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whatsthatsound On June - 5 - 2010

Well, Joe Biden was certainly right when he said that President Obama would be “tested” soon after taking office. The question is not so much “how did he do” on the test as it is, “when will the tests ever stop?” It is perhaps more accurate to look at these entire four years of the Obama administration (first or only) as an ongoing test, and one that grows increasingly difficult and challenging as it progresses, like the LSAT. Furthermore, much more is being tested than this still young presidency. The entire nation is being asked difficult questions about itself. Encapsulated into one question, what we are being asked is – As a nation, what are we?

– Are we a nation so divided by vapid ideologies that we can do nothing but shout at each other and hold those with whom we disagree in the utmost disdain, a disdain fueled by obnoxious purveyors of half truths and grotesque characterizations on our airwaves and our computer networks?

– Are we a nation that, forty years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech must nevertheless experience a form of shock that we finally, finally, have managed to elect a person of color to the highest office in the land?

– Are we a nation that truly can envision no other course for itself than to keep fighting wars and wreaking destruction, even as the jury is no longer out about how effective these military escapades are in actually solving the problems our country faces in its dealings with adversaries?

– Are we a nation so beholden to the economic powers that essentially run things in this country that we powerlessly bear witness to the destruction of two of our most valuable national assets, the American Middle Class and the Gulf of Mexico, conceding all responsibility to big, self serving corporate entities that have shown time and again that their interests are, charitably, clearly NOT prioritizing the health and well being of our floundering country?

In the middle of the fray stands President Barack Obama. Born in the last year of the postwar Baby Boom, campaigning with the invigorating, motivational catch phrases, “Yes, WE Can!”, “Change We Can Believe In” and “The Audacity of Hope”, his victory in November 2008 inspired and uplifted a large portion of the American public, many of whom had nearly given up hope that the trajectory of self serving government, and the decline of America’s status globally, could ever possibly be reversed, particularly after eight years of a presidency that felt downright alien and Orwellian to them.

Yet, a few short months before crucial midterm elections, those catch phrases ring hollow. The Obama presidency, viewed as a whole, has not delivered in a way that justifies their bold and cheerful optimism. Indeed, many, I’m guessing millions, of Americans feel deceived about those words, and sold out by this presidency. It is as if Obama never really, truly, understood the nature of the  “change” that the majority of the American people wanted so desperately to believe in. 

I find myself asking, “Why did Barack Obama want so desperately to be president?” I am frankly stumped by this question. The question is much easier to answer when applied to his recent predecessors. Richard Nixon (a Shakespearean villain if ever there was one) wanted the job because nothing short of that would satiate his monumental ego and lust for power. Jimmy Carter had an evangelistic and fervent belief that the country itself was far more decent and honorable than its leadership, and that its true heart and soul were crying out to be affirmed. Ronald Reagan was so driven by his Ayn Rand-influenced philosophy about government, capitalism and communism that he stormed into office as a True Believer, ordained, or so he believed, with the power to remake the country into a sort of real-life version of “Atlas Shrugged” (it is interesting to wonder if he, and not Gary Cooper, had landed the lead role in the Hollywood version of “The Fountainhead”, that he may have gotten his  ya yas out that way, and spared the rest of us the consequences of his Objectivist wet dream). Bush the Elder and Bill Clinton were both convinced that they were the smartest guys in the room, and that nobody else was as capable as they were of running the enormous machinery that makes the world’s most powerful country tick. And Bush the Lesser was just a frat boy who, his entire life, basically proved the Peter Principle, simply coasting along on the zephyrs of forces and connections far more powerful than him to increasing Levels of Incompetency.

I am quite certain that Obama did not become president to, paraphrasing Churchill, preside over the demise of the American Republic as a great nation, and yet why does it appear that this is what he is doing? Is the job bigger and harder than he imagined it to be? Are many of his detractors right in proclaiming that he is in over his head, a “community organizer sent to do a president’s job”? Are the problems our country is facing too large and complex and metastatic for any leader to make headway against them? Is our president, like Hamlet, caught up in such a swirl of dark doings that he can only retreat into a cool, calculated inertia? At a time when the economy, the war in Afghanistan, the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf, etc.  – nothing is going right, does anyone really believe that this hesitancy to seize the zeitgeist and place his stamp upon it is a matter of him “playing chess” and “thinking three steps ahead of his adversaries”? If so, how does that Kool Aid taste?

