Thursday, October 28, 2010

Obama: Secondrate Neo-Con or Master of Change?

Could Obama save his presidency by walking the talk, by--like Clark Kent--actually shedding his neo-con suit so we can see his Master of Change cloak?

If we accept the contentious viewpoint that “10 years is enough”—i.e., that 10 years of neo-con policy in Washington is enough, then what should Obama do to save his presidency?

Well, he could start a war, but that approach is getting a little old.

He could apologize for talking liberal and admit that he really, deep down just wants to be accepted into the Washington elite of financiers who visit the Potomac to pass laws for their personal convenience and imperialists who attack or otherwise subvert oil exporting countries for their personal profit, but that would just make him look like Palin, except less pretty.

He has, fortunately, another choice. He could become the Master of Change:

  1. Govern for Change, not to Make Neo-Cons Feel Good. Apologize for talking reform while walking elite, for being so naïve as to imagine that if he kissed up to neo-con policies that the Republicans would then be so kind as to support a moderate effort to clean up the neo-con mess in foreign policy, health care policy, environmental policy, and economic policy. Having said this, Obama could then state that he would, in his remaining two years, govern for the majority (that is not 60 Senators, but 51, assuming he is lucky enough to retain 51), then focus on proposing real reforms. Invite patriotic Republicans to work with him and ignore the rest. If Congress will not pass them, then he can blame the Republicans for preventing reform and go into the election with a clear record. But…what reforms?
  2. Bail Out People, Not Corporations. Remove all appointed officials from the financial sector if they previously worked in Wall Street. Instead, appoint a mix of academics who have NOT made millions advising Big Finance, government reformers (there are several whose names we know well now in Washington, more and more are emerging at the level of state prosecutors), and perhaps some small-town honest bankers who have carefully avoided the various Wall Street scams of recent years. Then, Obama should direct his new team to:
    1. Scrutinize what Big Finance has done with its bailout;
    2. Bring charges against any CEO’s who hid evidence from investors or regulators;
    3. Redirect policy away from bailing out the rich to funding the reconstruction of America;
    4. Propose clear legislation forcing mortgage companies to prove they hold the paper before they pressure a house-owner toward foreclosure;
    5. Bring serious criminal charges against any mortgage company & banking officials who may be guilty of mistreating those facing foreclosure.
  3. Heath Care As a Right, Not a Business. Announce the principle of socialized health care, explaining in a speech lasting no more than five minutes, that “socialized” means “for society” and that health care is henceforth to be considered a natural right of all Americans. Challenge the industry to come up with an acceptable private plan within 60 days to avoid direct government competition.
  4. Compromise With Iran. Quietly (OK – maybe he already has; I would be the last to know) invite Tehran to sit down to discuss a coordinated effort to resolve both the Iraq and Afghan situations. Separately, announce that U.S. military officials in the field have been authorized to shoot down any aerial force crossing the Persian Gulf in either direction for aggressive purposes. Strongly condemn any American or allied figure that threatens nuclear aggression against Iran.
  5. Support Democracy, Not Imperialism in the Levant. Noisily open all channels to the Israeli intellectual community to stimulate the Israeli “left,” for want of a better word, to devise a solution that frees the Palestinians and solidifies Israeli democracy. Announce that the Hamas policy of trying to participate in electoral politics (which they did at the invitation of both Israel and the U.S. in 2006) and trying to limit rocket attacks even in the face of continuing Israeli military pressure against Gaza justifies both removing Hamas from the terrorist list and opening talks with Hamas. Send the U.S. Navy to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
  6. Punish Environmental Crime. End all off-shore drilling until safe technology can be developed, start telling the truth about BP’s pre-oil gusher and post-oil gusher behavior and bring charges against guilty officials.

They say humans can remember plus-or-minus 7 points. Try these six, Mr. President, and maybe enough voters will remember to reelect you.

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