Wael Ghonim vs. Barack Obama: Change we Can Believe in, Yes we Can

It is no secret that President Barack Obama has been in some regards a profound disappointment to the American Left, and his erratic and often disgraceful performance on the Egypt crisis exemplifies his faults in this regard. (Tom Engelhardt puts it best regarding the administration: “It has shown itself to be weak, visibly fearful, at a loss for what to do, and always several steps behind developing events.”) Obama just seems to lack empathy with the little people and is unwilling to buck the rich and powerful, even though they all opposed his run for the presidency. As Iran’s speaker of the house put it, the Obama administration, faced with a choice of supporting the youth revolution or the camels unleashed on it, has chosen the camels. It makes a person think there should be rule that no one can run for the presidency who didn’t have a proper father figure in his or her life (Bill Clinton, W., Obama), since apparently once they get into office they start thinking the billionaires are their long-lost parent, whom they have to bend over backward to please.

Obama dealt with the Wall Street crisis by rewarding with more billions the corrupt and/or grossly incompetent financiers who threw millions of Americans out of work and out of their homes, and by appointing persons to deal with the crisis who had been among its instigators. He declined to end the abuses against the Bill of Rights of the Orwellian-named ‘PATRIOT Act,’ even though he had a Democratic House and Senate. Indeed, the Left was put in the humiliating position of being grateful to Michelle Bachman for helping do what Obama would not, when she and other Tea Party Republicans joined the principled Democrats in the House to decline to extend the human rights abuses embedded in that infamous Act.

“National Security Letters” under the act allowed the FBI to snoop on people with no court warrant and no evidence of wrongdoing, even spying on their library records. Librarians from whom the records were demanded were put under an unconstitutional gag order that prevented them from revealing what was going on. You could discover that the FBI had tossed your apartment with no warrant and for no reason, and then be forbidden from even publicly complaining about it! This is not America, it is North Korea. Obama has actually expanded the Surveillance State, violating our Fourth Amendment rights in a thoroughgoing way. He is enamored of pulling the trigger on people he doesn’t like through covert operations rocket and missile strikes, operating outside any rule of law (the missiles are fired into places with which the US is not at war, killing people who have been convicted of no crime; in short, Obama is simply assassinating people, and would do so to Americans, something that even past Republican presidents agreed was illegal. Because he charged the CIA with the drone strikes, they are classified operations and citizens and their representatives cannot even question administration officials about them in public!

Obama has coddled his administration colleagues who support Mubarak, want him to stay, and support VP Omar Suleiman.

Unlike Obama, Wael Ghonim, the 28-year-old Google executive who helped instigate the Egyptian uprising, wants genuine change.

He wants long-serving autocrat Hosni Mubarak to step down. Unlike VP Joe Biden, Ghonim has no doubts that Mubarak is a dictator.

Ghonim wants an end to the “Emergency Laws,” more Draconian than the PATRIOT Act, whereby the Egyptian state sets aside any slight civil liberties mentioned in the constitution.

He wants an end to Egypt’s crony capitalist state, which allowed Hosni Mubarak to accumulate a fortune of $70 billion while 40 percent of Egyptians live on $2 a day or a little over that. Ghonim told CNN, “The plan was to get everyone on the street. The plan was number one we’re going to start from poor areas. Our demands are going to be all about what touches people’s daily life. And by the way we honestly meant it. One of the very famous videos we used all the time to promote this was a guy eating from the trash.”

He added, ‘we truly believe in these demands. Like the minimum wage. Like talking about the end of, the end of unemployment…reducing unemployment or at least giving people some sort of compensation to make living.’

Ghonim’s emphasis on labor demands came about because the uprising in Egypt is largely a labor uprising. It is an alliance of blue collar workers with white collar workers, all of them supported by a progressive youth movement and college students. It is therefore not actually a surprise that some 200,000 working class people joined in the protests on Wednesday, striking, encouraging strikes, and demanding a proper minimum wage.

“Muhit” reports that as the revolutionary movement entered its third week, thousands of workers in a number of factories and establishments launched sit-ins, strikes demanding better pay and better working conditions.

A few workers at the Suez Canal joined in, which threw everyone in the West for a loop — though their work stoppage was not aimed at disrupting canal traffic. 7.5 percent of all world trade goes through that artery, and 10% of all petroleum. Given tight supplies for the former, a Suez work stoppage that actually closed the canal temporarily would be a further blow to Western economies. (The small labor actions of Wednesday did not threaten such a thing, but the longer the uprising festers and Mubarak refuses to step down, the more the danger grows). In Port Said, poor slum dwellers set the governor’s mansion ablaze.

On Wednesday, 1500 workers in the official government telecom company struck, and in Damanhour, 2000 electricity workers ceased work. In the Delta town of Kafr Ziyat, 1500 hospital workers stopped work. Additionally, thousands of protesters on Wednesday cut the road and rail link of the southern city of Asyut with Cairo.

