NEW YORK – I have never been so close, for so long, to Barack Obama as I was last week at the closing meeting of the G20 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Obama is an ace, but he is also a man under visible and unimaginable pressure.
His jaw and teeth were noticeably clenched so tightly that it could be seen through his dark skin. His level of concentration was also visible with a stare into the void, which preceded each of his words.
Obama is dealing with problems in a dimension that none of us can experience.
Obama is facing the worst economic crisis since the 1930’s and an unemployment rate that is fast approaching 10 percent. Therefore, his initial approval ratings have fallen faster, to about 50 percent, than any other president in recent history.
Domestically, Obama is also struggling to push through universal healthcare to all who live in the U.S., the only developed country that does not provide everyone this basic benefit.
Internationally, the president has seen hundreds of Americans die under his command in two wars. Wars, and economic problems, for which George W. Bush is responsible
Furthermore, increasing geopolitical difficulties (also instigated by Bush unilateralism) were quickly revealed, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan. The most recent was the discovery that hidden inside a mountain, Iran was secretly building a nuclear power facility for alleged military purposes.
Obama carefully revealed news about Iran’s facility alongside the leaders of France and the United Kingdom. He does not want to repeat Bush’s mistake of announcing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction—weapons that were never found.
This U.S. president has behaved totally different from Bush and has been more open to the world.
He supported the consolidation of the G20 as a forum for global economic discussions at the expense of the great powers of the G7 and IMF reform, buried the idea of installing Bush’s anti-missile program on European soil (a concession to the Russians) and has even adopted a stance of more compromise and less confrontation with Cuba and Venezuela.
The real shame is that the U.S. may not be ready for Obama.
The president has been the target of a systematic campaign to deface his image and policies. In an era of media sensationalism, these distortions are being formed, voiced and exercised by the conservative media because of American conservatism inherent in the country.
The effect is not negligible.
In the midst of an acute economic deterioration in the U.S., where signs of recovery are still very limited, well-coordinated smear campaigns have already painted Obama as a Nazi, a socialist and even satanic.
Obama has been in power for less than a year. There is still time ahead, and there will be senate elections in 2010. The biggest setback to Obama’s Democratic Party would be the loss of the strong leadership it has today in the House and some senate seats.
If the economy does not take off soon, Obama runs a serious risk of going from a great improvement to a false caricature.
I wonder if our problem, here in the U.S., is that “we the people” are trying to figure out how to overcome powerful obstacles, such as U.S. Corporations and their lobbies who bribe our politicians with “legal” campaign contributions and the media arm of the right wing extremists, Fox News who constantly lie to viewers and stir up racism and hatred against the majority of Americans who want change. It’s not just Fox News, most media reporting is some type of spin these days.
The economy is not going to “take off” any time soon. Our problems will not be resolved until we all agree to cooperate on some level, to get things done. Climate change is the elephant in the living room that appears due to go “rogue” at some point and will force us to change.
I hope that “we the people” will be successful at electing candidates who will work to resolve problems in 2010. If not, …?
Thanks for your comments mknowles, I agree with your view of media spin.
I’m very confident Americans will read between the lines and return to living a value filled lifestyle.
I have seen a nice TED talk by MR John Gerzema about post crisis consumers.
I hope you enjoy it.