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Spillage; Or, Obama deploys the hankie

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday June 15, 2010 11:52 PM

I've spilled a drink or two in my day -- I actually once spilled a glass of wine on Alan Greenspan, no shit, a story that will be told only in my memoirs, to be published when all my grandchildren, if any, are safely dead.

This BP thing, in the Gulf, though -- "spill" doesn't seem like quite the right word, does it? A gamma-ray spill over Hiroshima. An ash spill over Krakatoa. Don't we want a stronger term here?

Our corporatist, centrist president -- Mister Soothe And Reassure If You Possibly Can -- doesn't want a stronger term. "Spill" is fine with him. Whoops! Waiter! Some club soda here, please! Chop-chop! Oh dear, accidents do happen.

The new Decider's speech tonight has been much commented on -- mostly in tones of deep disappointment, which is a good sign, as far as it goes. I started to watch it and after about thirty seconds I was laughing so hard, with such deep strangled painful gut-wrenching guffaws, that I just couldn't go on, for fear of doing myself some serious irreparable physical injury. Here's as far as I got:

...Our nation faces a multitude of challenges. At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American. Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever it exists. And tonight, I've returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we're waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.

... I assembled a team of our nation's best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge... led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.... Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

Well! Then! We can all rest easy. Academia! The Nobel Prize! Other oil companies! Oh, fellow Amurricans, we are in such good hands!

All texts, even boring texts, can really be quite interesting if you have the right attitude, as I learned from reading Livy at an early age. (Cicero, I admit, tests the principle.) For example: why does a speech about BP destroying the Gulf of Mexico have to start with a reference to our brave soldier-boys and -girls?

Answer: Perspective is everything. Hey, a bazillion tons of crude in the Gulf is bad, sure, but compared to a few dozen pissed-off guys in turbans? A mere bag of shells, as Ralph Kramden sagely observed. Eyes on the prize, folks.

Obie's speech has been read as a weak one. Clinton got read the same way. This is an error. There's no weakness here. These men are advocates -- very determined advocates, and effective to the extent of their powers, which is considerable, at least with sob-sisters like Katrina van den Heuvel.

Three words: One Term Wonder. How glad I will be to see the last of this guy -- his sneering lifted upper lip, his knitted brow, his finger-wagging schoolmasterish demeanor.

What happened to the cool charming fella from the campaign?

Answer: He got elected.

Comments (23)


Three words: One Term Wonder. How glad I will be to see the last of this guy

I think this speech was pretty much the end of the Obama presidency the way Katrina was the end of Bush's.

But I'm still not sure he might not be able to hang on until 2016.

He loses Congress in 2010 or some close to it. But he hangs on in 2012. The Republicans then get to govern the country and use him as a punching bag to charge up their teabag base for the entire four years.

I did not watch the Emperor's mighty speech this evening. Nor did I dive into a nearby stream that is little more than a flowing cesspool.

I'm just like that. I avoid streams of flowing shit and Emperor's speeches.

I'll join you in anticipation of the end of this awful man's rule after a single term in office, while dreading the whips and chains that the next will carry with him when he rises in succession as the next Emperor of the Realm.

We're well and truly fucked is about all I can say.


you folks
are to top down in your working assumptions here

Said this on my own schlag: "If George W. Bush had been in office and delivered this rote and vacant verbiage, there would be a million green activists loading buses to go surround the White House."

Michael Hureaux:

The man is beyond ridiculous. Even as opportunist black leadership goes he's a cliche'. And it just stands to reason that when the ruling class of this country finally was able to stomach the idea of black people leading the empire, it chose absolute mediocrity as its standard.


i can't get the sense of you all here

"it chose absolute mediocrity as its standard."

middle of the road IS mediocre-ville eh ??

the potus laid an egg on tv ???
who sez so ??

this is PURE politics right ??

will the post chitter polls
suggest this latest oval office smarm
hurt or helped the ohbummer team ???

that's all that matters ...right ??

