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The Universal Notebook: Is there hope for Obama?

Opinion

The Universal Notebook: Is there hope for Obama?

Republicans tend to think that all Democrats love President Barack Obama and follow him blindly into the hopeful future.

Not so. Especially not now.

When then-Sen. Obama first announced that he was running for the presidency, my initial reaction was that he lacked the essential experience to become the most powerful man in the world. I did not vote for him in the Democratic primary, but I did vote for Obama-Biden in 2008 and 2012, the alternatives being just too easy to dismiss – the lame McCain-Palin and the stuffed shirt Romney-Ryan tickets.

I never really bought into the HOPE thing either. Barack Obama always looked to me like a blank screen onto which millions of people projected their own interests, needs and desires. There just wasn’t any alternative. I knew from the get-go that Obama was not the radical socialist that the GOP tried to paint him as. For instance, I want universal single-payer health care and Obama took that right off the table. Over the years, on everything from gay rights to ending the wars and closing Guantanamo, I have been slowly disillusioned by the Obama administration.

Now, with the second term curse on him (and I didn’t much care for Clinton in his second term, either), Obama is starting to look less and less like a closet socialist and more and more like just another capitalist on a power trip.

Remember the bank bailouts and too big to fail? Weren’t we supposed to get really strict financial regulations as part of that deal? Weren’t all the underwater mortgage holders supposed to get a new deal? Never happened. People lost their homes. Bank-owned properties now stand empty and useless while millions of Americans are homeless. The corporations got the welfare and the people got the shaft.

And what in heaven’s name is a progressive Democrat doing supporting the dirty business of fracking and further reliance on the oil-fired economy that’s destroying this planet? And why would any populist in his right mind sign the Montsanto Protection Act to prohibit farmers from suing the chemical giant if its genetically modified mutant teenage ninja seeds invade fields that are supposed to be organic?

Ralph Nader, for whom I voted in 2000 and wished I hadn’t after Bush won, recently asked rhetorically “has there been a bigger con man in the White House than Barack Obama?” In Nader’s view, Obama has been more militant, more secretive and more pro-business than Bush to the extent that “corporate criminals have overrun the government.”

With appointees like Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Jack Lew, Obama sure put the Wall Street foxes in charge of the hen-house economy. And Penny Pritzker, the billionaire Hyatt Hotels heir who has been his chief fundraiser, is a strange pick for a Democrat to become the next secretary of commerce, given her anti-union efforts as a hotelier and how she helped destroy Superior Bank by going ga-ga over sub-prime loans.

The fact that the Obama administration has not brought charges against a single one of the merchants of greed who nearly destroyed this country by betting against it is a big part of my problem with the president, but that’s not the worst of it.

To watch a supposed man of the people glibly defend rampant drone strikes and massive domestic surveillance programs by a shadow government of unelected spooks and mercenaries is not just distressing, it’s downright disgusting. Something seems to happen to men when they occupy the White House too long. They become self-justifying and power mad.

Come on, Mr. President, snap out of it before it’s too late and your legacy turns out to be that you promised Hope and Democracy and delivered Hype and Hypocrisy.