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Mission accomplished

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday December 4, 2008 12:10 AM

I was talking recently with a friend of mine -- call him Matt. Matt is too old and cynical to be an Obamaniac, but he was an Obama voter.

He was just fine with Obie's cabinet and staff picks. After a certain amount of delicate probing -- at least, I hope it was delicate -- Matt finally allowed as how he really didn't care that much about the Iraq war, or about universal health care, or even about the never-specified "change" that Obie kept promising us. "Change? Come on. That was just a campaign slogan," he said.

I gingerly advanced the idea that many Obama voters might have simply been looking for a person like themselves. Matt stared at me with a look of frank incredulity. "Well, yeah," he observed, with an airy wave of the hand.

Matt -- who himself has a managerial job -- also felt that Obie would be a better "manager" than Bush, and that his appointments reflect this managerial savvy. Bush, Matt felt, has been a horrible bungler.

This line of argument interests me greatly. Were the Bush guys bad managers? This doesn't seem self-evident. They accomplished everything they wanted to accomplish. Yeah, the poor and black parts of New Orleans ended up under water -- but taking care of poor black folks was never a high-priority item for them, any more than it was for Bill Clinton. And we ended up mired to the hip in the Middle East -- which is, I think, just where they wanted us, and just where Hillary wants us too, if her record in the Senate means anything.

To be sure, the "economy," as we still quaintly call it it, crawled up its own asshole and vanished like the Cheshire Cat, in the latter days of Bush's watch. But is this Bush's fault? Or is this the culmination of, what, thirty years of market-cultism, under Republicans and Democrats alike?

I suggested this thought to Matt. He didn't like it. But then, he's still employed.

In the course of our conversation, it became clear to me -- belatedly, but then I'm pretty thick -- that Matt thought I was beating a dead horse. Dude! -- his facial expression said -- the election is like, so over. We won!

On to the next thing!

Comments (15)


The managerial savvy does make sense in the light of the old joke -- the guy who went to Yale owns the company and the guy who went to Harvard runs it. I've been telling my wife for a while that Bush was amazingly successful as a president, as you touched on, but, well, you see how no one ever wants to hear it...


Well done, I think; absolutely, Bush has succeeded in his goals largely, as the ruling elite are still comfortable, military spending is up 30%, laws are in place to allow wiretapping, domestic pacification etc and the populace is still meekly acquiescing to all the shit they're being told to eat.

Did you know that Obama and McCain got together in June to discuss who each of them should put in the cabinet?


Matt should re-prioritize his action items list to create task-oriented implementation outside of the box.

Talk to any progressive long enough, and they will tell you they believe in working within the system. To free their minds from this enslavement would require facing up to both public hypocrisy and personal cowardice, not an act often encountered in reformists.

Nicholas Hart:

Bush didn't get everything he wanted. Remember the "axis of evil?" He had a laundry list of countries that he wanted to invade and overthrow after Iraq (Syria, Iran... North Korea? Nah, they actually have nukes...). After the 2004 election he also wanted to spend his political "capital" on privatizing social security. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have turned into unmitigated disasters--not because of any poor planning (there's no "good" plan that would have made Iraqis or Afghanis submit to foreign subjugation), but they have hurt the US's credibility and the military's ability to intervene "effectively" elsewhere in the world.

So from an imperialist's perspective, Bush has done a terrible job managing the empire. This of course is exactly why a majority of the US ruling class lined up behind BHO. He's going to run the empire better and has the credibility (and political capital) to get wide swaths of the public to accept the austerity measures that the ruling class is posing as "necessary" for an economic "recovery" (ie: keep them sipping champagne while the rest of us pay for their clusterfucks).

How do you figure, Nick? He inserted permanent military bases in the Middle East, which has to be overclass wish #1 for the coming decades. He also unflinchingly presided over 8 more years of diversion and destruction of democracy and the remnants of the welfare state, such as it was. He set the cause of international governance back 25 years or more. He allowed the overclass to do what it wished economically.

The empire is ruining itself, as all empires do.

But the way you judge an imperial figurehead is how well s/he sustains imperial command priorities.

FDR was a terrible and hated manager, though he laid the grounds for another 75 years of shit.


"create task-oriented implementation outside of the box."

admiral smithee :

real men don't have boxes

i'll pass on this whole
well tempered clavier bit

no i won't .....