Returning to the American public and the landslide victory it gave him, what was the change that we pinned our hopes on Candidate Obama to achieve? These were not small things. In a word, what we were hoping to see was a reversal of Reaganism.  Just as Hamlet was haunted by the ghost of a king, so it is that the Obama presidency, and the nation as a whole, are even now haunted by the “ghost” of a former president whose disdain for government shows up like fingerprints on all the troubles we are facing today. Remember James Watt? Reagan appointed him to head the Environmental “Protection” Agency as a slap in the fact to environmentalists. This country has more than enough trees, rivers, large bodies of water, etc. –  King Ronald decreed. While I’m president, no tree huggers are going to tie the hands of industry and keep this country from reaching its full economic potential! Now, because the environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is foremost on everyones mind, that example seems particularly glaring, but run through all our current problems, the ones President Obama is charged with dealing with, from Wall Street to the military, to healthcare, to corporate outsourcing, etc., and they can be connected as if by Day Glo dots back to King Ronnie’s obsession with small social government and a huge military, and his Holy Mantra, “deregulation”. That was what we believed in as we threw our support behind Obama, that that could change. We’re not so sure anymore, are we? It appears abundantly clear that that was not the change that our president was referring to or envisioning. 

I truly believe that he is at heart, a good, decent man who wants his presidency to be a great one, one that goes far toward uplifting this country, morally, economically, ecologically.  I believe that, much as MBA George W. Bush believed that this country should be run and operated as if it were a company, former community organizer Barack Obama believes that this country can grow and flourish through outreach, networking, coming together and working together. Cooperation and sacrifice are his lifeblood, and what he has the power to extol us toward. But we need that voice! We need to believe that it applies to everyone, most obviously the arrogant, “Too Big To Fail” (Too Big to Make Sacrifices?) entities that have caused so much trouble with neither governance nor guidance from elected officials. “Guidance”; that is what they need. Even big companies are made up of little people, just like us. If the U.S. government, with Barack Obama as its leader, could take responsibility for telling the suits, “We are going to do things differently now. You are going to play a different role. Your interests and the interests of this country as a whole are going to conjoin. You are going to  play a large role in making this a great, safe, prosperous, and happy nation and you will have the gratitude of its people as you do so”, things would change. The nations of Europe, Japan, etc. have achieved this with far greater success than any of our leaders since the Reagan Revolution have managed. It’s doable, clearly. But if the country sees that its president and elected officials appear to be abdicating that role – the very role for which they were elected – then “hope” and “change” seem to be as hollow as the reassurances of BP officials, and as void of life as large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico have become.

Written by whatsthatsound

Writer, Illustrator, Curmudgeon. Ferret Owner. Tokyoite, formerly Ohioan. Much nicer in person.

81 Responses so far.

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  1. chazmania says:

    What i would like to know is why the Israel connection is always left out of the equation and discussion?…why the wars we have been lied into have been orchestrated by people that believe Obama serves them not the people of the united states? why corporations and the DONS that really run our government are kept hidden? is every one really that afraid of these people?..do they really have that much power to bleach our bones in the desert if they so desire?..and do we as a collective world people just keep letting the oligarchy Mafias run things and ruin us all?
    These Mafias are far more ego driven then Obama they have far more obsessive needs for control and dominance and so they have dominated a seemingly nice guy to do their bidding? OR he is in full agreement with anything the masters tell him to be in agreement about?..after all he is a career politician serving his own interests and family…yes indeed what was his motivation to be president if you are not going to leave some kind of legacy? It makes no sense unless you consider the guy has no sense of the profound…

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Chaz-- it’d be easier to discuss this if you tell us exactly WHO those dons/Mafias are. I bet several of us would interpret that in a number of ways, and then we’d never really all be talking about the same thing. Thanks!

  2. Kalima says:

    Yesterday, while emailing with a friend, he informed me of something that he had read which was suggested by en ex Clinton aide. This person told a reporter that the President was being held back by members of the WH from showing too much emotion in case he might be perceived as “an angry black man.” I found this so very insulting to not only to your President and his family, but to all AA’s. He couldn’t provide the link because it didn’t show up in his history. I find the whole premise of this stereotyping appalling.

    • escribacat says:

      Kalima, I’ve heard that “angry black man” thing ever since he was running. Nothing terrifies a WASP more than that! It’s such a bunch of hogwash. Obama is genuinely a calm person.

  3. AdLib says:

    Brilliant artwork again and very thought provoking article.

    Perspective is everything.

    I remember in the 2000 election the common sensibility, “Bush or Gore, what’s the difference anyway?”

    For those people who want Obama to do more and make more profound change, I’m right with you. However, I think some perspective is being lost on those wanting bi9gger change.

    The Stimulus which financed green jobs and renewable energy programs, Health Care Reform, ending DADT, Financial reforms, tax cuts for the middle class and working poor and many other meaningful changes have indeed taken place right in front of us.

    Compare this with Clinton’s Admin. Failing at HCR, passing NAFTA, triangulating and adopting many Republican policies. Now consider the change we got with Bush.

    The plain truth is that more change has taken place that directly benefits the majority of Americans in the scant year and a half Obama has been president than in the previous 28 years, maybe longer.