Michael Hureaux:

I just think it's funny that, even as the empire and its devotees carry on about the exceptionalism of the United States of America, that everything they do fits into the classic operative mode of the bourgeoisie as Marx defined them. Anybody could have seen Obama's presidency on the horizon from the time of his keynote speech at the convention of 2004, when delegates were practically creaming themselves when he openly expressed a desire to make war with Iran. "JFK in sepia" my wife and I looked at each other and said. No cold war, but the same steely gaze and soaring rhetoric. The man had clearly been doing his homework.



I don't really follow

What are you getting at?


i'm reacting to the absurd gloom here
the system is in sharp contradiction mode for once
stuff will shake loose here
before too long
it may come up with an odd wallop
and from an off angle at any time

the ground is shifting
ohbummer must act like it or not

november will be an accounting
even if Clio pulls a clinton 94 like
"disaster "
out of the magic hat
i predict a very non triangular
WH reaction
times are completely different now


I still don't follow.. It seems like people here are glad that he's being discredited, but probably depressed that there's a gaping hole in the ocean floor spewing oil


There was something liberating about that speech for me. I voted for Obama. I've defended him. I've argued that McCain would have been worse.

But after that speech, I can just admit that I hate the man. I want to see his birth certificate. He's Hitler. He's President Urkel. He's a corporate shill. He's worse than Bush. Really, Bush's response to 9/11 was better than this piece of crap. Hillary would have been better. Maybe Palin after a prayer induced McCain heart attack would have been better. I seriously hate Obama.

It's like buying a piece of shit, lemon car, and spending months trying to convince yourself that it's OK. When you finally say "this car is a lemon" it's a liberating feeling.


This isn't Obama's Katrina. It's Obama's My Pet Goat Moment.

Obama's strength in the past has been his ability to sit back and act cool while everybody freaked out, then move in and pick up the pieces when it was all over.

But in this case, every moment he sits back and acts cool means another few thousand gallons of oil leaking out into the Gulf.

He's just like Bush reading My Pet Goat, trying to act composed when people were leaping off the towers to get away from burning jet fuel.

The 20 billion dollars means nothing. How could Obama let BP set a price before the spill even gets capped? This may turn out to be a bargain for them, even if they don't whittle the amount down over the next few years through litigation.

Michael Hureaux:

Obama is a creep, and his cool is nothing but a methodical indifference to the mayhem this system is leeching into the world on its way out. If nature and humanity survive this period, he will be remembered with those U.S. presidents whose leadership style left such a warm glow in history: Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland. Political nebbishes and opportunists all, remembered only because of the immense power they were unwisely granted once upon a time.

Personal anger toward Obama is perhaps personally satisfying but it's also useless. He is, like all emperors, merely a symbol of the state. Emperors come and go but the empire continues like a juggernaut, unable to change direction or stop its actions until it all comes crashing down. This is why empires always crumble. Inertia brought on by imperial hubris will not allow the elites to make the integral changes needed to survive.

Our only choice is to watch and record for history the arch of the American Empire, how it came about through the destruction of the democratic republic, how it consumed itself with useless wars, wasteful corruption and ignoring the needs of its citizens, and in the final chapter (yet to be written) how it finally collapsed in upon itself.

CF Oxtrot:

Obama's strength in the past has been his ability to sit back and act cool while everybody freaked out, then move in and pick up the pieces when it was all over.

In what universe has that been the case?

I'm afraid I've seen him do nothing but shit and piss on the pieces, then pour kerosene on them, and light them aflame. On my tax dollar. While increasing the waste of that dollar. And mandating that I give him and his coterie more such dollars.

But maybe that's what you meant by "picking up the pieces."

Michael Hureaux:

"Inertia brought on by imperial hubris will not allow the elites to make the integral changes needed to survive."

Okay, I'll bite. So If intertia is brought on by imperial hubris, what brought on the imperial hubris you're referring to, drunk pundit? Which integral changes do you see them needing to make that imperial hubris will not allow? And what things in the world of the elite need to survive?

