Did the Republicans throw the 2008 Presidential Election?

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

What’s that, you say?

When playing the game of checkers, surrendering one piece to set up a subsequent double or triple jump may be well worth the sacrifice, remembering that losing a battle sometimes sets the stage for winning the war.

checker board Pictures, Images and Photos

The Republicans had to be cognizant that the party that “won” the Oval Office in 2009-2013 would be holding onto the equivalent of a sack filled with animal droppings and an activated hand grenade.  They may well have calculated that no matter which party occupied the White House during the current term, there was a significant likelihood that the opposing party would prevail in 2012, and perhaps more importantly, the party controlling the Executive Branch in 2012 could be well-positioned to retain that power for quite some time to follow.  

If Obama were to withdraw from Afghanistan and/or Iraq, the impact of such a move upon the nation’s economy would likely be felt well before the end of his term.  The following provides a sense of the numbers of U. S. military personnel in Vietnam at various points in time:

31 December 1960  900  

31 December 1961  3,200  

31 December 1962  11,500  

31 December 1963  16,300  

31 December 1964  23,300  

31 December 1965  184,300  

31 December 1966  425,300  

31 December 1967  485,600  

31 December 1968  536,100  

31 December 1969  474,400  

31 December 1970  335,800  

9 June 1971            250,900  

The high water mark occurred on April 30, 1969, when 543,482 U. S. military personnel were stationed in Vietnam. During the final eight months of 1969, total numbers declined by nearly 70,000.  Inflation made itself known during the following year.

With very rare exception, the winding down of any war effort has been accompanied by unpleasant economic repercussions.  It would seem that traversing this bed of hot coals has been a traditional, but necessary evil as the nation returns to a peacetime economy.  

One preventive strategy that could be attempted would be that of redirecting the energies of returning troops into a government-run jobs program to rebuild this country’s crumbling infrastructure.  Such a strategy would conceivably be relatively neutral in terms of unemployment rates and would represent an investment in our future, in the form of construction at home rather than destruction abroad.

During the first seven decades of the 20th Century, the average annual inflation rate in the United States was 2.5%. By 1970, this rate rose to 6%, and peaked at 13.3% in 1979.  In 1980, at the time of Jimmy Carter’s campaign for re-election against Ronald Reagan, the misery index (the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate) reached an all-time high of 21.98%.  

Seeking a clean break from the taint of Watergate (further defiled by Ford’s pardon of Nixon), the populace elected Jimmy Carter to the Presidency in 1976.  During the years that followed, the nation struggled to pay off the debt accrued during our tragic misadventure in Southeast Asia, ostensibly printing currency to help pay down the bill. Inflation picked up considerably, although it had begun under Nixon and Ford.  

Some of may recall the ubiquitous W.I.N. (“Whip Inflation Now”) buttons, following Ford’s October 8, 1974 address to Congress, during which he declared inflation to be “public enemy number one.”  This effort included proposals to bring inflation under control. “WIN” buttons soon became fodder for ridicule.  Skeptics wore the buttons upside down, explaining that “NIM” stood for “No Immediate Miracles,” or “Nonstop Inflation Merry-go-round,” or “Need Immediate Money.”

Here’s a brief side trip down nostalgia lane, for all those who pine for the 1970s…

As much as it might gratify many who voted for him in 2008, if Obama were to pursue a drawdown in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, and the economy were to sustain even further damage, the Republicans, with the able assistance of the Corporate Media and a mostly gullible electorate, would surely capitalize.  And then there is the historical precedent of the nation’s reluctance to turn an incumbent war president out of office, certainly serving as a tempting rationale to “stay the course.”  

The elections of 2008 occurred within the rare context of an electorate, weary from the ravages suffered under the Supreme Court appointed Bush/Cheney regime, who were figuratively dying of thirst.  Barack Obama, sensing this need, included just enough buzz phrases in his speeches to instill hope within the hearts and minds of many who had long ago lost that most critical, sustaining life-force.  

Unprecedented legions of the converted, in many cases, for the very first time in their lives, donated money they didn’t have and took precious time away from jobs, family and friends to do the thankless work in the trenches necessary to ensure an Obama victory in November, 2008.  They worked phone banks, knocked on countless doors, convinced friends and family to join their efforts, and chose to suspend most, if not all, lingering disbelief, convincing themselves that in the person Barack Obama, this nation would finally place someone in the Oval Office who represented the people of this country first…and wealthy individuals and corporations second.  