The broad commitment of the working class to the revolution has been apparent all along, but it turned dramatic on Wednesday because of the size and variety of unions who declared for read change.

Change we can believe in.

62 Responses

  1. Though you would never know it to watch the news, enamored as they are of portraying it as a matter of “facebook kids.”

  2. Obama is “the Establishment President.”

    He is trying, among other things, to prove that a Black President can do just as good of a job as a white one. Ergo, don’t rock the boat too much. That would not be a problem in a bipartisan environment, but when people are so divided he’s not going to take any risk. Case in point, he doesn’t want to be known as “that president who tried legalizing weed” or “the president who strengthened the terrorists” and ruin his reputation.

    • Recent CNN poll amongst rep voters “shows” they place a higher priority on “defeating Obama in 2012″ than complaints on any particular policy points.

      There would be a terrific hypothesis here to poll with serious design rigor (versus whatever they used). The idea being to test whether the GOP really is ready to accept a black president, regardless of what he does. The American Street knows they’re not supposed to be bigoted racists, and many even have friends and relatives who’ve gone into mixed marriages or whatever over the past 20-40 years.

      But when it gets down to it, to accept a black man as their Big Daddy… ???

      The poll would have to do all the usual things for validity, but the main thing would be to phrase the questions in such a way as to allow people to show what they really think and feel, and not get misled by what they know they’re supposed to feel or not feel.

  3. Nice to see you calling out the Obama regime in no uncertain terms for its numerous sellouts and crimes — both at home and abroad.

    But the REALLY awful thing is that given the huge power wielded by the Israel and banking lobbies, any President would have to act in essentially the same way. Bringing these lobbies down a few pegs is the only hope for a better world IMHO.

  4. Obama is acting smart. He wants to get reelected. The left will vote for him no matter what, but he needs the Israeli, Saudi, and corporate lobbies to win. If he was in his second term, he would be acting different. Do you agree or no? Or is this proof that it really doesn’t matter who you vote for president?

    • I have observed that once a person loses his/her courage, s/he never recovers it. In academia, I often see that the humble colleague who does not want to express an opinion before tenure (because s/he considers her/himself in a vulnerable situation), after tenure, continues to be humble and to take no action. On the other hand, assertive colleagues who express themselves before tenure, continue to do so afterward. And at least they have the respect of others. Hence, I suspect that Obama will not change policies after he is re-elected. I would even suspect he would get worse. Take Dubya as an example. IMHO.

    • @Pete – You may be right, but why is it that progressive agendas always have to wait for second (and in many ways less powerful) terms in order to achieve their goals?

      If you look at some of Obama’s largest failures (financial regulation and restorations of civil liberties as mentioned in the article above) both of those issues were at a critical mass of public opinion early in his first term that they may not be in his second. He should have pushed hard for financial regulation when the crisis was still ‘fresh’ and when public anger at Wall Street was at its highest. He should have pushed for closing Guantanamo (more so than his half-hearted initial executive directive) when the memory of Bush era abuses were still fresh on most people’s minds. IMO, by delaying he has squandered much of the enthusiasm of his base and now marred his own reputation by complicity with his predecessor’s wrong-doings.

      Why the delay in action then? If it truly is the influence of lobbies as you reasonably suggest, then we have no reason to expect any different performance from him in a second term, as the lobbies that supported him have long-term interests that extend beyond Obama’s 8 years.

    • “The Left will vote for him no matter what.”

      He shouldn’t be TOO sure of that. Let me jar your memory: “Al Gore, 2000, Ralph Nader”.

    • Pete, you need to spend more time listening to “the left.” Hop on over to FireDogLake, for example, and listen to the feelings of those of us [I’m among them] who were STRONG Obama supporters in 2008, but are so furious and disgusted with him that the “ooh, the scary, scary Republicans” meme isn’t going to work.

    • I won’t vote for him ‘no matter what’. In fact, why even bother voting if it doesn’t make a difference anyway?

      • Why bother indeed! On 09/02/2010 I cast my last ballot. I’ve been growing increasingly despondent over the dog and pony show we call “democracy”. In a final act of desperation and outrage,I marked the “straight party ticket” line on the ballot paper. I marked it “republican”, shoved it into the counting machine and left. I HAD NO CHOICE; I am not suicidal, nor am I deluded. I cannot willingly participate in the destruction of my country. I can no longer “hold my nose” and vote for a Democrat who will do nothing to stop it’s destruction. And I will no longer vote “third party” as they (usually) have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. Goodbye to all that!

