Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Messiah in political life...

By Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, December 15, 2010
If Obama’s supporters had accepted him as he was, they might have been less disappointed. But they wanted Jesus Christ and, in the new president, thought they had found him.

To list Obama’s failures is almost unfair. His signal achievement — America’s complex and almost incomprehensible health care reform package — remains unpopular and under attack.
It has received mixed reviews from the courts (on Monday a Virginia judge ruled a key component unconstitutional) and faces neutering by the new Republican-dominated Congress.
Obama’s attempts to bring peace to the Middle East are in full retreat. The U.S. president had gamely and briefly tried to get tough with Israel. But, as it turned out, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understood domestic U.S. politics better than he.
Obama didn’t cause the recession. But his finance-friendly administration can be faulted for bailing out bankers ahead of the general public.
And Afghanistan — well, let’s not even talk about that.
Walkom's piece goes on to say that, by comparison, Harper has clear principles and continues to forge his way on the Canadian scene, as instruction especially to the Liberals, not to look for a messiah.
While there are no messiah's, in human terms, Mr. Walkom forgets that Obama burst on the scene following a disastrous eight years of Republican fiasco. To get rid of the Republicans and Bush-Cheney, meant that John McCain really never had a chance.
Let's not forget, either, the plate of complex nearly unresolveable issues that Obama was served, upon entering the White House. It was a monstrosity, nothing more, nothing less.
Also, while Mr. Walkom virtually equates Obama to a "Chicago pol" in his language without substance, I think that is a very "bum rap" because this president has been consistently attempting to bring the U.S. ship of state back "upright" so that the wealthy do not run away with the store.
On the other hand, Harper is so "in bed" with the corporate elite, and out of touch with the Canadian people, that he really does not even have an environmental strategy that would take on those corporate interests.
We are so far back in terms of international leaderhip on that file that all Canadians are embarrassed. At least Obama has tried to forge a new energy/environment initiative, albeit in the face of a single historic obstacle, a Republican party that merely says, "No" to anything he proposes.
And, Mr. Walkom, don't be so fast to dismiss the health care reform act, because one judge out of some fifteen, has declared the provision of requiring the purchase of coverage to be unconstitutional. Fourteen others have found it fits within the constitution.
And as for a culture of "stars" (or in political terms, messiahs), the U.S. has led the way, in North America, in developing literally generations of both stars, and their acolytes, the teenie-bopper adolescents who almost worship their idols, perhaps attempting to find meaning vicariously through worship of another.
Naturally, Canadians would be wise to steer clear of even searching for a messiah, in political or in adolescent cultural terms, (although Justin Bieber is the latest on the international scene, from Canada no less!) and that means getting involved in the political process.
And with only 2% of Canadians even taking the time and the trouble of joining a political party, one does not have confidence that that figure will change any time soon.
It is so easy to gripe and complain, but I am increasingly grateful that some Canadians do want to make a substantial difference, even though I take a very different option to many of those selected by Harper.
A nation of whiners needs to be transformed into a nation of activists so that more power is not brought into the PMO, (the Prime Minister's Office) and so that ridiculous political vaccuum like, 'we can't afford to care for veterans,' and 'we can't increase social assistance but we can afford $16 billion for 65 F35 fighter jets'...that is completely outrageous...and no government can be permitted to push that kind of mismanagement onto the backs of Canadian taxpayers. And as for, 27,000 new prison cells, for prisoners whose crimes have not been ridiculous can they get?
Even without charisma, I'll take Ignatieff over Harper any day, just as most Americans took Obama over McCain, after their previous decade.

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