Louis Proyect writes: After a brief period of relative optimism tied to the “green shoots” of recovery, the woes of the Great Recession continued into 2012 and forced the hucksters running Obama’s re-election campaign to hoist a new message up the flagpole and see if anyone would salute.
That new message amounted to undraping a 60 foot tall bronze statue of Obama as muscular Commander-in-Chief after the fashion of Reagan chopping wood or George W. Bush in a flight suit. If those precious swing voters, perceived as white and centrist, could not be assuaged by a non-existent recovery, then maybe they would vote for Obama since he was able to deliver on at least another element of Teddy Roosevelt’s record, namely his willingness to use the “big stick” against weaker nations.
The campaign kicked into high gear with a speech that the president gave on Memorial Day a couple of weeks ago. It is filled with what the great Edmund Wilson called “patriotic gore”. This paragraph, in particular, sounds like it could have been lifted from the preview to a Rambo movie:
You persevered though some of the most brutal conditions ever faced by Americans in war. The suffocating heat. The drenching monsoon rains. An enemy that could come out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. Some of the most intense urban combat in history, and battles for a single hill that could rage for weeks. Let it be said — in those hellholes like Briarpatch, and the Zoo and the Hanoi Hilton — our Vietnam POWs didn’t simply endure; you wrote one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history.
Activist Jack A. Smith, an editor at the radical newsweekly The Guardian in the 1960s who soldiers on for the cause of peace in upstate N.Y., commented on Vietnam war revisionism in the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter:
The Pentagon has just launched a multi-year national public relations campaign to justify, glorify and honor Washington’s catastrophic, aggressive and losing war against Vietnam — America’s most controversial and unpopular military conflict.
President Barack Obama opened the militarist event, which was overwhelmingly approved by Congress four years ago, during a speech at the Vietnam Wall on Memorial Day, May 28. The entire campaign, which will consist of tens of thousands of events over the next 13 years, is ostensibly intended to “finally honor” the U.S. troops who fought in Vietnam. The last troops were evacuated nearly 40 years ago.
One of the more disgusting passages in this altogether disgusting speech had to do with the peace movement’s alleged abuse of returning GI’s:
You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again.
David Sirota, one of the nation’s more principled liberals and hence a trenchant critic of Obama, told Salon.com readers:
It’s undeniable that chronic underfunding of the Veterans Administration unduly harmed Vietnam-era soldiers. However, that lamentable failure was not what Obama was referring to. As the president who escalated the Vietnam-esque war in Afghanistan, he was making a larger argument. Deliberately parroting Rambo’s claim about “a quiet war against all the soldiers returning,” he was asserting that America, as a whole, spat on soldiers when they came home — even though there’s no proof that this happened on any mass scale.
In his exhaustive book titled “The Spitting Image,” Vietnam vet and Holy Cross professor Jerry Lembcke documents veterans who claim they were spat on by antiwar protestors, but he found no physical evidence (photographs, news reports, etc.) that these transgressions actually occurred. His findings are supported by surveys of his fellow Vietnam veterans as they came home.
Keep in mind that Obama’s speech sounds exactly like the kind of thing that John McCain would have written–a product of his captivity in Vietnam and his yahoo Republican Party politics. That this Ivy League “liberal” could spew out the same kind of rightwing bullshit, while in all likelihood knowing that it is bullshit, epitomizes the political impasse facing voters. You vote for someone enlightened and you end up with a Chuck Norris wannabe. It really doesn’t matter what you voted for, after all. The people who run the country have their own agenda and it doesn’t include you. [Continue reading...]
The rebranding of Barack Obama
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