June 27th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Peter Costello calls it a day

EDITORIAL: New South Wales puts Australian firms first

VICTORIA: The threats to Victoria's electricity and water

GENERAL MOTORS: Restructured GM won't thrive without new mindset

UNITED STATES I: Obama's celebrity-style media spectacle

UNITED STATES II: Cairo speech impressed Western media, not Islamic world

IRAN: US conciliatory approach to Tehran backfires

ASIA/PACIFIC REGION: East Timor consolidates stable democratic government

UNITED STATES: Husband and wife spied for communist Cuba

SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY: How science can diminish humanity

EUTHANASIA: The perils of euthanasia "with safeguards"

MEN AND IDEAS: Bob Santamaria's role in Australia's culture wars

OPINION: The Japanese threat facing Australia in 1942

Failure of stimulus packages (letter)

Russia's population crisis (letter)

IPCC's political agenda (letter)

MEDIA: ABC Chaser's war on common decency

CINEMA: Hollywood morality for an audience of fools - State of Play

BOOKS: SHAKESPEARE'S SHATTERED YOUTH: Laming or Elixir? by Lucy Sullivan

BOOKS: CROSSING HITLER: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand, by Benjamin C. Hett

Books promotion page

Obama's celebrity-style media spectacle

by Daniel Greenfield

News Weekly, June 27, 2009
Abroad, Obama delivers high-profile speeches. But at home his administration is presiding over an economic disaster. Daniel Greenfield reports.

In the sixth month of his presidency, Obama has turned an economic downturn into an economic disaster, taking over and trashing entire companies, and driving the nation deep into deficit spending expected to pass US$10,000 billion.

Abroad, Obama seems to have no other mode except to continue on with his endless campaign, confusing speechmaking with diplomacy.

It is natural enough that Obama, who built his entire campaign on high-profile public speeches reported on by an adoring press, understands how to do nothing else but that.

Ego-driven photo ops

While the press is still chewing over Obama's Cairo speech, this celebrity style coverage ignores the fact that Obama's endless world tour is not actually accomplishing anything.

Instead his combination of ego-driven photo op appearances and clueless treatment of foreign dignitaries have alienated many of America's traditional allies.

Those who aren't being quietly angry at Obama, like Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel or Benyamin Netanyahu, instead think of him as absurdly lightweight, as Nicholas Sarkozy, King Abdullah or Vladimir Putin do.

While his officials carry out their dirty economic deeds, Obama responds to any and every crisis as if it were a Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musical, with a cry of, "Let's put on a show". Thus far, Obama has put on "shows" across America, Europe and the Middle East.

And what the adoring media coverage neglects to cover is that Obama's shows have solved absolutely nothing. They have served only as high profile entertainment.

Neither alienating America's traditional allies, through a combination of arrogant bullying and ignorance, nor appeasing America's enemies, has yielded any actual results. Nor does it seem likely to. Islamic terrorism is not going anywhere; neither are the nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran. While Obama keeps smiling, the global situation keeps growing more grim.

At home, if Obama was elected as depression-era entertainment, the charm of his smiles and his constant appearances on magazine covers appear to be wearing thin on the American public.

Despite the shrill attacks on Rush Limbaugh or the Republican Enemy of the Weak, the Democratic party of 2009 is polling a lot like the Republican party of 2008.

The Democrats have suddenly become the incumbents, and the only accomplishment they can point to is lavish deficit spending, often on behalf of the very same corporations and causes they once postured against.

The European Union parliament's swing to the right cannot be credited to Obama, though doubtlessly some European voters seeing socialist economic crisis management on display in the world's richest country decided they wanted none of it; but it is part of a general turning against federalism. For Obama's entire program is dependent on heavily entrenching federalism at the expense of individual and state's rights.

Yet that is precisely his Achilles heel with independent voters who are polling against more taxes and expanded government. No amount of speeches by Obama can wish away his 18 czars or the national debt he has foisted on generation after generation of the American people.

That leaves Obama with a choice between socialism and the independent voter. And thus far he has chosen socialism.

Obama's tactic of hijacking Bush Administration era policies on the economy and the War on Terror, and exploiting them as Trojan horses to promote his own agenda, have left him coping with a backlash from his own party, as well as general Republican opposition.

His czars are meant to function as the bones in an executive infrastructure accountable to no one; but a lack of accountability isn't just another word for tyranny, but for incompetence. A functional chain of command is accountable at multiple levels if it is to function effectively.

Obama's White House by contrast is in a state of over-organised chaos, the sort of organised disorganisation that undisciplined egotistical leftists naturally create for themselves, complete with multiple overlapping levels of authority and no-one in charge but the man at the top, who's too busy doing other things to actually be in charge.

Dennis C. Blair, as chief of National Intelligence, who collaborated with the Muslim genocide of Christians in East Timor, is trying to muscle out the CIA to create his own intelligence network. This is typical of the kind of chaos being spawned by every chief in an expanding government bureaucracy working to make sure that all the Indians answer to him.

Similarly, the National Security Council is wrestling with the State Department, highlighted by Samantha Power getting her own specially-created NSC position to butt heads with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This illustrates the state of conflict and chaos in American foreign affairs.

A state of chaos is so pervasive that incompetence has now become commonplace, and no-one can even be found to double-check the spelling of a Russian word that is meant to be the theme of American's diplomatic reconstruction with Russia, or to pick out a gift for the visiting British Prime Minister.

The death of Chrysler

Meanwhile, on the economy, Obama exploited the ongoing bailouts, transforming them from bailouts into takeovers meant to shift the balance of power in what had been a democracy, and to socially engineer not only corporations but the lives of ordinary Americans.

But the public's patience with corporate bailouts is at an end. Most Americans were never happy with them to begin with, and want them to end.

The death of Chrysler at the hands of Fiat and the UAW might look like a victory in the union ranks, but it doesn't play too well outside Detroit. And tacking on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that will kill the pick-up truck and the sports utility vehicle will badly erode Obama in the swing states, if exploited properly in 2010 and 2012.

Despite the constant media barrage, orchestrated out of the White House, the public is growing disenchanted with the performance of Obama and the Democrats. With unemployment booming and the economy dropping, the jobs aren't there and the spending is out of control.

Republicans today are polling better on ethics and the economy than the Democrats are. That shows a trend which is likely to register in the mid-term elections in 2010, in the same way that the EU parliamentary elections served as a shock to the system.

In opposition, Republicans are free to embrace the rhetoric of change, to champion reform and push libertarian ideas about the size and scope of government.

In turn, all Obama has is his celebrity-fuelled media spectacle world tour, a charade now serving as a parallel to the depression-era entertainment that functioned as escapism in a dour time. But before long, it may be Obama that the American public will want to escape from.

Obama has tried to play Lincoln, Reagan, JFK and FDR; but in the end he can only play himself - a shallow, manipulative and egotistical amateur who is in over his head, and trying to drag the country down with him.

Obama's White House is falling down and, while the flashbulbs are still glittering and the parties are going on in DC and around the world, Obama and the Democratic congress may be headed for a recession of their own.

-Daniel Greenfield is a New York City-based writer and freelance commentator. He comments on political affairs with a special focus on the global war on terror and the rising threat to Western civilisation.

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