  5. While everyone supposedly waited to see what the Egyptian army, so many times declared ‘friends of the people’ by those in Tahrir Square, would do, a I found out that even Time magazine knows that the army controls a huge portion of Egyptian industry and commerce, on the face of it far more than the Mubarak family. So now that strikes are taking place it may be a matter of time until those labor actions threaten the entrenched interests of the army. What will we see then? Still friends of the people? It’s also been written that the Egyptian army is somewhat divided between the cronies, Mubarak loyalists who have become comfortable, and a younger segment who value professionalism. These latter may not be the ‘colonels’ who have so often been actors in military coups d’etat, but they haven’t the vested financial interests of the generals, except perhaps institutionally in the commerce owned and controlled by the army per se. When the tally is complete, the army will have the deciding vote on the outcome.

  6. Good post but I have one correction. Wael is 30 not 28.

  7. Very interesting and helpful analysis. Indeed Barak Obama has been a disappointment to the rank and file liberals like you and me that make up most of the professoriate. We, I suspect, were enamored with his skin color — confusing it with some sort of noble “African-American” essence — and his propaganda going in to the election “Hope” — “Change You Can Believe In”. But, we really didn’t pay much attention to who we was, who he hung around, or what he was saying like, “War in Pakistan!” If we had, we would have seen a guy who was probably better connected to the neoliberal establishment than Bush. We would have guessed that his administration would be no more than a pathetic retread of Bush II and Clinton. And many of us would have just stayed home on that Tuesday in November 2008. I suspect that many will in 2012.

    • The problem there is Sarah Palin (or whatever other Repub runs against him in 2012). Obama is bad — but they are so much worse they make him look good. Or at least holding your nose and voting for him. False choice but then, we’re looking more and more like a banana republic/paper tiger/has been every day. I found myself wondering, yesterday, how long it would take before we were impoverished enough to be worth foreign investment in manufacturing. Neocolonialism much? And the general public remains oblivious.

    • Of Obama’s predilections, there was plenty of evidence in advance. The man had done literally nothing truly noteworthy in his life but write an autobiography. Heck, he wrote two.

      I don’t know if Clinton could have done better but I do know that she would or could have fought a little harder. Her role running Tricky Dick out of Washington showed that.

  8. Obama is the self made President without a constituency. He not only ignores the Left, but criticizes it for thinking progressive, and questioning his sucking up to the Right.

    Meanwhile the Right is having the time of its life tearing Obama down – no insult to egregious. This is made so much easier because the Left, the Right’s customary adversary, can’t find compelling reasons to defend him.

    And through all this Obama is convinced he has a divine right to a second term.

  9. thanks very much for your efforts.

    the divide and conquer system is working well in the USA.

  10. Bachmann did not vote against the PATRIOT Act extension in the House. Here is the roll call link to bit.ly.

    In reply to Pete, the left will not “vote for [Obama] no matter what”. I will not “vote for [Obama] no matter what”. I’ve long felt exactly the way Juan does and unless things begin to change in a meaningful way, I’ll be looking elsewhere for a leader. I am “the left” and I want a leader whose actions are consistent with his/her words.

  11. Obama saw that Bill Clinton went from $400,000 in debt (legal fees) when he left the White House to a net worth over $100,000,000 eight years later (per Hillary’s disclosure statement in 2008) without having a job or clear source of income. This was his reward for catering to the super rich, the corporations, the banksters, and the lobbies. Obama is no fool. He obviously hopes to do at least as well, hence the catering to the same groups. The American people have not had a real voice in their government for at least 30 years.
    It would be nice to think that our presidents are at least concerned about their place in history, but the facts say it is all about the money. Sad to say, the only recent presidents who seemed concerned about history were the Republican trio of Reagan, Bush, the elder (and best of the bunch) and George W Bush.

  12. Obama’s second term is the only thing that will keep the Supreme Court from becoming the bulwark of a conservative takeover of the government of the United States. These comments demonstrate why democrats are perceived as weak and Republicans as strong. Republicans stay together on whatever message seems to work best as the leaders see it. Democrats whine over everything (not that these things aren’t important; they surely are), and the public assumes they are a bunch of kids fighting before bed. Get your heads out of your asses: If you want things to go down hill in 2012, stay home and elect Huckabee or Romney and see what friends Antonin Scalia ends up with, changing everything you thought was important to you. Adieux liberal values, forever. Or at least for your lifetime.

    • The Supreme Court is already controlled by reich wingers, 5-4 at least, and they have already taken over the government. With Obama’s assistance in implementing their policies, including kidnapping and torture.

      We lost those battles already. It’s time to retreat, regroup, and organize, not back phonies.

  13. “Yes we can can.”

    Maybe he’s trying out as the fourth Pointer Sister.