Those who did so ignored Obama’s past voting record, ascribing much to his proclamation that he opposed the invasion/occupation of Iraq when he was a member of the Illinois legislature, at a time when his vote didn’t count. They also chose to disregard additional cautionary signs, which included the following:  

1. The absence of any stance and/or legislation initiated by Barack Obama that represented courage and leadership to effect truly meaningful change.  Perhaps someone can cite an exception?

2. Obama’s support of Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic Primary when Ned Lamont successfully challenged him to represent their party in the senatorial election later that year.

3. Obama’s statement, on or around August 1, 2007, that he would support going after Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, even without approval from Islamabad.

4. Obama’s receipt/acceptance of enormous political contributions from corporations who would conceivably dread his election to office.

5. Statements of praise from no less than Mike Huckabee, “We have to recognize that what Senator Obama has done is touch on a core of what America has done…America is looking for vertical leadership that looks up not down…. He has excited a lot of voters in this country and lets pay respect for that.”

6. Obama’s support of the Oman Free Trade Agreement, as well as the Peru Free Trade Agreement.  Anyone else remember Perot’s allusion to that “giant sucking sound” during the 1992 Presidential Election, in reference to an enactment of NAFTA?

In essence, Barack Obama’s supporters chose to believe their preferred interpretation of his rhetoric, at the same time voluntarily blinding themselves to his actions.  For those who acknowledged such concerns, many chose to believe that once safely ensconced in office, Barack Obama would then return to what they’d hoped were his true, underlying aspirations, i.e., that of leading this nation, slowly and painfully, out of the modern day equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits.

La Brea Tar Pits Pictures, Images and Photos

Once in office, however, rather than throwing those supporters a lifeline, Barack Obama tossed them an anchor. They had hoped, in vain, it would appear, that Obama would shed his centrist cloak, revealing himself to be the ardent populist they had dared to believe he might become.

Following in George W. Bush’s footsteps, Barack Obama campaigned toward the center, and then, once in office, took a hard turn to the right.

What will be the fate of those who, if ever so briefly in 2008, dared to hope, in some cases for the first time in their lives?  Will they heed the words of George W. Bush (or at least the meaning that he was supposedly attempting to convey), when in 2002 he articulated so ineloquently:

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

Will these good souls, once spurned at the altar, be willing to march down the aisle a second time?  The 2009 elections last month would seem to be instructive, with the exception of the result in NY-23, which would appear to be an anomaly.  Far more concerning are the many who voted for Barack Obama in Virginia and New Jersey in 2008 who stayed home this year. Will these people have a reason to entertain hope again in 2010, or further down the road, in 2012?

Time is quickly running out for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, assuming that the point of no return has not been passed already.  Next month marks the beginning of an election year, when very little, if any, meaningful legislation has traditionally been enacted.  

If the turnout last month in Virginia and New Jersey is repeated elsewhere in November, 2010, the Republicans stand a very good chance of recapturing control of the House, Senate, or perhaps both, as if they need majorities in order to have their way, courtesy of the craven, premature surrender of Obama and the Blue Dogs.  

Even if Obama “sees the light” after next November, it will likely be too late to redeem himself for the 2012 elections. He could well be swimming against the tide of Republican majorities in either or both houses, thereby preventing any substantive reform.

Barack Obama’s cowardice has already emboldened the Republican opposition, in the same manner that the blood of an injured prey in the water triggers the killer instinct in a  hungry shark.  Republican fervor would most assuredly skyrocket following significant gains in the next election.

sharks Pictures, Images and Photos

The Republicans are most assuredly licking their chops in eager anticipation of the elections next fall.  In 2008, by fielding the oldest candidate for the Presidency in our nation’s history, and adding a flamboyant, but severely ill-informed and polarizing figure in the person of Sarah Palin, they provided the Old Guard and the Reich Wingnuts with their time in the sun, at a time when it didn’t really count — an ill-fated opportunity to prove their mettle.  

The Republicans in 2008 wagered that Barack Obama would act decisively to smother the aspirations of those who dared to believe his message of meaningful reform.  Had Obama surprised the Republicans, providing FDR-like leadership to quickly enact measures that might translate into even the early beginnings of an improvement in the lives of the many, the Republicans could have faced another long winter, such as the one that followed the days of the New Deal.  Absent a miraculous development in the near future, it would appear that the Republicans made a well placed bet.  

Unless the Republicans are more self-destructive than would be suggested by the past, in 2012 they will offer someone who, at least on the surface, will not be controversial enough to re-energize Obama’s former base or frighten those who occupy the political center.

