Afghan lite, or believe what you will
Arthur Silber,("Every Word He Utters Is a Lie") listened to Obama's speech, and writes:
"...In fact, and this is the point of significance, no man or woman is going to ascend to the office of president unless he or she will utter precisely the same empty phrases and offer the identical meaningless assurances."
and concluded that we will be in Afghanistan for a very long time.
I tend to agree. Not the part about how every word he utters is a lie, insofar as I believe the president really was born in Hawaii, really attended law school and so forth, but you have to allow Arthur his poetic license. (Incidentally he's been on quite a roll of late, if you haven't noticed.) Yahoo and CNN and the New York Times and undoubtedly others provide handy links to texts of the speech, so you can read it for yourself.
To me Obama is a sort of gestalt president, insofar as his words can be interpreted as representing pretty much whatever you think they should represent, presumably consistent with your hopes, or your fears, or whether or not the frozen lasagna you had last night agreed with you. And no, I don't see this as a compliment, nor as proof of his 'special genius' playing political chess so many moves ahead of his opponents and mugs like you and me who are too benighted to understand his long game and all that.
If Obama is a gestalt president, this is in substantial part because of how dizzyingly tribal our culture has gotten, which of course he has been happy to exploit. If he pushes through a scheme that further entrenches for-profit health insurance companies and liberals gush, or he pushes through a 'stimulus' package that consists mainly of tax cuts for employed people and conservatives call him a socialist, then his opacity isn't so much a function of his cleverness but the heightened screwiness of our culture. (Don't forget that the Nobel people helped, awarding him a nifty peace prize after he amped up airstrikes on Afghanistan. Hey, but at least he gave a swell speech about nuclear disarmament!)
I assume we will have a modest reduction in troop levels, but this proves he's a liberal and a really a good guy at heart, and really hates the fact that he ordered a surge in '09(he had to!), and that any reduction will likely only take us back to GWB levels but he can't help that because look at the tough spot he's in, and he really hates how we've been in Afghanistan for a decade, and if some of those troops are subsequently deployed across the border in Pakistan he can't help that either because the world is a dangerous place, etc, etc, etc,
[hold on, I need a breath...]
only if you supply the belief. You gotta BELIEVE.
On the other hand, there are actually people who believe that Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin have all the answers. Well, they're plumb loco.
Henry Giroux, "Reveling in the Pain of Others: Moral Degeneracy and Violence in the "Kill Team" Photos"
CNN, "Should the US negotiate with the Taliban?"
Stan Goff, Feral Scholar, "Why I won’t vote (and you shouldn’t either)"
(Silber also supplies this helpful Caruso link.)