OK, so last night I finally downloaded the speech off of YouTube and made myself watch it -- sadly, without any form of herbal amusement aid.

I'm amazed that he only devoted about fifteen minutes to a problem of this magnitude. Mind you, it's not like I miss Bill Clinton's goddamn' three-hour State Of The Union Addresses, but, still. Entire ecosystems and economies ruined for generations, and all he can spend on it is fifteen goddamn' minutes?

What's worse is how it starts off as a dry-as-a-popcorn fart recitation of his Oil Spill To-Do List, and then veers into your standard-issue, blue-sky Barack Obama speech. Kee-rist. It couldn't have gotten any lamer. He may as well have worn a cardigan and played some old Perry Como records in the background while he gave that speech.

It may have only been fifteen minutes, but it's fifteen minutes of my life that I'll never get back.

Wow, Smiff. You laughed? Lucky bastard. I was hoping for some cheap laffs out of that speech, but there wasn't a scrap of weed in the house. I was reduced to staring and gaping in slack-jawed, dismal amazement.

...How glad I will be to see the last of this guy -- his sneering lifted upper lip, his knitted brow, his finger-wagging schoolmasterish demeanor...

Don't forget his pompous, professorial delivery, his flourishing, preacher-like gestures, his smarmy, unctious, shit-don't-stink vibe.


So If intertia is brought on by imperial hubris, what brought on the imperial hubris you're referring to, drunk pundit?

I'd say a series of bad choices over the last few decades. I know you can take the bad choices back to Andrew Jackson's ethnic cleansing of the Indians in the southeast and Polk's Mexican War, but in the recent past I'd say.

1.) Pardonning nixon and not following through on the partial insights unearthed by the Church Commission.

2.) The October Surprise and the beginning of Reaganism

3.) Not impeaching Reagan over Iran Contra

4.) Clinton's shutting down the Iran Contra investigation to work towards a "bipartisan" domestic agenda.

5.) Clinton's maintaining the blockade against Iraq.

6.) The lack of any real grassroots protest in 2000 about the stolen election.

7.) Turning away from street protests and towards Dean and the Democrats in 2004. Then switching allegiance from the at least mildly anti-war Dean to the pro-war Kerry.

8.) Allowing the anti-war movement to be led into a more conservative direction in 2005 and 2006. "Support the troops bring them home" etc. That made it easy to shut it down after the Democrats retook Congress.

9.) Taking impeachment off the table in 2007.

10.) Going into the Obama campaign after Pelosi took impeachment off the table based on the naive trust that Obama would bring back some sense of "normality" after Bush.

It was a bit like running up the credit card for a few years then wondering why you're constantly broke because of the interest. It all made it inevitable that Obama would act just like George Bush in the end. Even if he were a stronger man with a keener sense of right and wrong, I don't see how he could do very much more.

People keep calling Obama professorial. To my eye and ear, that's a Dimbot talking point in wolf's clothing.

Bad professors are passionate and unable to see the pea the missed as they piled on the mattresses of error.

Obama is the captain of the high school debate team. He's used his credentials and skill of ingratiation to end up in a place where the ideas he's presenting are actually far beyond his personal capacities for genuine understanding and concern. He's going through the motions, all while comfortable that his attitude and form will get him through the debate and into Harvard, where he can complete the loop.

"Okay, I'll bite."


"So If intertia is brought on by imperial hubris, what brought on the imperial hubris you're referring to, drunk pundit?"

Oh, lots of things I suppose. Among them and in no particular order I'd say excessive nationalism in the form of American Exceptionalism, paranoia, pursuit of power, greed, self-delusion, pride.

"Which integral changes do you see them needing to make that imperial hubris will not allow?"

Problem solving requires clear thinking. Those suffering from hubris cannot generally do so, thus the basis of many a Greek Tragedy.

"And what things in the world of the elite need to survive?"

Is that a trick question?

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