  14. Yes, Glenn Greenwald, who usually is very accurate, messed up when he claimed that a Tea Party/left alliance temporarily stopped the Patriot Act renewal. It’s true that Dennis Kucinich tried to create such an alliance, but only 8 out of the 50 members of Bachmann’s Tea Party caucus (not including Bachmann) voted to block the extension.

    • Whatever the anti-USAPATRIOT caucus has in common, I respect Kucinich’s ability to collect as many Republicans as he did, and I am interested in which Republicans he got.

      That man is thinking outside the box, even if he’s working inside it.

  15. I didn’t vote for Obama,…call it femine intitution.
    I changed my mind at the last minute and wrote in a name. I’ll continue writing in a name.
    I also changed my registration to unaffiliated…done with this musical chairs dual monarchy system.
    Both the republican and dem followers are the fringes in this country.
    I will save my time,money and energy for when Americans get the cojones to do an Egyptian on DC.

  16. “Clinton, W & Obama …billionaires are their long-lost parent …” Very perceptive.

    Juan, you mentioned the use of drone attacks as murder, don’t forget that Barack Obama’s administration has authorised the assassination of the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a rare move against an American citizen.

    Democrats are going to do nothing for the left until the left can show the Dems that they will not vote for Democrats.

    Historically, the left’s three options in an election are: to vote Democratic, vote independent or not to vote – all three options result in a conservative government.

    A fourth voting option, which may sound counter intuitive, is for the left to vote Republican. You still end up with a conservative government, but at least you got rid of the faux Democrats and have shown that the days of electing conservative Democrats are over.

    Could you imagine if McCain and Republican chambers in Congress were elected in 2008. They would have done the same things Obama has done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Banking, taxes, etc. I think the 2010 mid-terms would have elected veto proof Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

  17. […] Juan Cole on Google exec Wael Ghonim’s organizing model in Egypt: He wants an end to Egypt’s crony capitalist state, which allowed Hosni Mubarak to accumulate a fortune of $70 billion while 40 percent of Egyptians live on $2 a day or a little over that. Ghonim told CNN, “The plan was to get everyone on the street. The plan was number one we’re going to start from poor areas. Our demands are going to be all about what touches people’s daily life. And by the way we honestly meant it. One of the very famous videos we used all the time to promote this was a guy eating from the trash.” […]

  18. Obama is a Corporatist, loyal only to Banksters and Multinationals. He has broken any meaningful campaign promises and continued Bush’s rightward slide to perpetual war. We are offered only more repression and exploitation.

    Where is accountability? American values and practice are so disconnected it is amazing more heads don’t explode.

  19. “Obama…is unwilling to buck the rich and powerful, even though they all opposed his run for the presidency.”

    In what universe did they all oppose his run for the presidency?

  20. Obama may be a disappointment, but I no longer believe that it is because he is ineffectual as Engelhardt (and by quoting him, you) would seem to suggest.

    At some point, one must ask, if the results of Obama’s actions are inevitably and always to the gain of the plutocrats, then maybe Obama is a witting agent.

    And, in fact, contrary to your assertion that the rich and powerful “all opposed his run for the presidency”, Obama took record-breaking amounts of cash from Wall Street and corporate donors in his 2008 campaign.

    Ken Silverstein wrote in 2006: “It’s not always clear what Obama’s financial backers want, but it seems safe to conclude that his campaign contributors are not interested merely in clean government and political reform…On condition of anonymity, one Washington lobbyist I spoke with was willing to point out the obvious: that big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn’t see him as a ‘player.’ The lobbyist added: ‘What’s the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?’” (“Obama Inc.”, Harper’s Magazine)

    Here’s hoping that Obama’s donors discover the value of a starry-eyed idealist in Ghonim (and that the taxpayers do not have to bail out donors for the bad investment).

  21. Prof. Cole,

    The Tea Party Caucus — including Bachmann — overwhelmingly voted YEA on the PATRIOT reauthorizaiton.

  22. I heard Obama speak and read some of his speechs and he impressed me. When the last giant Bush crony capitalists turd was laid @ his feet just before the election -a potential world depression- i thought we’ll there’s no denying the false reality of modern conservatives, reality has landed and now the right things can be done.

    But as i listened to friends, i realized they were profoundedly uninformed on the harsh realities of the last 8 years. Unlike the Right, who are profoundly misinformed but highly motivated by fear, anger, and self righteousness, the left has vague notions about health care, wikileaks, wasteful war spending, corporate subsidies, etc. but no motivation to do something besides vote every 4 years. As long as the next phone, tv, ipad is cool and they can buy it on credit, they don’t really care. We are China now…

    I’m out of here. Where i’m going no one pretends their government is not captured by the global elite, but the sunsets are beautiful and no one cares what you do really.

    American Democracy: 1966-1969, with brief flutters since.

