Start Acting Like the Winner, Obama!

Making a show of cooperating with die-hard Republican right-wingers, coddling financial criminals, allowing Netanyahu’s war party to manipulate him, Obama shows no sign of having learned anything from his four years of practice.

As of Friday, Nov. 16, Obama is sadly fast wasting a nice little window of opportunity to take advantage of a bit of momentum from his electoral victory and offer the nation the impression that he will learn from his mistakes and become a better, more committed, President in his second term…a President with a more defensible goal that being friends with every political adversary he encounters.

Instead, he has returned to giving the defeated Republicans the spotlight as equal negotiating partners and has failed to take any of the many executive initiatives that his position makes possible. Obama gives little indication that he hears the message of the victorious Democratic progressives. It is not just about Elizabeth Warren (who famously battled her way back into a conservative-controlled Washington that had booted her out for defending popular rights, but also North Dakota’s (!) new Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who “campaigned on a platform of ending tax cuts for millionaires and protecting Social Security from cuts;” Montana, where reelected Senator Jon Tester campaigned for taxes on the rich; and Wisconsin, where new Senator Tammy Baldwin defends Glass-Steagall and advocates higher taxes for the rich; and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, who appears interested in forcing big banks to behave more responsibly; possibly Connecticut’s Chris Murphy; and Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Instead of inviting the pro-rich Republican Congressional elite to the White House, Obama should be openly talking financial reform with the likes of Senators Warren, Heitkamp, Tester, Baldwin, Brown, Murphy, and Sanders.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu shows himself once again to be a far more skillful, if also more ruthless, tactician than Obama, neatly seizing the initiative in his long campaign to establish Israel as the dog and the U.S. as the tail. Once again, Netanyahu demonstrates that “violence is the answer,” or—more to the point—that he can choose violence at will, ignoring the national security interests of the U.S. without suffering any penalties: Obama will always bend his knee, though exactly why Obama remains afraid of the Israeli war party whose millions in campaign contributions to Romney were just wasted is unclear.

Obama thoughtlessly stated that Israel has “every right” to “defend itself.” No one ever has “every right” to do anything. I do not have “every right” to defend myself against a mugger if that includes dropping a nuke on the city the mugger happens to live in or permanently colonizing the homeland of the mugger. Israel does not have every right to attack Palestinians any more than Palestinians have every right to attack Israelis. Israel has some rights of self-defense, just as Palestinians have some rights to self-defense. Moreover, to say that this “began” with Hamas missile attacks when Israel has been practicing repression of Palestinians to the point of genocide and ethnic cleansing for decades amounts to a total distortion of history and fact. “Every right” and “all options” are dangerous, misleading, inappropriate ways of discussing international affairs. It is time we cleaned up our language and starting discussing difficult issues accurately. Then, perhaps we can see the trouble-makers for what they are and starting identifying just solutions. Just solutions will not flow from protecting the rich and powerful but from offering the underprivileged a peaceful road to equality of opportunity and security within the system.

Adelson with his millions was slapped down on Election Day. Obama, what are you afraid of?


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