"I gingerly advanced the idea that many Obama voters might have simply been looking for a person like themselves. Matt stared at me with a look of frank incredulity. "Well, yeah," he observed, with an airy wave of the hand"

haven't we heavy traffic rads
scored enough "shadow points"
in our "shadow game "
agin our nation's
pale faced merit class

brothers and sisters
i say let em dig this obama grift
it ain't about to scuff them up is it ??

long as their goo goo side
gets us a nice congressional
studio grapple
over the phantom horror of wall street
a card check system
and worse a mandatory fast track
to binding arbitration on first contracts

tya its a paper tiger hunt but..
that particular
for show only battle
no matter how it goes
might open a job floor can of worms
a broad debate over unions
--maybe even
at the water cooler --
chitter along these lines in the media might spread
to the bottom half of the job force itself
among the 60 million souls out here
that would just love
a red hot union
to drop out of the sky
on em
baring big pay raises
and straw boss
push back


"This of course is exactly why a majority of the US ruling class lined up behind BHO. He's going to run the empire better .."

true but the point i think
is you need an obama to clean up after a bush
but you nedd a bush again next time
that is the complicity angle
as father s sez
you can't run an empire
like its ml king every day
and further more
not only must ob bop a few wogs
you gotta have a bush or two
somewhere in a padded cell
ready to rip free
get hizzseff elected emperor
and butcher some body dark

even if only as a bluff
over fine wine


"The empire is ruining itself, as all empires do."
but its killing itself
and with a song

just when it seems like
Cio's got the fucker
stewed and slumped over the table
come the "last call"...
damned if uncle bastard
don't open
another bar room door
into the next great awakening

tales of amerika's empire
the long long goodbye


Fuck, I finally started writing my 5 paragraph high school essay about what a great heel Bush was since MJS beat me to it when OP beats me to the cyclical nature of American empire (another 5 paragrapher waiting to happen). But all this is that ol' ratchet effect, complete with animated gif, that we've seen before. I agree, OP... Palin came 8 years too soon, but if she's old news 8 years from now (or 12 if we have hope for Hillary, 16 if she out-Liebermans Lieberman (and I say this as the pro wrestling fan of the site)), I'm sure we'll get a fresh face from somewhere. It's a shame, though, good heels going to waste.

But to bring it back to the post and the trend into which it fits, thanks for so incisively (with a scalpel and obligatory gore) calling Obamania as a cultural phenomenon, it made Thanksgiving a lot more bearable, not to mention the VP debate where a Biden cheerleader straight up told me "I don't give a fuck about Afghanistan."

Sigh... points against the merit class is like a SmashTV score on PS2, you can get as many as you want as long as you keep buying in. I think it's going to be 8 more years of marginalized group therapy. If the cards go through, on whose terms will it be? Who's going to be in that union in the sky, and who will they be voting for? The union percentage of the general populace started its downward trend under FDR, once we had WWII as an excuse to put the nation first (didn't I see that graph here?). I got a bad feeling, but I salute your optimism, OP.

And for you, Nick, well, this comment was edited for space and clarity (ha), but I'll agree to disagree. All I'll say is baby steps.

Peter Ward:

Competence and responsibility have been foreign to my experience of managers-certainly I've never observed both those qualities in one manager. But generally I don't think that matters. At best managers exist to in force inane dictate delivered from above, they are not as individuals leaders in any legitimate sense. Therefore, I think the comparison of a president to a manager has a fair degree of accuracy especially as applied to Democratic politicians. They function to put a friendly face to the evils inflicted by whatever institution they represent.

I don't think Bush's policy was as effective as it could have been with respect to the narrow interests of power. E.g., they've failed hitherto to take control of the majority of Iraq and have to resort to buying off as much of the armed resistance as they could, still with marginal success. And I don't think police state measures have done much harm, apart from the inconvenience of having to remove one's shoes in airports, to American citizens (a great deal of harm has been done to foreigners). The police harassment that does exist, generally targeted at blacks, has existed long before Bush--in fact dates to the time the Civil Rights achieved a major victory in outlawing racism. But it is true that a lot that they desired was achieve and naturally the new administration will continue that legacy as best they can given new circumstances.

Incidentally, I think, re: combating imperial foreign policy, attention needs to focused on the Middle East, specifically Israel's human rights abuses. If we can make support for Israel untenable we will effectively deprive the US of a crucial client state setting back the ruling establishment's goal of conquering the region (for its natural resource) considerably. And I think now is prime opportunity--I don't believe the majority of Americans have a vested interest in protecting Israel's reputation and the country's policies are almost universally despised by people (not governments) everywhere else in the world.


Does the empire even need managing at this point? This car went over the cliff long ago. What difference does it make if you let some monkey spin the steering wheel around and fiddle with the radio? Letting Bush drive was a tacit admission that the ride was quickly coming to an end, so you might as well get busy in the back seat while you still can. Meanwhile, Obama can straighten out all those maps in the glove box.


"... re: combating imperial foreign policy, attention needs to focused on the Middle East, specifically Israel's human rights abuses"

tit for tat eh ???

human rights ???

that's THE game of liberal empire
i prefer:

why spend your dollars
and blood on that shit ???

where's your beak gettin wet
in these adventures ???

home land first last and only


To free their minds from this enslavement would require facing up to both public hypocrisy and personal cowardice, not an act often encountered in reformists.

Willful Ignorance - Pwoggie style! It's not just for freepers anymore...

Goldman Sachs’ golden boy has now removed one of his top campaign promises from his website. The windfall profits tax on oil companies, promised often by the Obama campaign, disappeared from the candidate’s website four days after he became the President-Elect. Maybe Goldman Sachs’ colossal holdings in oil had something to do with it, maybe not.

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