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The new FDR, or...

By Michael J. Smith on Friday November 7, 2008 09:26 PM

... better yet: Howard Zinn thinks Obie might be the new Lincoln:

Those of us on the Left who have criticized Obama, as I have, for his failure to take bold positions on the war and on the economy, must join the exultation of those Americans, black and white, who shouted and wept Tuesday night as they were informed that Barack Obama had won the presidential election. It is truly a historic moment, that a black man will lead our country. The enthusiasm of the young, black and white, the hopes of their elders, cannot simply be ignored.
"Must join"? "Cannot be ignored?" Oh Howard -- just watch me.
There was a similar moment a century and a half ago, in the year 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Lincoln had been criticized harshly by the abolitionists, the anti-slavery movement, for his failure to take a clear, bold stand against slavery, for acting as a shrewd politician rather than a moral force. But when he was elected, the abolitionist leader Wendell Phillips, who had been an angry critic of Lincoln's cautiousness, recognized the possibility in his election....

What kind of change is needed? First, to announce the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and to renounce the Bush doctrine of preventive war as well as the Carter doctrine of military action to control Mideast oil. He needs to radically change the direction of U.S. foreign policy, declare that the U.S. is a peace loving country which will not intervene militarily in other parts of the world, and start dismantling the military bases we have in over a hundred countries. Also he must begin meeting with Medvedev, the Russian leader, to reach agreement on the dismantling of the nuclear arsenals, in keeping with the Nuclear Anti-Proliferation Treaty.

Presumably Obie "must" do all these things in the same sense that I "must" join in the euphoria over his election.

Howard is a historian, a well-informed and well-read individual. What congeries of circumstances is going to force Obie to do all of Howard's 'musts'? Lincoln's hand was forced -- the slaveowners attacked Fort Sumter. To be sure, Lincoln rose to the occasion, most admirably (as did FDR, on a somewhat less world-historical scale). Obie, considered as an individual, is a pretty remarkable human specimen, and he might rise to an occasion too.

But somebody needs to give him one. A guy who's been tiptoeing through the tulips with Rahm Emmanuel and Dennis Ross, Larry Summers and Robert Rubin, is hardly likely to kick over the traces, sua sponte, and "withdraw... our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, ... renounce the Bush doctrine of preventive war as well as the Carter doctrine of military action to control Mideast oil," and all that other good stuff on Howard's Christmas list.

Comments (9)


the what me worry potus???
tasks ahead call for a good emperor
not bush the next

the four score and ten mini me rat packers
are the wrong chorus
for the wrong horse opera

they too
shall be cast aside
---like so many desert falstaffs ---

as a chastened but unbowed
uncle hedge rises
to the tasks of global depression
like pantagruel in a three piece suit ....


fuck abe
the man

abe the prez
conducted a slaughter
of our free white male based republic
but why ???
for the greater benefit of
the union
of industrial buzzards

free the africans
liberate em
all the better to steam roll
lady liberty herself

the chains are blown off yes
the exploiters of choice
take a green back bubble bath

abe was the first
gold leaf trim-ed
corporate potus

that war was hell on rails
iron rails son...

amputations by saw
for yeoman america

but hey
sure was great for big yankee bidnezz


Perhaps the analogy isn't perfect, but will Obama become the American Gustav Stresemann?


This is how Perry Anderson described the reaction of Eric Hobsbawm to New Labour tribulations in UK electoral politics of the past decade.

Alas, even with Thatcher out of the way, the new leader proved a fiasco at the polls in 1992. ‘I am not alone,’ Hobsbawm writes mournfully, ‘in recalling that election night as the saddest and most desperate in my political experience.’ So much for March 1933. Such inflation is a measure of the loss of contact with reality that his crusade to ‘save the Labour Party’ – Gaitskell’s old slogan dusted off again – seems to have temporarily induced in the historian. For, of course, far from being saved, in the sense he wanted, it was turned inside out to produce what he himself now calls a ‘Thatcher in trousers’.

What makes it more interesting is Anderson's comment on '33 and Hobsbawm's personal history. Hobsbawm was a 15 year old Jewish schoolboy in Berlin when the Nazis came to power.


".. will Obama become the American Gustav Stresemann"

pure welsh-think
familiar faces in the clouds


wait, don't think i got that last link right:

on top of that op, look at his economic dream team:

rubin, summers, volcker, printzker!?!


Nonsense! Zinn's jumped on the banana boat headed for Loonystan. Obviously Obama is all set to be the next Edward Heath. Or possibly Charlemagne. I haven't decided which...

It might be nice if our very own laurel-laden historian could get the name of perhaps the most pivotal document in the world correct...

These new creeps and fifth-columnists aren't planning an Iranian tea-party, Howie.

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