    I would like Obama to be bolder in the type of change he pursues but I think it appropriate to still appreciate what change he has brought to our society, which has been remarkable already.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      The crisis in the Gulf is a HUGE test for this presidency, as I’m sure you’ll agree. It has the power to “define” it, and even that notion seems tawdry in relation to the immensity of the tragedy that is unfolding. Who cares if it “defines a presidency” when it is destroying a Gulf, an ecosystem, countless creatures’ lives, and the livelihoods of a region? Nevertheless, it IS a moment for him to rise to. I’m not sure what or how, but his job is to steward us through this process, the coming to terms, the meting out of justice, the safeguards against anything like this happening again,ever, and the move away from fossil fuel dependency. If he manages that well, he’ll accomplish something far more valuable than being reelected. If ever a president was presented/challenged with an opportunity to set a new course for the US, THIS is it!

      • AdLib says:

        WTS, it’s been one HUGE test after another. The nation teetering at the edge of a massive new Depression when he took office, passing HCR, Iran/Afghanistan/Terrorism, now the oil spill.

        Truly, what President has been tested with so many massive issues in their first years?

        I agree that once the oil spill is capped, Obama owns everything that happens. Cleanup, compensation for those affected, prosecution for crimes, he will need to come through on all of this or be judged harshly.

        I think he will, he is nothing if not organized and hands on, he has already stated that he knows it is his Admin’s responsibility to manage everything.

        As with HCR, I think he will race strongly across the finish line on this too…and what a relief, one could only imagine the Bush Admin blaming regulations for causing the spill and urging those affected to just pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          I hope you’re instincts are right, Adlib. Nothing less would be too cruel a fate to imagine for the denizens of the Gulf, at least the human ones. Sadly, for our fellow creatures, the damage is irreparable.

  4. choicelady says:

    WTS- It’s heartening to be on the Planet since over the past few weeks, it’s become obvious to me that we need thoughtful critique not rant. I’m mad enough at the tea party phonies who. as with its founder, rant against “government run health care” while waiting to get her hips replaced with Medicare coverage.

    I am far more angry at the Dems, the lilly livered Dems, who, yes want to take their toys and go home because things did not become perfect overnight and, ickier yet, Obama did not extract revenge on Bush and Cheney.

    Bottom line for me -- as there was a bottom line in 1980 -- and brava, escat, for owning up to the lure of the anti-Carter feelings you had -- bottom line: there is a cabal out there, made up of ultra RW Christians, one of whom is Sarah but the others are largely unseen. The “Christian Embassy” abounds with its work to penetrate every governmental institution and “Christianize” it. It’s not Pat Robertson and company, the ones you see on TV, it’s people you never heard of. And they’re dangerous. If you read Jeff Sharlet’s “The Family” then go back to “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins, a former civilian CIA op, you will begin to see the pattern. The extent of their power and determination NOT to lose control is incredible.

    And if we piss on Obama for not being perfect, we will put these people BACK in power. This time we won’t get rid of them. What happened in 2000 will become the norm -- theft of democracy. They are a conjoined twin of corporate America. They have contempt for each other but cannot separate since each wants global domination for both the material and the philosophical hegemony. Each wishes death to the other, but they cannot live without each other. What they CAN live without -- MUST live without -- is democracy and equality of all people.

    Obama’s refusal to race into armed conflict over every foot stamping is incredible -- and being called “weakening” America. Well, it all depends on what your values are, doesn’t it? His work embodies a bumper sticker I love: the American flag with “These colors don’t run -- the world.” Respecting sovereignty of other nations is strengthening us, not weakening us. It diminishes our ability to imperialize, true, but that’s a GOOD thing. The idea that we have “legitimate interests” in every island and gallapago is overwhelmingly self destructive. Any good historian will tell you that imperialism is the death of any nation that spends its birthright on acquiring it and keeping it. It’s our doom.

    But it also means that US corporations cannot wage war on defenseless people anymore. And that, to the Christian and secular right, is horrible.

    I fear for this nation. I knew in 1980 that electing Reagan would be a disaster for millions. Carter was not a LOT better, but he was better, and for those of us who believe from contemporary and past accounts that Reagan made a deal with Iran to keep the hostages, that act of sheer treason alone means Reagan was the absolute worst president EVER since he set up the course that the Bush family continued. We cannot permit its restoration. The very survival of democracy is at stake.

    When people reduce their politics to predictions of what MIGHT happen with Obama (he’s gonna take our guns) they have voted with all the intensity and knowledge that lurks behind “American Idol” and no more.

    Dems have to acknowledge progress even when it’s not all they want. We have to vote smartly this time and in 2012. Our entire nation is on the line.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Well said, choicelady! I would only add (no surprises here) that I think the onus is on BOTH parties, both the voters and the Obama administration. If his actions/inactions/half-actions, etc. are perceived as being too status quo, and that causes a tipping point of voters to “waste” their vote on third party or independent candidates, as happened with the Nader votes, I won’t be making any excuses for him or his party.

