Obama will win election but he has failed as President
Published 02/11/2012 | 08:00
Barack Obama is a cool dude. Mitt Romney is a dork. That could be the decisive factor. Almost everyone I know tells me that, if they were in the US, they'd vote for Obama.
And almost without exception, they go on to say they feel badly let down by his performance in office.
Many don't even see him as the lesser of two evils. But they'd vote for him anyway, because they can't stand the thought of the robotic Republican with the plastic grin and the flickery eyes.
They have to decide on the basis of style, because it is not possible to choose between them on account of political difference.
On last Monday night's Global Edition, Jon Stewart took footage of the final presidential debate and spliced alternate sentences together.
The result was remarkable. Couldn't see the join. Closest harmonies since Don and Phil sweet-talked Claudette.
On drones - a weapon available exclusively to hi-tech nations and, so far, used exclusively against low-tech peoples, reminiscent of the disproportionate weaponry which enabled Kitchener's troops to scythe down local forces and secure Sudan for the Empire ('Whatever happens, we have got/The Maxim gun, and they have not') - on drones, they were of one mind.
And it was the mind of a warmonger.
"Absolutely the right thing to do," Romney chipped in the instant Obama threatened to send in the drones against anyone else who challenges the American Empire.
The following day, the Washington Post reported that, 'Targeted killing is now routine' and that Obama has drawn up a 'disposition matrix', setting out the names of individuals to be disposed of.
Did any Obama supporter anticipate that four years ago? Or isn't it rather the attitude and approach they alleged John McCain might resort to if he and the Alaskan airhead were elected?
Meanwhile, Guantanamo remains open, tax cuts for the rich go untouched and social security has been shredded.
The excuses offered by Obama's supporters don't stand scrutiny. He's been stymied by a Republican Congress? But in 2009 he had a House majority and 60 seats in the Senate - sufficient to bypass obstruction and guillotine filibuster. His approval ratings were unprecedented and he had the media tied up.
If he had been intent on making serious change, this was his golden opportunity - to jail the corporate fraudsters, uphold civil liberties, end rendition, pull the troops out of Afghanistan as quickly as logistics allowed and push for public healthcare.
He had the ammunition to deliver on the programme that he'd put before the people, but chose not to.
This raises a suspicion that it's not that Obama has been held back by reactionaries, but that he's one of them.
Which brings us back to the question of what sense it would make to elect him again.
If you want a Right-winger, why not go for the candidate who is honest about it? If you don't want a Right-winger, don't vote. Or vote for the most sensible candidate who has made it onto your state's ballot.
Former sitcom star Roseanne Barr is on the ballot in Florida, running with Cindy Sheehan for the Peace and Freedom Party. Sheehan has been an indefatigable campaigner against war since her 19-year-old son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2005.
She famously camped outside George W Bush's Texas ranch for months.
She stands for free healthcare, repeal of the Patriot Act, closure of Guantanamo, legalisation of cannabis, nationalising oil, and same-sex marriage.
Roseanne says she'd keep Guantanamo open for bankers who don't play ball.
Bags of common sense, the pair of them.
There are candidates campaigning along the same lines in a range of other states.
Get on Facebook, or the phone, now and tell your friends. A vote for a third party would be wasted. But so would a vote for Obama.
Obama came to office by mobilising a millions-strong grassroots movement.
What the four years of his presidency shows is that mass mobilisation is pointless if it is put to no better use than getting your guy into office.
For anyone serious about serious change, the point is to fight the power, not drape a frontman in the raiment of power. Only pressure from below ever makes a real difference.
IBut Obama never had a perspective of urging his army of idealists to stay organised to provide counterweight to the pressure from above that was bound to weigh down on him.
He is - especially alongside Romney - svelt and smart, cute and cosmo, elegant, eloquent and with a halo of charisma glowing around him. But that's all.
And it's not enough.