Realistic Hope (for Obama)

In recent days a few integral bloggers (Joe and Matthew) have both stated they would very likely vote for Obama–though with reservations and disagreements.

One of which–others have as well–is what would he actually be able to do as president, all the beautiful rhetoric aside.

Just thinking here–not at all clear yet he will be the Dem. nominee much less next President–but it is worth some perspective.

One: the economy will be by all indicators in recession when he takes office. Perhaps the worst economic situation since the stagflation of the 70s, perhaps even worse.

The US will be (is already) in the worst foreign policy situation (lowest ebb of power) since the 1970s, since the retreat from Vietnam.

The American moment will officially be over. The failures of George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, and worst by far George W. Bush to have a post Cold War coherent foreign policy will be apparent.

And there won’t be too much an Obama administration will be able to do right away on either of those fronts.

Iraq will be even more untenable than it is currently and when an Obama Presidency starts the withdraw, I fear more bloodshed, though perhaps the country is burned over–but I guarantee the Shia fight among themselves is not.

Afghanistan will have likely degraded further. Canada is threatening a pull out unless the other NATO countries step it up.

Pakistan will likely be further eroding, violence sporadic and targeted as al-Qaeda will be yet again in a stronger position (most likely) than it is right now and at anytime since pre 9/11.

Iran will continue to be roiled. Violence will still be erupting all along the Eastern coast of Africa, particularly the Horn.

At the moment the country would want some progressive policies–esp. health care and new energy policy–the deficit will be riding higher than ever and a new Democratic administration will not be able to pull a Bill Clinton and balance the budget. Debts will continue to soar.

What Obama can realistically do.

–End the Boomer reign and begin a new chapter, 21st century governance. He will not succeed in all ways, but I think he could put the country on a good footing.

–Bring back a forthright non-salacious, non-hyperpartisan type of discourse to US politics. He could work with a Gov. Schwarzenegger among others to accomplish some goals, helping give moderate Republicans some standing (interestingly) in their own party. Bring back of all things a “Clintonian” approach centrist Democratic that emphasizes government helping create opportunity/platforms in the new informational economy.

–Begin a new foreign policy taking into account the end of American unilateralism and the American moment. Subtly working US influence through new soft power modalities. Establish diplomatic status with Cuba (end the ludicrous embargo).

e.g. Establish a detente with Iran. Start to distance US policy from outright support of dictators like Musharraf. End the failed policy of trying to promote democracies everywhere. Deal with China–particularly if they ice Kim Jong Il as they still might. Leverage Australia (and Obama’s childhood exp plus recent death of Suharto) to increase ties with Indonesia.

–Build networking capacity and shift more forces to breaking supply chains/networks of al-Qaeda. Cease using real terrorism threat as fear-mongering ploy for political short-term gain like Bush and Rove have repeatedly done.

–Restore the rule of law in America, particularly at the federal level. Over-turn Bush’s signing orders. Pull out of any illegal (non Congressional) treaties with the Iraqi government for permanent bases.

–Restore a sense of optimism even in the midst of what are going to be some very dark years ahead…a la Reagan.

–I don’t know what he can legitimately do by way of health care, stem cell research, and energy policy. I would hope a good deal, but I’m totally convinced. Plus that’s out of my range.

–Build the Democratic Party nationwide and realign the political map, reducing the Republican Party to essentially a Southern-only regional Sun-Belt Mike Huckabee evangelical-based party.

But no he is not a Messiah. I am also worried the Dems are shifting against free trade.

He’s far from a perfect candidate, but the alternatives are, for the 21st century, unthinkable. He’s the best of those left standing, but there are some serious question marks nonetheless and downsides/shadow to be sure.

Published in: on January 30, 2008 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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