  5. escribacat says:

    I agree that Ronald Reagan’s presidency seriously damaged our country and set us on a backwards course to a more primitive “middle class beware” society. I also believe that we got Ronnie for president because so many of us democrats turned against our party and let the republicans have the presidency. I was one of them. During the Carter administration, I was in college. I had helped campaign for Jimmy Carter but lost respect for him during the Iran helicopter fiasco and the whole Iran hostage mess. As many democrats (like you, WTS) are doing to Obama today, I turned away from Carter because he didn’t measure up to my high standards. He looked bad in the press. He didn’t do things the way I thought he should do them. There were so many problems that he didn’t fix. I considered him a joke.

    I deeply regret that now. I wish we had stuck with him, shown a little patience and loyalty to Jimmy. Maybe then he could have had another four years and maybe we wouldn’t have done the 1980s the way we did. Maybe we wouldn’t have handed Reagan the presidency on a silver platter.

    I disagree with President Obama on off shore oil drilling, nuclear power, and Afghanistan. However, he is still turning the massive “ship of state” around and generally heading it back in the right direction. We don’t see them in the headlines every day because that’s not how our media operates, but he has already made massive changes in this country — HCR not the least among them. In a few weeks, for the first time in several years, I will be getting health insurance — despite my bad back that earned me those humiliating rejection letters from insurance companies in the past. For me, this is a critical change in the country I live in. It cost him a lot of political capital to make this happen. He “betrayed” the “single payer or nothing” crowd. But I am one citizen who is infinitely grateful.

    Of everything in Obama’s campaign, his slogans were the things that I ignored. Those are just marketing tags and meant nothing to me. Trying to characterize Obama and is intentions simply by looking at his campaign slogans is a big mistake. There’s a lot more to the man than that.

    I have some very conservative people in my life and I’ve repeatedly had my ear chewed off by them on all the evil things that President Obama is doing. In the interest of avoiding an ugly fight, I try to be polite in the way that I listen and then gently remind them that I don’t agree. I try to understand where they’re coming from. I don’t expect to agree with them — they thought Bush was great guy. What really bothers me is when my fellow democrats talk that way about Obama — the people who understand how much damage Reagan and Bush did to our country. It pains me deeply when the left is beating the same drum as the right.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Wonderful comments, ecat, and I hope I sound sincere when I say that I value all that you write, even that with which I may not completely agree. Particularly, I am very happy to hear your own personal story and celebrate this way that life has been made better for you due to the policies of this administration. Wonderful and encouraging news!

    • PepeLepew says:

      Ronald Reagan made “liberal” a dirty word.

      I also believe Reagan’s real lasting legacy is that he, more than any other politician before, co-opted Jesus in his party’s name. It was Reagan who really brought the religious extremists into the Republican fold and began violating the idea of separation of church and state within politics.

  6. nellie says:

    Mr Obama wanted to be president because as a community organizer working as a lawyer, he realized that he couldn’t really accomplish the things he wanted to accomplish unless he went into politics. Politics is a career of service, and no matter how bad our examples have been in the past few years. it is possible to accomplish important things for the public by going into politics. And the presidency is the most powerful political position in the country — possibly in the world. That’s why he wanted to be president.

    Things have already changed, although there are many people who refuse to acknowledge it. We have a foundation for health care in this country — something that no one was able to accomplish in a century We are bringing the Iraq occupation to a close. We have passed a raft of legislation in congress that the media ignores. We are ending predatory financial practices — we can do more. We are creating jobs rather than losing them. We have recovered our respect in the world.

    It’s easy to look around and want things to be better. After 30 years of conservative ideology, the public suddenly woke up and wanted it all reversed overnight. That’s not going to happen. Especially when we sit back and wait for it to be done for us by the very people who benefit from the status quo. The American public has a lot to work on — itself, the media, the congress. And we can push this president — but to posture as if nothing has changed is to keep us on the same road we’ve been on for 30 years. Which is exactly what conservatives are counting on.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hi Nellie. I don’t think what happened was “the public suddenly woke up and wanted it all reversed overnight”. I would guess that the majority of Obama supporters had been “awake” all along. It’s hard to argue that people are being impatient while looking at the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe and recognizing that a.) it’s going to get worse, and that b.) we will see worse environmental disasters occur in the (possibly near) future.

      At the very least, I would hope that the meme could be changed from, “Waaahh! I didn’t get my pony!” to “Waaaah! I want my Gulf back!”

    • Questinia says:

      Well put, nellie. We ARE an impatient nation. We are also a nation that likes the dramatic narrative, something Obama will not wish to recount. Perhaps many desire the utter vanquishing of the villainous Republican ideologies and expect Obama to slay that dragon. That’s not going to happen.

  7. boomer1949 says:


    90 minutes NW — Elida Local Schools in Allen County. She and the son in-law live in Lima.

    My other daughter and her family are just North of Cincy and East of Kings Island.

    Oh, and I like Gibbs too. Rahm & most of the others not so much.

    Any opinion on the Ohio Governor’s race come November. I think John Kasich is going to give Ted Strickland a run for his money. Loved Kasich when he was in Congress, but running the State?