  23. Thanks for this paper. I’m glad to see that american people are awakening from the torpor caused by this right-wing president who disguised himself as progressive. He is now the best option for the establishment because he can confound a lot of people both at home and abroad, people that W was unable to confound.

  24. What I want to know is: what the hell happened?

    Was it his supporters who had him all wrong?

    Or was it that, once he got elected, he was given a talking to (sort of like Bill Clinton’s “F-ng bond traders?” moment), where it was explained what he could and could not do? If so, who was it doing the talking?

    Or was it both? Or was it neither?

    And, from this lefty, there will be no more Democratic votes. Better to let the Bachmann-Palin Cluster bring the inevitable on sooner rather than later.

  25. “(Obama)is unwilling to buck the rich and powerful, even though they all opposed his run for the presidency. ”

    They ALL opposed his run for presidency? Citation?

    Do you recall?

    University of California $1,591,395
    Goldman Sachs $994,795
    Harvard University $854,747
    Microsoft Corp $833,617
    Google Inc $803,436
    Citigroup Inc $701,290
    JPMorgan Chase & Co $695,132
    Time Warner $590,084
    Sidley Austin LLP $588,598
    Stanford University $586,557
    National Amusements Inc $551,683
    UBS AG $543,219
    Wilmerhale Llp $542,618
    Skadden, Arps et al $530,839
    IBM Corp $528,822
    Columbia University $528,302
    Morgan Stanley $514,881
    General Electric $499,130
    US Government $494,820
    Latham & Watkins $493,835

    link to opensecrets.org

    Now compare this to McCain:

    Merrill Lynch $373,595
    Citigroup Inc $322,051
    Morgan Stanley $273,452
    Goldman Sachs $230,095
    JPMorgan Chase & Co $228,107
    US Government $208,379
    AT&T Inc $201,438
    Wachovia Corp $195,063
    UBS AG $192,493
    Credit Suisse Group $183,353
    PricewaterhouseCoopers $167,900
    US Army $167,820
    Bank of America $166,026
    Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher $159,596
    Blank Rome LLP $154,226
    Greenberg Traurig LLP $146,437
    US Dept of Defense $144,105
    FedEx Corp $131,974
    Bear Stearns $117,498
    Lehman Brothers $114,357

    link to opensecrets.org

    Both men were bought by the rich and powerful. But the numbers don’t lie. In this horse race, MORE bets were placed on Obama than McCain.

    “Tom Engelhardt puts it best regarding the administration: “It has shown itself to be weak, visibly fearful, at a loss for what to do, and always several steps behind developing events.””

    It’s absolutely bizarre to call his administration “weak, visibly fearful, at a loss for what to do” while they escalate the war in Afghanistan, occupy Iraq, build “enduring” bases, increase drone strikes, erode civil liberties, support faith-based initiatives, give tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy, deny climate change at the Cancun conference, protect BP, support dictatorships, endorse Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the “Jewish State” of Israel, support unlimited Executive power, continue CIA Renditions etc… I could go on, as I’m sure everyone is aware, because it’s a very, very long list.

    It is a list that makes a complete mockery of this well-spun list of Obama’s “accomplishments”:

    link to thehistoricalcontext.wordpress.com

    So then why is it, that if Bush authorized Obama’s assassination program he would have been called a power-mad dictator, yet Obama inexplicably gets called weak. That’s an amazingly stark contrast.

    In truth, Obama shows weakness only on left-wing issues. He gets called weak for not supporting things he never really supported in the first place like with single payer (despite his rhetoric) or prosecuting warcrimes. And when he’s not showing weakness on progressive issues, he is actively working against them, like on the recent vote to extend provisions of the Patriot Act or his support of Omar Suleiman.

    On right-wing issues he is actually a strong, decisive, and bold president.

    When Bush administration figures agree with people like Chomsky and Nader that in terms of policy there is a near-perfect continuity between Bush and Obama, it’s time to stop making excuses for him.

    • His refusal to stand up against the wars and policies started by the neocons and later maintained by many having the same values as AEI, PNAC, and the US.CoC is the very reason why he is labelled “weak”. If he truly were a “strong, decisive and bold” president, he would stand against the very things for which you give him credit for strength.

  26. Excellent article!! As far as the comments about the left will support Obama no matter what, I disagree, I refuse to vote for Obama or any other Obama-like. I will vote for Mickey Mouse as a protest vote before I vote for Obama again.

  27. Juan, you really took off the gloves to pummel Obama today. Hard to disagree with your specific charges, but it begs the question of why (besides the missing father), and what alternatives we have. I just wrote Obama a letter, knowing the odds he or anyone who cares would read it, in which I basically said he should concentrate on two things before his Presidency ends: reversing the direction of income inequality in America and ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I said if he passed the latter war on to a successor his presidency would be a failure. All this from me was predicated on a second term in which his lame duck status would free him up to “do what needs to be done”. You and many might say “fat chance”. And you may be right.

