Wednesday, November 05, 2008


In comments on the previous post, our dear Father Park remarked:

Obama has little idea, I think, of what he’s done. The Everest of expectation is palpable...

And concluded:

... A vast constituency is expecting. Here’s hoping he can deliver.

Indeed, and of course accountability doesn’t just happen. The task of delivering on those expectations raised by Obama — loftily encapsulated in the catchphrases of ‘change’, ‘a new dawn’, etc. — is one that should properly be shouldered by all citizens.

A few are off to a good start already. For example, Ralph Nader has thankfully refrained from making another serious tilt at the Presidency, but instead been busy with the kind of contribution to public life at which he excels. In an open letter to Obama just a few days ago, Nader observed:

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama?

Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

Such scrutiny should rightly be the job of those who are duly elected to perform the function of ‘checks and balances’ in the world’s greatest democracy. But, while it’s tempting to think the Republican ‘opposition’ might pursue the kinds of concerns Nader has raised, in fact both parties perennially have resoundingly failed to halt the excess of corporate patronage that infests political power at all levels of the Republic.

Obama has rode to victory on a torrent of rhetoric about ‘change’, ‘renewal’, ‘a new dawn’, ad nauseam. But without sound public oversight of government of the people, by the people, for the people, those catchcries will prove as hollow as they now sound.

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Blogger Kathy Farrelly said...

Let's hope that this is the start of a new era for America(and the world)
Things can only improve once the shrub shrivels into oblivion!

5/11/08 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

"Improve"? Ah, the eternal optimist, eh Kath?

I'm perhaps a bit more 'conservative', but I'm hopeful things, at least, won't slide any further into the abyss.

5/11/08 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Dylan said...

Father Park, you might like this bit of advice from an IR Prof @ the Chronicle of Higher Ed. Asked to name the book that the new President should read before taking office, Dan Drezner offered this:

"I’d probably advise the president to read the uber-source for international relations, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Too many people only read portions like the Melian Dialogue, which leads to a badly distorted view of world politics (the dialogue represents the high-water mark of Athenian power — it all goes downhill after that). The entire text demonstrates the complex and tragic features of international politics, the folly of populism, the occasional necessity of forceful action, the temptations and dangers of empire, and, most importantly, the ways in which external wars can transform domestic politics in unhealthy ways."

6/11/08 2:38 AM  
Blogger Father Park said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/11/08 12:25 PM  
Blogger Father Park said...

Nicely spotted Dylan. I've just been reading through Mr Drezner's blog - seems I was not alone in expecting McCain to hit those highs in his concession; just didn't think he'd do so well. It is a measure of the man and, in perfect Hollywood world, he'd find a spot in the new administration.

Thucydides is a landmark work. Rarely has a writer, in what was a recently invented "discipline" (historiography), produced such a tour de force. Drezner is dead right: many read the naked and often ugly display of realpoitik that is the Melian Dialogue and little else.

I'd throw in Strphen Graubard's The Presidents. An excellent potted history of the transformation of the US presidency over the last century.

I had more written but it is far too long for a response: I'll post it as new topic.

6/11/08 12:27 PM  
Blogger Caz said...

Come on guys, ALL new political leaders carry the expectations of the great unwashed masses who voted for them, and ALL politicians accept donations from pretty much any source offering.

What is it about Obama that requires greater over-sight than any other president's decision-making? He was up front about his support for particular industries. Should he have lied?

Nader is being, well, asinine.

8/11/08 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

"What is it about Obama that requires greater over-sight than any other president's decision-making?"

Oh nothing really, they should all be, er, overseen. It's only that Obama's theme of 'change' would seem to suggest he might actually welcome public oversight. Call me naive...

11/11/08 12:46 AM  
Blogger Caz said...

Indeed, I think I will!

Naive! Naive! Naive!

Anything he does will give an impression of greater transparency compared to Bush's regime, so he doesn't need to be particularly open to create a favorable perception.

I suspect things are a lot trickier in practice than in theory when one finds oneself representing 300 million or so people, and, like some hulking whale in a kiddies paddling pool, influencing the well-being of a few billion others.

11/11/08 8:13 PM  

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