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hi Boomer,

      I have a lot of respect for Kasich, but I confess to not following that race. I’ll start paying more attention after I figure out if Lebron is going to stay in Cleveland or not! :)

  8. Questinia says:

    I just have one thing to say to President Obama:

    Mr Obama, please stop looking to the left and then to the right when you’re giving speeches. It is too much of a bad metaphor and comes across as evasive.

    Look dead straight. Into our eyes.

    • Kalima says:

      Q, when RR gave his speeches or addressed the American public, he was parked behind a desk in the Oval Office on most occasions and being the consummate “B” movie actor that he was, knew all about looking into the camera at just the right angle. When the President addresses the people, he is usually in a crowd of people and wouldn’t he bring the same amount of criticism because he was staring into the camera. Then I suppose some people might call him rude and ill-mannered or looking for the limelight.

  9. Khirad says:

    If I can distill a thoughtful piece into two really mundane, thoughtless points.

    1) I think most people tuned out when Obama said that change would be hard and would take time. Yes, there was more to his speeches than slogans.

    2) I believe the mistakes Obama has made are mostly optics -- in other words, us Americans as political media consumers have superficial emotional needs for a Cheerleader in Chief -- not completely unfair of a demand of our leaders, but secondary nonetheless.

    I really believe that he’s cursing behind the scenes and his ‘coolness’ belies how savvy he really is -- not aloof.

    Furthermore, I’d like to find out if the replacements wanted for Interior Department and MMS were blocked or not by Republicans, and for how long.

    After all, it was full of Rove’s purity-tested appointees. At this point, go back to #1.

    Great artwork, too. :-)

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Thanks, Khirad.
      I think that in some ways, it only makes sense that we want a “Great Communicator” or, as you say, “Cheerleader in Chief”. It’s part of who we are as a species. We could almost as easily be referred to as “Homo Communicatus” since our survival for hundreds of thousands of years has come from how well perils and opportunities were communicated among tribe members. The problem is that the world has changed (we have changed it), but we haven’t really, all that much.
      Communication seems to have reached a woeful state in America now, when ironically we need it most. Hey! I think I’ll do a piece on that next!

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hey BT, I agree, if we stop criticizing our presidents it’s time to stick a fork in the U S of A. They are the ones who want the crazy job, and like you said, they know what they’re getting themselves in for. Over at HP, there is such a knee jerk reactivity to criticism of POTUS, as if they have assembled a “crack response team” of hardcore supporters.
      They have their own lingo, too.
      -- Waaah! The President didn’t give me a pony so I’m taking my toys and going home!”
      -- What do you want the president to do? Don a wetsuit and plug the hole himself?
      -- Be careful, you’ll get what you wish for; enjoy President Palin!

      Is this discourse? Is reducing everything to absurd strawmen arguments going to accomplish anything but make his supporters look like blind Kool Aid drinkers? I don’t think so. It seems to me that attempting to squash or mischaracterize criticism of Obama will have greater adverse effects than letting people make their cases.
      Some of the folks over there seem to imagine that ANY criticism that goes unchallenged goes a step further toward putting Palin in the WH. I beg to differ.

      • Khirad says:

        In fairness, I reserve those reactions to equally knee-jerk criticisms from beyond the realm of reality.

        Criticism is okay. I have a few of my own on foreign policy. I’m disappointed, but I’m hardly shocked, either. When I voted for him, I didn’t expect a panacea to all entrenched bureaucracies (the civil service of America). Such change as that takes time, and needs to have pressure from the bottom-up, as well at the executive level.

        I’m not prepared to primary Obama, sit out elections, nor do I feel betrayed by him, though. It’s those comments -- heavy bitterness lite on any constructive critiques that spur my whiner retorts.

        This article was not like that at all. I can’t speak for all the rah-rah crowd, sometimes I feel embarrassed by them, but I just feel some people had much higher expectations than I ever did. Perhaps the problem lays with me being jaded and not their implacable ideals.

        In any case, criticism is not a bad thing, as long as it is based on positive solutions, and are not absolutist -- many detractors would be hard-pressed to find anything Obama has done right. Now, that is really irritating and can get to be downright obnoxious.

        On one side is the 11 dimension chess meme -- on the other, the purist incapable of seeing not one thing except “Obama=Bush III”.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          I appreciate that you didn’t find this article to be bitter -- that was not my intention -- but also something I feared it might come off as. I’m pretty much like you, not really disappointed, because I wasn’t expecting all that much. On the other hand, the times DO call for “all that much” and that is the quandary we are in now. Maybe nobody can solve the problems our country faces, but….
          ….the problems still need to be solved!

      • msbadger says:

        I agree, wts, and I’m mightily sick of it, too! Thanks again!

    • Kalima says:

      I know that Helen Thomas is a veteran reporter but hardly think that giving a statement to CNN is all that credible anymore. CNN used to do it’s fair share of honest and open reporting, unfortunately during the primaries they let their bias against Obama run free by allowing idiots to air their views every day. I stopped watching them after the elections and have respect for AC and my man Jack Cafferty, the rest sound bought and payed for.

