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Two Years After Two Predictions, One Unfortunate Result

Pete Karman

I published the blog below on July 19, 2008. Unfortunately, Scenario 2 appears to have prevailed. I went astray in predicting protest (good) followed by repression (bad). The paucity of the former has so far obviated the latter. I was also amazed that, given the new political mood in Latin America, Obama was stupid enough to alienate a whole continent by signing off on the vicious coup in Honduras whose Washington-advised leaders are currently practicing old-fashioned death squad democracy in all of its grizzliness. Our media continue to ignore Honduras's growing list of victims on the well-established principle that it’s not newsworthy, let alone a violation of human rights, for rightists to kill and torture leftists. And, of course, no one could foresee environmental catastrophe on the scale of the Gulf kill. Apart from that, I think, unhappily, that Scenario 2 allows me to don the swami’s turban. * * * * * * Scenario 1. Obama wins. The landslide majority that elected him along with a lopsided Democratic congress demand the change he promised. They want immediate action on jobs and the economy. They want the troops out of Iraq and America out of the empire business. Their to-do list also includes energy, healthcare, the environment, schools, and infrastructure. Obama and the Dems respond positively. They signal their bona fides by initiating withdrawal, citing mounting Iraqi calls for us to clear out. Obama announces global base closings to save money and show foreigners we have no imperial designs on them. In what is called the Obama Overture, he assures democratic Latin leaders that efforts to overthrow their governments will cease to be replaced by cooperation on ending the poverty that drives millions north. At home, Obama launches a Real Deal of fresh initiatives on the Four E’s—the economy, the environment, energy and education. He says it's time to catch up with the rest of the first world on health care. Some of his proposals seem more practical than others. But people are inspired and energized by the sense that Washington is finally on their side. Hard times gradually give way to a more rational and balanced prosperity that emphasizes broad well-being over personal consumption. The world seems a bit safer and Americans more hopeful. Obama and the Dems easily win reelection in 2012. We become Denmark with Rockies. Scenario 2. Obama wins. The people who voted for him demand the change he promised. They expect things to happen, but nothing much does. It becomes more and more apparent that Obama, despite his brains, youth, cool and promise, is just another face for business as usual. People feel betrayed. The angriest among them take to the streets. Obama quickly unleashes the repressive apparatus built up over the Bush years to punish the troublemakers. Mass roundups, disappearances and fear of torture or worse scare potential protesters into quiescence. The economy sinks further, imperial wars get nastier, the country grows dismal and surly. And, of course, the rich get richer. Comes the 2012 election and Obama is excoriated for the mess. An extreme right wing Republican (possibly an Alaskan yahoo) promising order and military victory, wallops him in the election. We enter a dark age of fascism. This post was originally published at The Karman Turn.

Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.
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