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Web Letter

Why is Obama being criticized for waging the war in Afghanistan when he clearly stated that he supported that war when he was campaigning?

What one has to ask is why he was against the Iraq War when everyone, including the Clintons, and many of his own fellow Dems in the Senate were for it, thinking that Sadaam had weapons of mass destruction that were a threat to us, Israel and many Arab countries. He opposed the war even though he thought they had WMDs. At the time he opposed it, no one was aware that Bush and Cheney were fabricating the data. That only came out later and made him look prophetic.

Yet he supports the escalation of war in Afghanistan against the Taliban, who were never a threat to us. And if he rationalizes that the Afghan war is against Al Qaeda, then he better be prepared to go to war in every country where Al Qaeda has set up shop. And that could be almost every Muslim country on the globe.

Arnold W. Levine

Boca Raton, FL

Dec 12 2009 - 5:55pm

Web Letter

What is most frustrating to me, as an Obama voter, is the inability to percieve the president's true convictions, if they exist at all. Is he really BSing us with rhetorical progressive promises and delivering hard dollars to the powers that have been and continue to be?

Or is he negotiating a hazaradous path to incremental progress that would be impossible to achieve ful-bore in one year in office? Just look at the insane-right wing opposition and the monolithic GOP resistance. Or is President Obama merely an expert political animal wanting to brag that he passed an "agenda," regardless of its effectivenes?

Alas, it does not really matter; the actions he has taken [or failed to take in guiding the healthcare legislation will have its deleterious consequences, regardless of President Obama's personal agenda or actual beliefs.

ASher Fried

Croton on Hudson, NY

Dec 11 2009 - 4:09pm

Web Letter

I know that The Nation is not a magazine of popular psychology, and I appreciate Mr. Scheer's correct accounting of President Obama's record in contrast to his rhetoric. Still, I would so much like to see another accounting, an accounting for who this man, our president, is.

There is another well known black-skinned man in the public eye, Clarence Thomas. He is a far-right justice. His rhetoric is unknown on SCOTUS. The image of him that lingers in my mind is of his anger. I can easily understand Thomas, though I do not like him. I find Obama likable, but I don't understand him, except as I mention below.

President Obama is a politician, and they all try to be likable. I am on my guard with Obama, because his personal graciousness is in contrast to his political record, as Scheer makes clear. The question begs: who is the real Obama? Whom or what are we dealing with in the White House?

I have seen only one opinion that fits. The author calls himself "Ali Sina," and his analysis of Barack Obama as a person may be googled. Ali Sina calls Obama a narcissist, not a garden-variety one but a person with NPD: Narcisstic Personality Disorder. I wish some others with insight into Obama's personality would share their conclusions.

Alvin D. Hofer

St. Petersburg, FL

Dec 11 2009 - 3:17pm

Web Letter

The news is out: Barack Obama is a fraud.

The problem with Democrats is that, unlike Republicans, they sugarcoat their capitalist agenda with their feel-good rhetoric about taking on the Big Guys--the insurance companies, Wall Street "fat cats" etc.--while behind closed doors they cater to their every need and whim. Obama learned his tricks from the master Bill Clinton and has one upped him on the sincerity front.

The truth is that despite his message of bringing a new kind of politics to Washington, Obama is engaging in the same sort of ruling-class war on workers and those in poverty that everyone from Reagan to Clinton to Bush have engaged in. And in a couple of years he will be again asking for our vote, telling us just how much he has done for us.

Barack Obama has no intention of ever passing legislation that advances the rights of unions or the working class. He has no intention of involving himself in the struggle to pass "meaningful" health reform that guarantees healthcare to every man, woman, and child in this country free of charge. Barack Obama has no intention of prosecuting the war criminals of the previous administration, and by his increased involvement in Afghanistan, he has vindicated Bush/Cheney for going there in the first place. And finally, this president has shown us just how serious he is about Wall Street reform by using Goldman Sachs as his hiring pool.

Barack Obama has no intention of ever upsetting the status quo--because he is the fucking status quo.

The news is out: Barack Obama is a fraud. Did any of us think that because he was black he would be any less capitalist?

B. Eliot Minor

New York, NY

Dec 10 2009 - 3:10pm

Web Letter

What Mr. Scheer and so many Nation readers do not seem to understand is the difference between campaigning for an office and actually governing if you are unfortunate enough to actually get elected to that office. Unless of course you are the head of a totalitarian dictatorship.

When campaigning you can promise anything, fix anything, do anything better than anyone has ever done it before and never even consider the possibility that you could make a mistake.

Then you get elected and find out what governing is really all about. There's this damn Congress to consider, and these troublemakers in your own party, and those pesky opposition media pundits who never believed any of your campaign bulls--t to start with. Why, they even have the audacity to criticize you for playing too much golf just because you criticized your predecessor for playing too much golf. Or for skewering you for blaming everything on W., when most of your problems go back to Clinton and even Carter.

And worst of all is when you learn that your tough decisions will result in bad, worse or disastrous outcomes, so that the best you can do will be criticized as a bad decision. And knowing that your successor will be blaming all his problems on you.

Arnold W. Levine

Boca Raton, FL

Dec 10 2009 - 8:11am

Web Letter

I understand Mr. Scheer's frustration, but to suggest that Obama is not interested in real reform against very powerful interest groups is plainly false. Wall Street does need reform, but when our banking system--which is inextricably linked to the world banking system--is about to fall off a cliff because of greed that was promoted during the Bush/Cheney years, that was simply an inopportune time for reform efforts. You first have to avert disaster, and then take steps to reform the system.

On healthcare, Obama attempted to avoid a repeat of 1993, with Hillary’s efforts to bypass industry influence by getting the healthcare industry to agree to not oppose healthcare reform. The insurance industry has reneged on this deal, and that is why we are in our current predicament. Obama believes we can counter insurance lobbyists with small donors just like he did in the campaign, and this is what prompted the letter to you. I actually disagree with this approach, and think serious campaign finance reform should have been the first reform that would enable all other reforms, including healthcare. But it was Obama’s decision to start with healthcare reform because of promises to Ted Kennedy before he died.

The Afghanistan decision is an entirely different issue that was not influenced by military-industrial-complex lobbyists as much as by real security issues in the region due to the lapses of Bush/Cheney for eight years. Obama did change the no-bid scheme, however, which dramatically reduces the financial rewards of military contractors who profit from war. Obama also rejected all proposals that did not include an exit strategy, as he really does not want to engage in perpetual war in Afghanistan or Iraq. And while I personally questioned the need for more troops to deal with the security issues that remain in the Af-Pak region, after hearing the president and his advisers’ plans for using the 30,000 troops, I believe their strategy has a real chance of success in ending this conflict as soon as possible.

Progressives need to be more patient, less reflexive and more practical in our view of how to shape this country with progressive values. Otherwise, we sound like over-anxious and impatient children who simply do not understand the practical reality of how to build a sustainable progressive revolution like Reagan did with conservative ideology. I disliked Ronald Reagan’s policies, but one would have to be a fool to not learn from his thirty-year successful example on how to change this country.

Metteyya Brahmana

Santa Cruz, CA

Dec 9 2009 - 6:33pm

Web Letter

I had the same reaction, and I sent an e-mail to Obama stating as much. The sad thing is that I had The Audacity of Hope and actually believed that Obama was different. I should have known better. I thought his audacity was boldness against the establishment. I now realize that it was his blodness in pulling the wool over our eyes while appearing sincere.

Russ Dutnell

Norman, OK

Dec 9 2009 - 11:33am