Clean Up Time
Imperial repair has begun, and naturally, liberals and Democrats are basking in their funhouse reflections. To be expected. How long they have waited to praise the American state, to celebrate its imperial manager. And it's only been a few days! There's so much more to look forward to.
Obama is closing Guantanamo in a year, swears he's against torture, seeks to eliminate CIA black sites. This has his admirers all gooey in the knees. “He really gets it,” marveled John D. Hutson, a retired admiral and law school dean, who watched Obama sign the Gitmo order.“He acknowledged that this isn’t easy. But he is absolutely dedicated to getting us back on track as a nation. This is the right thing to do morally, diplomatically, militarily and Constitutionally.”
John Kerry added, “America is ready to lead again — not just with our words, but by our example.” Obama agreed with his fans: "We think that it is precisely our ideals that give us the strength and the moral high ground to be able to effectively deal with the unthinking violence that we see emanating from terrorist organizations around the world."
Moral America is back, baby. Finally, we can take pride in the fatherland as we lead the planet according to God's will. The embarrassing, aberrant Bush/Cheney era is already a distant memory, but serviceable when liberals need something to bash.
Is it crass to say I told you so?
Out here, where the confetti's not as thick, the picture's less rosy. Obama's doing what many in elite circles want done. His moves are hardly controversial, much less courageous. Most of Bush's mess must be cleaned up before the US can get on with the next imperial phase. Gitmo was bad PR. Torture's bad PR. Unlike more rigid systems, the American model adapts, alters itself when necessary, but not too much, for those calling the shots want to protect their advantage. Look to those periods when the powerful thought they were losing control, and watch the truncheon crash down. No worries about that today. Nearly everyone's on board. Masses of people are still crying and thrashing about with holy vigor. Consumers want to believe in the American fairy tale, and Obama's gonna give it to them. He's gonna give them something else in time. But that's down the road.
None of this is new. Jimmy Carter played the same role after the Nixon years, restoring "human rights" to the American vocabulary. If you read "Savage Mules," you'll know where this led. Yet, I don't think that Obama's another Carter -- he's too slick to get snared in that trap. Carter's failure taught Bill Clinton several lessons, and Clinton's success is not lost on Obama. Why do you think he made Hillary Secretary of State? To leading corporate Dems, it's always advisable to have a Clinton around.
States aren't moral agents. They don't have personalities or pet peeves. States represent the interests of those who rule them. And it's in the interest of our present rulers to reboot the American brand. Words like "morality" and "ideals" are smokescreens, blown in the faces of the public. Bush used the same words, but fewer and fewer people believed him. It was his own damn fault. A cheap failure in so many ways, Bush's recklessness made Obama's ascent not only possible, but inevitable. His actions weren't out of the mainstream of imperial thought, just riskier, crazier, more destructive. Bush's tactics were questioned, but not his crusade, which remains with us. His violence didn't seriously bother Democrats, as they continually helped finance it. So all this "new day" blather is utter bullshit. What's new is that we have a better, smoother bullshitter in office.
Bush also attempted some imperial repair when he closed Abu Ghraib in 2006. I don't recall liberals falling over themselves with joy when that happened. But then Bush was nefarious, sneaky. There had to be an angle to it. Obama closing Gitmo is born of decency, idealism. I can't wait to see what words liberals will use when Obama's first cluster bombs are dropped.