      I don’t know if the story about the HP reporter is true, if it is, I doubt that this was Obama’s wish, I have yet to see him avoiding questions. Sounds a little like sour grapes to me, she should know better.

        • Kalima says:

          I have exactly the same feeling about your reply to me and which point would that be?

          You were the one to bring uo the comments of Helen Thomas in the middle of your comment not me and I just pointed out that I’ve lost all respect for CNN because of their obviously biased reporting over the years.

  10. Kalima says:

    Brilliant drawing as usual wts and compelling article on which I feel somewhat at at loss to comment on from so far away.

    My thoughts on the degree of anger your President should show in the face of this disaster is not fully shared though. I believe that behind the scenes your President is seething and on the job making sure that every avenue of responsibility is being checked and checked over and over again. I also think that there has been more than enough anger shown since he became President by the GOP and their “allies” to cloud and distort the path and progress of your country and stop necessary legislation from becoming law. He has had to fight and fight hard every small step of the way and still managed to further his agenda.

    There are people who lose a loved one and can’t cry openly, some see this as odd, think it’s not normal but I think it is. We all show our emotions in a certain way and if Obama’s way is to show his strength by not losing his head, isn’t that what endeared him to many voters in 08, I seem to recall that it was.

    Bush was angry, did a lot of public shouting and frowning, called other countries “the axis of evil” while promoting the “War on Terra” then led your country to war. Obama is a thinker and a planner, anyone who believes he will let BP get away with this is barking up the wrong tree, he won’t. I’m a firm believer in “actions speak louder than words” and not second guessing motives or perceived lack of motives. I believe that the end results are what your President should be judged on, not the trials and tribulations in between.

    Your President’s character is not one of a person who will become red in the face in adversity, there have been enough of those without a single thing ever changing for the better. If people need “wearing it on your sleeve” raw anger, I think they voted for the wrong party and the wrong guy. Reading the comparison of this oil spill to Katrina is going too far. Watching James Carville almost having a stroke on tv was quite shocking and quite unnecessary too.

    I thinks it’s about time that the pundits and the general public were aware of what your President has already achieved rather than what is still very much a work and issue in progress. I’m sure that if he had a “magic wand” he would have used it by now.

    Personally, I would take a leader who was calm on the outside over a ranting, vein popping one any day of the week. Let him try to do his job, that is what he was elected to do. I have a very strong feeling that he won’t let the American people down, to judge his every step of the way might make some people feel better, but it really doesn’t provide a permanent solution or bring one to the table either.

    Please excuse this interloping foreigner, I feel that somewhere since 07 and my first experience on an American blog, I might have earned the right to express my opinions freely as I have many American friends that have a special place in my heart and I care.

    Oops, the comments in the sidebar seem to be hiding again. :(

    • boomer1949 says:


      Hey greetings from OH-IO. How the heck are you?

      Great piece and fabulous artwork (as usual). Kudos!

      Reagan was an actor. Clinton left office with no deficit (okay the spot on the blue dress thingy I’ll concede), and Bush? Well Bush/Shrub didn’t know what he was doing much less give a flying fig about why he was even in the WH. GWB kept on keeping on and listened to the voices on his shoulders telling him what to do…Dick in one ear and Dick in the other.

      What does one do when one finds out the Mineral guys have been sleeping with the Oil guys? Ask how it was for them? No, one cleans house. Bushco was one big “Animal House” and nobody blinked, least of all those living in the house to begin with.

      I have no doubt in this man in the White House. He is pragmatic and he is not one to go flying off the handle. A little naive? Maybe. But aren’t we all in some way shape or form?

      BP should be taken to the depths of the Gulf and held under for days if not weeks. I boycotted BP during Apartheid and have no problem with driving past a BP and 2-3 miles farther to put gas in my car. It’s a matter of principle and what us pragmatists do. Anyone unwilling to do so was never an Obama supporter in the first place. Anyone willing to hang this man out to dry in such a short period of time and with so much seen and unforeseen shit, should put up, shut up, or find another planet on which to live.

      The bottom line is that the negligence of British Petroleum (BP) is wreaking devastation on our lives, our environment, and our poor defenseless, suffocating wildlife. I’ve read that after this disaster, the Brown Pelican population may be no more.


      cannot be blamed on the current administration.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Hi Boomer. How the heck are you? And how the heck is O-Hi-O? I was bummed about the Cleveland Cavaliers falling short again, but I’m over it. :)

        I wish I could share your optimism, but as my article demonstrates, clearly I cannot. I don’t blame Obama for any of today’s problems, he just happened to be the guy holding office when the whole Reagan Fantasy comes apart at the seams. But I DO hold him responsible, just by virtue of the office he holds now. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult his job must be, but after all, that’s what surrounding yourself with the right people is for. To me, Obama’s advisers and hacks seem too cozy with those who are entrenched and misbehaving. But I am often wrong, and hope I am in this case.