Even during the present period of supposed defeat for the Republicans, Obama has preserved far more of the Bush/Cheney “reforms” than he has overturned.  He has maintained the previously established status quo, jettisoning his base at the same time that he injects new life into the opposition party.  The most egregious aspects of Republican rule have been left largely undisturbed.

In fact, the Republican cause may well be better served with Barack Obama in the White House than if McCain/Palin had prevailed in 2008.  Quite arguably, if McCain had taken the same actions that Barack Obama has, the left would have surely risen in unison (well, except for Lieberman, the Nelson “brothers”, Landreau, and Lincoln & Pryor, D-Walmart) to scream their outrage from the rooftops, predictably ignored by the Corporate Media.  

Had the Democrats lost in 2008, they may have still been able to energize Obama’s base in 2012, however, by then the Supreme Court would have been absolutely loaded with Roberts/Thomas/Scalia/Alito clones.  That body would have undoubtedly presented a formidable roadblock to reform, surely spanning the lifetimes of all but the most youthful in our country.

Many on the left have maintained a staunch conspiracy of silence, reminding themselves that Barack Obama is “their guy” and that McCain/Palin would be much worse.  In terms of the worst culprits, this writer will avoid mentioning any particular site by name, however, in terms of identification, the following might provide a clue — What is the result when you combine the colors of bright red (representing blood thirsty Republicans) and bright yellow (denoting cowardly Democrats)?

COLOR WHEEL Pictures, Images and Photos

Barack Obama’s most formidable challenge in 2010 and 2012 will be to reverse the ongoing loss of hope, only to be replaced by despair, on the part of those who sacrifices made his Presidency possible.  Can he reverse this result before it is too late?  What will comprise that list of meaningful achievements he can cite to prove that he did not forget those who call Main Street, U.S.A. their home?  

Is there a historical precedent for a President with the basement-level approval ratings that George W. Bush had still being able to push his agenda, courtesy of the prostrate Democratic-controlled Congress?  And is there a precedent for such a small minority in both the House and Senate to exert the outsize influence that currently seems to be the case?  And will Barack Obama be remembered in the history as having profligately squandered the most resounding electoral mandate of our lifetimes, accelerating this once great country’s decline toward Second or quite possibly Third World status?

Is there some real and substantive cause for hope that is eluding this writer?  Giving up is not a viable option, despite our much closer current proximity to cause for despair than any real basis for hope.  

On the side of despair, and in support of cynicism, we may consider the following words offered to us by the famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw:

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.”

But can we afford to surrender hope, as weary as we may feel at present?  Perhaps we would do well to remind ourselves of the power of persistence, represented by the fledgling effort of Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Staton, marked in part by the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.  This torch was later carried by Alice Paul, whose courage and determination were an inspiration for many.  Only after more than seven decades of unrelenting dedication, aided by the emerging realization that women played a vital role in our nation’s World War I effort, was the right to vote secured for all women.    

Yes, circumstances at present may not afford us the luxury of seven decades to reverse the collision course upon which this country seems to be fixated.  But, what is the alternative to surrendering our hopes and our will over to the dubious care of those who seek to become our slave masters?  The Republican Party, and quite likely the Corpodems as well, are surely drooling in rapt anticipation of the opportunities that so tantalizingly seem to lie within their grasp.

The first step would arguably be that of unflinchingly facing the unpleasant realities associated with our present condition.  As suggested by William F. Lynch:

One of the best safeguards of our hopes, I have suggested, is to be able to mark off the areas of hopelessness and to acknowledge them, to face them directly, not with despair but with the creative intent of keeping them from polluting all the areas of possibility.

Perhaps the most formidable task before us is that of continuing the search for awould be tantamount to shuffling obediently toward the gallows, where all that makes life worthwhile would be quickly, cruelly and efficiently extinguished.

This writer does not purport to harbor the secret roadmap for this elusive but vital destination, but only serves to make the case that it is vitally important to continue this quest.

Many have reminded us of the importance of hope in our lives, for its loss would surely exact a heavy price.

Here are a few words of wisdom for us to ponder:

The important thing is not that we can live on hope alone, but that life is not worth living without it. — Harvey Milk

He who does not hope to win has already lost.

– Jose Joaquin Olmedo

Hope is the last thing that dies in man.

– Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Hell is the place where one has ceased to hope.

– A. J. Cronin

Take hope from the heart of man and you make him a beast of prey.

– Ouida

When hope is taken away from the people, moral degeneration follows swiftly after.