    In a dying empire losing any semblance of being able to control much of anything elsewhere in the world, let alone our own economic despair, Americans are most vulnerable to the rhetoric of fear and the lies designed to keep the plutocrats in power. It doesn’t leave much progressive rhetorical wiggle room. The American Presidency has become mostly an ideological trap for any President that is hard to break out of, especially on the progressive side, which requires brutal honesty. The conservative side can only live with dissembling and outright lies to keep power.

    If you look at this landscape it is hard to see who could successfully challenge Obama for the nomination and even harder to see a Republican candidate who, if elected, would not continue to make things even worse. Though I can conceive that the latter outcome might be what the country needs to find and elect someone who is really fed up with plutocratic governance and the ideology that it perpetuates. Where you and other progressives feel angry and betrayed, I mostly just feel sad and still hopeful that something will shift in the body politic (including with Obama) and things will begin to be different. Call me naive, but also call me 82 years old. I don’t do rage anymore.

  28. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

    –Rahm Emmanuel.

    An epitaph/punchline for the whole Obama administration.

  29. Maybe Obama is asking himself the question should I wait before the election or after to make a move. I think it is more important what the consciousness of public, and what liberals and progressives are doing to change America seems everyone is looking in the wrong place.

  30. No Hope for Change. The American president is a figure head. Obama took office with no political capital or sway in the Washington machine. This is the epitome of a leader with huge support from the electorate but no power to govern. Democracy my arse.

  31. What do you expect? Israel has this administration by the gonads. And Israel needs Mubarak more than it needs Barack.

    By the way, whatever possessed the CIA Director to state publicly that Mubarak was stepping down? What an epic embarrassment.

  32. Obama supporting the coup in Honduras was the first clue about “little people”. And backing away from EFCA. And hiring Arnie Duncan. And on and on and on.

    But don’t mourn, organize.(not for elections)

  33. Called out Obama pretty good here. The more I learn about Egypt behind the scenes, especially tonight from Anderson Cooper, I can hardly believe the dark forces maintained by the US, land of liberty, freedom and justice! It’s spooky and disappointing when I thought we could not sink any lower…there are lower levels still to be discovered.
    Saw the professor with Rachael Maddow on MSNBC tonight. You said to the effect, not a perfect quote here; “everyone is telling Mubarak to let go and he won’t let go.” I was thinking, well not everybody! All the bad actors in the region and outside the region have urged him to stay on. You know who I mean by all the bad actors. The puppets and the masters. Even the king of Jordan. All of them. Well ok naturally, they will all fall like dominoes if the people win, let’s face it. Even the American people will feel emboldened because obviously we are having a problem! Egypt has been pretty darn inspiring! So I am thinking; I can’t imagine what will happen in Egypt but let’s say the people win. Imagine how the protesters in Egypt will feel about these neighborly leaders who promoted their demise?

    • I’ve been watching this old pattern since Reagan. 5 or 6 war mongering presidential terms in my adult life. I suspect presidents are shoved around a lot by big lobbyists and the world bank, and they just don’t have much freedom. Obama is not the worst of them IMO. There is a small but significant difference. But here is something ironic. I knew Hillary was a hawk, but wow..

      link to voices.washingtonpost.com

  34. Maybe I am misreading the situation, but I don’t know exactly what it is you guys are expecting Obama to do about the Egyptian situation? Egypt is a sovereign nation, any political change will have to be initiated by the Egyptian people (which they have already done), aside from trying to pressure the Mubarak government to ensure there is no violence I don’t really see what more he can do?

    I hate to be cynical, but why on earth do people assume that Obama would behave differently, than any other American president, because he is black, or a democrat? Maybe Americans need to try an view their country as the rest of us do. We always just see a nation that can and does do a lot of good, but ultimately is always motivated by self interest(which to a degree is understandable). It doesn’t matter who the president is, your foreign policy is almost always predictable as a result of this. I don’t mean to be harsh but thats the way it looks to the rest of the world.

  35. Hard to believe that I find myself in a position of defending a centrist Democrat… but…..

    First, the situation in Egypt has a parallel to the situation in Iran. Strong and overt support for the protesters can be used by Mubarak to divert the rage against his regime. This is not a trivial concern, and as an expert on these issues, to not even consider that as a variable that goes into the calculus seems disingenuous.

    Second, Obama has domestic political realities as well. Reactions on the left in this situation remind me of reactions when Obama advocated compromise on the tax cuts. The reality is that baring compromise in that situation, unemployed would have gone without needed funds and people in the lowest tax bracket would have seen increases by 1/2 on their taxes. And the end result is that Obama and Dems would have been hammered on the “no increased taxes on people making less than #250k during my watch” pledge – with the end result being that in addition to Republican control of both houses, they would also have a much greater chance of taking the White House.

