[Marxism] Reduced Shakespeare summary of Obama’s presidency

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Nov 22 08:55:23 MST 2009

The New York Times, November 22, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
Visceral Has Its Value



If we could see a Reduced Shakespeare summary of Obama’s presidency so 
far, it would read:

Dither, dither, speech. Foreign trip, bow, reassure. Seminar, summit. 
Shoot a jump shot with the guys, throw out the first pitch in mom jeans. 
Compromise, concede, close the deal. Dither, dither, water down, news 

It’s time for the president to reinvent this formula and convey a more 
three-dimensional person.

Palin can be stupefyingly simplistic, but she seems dynamic. Obama is 
impressively complex but he seems static.

She nurtures her grass roots while he neglects his.

He struggles to transcend identity politics while she wallows in them. 
As he builds an emotional moat around himself, she exuberantly pushes 
whatever she has, warts and all — the good looks, the tabloid-perfect 
family, the Alaska quirkiness, the kids with the weird names.

Just like the disastrous and anti-intellectual W., this Visceral One 
never doubts herself. The Cerebral One welcomes doubt.

On Afghanistan, Palin says, W-like, that the president should simply 
give Gen. Stanley McChrystal a blank check. But Afghanistan is a 
wrenching decision, and we do need the closest exit ramp. So the 
president should get credit for standing back and studying the issue, 
and for not rubber-stamping the generals’ predictable urge to surge. But 
the way he has handled the perception part has allowed critics — 
including generals — to cast him as indecisive.

McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus should have been giving their best 
advice to Obama — and airing their view against scaling down in 
Afghanistan — in confidence. Instead, McChrystal pushed his opinion in a 
speech in London, and Petraeus has discussed his feelings in private 
sessions with reporters. This creates a “Seven Days in May” syndrome, 
where the two generals are, in effect, lobbying against the president 
and undercutting him as he’s trying to make a painfully complex, 
life-and-death decision.

This time, Obama should adopt Palin’s straight-from-the-gut approach, 
call the generals into the Oval and tell them, “Your pie-holes you will 
shut or rise higher you will not. Because, dang it, the president I am!”

Nicholas D. Kristof is off today.

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