Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Victor Belongs To The Spoils

It's hard to watch or listen to the news lately without wondering why anyone would want to be President. It's not just the global economic meltdown, but other events as well that have a way of imposing themselves on us without our consent. For many of us, these global events seem to have little affect on our day to day lives. For others, such as the President-elect, these events loom quite a bit larger.

I'm not quite sure that it is correct to say that the average American should be less concerned with what is happening in Gaza than Barack Obama. It seems like that should be the case, but perhaps that is the problem. Perhaps we should be aware and engaged when it comes to events across the globe. It is clear, however, that most Americans are no longer either willing or able to do the work that it takes to be informed and have thoughtful positions on a wide range of issues. This is a fact that has consequences each time American voters return to the polls to choose their leaders.

Without a width and breadth of knowledge regarding world and national events and conditions it is unlikely that voters can choose leaders that are equipped to face the challenges of their terms. In fact, it may be the case that voters are perpetually choosing candidates based on their ability to deal with events in the recent past, rather than those they are likely to face in the near future. This is analogous to the way many investors buy stocks that have risen recently and sell those that have fallen. There is no quicker way to insure ruin in your portfolio then buying high and selling low.

Regardless of how the George W. Bush presidency turned out, can anyone honestly say they voted for him in 2000 because of his ability to confront the threat of global Islamic fundamentalist terrorism? Of course not. Wasn't W the candidate that couldn't come up with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's name in an interview during the campaign?

By the same token, many Americans may have voted for Barack Obama based on what they thought was his ability to deal with greed on Wall St., decay in Detroit, and gridlock in Washington. Recent events though may replace these challenges with war in Gaza, massacre in Mumbai, and Russian aggression in Georgia.

During what is undoubtedly a long and tiring Presidential campaign, just what is it that the candidates believe they are vying for? The title of this post is not a typographical error or the result of tortured syntax (though no doubt there is no small portion of that in this blog). Rather it is a comment on what it means to own or be owned and serves as the epigraph of a Fitzgerald novel. A version of it has been making the rounds in the wake of the financial crisis namely that if you owe the bank $100 that is your problem. But if you owe the bank $100 million, that is the bank's problem.

While I certainly did not vote for Mr. Obama, I can only hope that his abilities serve him well over the next four years and that he is able to take ownership of his circumstances rather than have his circumstances own him, and, by extension, us.


Anonymous said...

Obama has certainly inherited a lot of "spoils" from whom I consider one of the most incompetent presidents we have ever had in so far as foreign policy, economics, or diplomacy is concerned. Our continual support of Israel is not only dynamite in the middle east but all over the world. Of course this has a biblical motive (circa 1918 and Lord Bowlden) but also an economic (oil) motive starting with the British after WW1 and then the U.S. I voted for Obama with the hope in mind that he was more sophisticated in world history and foreign diplomacy than Mc Cain. It is my belief that the Israel-Palestine problem was the fuse of the twin towers bombing (at least the perpetual funding of Isral by the U.S., while ignoring the historical rights of the Palestinians. Even if we are to consider the Old Testamant (the Jews own record) the Philistines, I believe, were there when Abraham drove them out.
I realize it is not as simple as this but historical relationships
(Abraham being the father of both the jews and the Arabs)should at least be known by any leader who attempts to defuse the situation. Jimmy Carter was the only president with an inkling of what was involved in the situation. Watching "Lawrence of Arabia" could also be a primer (the version that has an historical addendum at the end, giving details of how the British and the western world carved out their own "spoils". I know the political world can never return to the origin of these problems, but the West must acknowledge that the Zionist mentality and their dictum "we must never forget the holocaust" just won't hold water any more; it is too simplistic. Obama may disappoint me, but I have the feeling that Mc Cain would have been just a "W" clone, a flag-waving cowboy (fly-boy)who would straddle the bomb like (Slim Pickens) in Dr. Strangelove.

Anonymous said...

Jerry, once again I am Anonymous. Sorry.