– Pearl S. Buck

15 comments

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  1. Ideally, we might one day witness a more convincing case for hope, but we must never forget that surrender is not an option.

    • Inky99 on December 5, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    You are assuming that there is actually a difference between the two parties, and that they aren’t really just a “good cop/bad cop” version of the same ruling elite.

    You are also assuming that Obama actually isn’t just a tool of the same ruling elite that was behind Bush.  

    All evidence shows these assumptions to be false.

    Sure, there are a few “good” Democrats, just like there are a few genuine bondafide right-wing nutjobs in the Republican party who believe their own bullshit.

    But they are in the minority.   The Powers That Be are far smarter than to let anyone who actually represents the “off the reservation” stances have any power.

    I think the Repubs threw the election, yes.   By nominating an old man with cancer and a completely unqualified nutjob woman Governor from Alaska.

    Remember how the sequence unfolded.   Obama had his Democratic Convention, which culminated in a speech watched by millions, who were inspired, enthused, once again believing in their country and all the heart-warming, tear-inducing bullshit that Obama spewed out.

    Rather than rain on that parade, the Republicans responded …. by choosing Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate.  

    Everyone was shocked, but it was a foregone conclusion from then on.   It would be a sweeping “Democratic Victory”, throwing out the old, hated Bush and especially Cheney, ushering in a new era of Patriotic Goodness, when in fact, the only thing that changed was the tattered curtain which was starting to fail to hide the men behind it.

    If we are to get anywhere in this country, we need to quit falling for the “Democratic Vs. Republican “spy vs spy fiction that exists.  

    They are the same.

    The ones with real power that is.   They are the same.

    That is why people who are real, like Howard Dean, or Dennis Kucinich, or now Alan Grayson, will never be afforded any real power.   That simply will NOT be tolerated.  

    Democrats aren’t going to save this country.   The Democratic Party will not allow it.  

    Neither party will allow it.   They both work for the same people — the elites.  Wall Street and the Pentagon.

    Look at who Chelsea Clinton is going to marry.   That says it all.

    • banger on December 5, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I do think the Republicans threw the last election — it seemed obvious then and even more obvious now. When they lost the election they (meaning the interests they represent) lost nothing.

    But I think you understress an important part of the dynamic. I don’t believe there is any substantial difference between mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans. Those differences appear to be great when made into a professional wrestling match by the mainstream media but the differences are tiny and largely irrelevant.

    So in a way the Republicans can throw as many elections as they want. Things can go good or bad for Obama and it makes no difference. We live in a one party state with two right wings as Gore Vidal likes to say. I thought he was being funny but in fact he was very serious. I now see that he’s absolutely correct. We have two right wings. One wing tends to appeal to cultural progressives the other to cultural conservatives. But politically there is no substantial difference. Both cater to and work for the betterment of the oligarchy and are therefore conservatives. They want to keep things as they are. The Dems want to systemize more the Republicans like to keep it looser. That’s it.

    I no longer care which political party has power it is utterly irrelevant to me personally. I tend to vote for Democrats because I belong to the educated upper middle class, that’s it.

    In fact, I may even go over to the other side. For years Republicans tried to sabotage government efforts to help the poor and said that the government was the problem not the solution. Well they weren’t right in 1980 but they are right now. Government is the problem, in fact, is the enemy of all of us who share anything resembling progressive politics.

    Our efforts need to go towards economic, cultural and political independence of the corporate/imperial state. It is no longer a Constitutional government we don’t need to have alleigance to it.  

    • Joy B. on December 5, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    in politics. It’s a shame so many first-timers had to learn that lesson the hard way, but even that can be a saving grace somewhere down the line. We need to stop looking to politicians to magically make our lives worth living and do for ourselves that which needs doing. Once the full energy of our talents and ambitions is put into doing for ourselves and our own communities, the indignities and offenses visited upon our abilities by the government that seeks to cripple us will be viewed in their rightful perspective. Democrats and Republicans are just colors on the Risk board, politics nothing but a game with loaded dice. If we were to abandon such labels and ultimately wasteful pastimes we might find we can elect the kind of people who will do the job they’ve applied for. I’d love to see a future government full of people with I’s or N’s (non-party) after their names, doing what they are paid – by us – to do.

    Politicians are supposed work for us, not shadowy corporate string-pullers. It’s time we insist, or fire the lot of ’em. Even the shadowiest of string-pullers knows where the real power lies in this world. That’s why they’re so intent on keeping us barefoot and pregnant… §;o)

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