        • boomer1949 says:


          Well, as far as OH-IO goes, my youngest graduates 6/13 from OSU with her M.A. in Integrated Teaching. Other than that, OH-IO is still as flat as ever. 😆

          I do agree with you about some of the advisers & hacks, but how exactly does one tell a friend “your spouse is having an affair” anyway?

          Biden (I love Joe), Plouffe & Axlerod have my confidence. All the rest, well, it’s a toss up and kind of like getting advice from a BFF only to be stabbed in the back later.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            yeah, I hear you on that.
            And congratulations to your daughter!
            Will she be staying in Columbus?

            • boomer1949 says:

              She’s been teaching for 7 years. The last 5 for Elida Local Schools in Allen County, so she and my son in-law will be staying there for awhile.

              At least it’s only 90 minutes away. {sigh}

            • whatsthatsound says:

              In which direction? Ninety minutes is the same time it takes to get to Cambridge, where my mom’s from.

    • Khirad says:

      I’ve never bought that someone “outside” has no right to comment on another country’s affairs. Especially since, as WTS said, everything is interrelated.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hi Kalima,

      Thank you for your comments. Of course you have a “right” to comment on American politics just as you have a right to use this forum on my post for expressing views counter to mine. However, I think you are reading into my article if what you take from it is that I want the president to “show anger”. I hardly think that a mere demonstration of powerful emotion will satisfy me, or any of the people who are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly troublesome times we are facing. I agree with the Frank Rich article Patsy posted at the bottom; the president seems all to happy to leave in charge the very people who created the problems. The notion, “problems are so complex now that only a few experts really know what to do about them, and sadly, they are the very ones who caused them” hardly seems like a satisfying assuagement, and in fact seems like a recipe for disaster -- or three! The task the president faces is monumental; he has to beef up governmental oversight -- exactly BECAUSE today’s world creates highly specialized, metaproblems. We can’t throw in the towel on that. That’s perhaps the biggest lesson of all in this situation, that we need to do SOMETHING from the government side to technically grasp the problems we face. We are putting our best engineers and scientists to work building weapons systems when what they SHOULD be doing is boning up on all the things that can go wrong in today’s world on the civilian side, where the problems are causing the most damage right now.

      • Kalima says:

        Hi WTS, I wasn’t implying that you were personally wanting him to show anger, just referring to the ever growing number of people who seem to want this and feel it will solve the situation which of course it can’t. Everyone needs a clear head now to think outside of the box. I do believe that there has to be a ban on off shore drilling though, being as what the Bush admin reportedly said in 07, that this kind of thing could never happen, that this would be perfectly safe and a spill would cause minimum damage to the environment. They should be held responsible too for allowing this. They should be shamed into eating their dishonest words for profit.

        I agree totally that money should be spent on this and other types of disaster prevention research.

  11. msbadger says:

    WOW, wts! I am truly impressed with your article- extremely well written and right on. I feel much the same way, and I don’t know if any one man is up to what we’re facing now. It’s become so entrenched and there is more than one “vampire squid” we must battle, if we are to regain the country we love and believe in. I’m fighting daily fear and discouragement in a big way, as I am now officially one of the new pariahs: the long-term unemployed. I’ve been out of work since Oct. ’08, after being laid off from my job of 13 years. Deep breath… Great job, this is so excellent! Again, just “Wow!”

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Thanks, MsB. I am so sorry to hear about your situation, just as I find your words, “new pariah” to be so poignant. It makes NO sense that some companies are refusing to look at resumes from people who aren’t working, when so many jobs were lost due to outsourcing, automation, and the recession. Thousands of highly skilled folks out there to fill ANY position, and what? -- it makes an HR person’s (who is lucky to have their position)job harder to have to sort through all those resumes? Talk about a Catch-22!

      You have a distinct talent at HP for making people feel good and cheerful, even just for a few moments, and if this world was saner, THAT would be your job!

    • dildenusa says:

      Vampire squid? I like the analogy. Also, hydra is appropriate. Obama as Heracles. Janine Wedel in her book “Shadow Elite” talks about “flexians” and “flex-nets.”

      Alan Greenspan said the free markets would weed out fraudster’s. Well, what really happened is after the savings and loan fraud of the 1980’s, and the enron and world com frauds of the 1990’s, the lawyers and accountants involved in those frauds formed flex-nets and moved on to bigger and better things. Remember Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns?

      • msbadger says:

        I borrowed Matt Taibbi’s comment from Rolling Stone- he used that to describe Goldman Sachs. But it fit too well not to use it for this situation too! Ever seen one? Scary!

  12. Questinia says:

    Perhaps doubt is the change that we are supposed to have faith in.

    The repeal of Reaganism wouldn’t be so difficult if this country weren’t so attached to its psychotic disconnection from reality. Thinking about Obama as Hamlet makes me think it may not be such a bad thing after all. Doubt is a more mature response than the bravado of unabridged optimism that Reagan espoused and the self-satisfied certainty that Bush was known for.

