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As Long as We Remember...

July 23, 2010

Offing Obama

Roy Meachum

The final straw for me was the British hedge fund manager’s saying Sunday that Barack Obama should be “shorted:” Wall Street-speak for finished off.


Let’s review: the nation’s first African American president was elected, in part, because his very color signified change from “the dead old white guys in history books,” as his predecessors were termed years ago.


The nation he inherited was nearly financially and morally bankrupt; early on in the Bush-Cheney Administration the more powerful and assertive vice president called together big businesses’ heads and signaled they would not be bothered by governmental intrusion. The message: They were totally free to make money anyway they could.


Not incidentally, approximately a year after he swore on the Bible to honor and uphold America’s ethical beliefs, Mr. Cheney demonstrated they didn’t apply to him. His Halliburton stock options soared from a pre-inauguration estimate of $241,498 to more than $8 million. That was before he gandy-danced this country into the invasion of Iraq, taking much of the world along. By rewarding himself through those options, he channeled humongous multi-billion dollar contracts to the corporation he headed before moving into the nation’s second-ranking office.


Upholding the early meeting, the vice president was part and parcel of the $700 billion bailout for collapsing big banks, stock firms and automakers; the package was engineered by the administration’s Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson; he came to Washington from Goldman Sachs, the first important bank to turn belly-up in the current catastrophe. The staunchly Republican Time Magazine ran Secretary Paulson’s picture on the front cover as the “face of the financial debacle.”


The last presidential election happened as the nation was diving to economic depths not known since the Great Depression. This was the point at which Barack Obama stepped in. With chaos on every corner, the American electorate chose him to “make things better.” He was hamstrung from the start by highly critical powerful public voices negating to their followers any positive move he made: Rush Limbaugh prayed the new president failed.


Unfortunately for his political reputation, Mr. Obama chose to try to correct flaws in the federal system, especially healthcare that neglected millions of citizens, leaving them out in the cold. But the biggest storm encountered was in his attempt to repair regulation breeches that caused the economic mess in the first place – prompting the London hedge fund manager wishing the U.S. chief executive dead, or its equivalent.


To add insult to many verbal injuries and taunts, America’s so-called “progressives” gathered at failed presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s invitation and expressed their disappointment with Mr. Obama’s performance. Earlier it seemed to me, reading both The New York Times and The Washington Post, the nation’s newspapers of record contained daily sniping against the man they strongly endorsed two years ago. (By the way, the Bush Administration managed to bully them both into supporting the Iraq invasion – to my personal astonishment.)


To get anything done in Washington’s nervous ambiance, the president was forced to play hard ball. Sometimes he understood an issue was not possible to change; planning to fight another day he walked away – as in the new financial regulations. His naysayers brayed whichever route he chose, making noises like the asses they are – in my regard.


The Bush-Cheney Administration left behind an exploited and poisoned legacy that continues to threaten the democratic republic. For all Barack Obama’s efforts, this nation may very well disintegrate shortly – but I hope not before I shuffle along to another life.


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