Sunday, November 2, 2008


The US Presdient Elect Barack H. Obama,

by Eric S. Margolis

America has hopefully left the dark period of post-9/11 `temporary madness,’ to use the words of writer John Le Carré, and is re-emerging into the daylight. The grim era of President George W. Bush and his mentor (and real president), VP Dick Cheney, is at an end.

But they have handed a poisoned chalice to president-elect Obama. Three foreign wars – Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia - national bankruptcy, an enraged Russia, the entire Muslim world seething with hatred for the US, a wave of Islamophobia at home, growing anti-Americanism in Latin America, India developing nuclear weapons that will one day threaten the USA, and on and on.

Obama will have to deal with all these problems and a fast-emerging China while trying to fend off the powerful special interests in Washington that have already been putting the squeeze on him: the military-industrial-petroleum complex, big pharma, the Israel and farm lobbies, bankrupt auto makers, the finance industry, old folks, and black groups clamoring for more federal funds.

Once Obama has to face all these demons, I fear many of his supporters will be disappointed as their savior turns into a typical Washington politician who has to juggle all sorts of competing demands while the nation is plunged into financial crisis. A good start would be by bringing criminal charges against the fraudsters, mountebanks and crooks who created the current financial panic and shutting down the Guantanamo Devil’s Island.

The Republicans have certainly gotten what they so richly deserved – irrelevance and ignominy. Under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the party veered off to the extreme right, and even flirted at times with Mussolini-style fascism. The GOP became a virtual theocratic party of the rural Protestant fundamentalist far right, led by little ayatollahs preaching hate for Muslims and big city folk. Republicans are now relegated to the Southern and Midwestern boondocks of the US, its most backward, dumbed-down regions. The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower needs to purge itself of hicks and holy rollers and return to its moderate roots in the civilized, educated regions of America.

Equally important, Republicans must delouse the party of its neocon infestation and bring in foreign policy experts who put America’s interests above those of foreign nations. The Democrats also need be wary: the necons, smelling impending disaster, began jumping the Republican ship well before elections and are now burrowing into the Democratic Party.

           As a North American, I am enormously proud of president-elect Barack Obama and of the nation that elected him. Yesterday’s epic vote does much to relieve America of the lingering shame and burden of slavery and mistreatment of its people of color. I don’t think any black man will be called `boy’ again after Obama’s victory. His election marks America’s important demographic shift from a mostly white nation to one of mixed race and multiple cultures.

I can only hope and pray that Obama will end the Bush administration’s foul legacy of lying, assassination, kidnapping, torture, secret prisons, supporting despots, and whipping up hatred of Islam while playing to Christian religious fanatics and doomsday cultists. America’s once proud name was disgraced and dragged through the mud during the Bush years. I was often ashamed to be an American and racked by sorrow over how low my nation, whose uniform I once proudly wore, had sunk. I often compared Bush’s America to the old Soviet Union.

Americans have spoken with wisdom and intelligence even though the media and their leaders still deceives them over Iraq and Afghanistan. The whole world was sick of Bush / Cheney and revels in the thought they will soon be consigned to the ash heap of history. By January, the worst, most incompetent, most destructive president in US history will be gone. Alas, a lot of his most pernicious acts, like stuffing the Supreme Court and Appeals Courts with right wing ideologues, curtailing individual liberties, unleashing security organs against citizens, institutionalizing torture, and militarizing foreign policy, will continue when he is long gone.

Whether the youthful Obama will restore America’s economy, values, and world position remains uncertain. But it is hard to conceive of him and the Democrats doing worse than Bush/Cheney and the southern-fried Republican Party.

Obama’s victory speech contained the following phrase:

"And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too. "

Rhetoric, perhaps, but elegant and promising. What a pleasing change from Bush’s garbled bombast.

Some historians claim people really do not make a difference. Historic change comes from economic or social trends, they insist. Wrong. One man, Barack Obama, has made history and is going to make a lot more over the coming years. I salute him.

Photo Credits: Photo # 1 & 2 Courtesy: Photo # 3 Courtsy:

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