art: Shinji Asano
By Joe Bageant
Now that Obama has announced most of his cabinet appointments, he is starting to take a little heat -- feeling those first few incoming rockets that are the rightful due of all presidents. To some of us, his appointments of the nation's newest big wheels don't look so new. They look like retreads of the old Clinton ride. And politically informed people know that Clinton indeed took us for a ride.
But Obama says, "It takes smart people with experience who know how to operate our system." In other words, slick educated people. No problem there. After eight years of observing an absolutely falling down stupid administration, not to mention one as mean as a rattlesnake on a griddle, most of us would agree that it takes smart people. But we are a bit hesitant about loading the system with "slick operators." There is also the fact that the system IS the problem. Right now though, we're being shouted down by giddy mobs of optimistic liberals intoxicated on an election victory and pure hope. And after eight years of stupidity and cruelty, who can blame them?
Meanwhile, fresh hundreds of billions are being pumped into the same old coffers, the pockets of those who now confess to Congress they screwed up the economy. But if we give them billions more, trillions more actually -- which we haven't even got and really haven't had for a long time -- they will fix what they screwed up. None of them have said how. And Obama has answered, "OK then. And when I take office I crank it up higher." That's the trouble with having operators on both sides of the national game. They seem to under stand each other and cooperate in the end, even when it looks like they are in opposition.
The bailout line grows longer each day. The banks, the mortgage hustlers got there first, then the car companies, the credit card business (like more credit card debt is what we need).
One thing I do know: When you give banks piles of dough with no strings attached, you hand it out to a cast of thousands you never even suspected. Personally, I fully expect that the payday loan companies are standing somewhere down near the end of the line. And somehow I can't really believe that hauling money into the back room where the bankers, automobile CEOs and Wall Street gang are playing poker is going to do us much good, other than provide grist for the next scandal to outrage an increasingly poor American public. Meanwhile, thanks to the system, the money keeps on marching up hill to the top one percent, as if it had little feet of its own. And somewhere down inside I suspect it is the slick operators who direct the traffic.
Despite all that, Obama's folly will be the opposite of President Sparky's, a love of intelligence and mistaking institutionalized corrupt slickness for smarts. But in many ways we must forgive Mr. Obama. What else can he do? The operators in the back room own the only game in town, and are hollering for more cognac and poker chips. And Obama's job is to keep the American public believing the American people are in charge of the game, and the rest of the world believing the national stake horse is not dead broke, and that it can somehow pay off its massive IOUs to the international house.
Socialism looks better every day.