    Third, it seems that many folks on the left had some notion that Obama was something he never was – a leftist. He ran as a centrist and that’s how he’s governed. If you voted for him because you thought he was a leftist, then you are responsible for your own willing suspension of disbelief.

    Take him to task for empowering Wall Street cronies to develop is economic policies, take him to task for continuing the Bush administration’s dangerous enhanced interrogation policies and the continuation of predator bombing without sufficient oversight and checks and balances, but disagreeing with him on those issues shouldn’t cause you to overlook obvious reasons behind his stance on the occurrences in Egypt.

  36. The author got it wrong. I remember the first International speech Obama gave as President was in Cairo. Although the administration is not claiming it, this movemonet could well be attributed to that speech. Regardless of criticisms of this administration by its detractors, it is clear that we have a President that is not an idealogue. While some may say he changes his position on issues, he is pragmatic and only a fool will not change his/her mind when confronted with a different set of facts. Just like the Egyptian dictator who failed to recognize the writing on the wall or the President who proclaimed “mission accomplished” about a war we are still fighting 10 years later. While we all makes comments and offer opinions here and there, I must admit that none of us has the complete set of facts like the POTUS. Facts and factors that must be balanced properly to have the best outcome for the country as a whole rather than the individual.

    • Possibly the source of most of the disapointment the left now expresses in Obama was our sense that he, as a black man in America, would be someone with a particularly acute sensitivity to problems stemming from an abuse of power or privelege by those who have it. For some strange reason, the right seems unable to concieve of the possibility that their present use of force to solve crime, drug abuse, foreign affairs, etc. etc. can actually provoke and perpetuate the very things they use to justify a need for a more forceful stance. When it comes to social issues requiring the ability to think about complex issues or use well-developed cognitive skills and abilities (empathy eg.), it seems they are simply not up to the task. And minus the ability to communicate problems effectively, about all that’s left to such people is “force”.

      And so we see that the conservative’s universal tool of social engineering is precisely that. Use even more force if moderate amounts of violence don’t seem to be effecting the problem in the way they anticipated (the Drug War eg.) But I digress.

      I at least expected Obama to both see and avoid the problems caused by unfettered capitalism and a massive military machine that has traditionally served as an arm of US business interests — an army that supports corporations the way the Egyptian military traditionally supported the working class.

      Unfortunately, Obama seems unfazed by the hypocrisy involved with further enabling the WASP elite that abused his ancestors. In that sense, he appears to suffer the same blindness over matters of “Uncle Tom-ness” that are at work on Israeli Likudniks.

      Many people grew up assuming Jews would be very, very reluctant to ever be seen treating others in an oppresive, violent manner as that would seem like a terrible insult to all those who died in the Holocaust due the same mindset. Therefore it seemed perfectly reasonable to believe their claims of being victimized by irrational, antisemitic Arab terrorists. But to then find out after 30 years of assuming that’s the actual circumstances over there, that the “rapee” was in fact the raper, confirms once again the psychological origin of many RW behaviors and beliefs…ideas we have long been mistakenly attributing to an ideological stance.

      Jewish right-wing authoritarians seem as completely unfazed by historical realities as other national/religious groups also having conservative ideals. And most telling is the fact that it must be said that if ANY group of people was ever to learn the lessons of history; learn that violent oppression of others must always result in one’s own destruction some day…. then the Jews of Israel would have to be the ones to have learned it and to have integrated those lessons into their own cultural values.

      But instead all we see is yet another group of conservatyuves blindly rushing ahead, oblivious to the sociological effect their behavior is sure to provoke in others. This provides us with yet more evidence that conservatism is largely comprised of a group having little to do with the ideas of Burke or Buckley, but who have adopted that label because of the shared attraction to supernatural or religious thinking, the hyper-simplistic way they order things in neat little black and white dualities of right or wrong, good and bad, legal or illegal, Us vs Them concepts. Their lack of cognitive complexity makes that kind of framework all that is available to the limited intellect of the RWA. They side-step that lack the same way non-readers can avoid discovery. With this, they are able to hide under the banner of ideological thought by claiming the “true” conservatism of Burke et al is an idea they arrived at through means that Burke, or Marx, or any other thinking person does before deciding which ideology will inform the relative importance they will now give to other people and lives.

