Beyond Obama's Probationary Period

The 100-day "cone of silence" suspended above the Obama administration has been lifted and has thus far proven as uneventful and meaningless as the feared consequences of Y2K. As for any significant media criticism of the new administration, you need not spend time before the television set or searching the editorial pages of your favorite dying newspaper for evidence of same. As it has long been the mainstream media’s purpose to promote — rather than question — the political establishment’s scheme of things, it will prove to be as round-heeled as it was in the post 9-11 period.

Thus far, I see nothing to indicate a reversal of the arrogance of power for which George W. Bush was rightfully criticized, and which was a principal reason for Obama’s having been elected to the presidency. The empty slogans of "change" and "hope" were largely interpreted by most Americans as "anybody but Bush!" But with Obama’s continuation — and escalation — of the war system; his inconstant positions on torture; the continuing insistence on governmental secrecy; his urging of the Supreme Court to overturn an earlier decision restricting police interrogations unless a suspect’s lawyer is present; and his uninterrupted efforts to further socialize the economy — all of which were vigorously undertaken by Mr. Bush — it is apparent that his campaign promise of "change" had nothing to do with the destructive policies he had inherited from the previous reign.

This is not to suggest that his presidency has been without any meaningful alteration of the past. His rhetorical style is a great improvement over George W. And he has upgraded the cosmic significance of the presidency from what it was under his predecessor. Mr. Bush, as you will recall, only talked with God — the dominant voice in the conversation was never revealed — and he was the deity’s alleged choice to be president "at times like these." Mr. Obama has escalated the presidency to the ultimate heights of deification. Photos of the man surrounded by a halo suggest the mindset seen in earlier civilizations in which the ruler was regarded as a god-king. A reverence for political rulers is a most dangerous practice.

The media’s servility to Obama was displayed on the night of his victory when MSNBC’s Chris Matthews told us "I’m going to do everything I can to make this thing work — this new presidency." His counterpart at the same network, Keith Olbermann did, to his credit, strongly criticize Obama’s commitment to governmental secrecy, but has nonetheless spent far too much of his time — since January 20th — attacking Mr. Bush for the moral and legal shortcomings of his administration, in a major segment he has referred to as "Still Bushed."

Nor can we ignore the pathetic sight of seemingly adult Americans who set the tone of obeisance to the new god-king by participating in a video chanting a "pledge of allegiance" not to the nation-state — as they had been conditioned to recite in the government school system — but to "Barack Obama!" This was the same kind of Obama-worship in e-mails from "liberal" friends of mine who, upon Obama’s election, enthused over their opportunity to work on behalf of his "progressive" policies.