great Expectations. by The Elephant's Child

“The Obama administration said today that its economic policies, especially the Recovery Act, have boosted growth and employment in the United States at a pace  quicker than anticipated.”

“The White House is pushing back against complaints from House Democrats that President Obama is undermining their prospects for 2010 with a memo authored by a senior administration official detailing what the White House is doing to preserve control of Congress.  The President, vice president, first lady, Cabinet officers and senior staff have participated in 187 political events in the last 18 months, all with the intention of directly supporting candidates on the ballot in 2010…”

All these achievements, and the President isn’t getting any credit. Financial reform, just a couple of months after passage of a comprehensive health care reform, 2.5 to 3.6 million jobs saved or created, and GDP raised by 2.7%  to 3.2% through June 20.

Yet the mystery remains; Having moved swiftly toward achieving the very policy objectives he promised voters as a candidate, Obama is still widely perceived as flirting with a failed presidency.

Eric Alterman, in a column that drew wide notice, wrote in The Nation that most liberals think the president is a big disappointment.”  House Democrats are in near-insurrection after White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated the obvious — that the party has a chance of losing the House under Obama’s watch.  …

The reality is the opposite. You can argue over whether Obama’s achievements are good or bad on the merits. But, especially after Thursday’s vote, you can’t argue that Obama is not getting things done. To the contrary, he has, as promised, covered the uninsured, tightened regulations, started to wind down the war in Iraq and shifted focus and resources to Afghanistan, injected more competition into the education system and edged closer to a big energy bill.

Elsewhere, “journalist Eric Alterman…blames a broken system in Washington that he says allows the minority party to rule with impunity — and special interests and big money to dictate legislative policy.”  “The system is rigged,” he concludes, “and it’s rigged against us.”  His essay is subtitled:”Why a progressive presidency is impossible for now.”

I would be delighted if a progressive presidency is impossible for now, or forever.  They certainly make a mess of things, but there is a rather large disconnect here.  How anyone can conclude that a minority party “rules with impunity” when the “progressives” control the House and the Senate with an iron fist, and do exactly as they please with no input from Republicans? “From the beginning, the stimulus bill was viewed as containing too many compromises in a futile attempt to garner Republican support.”  Huh? What attempt?

“It’s open season on Obama, whom so many hoped would lead us out of the neo-liberal wilderness,” Firedoglake blogger Les Leopold declared… “He once was a community organizer and ought to know how working people have suffered through a generation of tax breaks for the rich, Wall Street deregulation and unfair competition.  When the economy crashed, he was in the perfect position to limit the unjustified pay levels on Wall Street.”

I don’t know what planet these people live on, but it’s not this one.  The “perpetually discontented”  who demand that everything be fixed so it is no longer annoying, will never be satisfied.  The perfection they desire is unattainable, wouldn’t work, and is quite impossible, for it does not take into account ordinary human nature.

The marvelous economic progress exists only in Christina Romer’s magic Keynesian computer where you insert spending, multiply by the mythical Keynesian multiplier, and get wonderful numbers of jobs saved and created. But that works in a world where, as Nancy Pelosi insists, “extending unemployment benefits creates jobs.” In the real world the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf has added 35,000 to 50,000 more highly paid workers to the unemployment rolls.

If you consider passing a $862 billion stimulus program a great accomplishment, but neglect to consider the fact that it didn’t work and was mostly wasted money; and if you consider creating jobs out of a computer program, much as global warming was created out of a flawed computer program a great accomplishment; and if you consider passing a financial reform bill an accomplishment though it does not address the sources of the financial crisis, correct the ‘too-big-to-fail problem or even consider reforming Fannie and Freddie — well, why is anyone upset?  Isn’t it all just what Obama promised?

The White House has a hubris problem.  They are in trouble, but they deny any responsibility for that fact.  It is the fault of the previous administration.  And the White House has a communication problem. The communication problem deals with words that are meant only to please the audience to whom they are addressed. They have no permanent meaning.  They will be discarded in the increasingly voluminous pile to be found under the bus.

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