Friday, July 3, 2009

Under Cover

As is often the case, Stephen Colbert got it about right – Mark Sanford’s mistake was not getting caught at the Atlanta airport coming back from a tryst with his Argentine soul mate. It was getting caught at the Atlanta airport coming back from a tryst with his Argentine soul mate the day before Michael Jackson died. Characteristically, the Obama administration is more sagacious.

Thus in recent days, more or less under the radar of the all-Jackson-all-the-time cable networks, Obama has ratcheted up betrayals of his voters’ expectations. The CIA inspector general’s report on “enhanced interrogations” (torture) that, thanks to an ACLU law suit, was supposed to be released a month ago but wasn’t, and that was then supposed to be released today but won’t be, is now scheduled for release in two months time. Evidently, our self-declared proponents of transparency and the rule of law think they can play out the clock in their efforts to protect the war criminals of the Cheney-Bush era from prosecution. The less we know, the more likely they will succeed.

Worse than that, though, is how the Peace President has given carte blanche to the Pentagon to finally get “counter-insurgency” right. After failing miserably decades ago in Vietnam, and failing again in Iraq, they’re now back at it, big time, in Afghanistan – in other words, in the continuation of a war that has been lost for years. Is there a point to invading southern Afghanistan en masse and then staying there indefinitely to win over “hearts and minds”? Not really, unless, as in Iraq, the idea is to make more terrorists. But reason not the need! Obama, it seems, only wants to get right – or, rather, to do competently – what Bush and Company did incompetently. His Afghanistan “surge” is, accordingly, a (vain) exercise in competence for competence’s sake.

Strictly speaking, Obama’s antics in Afghanistan only betray the spirit, not the letter, of his campaign promises. After all, like other “peace” Democrats -- Howard Dean among them -- he never exactly opposed the Bush War in Afghanistan, just the ill-advised Bush War in Iraq. It is in that still on-going lost war that Obama is at odds not just with the spirit, but also the letter, of his campaign promises. According to the lame timetable for withdrawal that he once made so much of, he was supposed to be pulling entire brigades out of the country by now. Instead, he’s pulling “combat troops” (as if there are any other kind!) into bases around Iraqi cities, leaving the dirty work of sustaining the occupation to Iraqi forces, while foreclosing absolutely no options for the U.S. military. There are some 140,000 American troops in Iraq now, and the numbers are not expected to decline significantly for a long time, or ever to decline to zero in the foreseeable future.

But who cares now that the Michael Jackson spectacle is in full bloom! Certainly not MSNBC or CNN. However, we should not hastily conclude that it’s all their fault. The “public” is making them do it. Where are the “culture critics” who can explain why? Michael Jackson was a creature of the Bad Old Days of Seventies and then Reagan era mind-numbing pop. His genius was commercial, not artistic. Thus his most memorable, indeed his only, contribution to race relations was to break down the race barrier at MTV! Before he turned creepy and, as much as medically possible, white, he was a fair singer and a good dancer; nothing more. Yet even the people for whom Barack Obama wasn’t black enough, the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world, are now adding their own two cents to the mass hysteria. If it is so important to them to celebrate dead black superstars, they have had, in recent years, far more worthy exemplars from which to choose – Ray Charles, for example, or since mindless “entertainment” now seems key, James Brown. Why all the fuss for a washed up, washed out “troubled soul”?

Someday perhaps somebody will explain this strange phenomenon. But there is nothing strange or hard to explain in the way liberals, especially the ones let into the media after the 2006 elections, are adding to the hysteria. For these Obamamaniacs, Jackson-mania gives their Supreme Leader cover to do his worst. If they can keep the Jackson “news” coming, Obama may even be able to get away with outdoing his already thoroughly “bipartisan” self by junking that half-assed “public option” in his health care reform program altogether. Chuck Grassley and Max Baucus await his acquiescence.

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