    If we were to consider this country is in its adolescence, then Obama is the metaphor for the groping of the nation toward an integrated identity; an identity demanding the questions you pose for this country to ask itself. The specter of Reagan, symbolizing the immature notion that this country can get and should do whatever it pleases drives home the infantile demands only a young nation could have. A nation’s fantasy that was emboldened by the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

    Instead of seeing Obama as “The Vascillator” in contradistinction to Bush’s “The Decider”, I’d rather see him as someone who seeks to reduce the polarization in this country. If we consider America as an organism and it is in conflict with itself, then it is tantamout to having an autoimmune disease. It is an untenable state in which to exist as a nation.

    Besides, wasn’t Lincoln a doubter?

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Great comments, Q. Yes, Lincoln was a doubter of the highest degree. And if ever there was a time that called for doubts and self assessment, it was during his presidency. And now as well. Don’t get me wrong, I WANT Obama to examine his choices carefully and make his decisions thoughtfully, like a grownup. But the best “parents” don’t leave their children fumbling around in the dark -- Daddy and Mommy have to make some very important decisions now, so run off to bed so we can do our best thinking -- and the child goes, “Gulp!”
      Doesn’t it say something that Obama has disenfranchised so many on the left? Is it “their fault”, or his? If he had given high level positions to Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson, in order to build his “Team Of Rivals”, would things be the same right now? Would the rhetoric from the left be the same?
      Actions speak louder than words, of course, and Obama’s disconnect from the left and their hopes as soon as he got in office speaks volumes, I feel.

      • Questinia says:

        I agree that he has surrounded himself with dubious characters. A strong Liberal voice could have had a seat at the table if someone like Kucinich was part of the team. I think it would have placated many on the Left. But how much would a token Liberal voice from the decent and good state of Ohio change things? I’m not sure.

        I think Obama is a President victimized by circumstance, predominantly the economic one. The spill he inherited. People measure a Presidency by an economy recovered and thriving. Don’t ideologies seem to melt when currency is plentiful? Imagine America prosperous and thriving with low unemployment. Imagine Obama being the same as he is now. How differently would we view him? How much of our perceptions are tainted by the financial condition of the country?

        I’d say a lot. I doubt we’d be having this conversation. Do you?

        • whatsthatsound says:

          No, I don’t think we would be having the same conversation, but I don’t think that means all that much, really. We don’t get to choose presidents like curtains, matching them with the right situations so that they can look their best. Nobody should have been shocked that the Reagan Fantasy has finally come apart at the seams. Any presidential candidate could have foreseen that it eventually would, and may well on their watch if they got elected. True, Obama was the one left standing when the music stopped, but only because he decided to play Musical Chairs.

          • Questinia says:

            He decided to play Musical Chairs while playing three dimensional chess. We all got rooked.

            What do you replace a fantasy with except another fantasy? We’re having evening in America. We need a new morning.

            But Reagan didn’t doubt his fantasies and he sought to make them real. He also looked straight into the camera and had us believing in them eventually. That conviction is what people pay attention to. So, I’d have to say that I retract what I said earlier about doubt being good especially in relation to having a country re-emerge from a previous fantasy.

            I think about how Reagan bought a new goldfish for his daughter after her old one had died unbeknownst to her, not ever telling her the old goldfish had died. I think Obama would sit his daughter down and discuss what death is and then ask her whether she wanted to think about getting a new goldfish.

            • whatsthatsound says:

              Great analogy at the end, and overall great comments! I agree, Reagan was like the love potion salesman in the opera “L’elisir d’amore”, but as you point out, he had the courage of his convictions, misguided as they were. It was a spell one might easily fall under.

            • Questinia says:

              And the country was Lucia de Lammermoor.

              It kind of fits if you use a few vises, screws and u-bolts.

    • msbadger says:

      I agree, Questinia. Thanks for that, and I’ve long felt that indeed we are in our adolescence as a nation. Hope we survive the process of coming to maturity.

  13. SueInCa says:

    Great post WTS. I tend to believe that the President is taking the “I am in charge so I cannot show emotion” thing to the extreme. And that, in my opinion, makes him look weak. We need someone who is angry, someone who will say to hell with it and take on big corporations. He might only be a one termer, but he will ultimately gain the respect of the American people. Kennedy did not even get a chance to finish his one term but the American people knew whose side he was on and quite frankly, why he was killed. I am of the group who will never believe Oswald stood alone in that job. And I believe fully that is when the lying started with the government.

    The Bay of Pigs was the start and the Dulles boys were out to get Kennedy prior to even that timeframe. I tend to believe Oliver Stone’s version of things. President Obama still has time to change and really embrace the philosophy that drove him into the highest position in the land, but he is wasting precious time.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      I agree that he is wasting precious time, especially now in this era of “Disaster Capitalism” and a world system that seems to be spinning out of control. The chickens of Reaganism have now come home to roost in a huge way, and Obama needs to either seize this moment or be overwhelmed by it (and I confess to having little by way of optimism in this regard).
      Thanks, Sue!

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