      But the truth is, unlike every other political stance taken among testees covering MOTR thru to those with far left or even anarchist views, only self-identified conservatives show the same levels of intellectual rigidity, need for certainty, fear of change, of unknown, of ambiguity, or who have the same authoritarian values with increases in aggression and willingness to do violence to others as ordered; the same poor empathic skills, low cognitive complexity and poor idea integration that leads to the often stunning level of hypocrisy they often reveal yet seem to have no idea why others would see it that way.
      Finally there’s the high level of submission to their own percieved authority figures that Milgram’s work made popular, but of which we can now see the extreme deference they will also give to anything those leaders say or tell them. The need not to change their preconceptions compels them to supply the neccesary excuse their leaders will need should they be caught doing something that is contradictory to what they said before and which the folowers now would rather continue to believe despite the evidence they weere lies, or to change their worldview by accepting that the people they have always defended are frequently in it only for themselves (Larry “wide stance” Craig).

      Conservatives are also more likely to “seize and freeze” on a solution prematurely if they believe it will bring closure on a problem they have been tasked to solve. In policing, this translates as focusing only on suspects who meet stereotypical beliefs they have about criminality and race, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc.

      That’s also why the conservative South sees the vast majority of cases where DNA tests have overturned murder convictions. It even explains the morally bankrupt position so many DA’s or governors have about allowing DNA testing in the first place. Here, its not because it might reveal prior unprofessionalism, but because these people see railroading of marginalized groups as a justified strategy against those too cagy to get caught doing the crimes that they are sure must have happened given who they are. They see railroading as a neccesary tool “society” (really just them) needs in order to rid itself of the threat they know non-conforming, untraditional types always are.

  37. Barack Obama is NEVER going to come close to pleasing the left. It isn’t, I suspect, because he is not liberal. Instead, it is because he really does insist on moving towards a less confrontational nation.
    Regarding Egypt and the assertion that his policy was horrible, what did we want to result from the revolt? It appears that by the time the end of last week came, we wanted Mobarack out with the least possible blood shed. Did we get that? What else did we want? We wanted democratic elections…..Well, we are apparently on our way to that. So, the community leader has done just fine so far. Get off his case. Barack Obama is NEVER going to please liberals. In not doing that, he just may end up being one of the great American presidents.

    • Does dropping blanket charge of confrontationalism on ‘liberals’ seem a touch ironic to you?

      Liberals elected Obama and I think it’s fair to let them speak for their opinion about him, and whoever their next candidate might be.

      In truth, some reasons the left is unhappy with Obama is for breaking promises he made to them. He got in bed with big money to solve Wall Street, he did not fully dismantle Bush’s secret torture network, and he and hawkish Hillary have escalated the war in Afghanistan, failed to confront Israel on their nukes, etc.

  38. We can be sure of one thing. Obama is on the phone with Netanyahu trying to figure out how to coopt the revolution. Don’t be surprised if Obama shows up in Tahrir Square this weekend giving a speech in which he says, “Ich bin ein Aegypter.”

  39. I just love it when Obomabots & Hillbots contend that “he’s just playing it smart” or that “he’s walking a tightrope, poor thing..”
    The point is, at the minimum, he shouldn’t have endorsed Suleiman and Hillary shouldn’t have been protecting a constitution written by a dictatorship and insisting that Mubarak stay on till the fall. In order to stay in the good grace of our other dictator friends & Israel, he should have remained silent while warning the regime, through diplomatic channels, of the risks if there is a bloodbath.
    Tragically:
    What was lost, was a golden moment to bolster our credibility with the people of the Muslim world.

    Here is a link to a piece that exemplifies our major problem in this domain: (one may find it nauseating)

    link to npr.org

  40. To these posters repeating the much overblown threat of a Iranian Revolution Redux (You know, the threat stated constantly by Mubarack & The Jerusalem Post.):
    I ask you, even if it was so, don’t you understand that trying to squelch the will of the people would simply enhance the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood; just as Kissinger’s groping of Iran empowered the fundamentalists.

    • They don’t. It seems a hallmark of con behaviour not to be able able to see how their own use of force frequently leads to the escalation or entrenchment of the very problem they were trying to resolve. The use of threats in place of diplomacy somehow supposed to reduce the risk of attack from them. Or ‘Police riots’ that keep getting started by a LEO using exaggerated force on an individual, thinking the act would send a signal out to all the othered gathered protestors/revelers saying that “hey! They’re serious. Maybe it was time to go home.” Despite it rarely working that way..they still do it almost in a knee-jerk fashion.

  41. “…there should be rule that no one can run for the presidency who didn’t have a proper father figure in his or her life (Bill Clinton, W., Obama)”

    Actually, if you look at historian rankings of U.S. presidents, the top 5 always have men who either had a bad or non-existent relationship with their fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR).

  42. So did anyone happen to catch Wael Ghonim on 60 Minutes? When asked why the Egyptian authorities released him, he suggested Obama probably made that happen.

    Honestly, you guys don’t speak for most liberals/progressives/whatever, and you shouldn’t pretend you do.

    It’s their revolution, and it’s not for Obama to coopt OR direct it.

    I love how all of a sudden U.S. intervention in the Middle East is a good thing.

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