President Barack (a.k.a. Barry) Obama is not, nor ever was a master politician, master diplomat, master bureaucrat, master lawyer or master anything.
As a former professor who had to publish or perish, I was especially impressed that Obama lacked a hefty, impressive record of academic publications, actually nothing. As Ed Lasky summed up: “Notwithstanding an apparent eleven-year teaching career in constitutional law at a top-flight law school, not one single article, published talk, book review, or comment of any kind, appears anywhere in the professional legal literature, under Barack Obama’s name.”
Instead of actual accomplishment and performance, he simply took advantage of his color, personality, unusual political opportunities, and an innate talent for sometimes being able to give a great (but not necessarily honest) speech to become president. He took advantage of new national demographics to capture the necessary Electoral College votes to achieve victory, not once, but twice. His ability to enlist the critical assistance of brilliant masters at political fund raising and campaigning has never been matched by being able or willing to obtain similar high caliber people to run his White House and administration.
As someone who held high level positions inside the Washington, DC, political system for some twenty years I was always convinced that Obama never was even close to being qualified to be US president. On the other hand, I was totally dismayed at the awful Republican candidates who opposed him. Still, I was bewildered how so many Americans could be seduced by lofty speech rhetoric and end up believing Obama was an unusually honest politician capable and willing to reform an inefficient, corrupt political system. Sure, unlike Hillary Clinton, he was no long term Washington insider. But neither was there any evidence that he was a true, courageous reformer. Obama was never authentically bold and creative, nor driven by a strong moral compass but rather by extreme arrogance. Think: the audacity of arrogance. Self-delusion prevailed, especially among Democrats and progressives drunk over terrific political slogans.
What could not be predicted, however, was that millions of angry and mostly white Americans would seize upon his color, birthplace and family roots to wage an effective national campaign within the boundaries of the Tea and Republican Parties to help make his presidency largely paralyzed through warlike partisanship. What was best for the nation has never been able to overcome hateful political emotions. The combination of hate and racist driven right-wing zealots and self-deluded people on the left has dragged American democracy deeper into dysfunction.
Everyone should remember that with just over 50 percent of eligible voters voting and the presidential winner obtaining just over 50 percent of voter support, not much more than 25 percent of Americans actually support this or any other president. Factor in that nearly all incumbent members of Congress get reelected despite dismal overall public support, most recently just 10 percent for Congress. If you still believe in the myth that US democracy is the best on the planet, then you are just plain nuts.
It would take many thousands of words to fully articulate all the presidential failings of Obama. My own personal favorites are these: He failed to pursue a single-payer approach for universal health care insurance and instead created a hugely complex and costly system that will probably collapse of its own awfulness. He did not swiftly end the ludicrous and incredibly costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His administration has failed miserably in adequately taking care of veterans. He has clearly done next to nothing to ensure a truly transparent federal government and, instead, has aggressively pursued secret and invasive information and intelligence gathering of US citizens. His policies about underemployment and jobs have been pathetic. His Department of Justice utterly failed to pursue criminal indictments of the many people and companies in the banking, mortgage and financial sectors that caused the national and global economic collapse in recent years that even today explains the economic plight of many millions of Americans.
American democracy has so deteriorated that I can see little hope of its resurrection absent some form of revolution consistent without Constitution, namely using what our Founders gave us, an Article V convention of state delegates with the legal authority to propose true reform constitutional amendments that still would have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states. Clearly, there is no reason to have any faith that Congress would ever propose amendments to fix our corrupt, inefficient and dysfunctional federal system that senators and representative continue to deface and defraud. For example, taking all private money out of politics. Nor is there any basis for believing that the Supreme Court will come to the rescue.
Seems pretty hopeless, don’t you think? Unless millions of Americans join together and demand that Congress obey the Constitution, honor the many hundreds of state requests for a convention and convene the first one.
Joel S. Hirschhorn can be contacted through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.