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American Academics Disappointed with Obama


Based on his first year in office, American academics are expressing disappointment in President Obama’s performance and believe he is headed toward a “mediocre” presidency.

That’s the term liberal historian Howard Zinn of Boston University uses in an article that solicited many viewpoints in the February 1st issue of The Nation magazine. Zinn adds that Obama’s foreign policy is “Hardly any different from a Republican…nationalist, expansionist, imperial and warlike.” And he adds that “mediocre” means “dangerous.”

Conservative Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University, writes, “Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan indicates that he will not break with the existing national security consensus. The candidate who promised to ‘change the way Washington works’ has become Washington’s captive.”

Disappointment also characterizes the view of Glenn Loury, professor of the social sciences at Brown University. He says the high point of Obama’s administration was its inauguration “but it has been downhill since.” He complains “Obama has said little of substance about racial inequality” and “what he has said leaves much to be desired.”

On the subject American militarism, Loury says, “His conduct of the ‘war on terror’ and, most distressing, his escalation of our involvement in Afghanistan’s civil war is eerily reminiscent of the approach of his immediate predecessor. This is not change of any kind, let alone of the kind that we can believe in.”

Sociologist Katherine Newman, of Princeton, says, “The symbolic victory of our first African-American presidency gave way to disappointment over his centrism, which comes as no great surprise since Obama never advertised himself as a man of the left. And indeed, he isn’t.”

Marcia Angell, M.D., a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Medical School, writes, “count me among those who are disappointed in his (Obama’s) first year.” The reason: “He seems to lack the courage to push for the fundamental reforms necessary to deal with the enormous problems we face, and instead appeases the very forces that have gotten us into this mess.”

On health care, “the reform bill Obama is cobbling together wrongly retains the central role of the private insurance companies and requires millions of people to buy their products at whatever price they charge.”

Angell says her sharpest disappointment is when the administration backed the prohibition against buying lower-priced drugs from Canada and Europe. “During his campaign, Obama promised to end this absurd restriction, but now he’s siding with the pharmaceutical industry.”

In a related article in the magazine’s same issue, historian Eric Foner of Columbia University writes Obama has not learned to question the assurances of the Pentagon, “the lesson (President) Kennedy learned from the Bay of Pigs debacle at the outset of his presidency.”

Foner writes, “it is difficult to view Obama’s initial year without a feeling of deep disappointment.” On the domestic front, for example, Foner says it is “unlikely that an avowedly postracial president will directly address” the plight of blacks, whose economic condition continues to worsen.

Like President Jimmy Carter, “he does not have an industrial policy or a robust jobs-creation program and seems uninterested in addressing the hardships and structural imbalances caused by the decline of manufacturing,” Foner observed.

Adolph Reed, political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, writes that as far back as the summer of 2007 Obama indicated that, if elected, he would “extend the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan.” Concludes Reed: “The only surprise about his presidency is how many ersatz leftists cling to the fiction that he’s anything other than a superficially articulate neoliberal Democrat in the Clinton mold and that his administration would act in any other way.”

How representative the above viewpoints may be of academic thinking generally is anybody’s guess but they fairly ooze disappointment. In sum, they describe Obama as plunging USA deeper into war while neglecting a home front that is falling apart. This week’s upset Republican victory for the late Senator Kennedy’s seat in liberal Massachusetts may be only a foretaste of the political disaster in store for Obama’s party. The biggest losers, of course, will be the people of the Middle East, whose suffering from American invasions and occupations continues without letup. #

(Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consultant and columnist. He has reported for the Chicago Daily News and worked as a columnist for wire services. Reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com)

Sherwood Ross

Sherwood Ross is an award-winning reporter. He served in the U.S Air Force where he contributed to his base newspaper.

He later worked for The Miami Herald and Chicago Daily News.He contributed a weekly column on working for a major wire service.

He is also an editorial and book publicist.He currently resides in Florida.

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3 Responses to "American Academics Disappointed with Obama"

  1. maximus  January 24, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Dear President Obama

    I come to you today to praise you and to criticize you and to petition you.

    I want to tell you a true story which just happened a few days ago. I came into this world 4 years after World War II. When I grew up partly in New York City and Partly in Nassau Country New York, as a young boy I would watch Meet the Press. I watched this show as a boy of 6 or 7. I watched the people of the era talk about the issues. I also watched Mike Wallace’s You are there as well. I recall seeing other programs about famous people. I saw newsreels of a man who wore a white sheet. NO! not that kind of white sheet! Mohandas Gandhi, wore a white sheet of cotton. Why did Gandhi wear white sheets? He wanted to set an example for his people to make their own cloth and not buy goods from his oppressors who occupied his country.

    He appeared a modern day Moses, but of another religion. I have a number of heroes like Gandhi. Most of them died, except for Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Considering myself a Jewish person, I find that good that people from other religions and other people’s can serve as examples for heroes as it tends to unite people of different backgrounds. Each of these heroes, Moses, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu eventually brought their oppressors down by not cooperating with their oppressors.

    The other day, I spoke to the great grandson of Mohandas Gandhi. I had sought to speak to his father, the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi. I never expected to ever speak to anyone in this family of Gandhi. I told him that I thanked his great grandfather for his work and that he inspired me as I used to see newsreels of his great grandfather during the 1950’s and 1960’s and especially using boycotts to eventually uniting his people of India to eject their oppressors out of their country. I told Gandhi’s great grandson of my electronic PAMPHLET on the web and again thanked him and said good day.

    Now, I say to you Mr. President, that I want a real populist President similar to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and I and other people will make you do it, just like FDR told his supporters to make him do what they wanted him to do.

    So in the tradition and inspiration of Moses and Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu and their people I say to you again we will make you do it.

    How? By boycotting the products of those of your friends in corporations who donated money to you, and donated money to Republicans and to conservatives in the Democratic party who have led this country down a path to the second great depression. The only reason that we have not descended further appears that we had citizens back about 77 years ago who made FDR do it and had good regulations in place today that the conservatives in both parties want to repeal. So from now on I will no longer donate money to the Democratic party although I remain a member. Again I will not buy products from major companies that donate money to conservatives in both parties and I will demand progressive legislation that really helps the poor and middle class people instead of the undeserving wealthy at this point of crisis in our country, of the CEOs that run those companies and until that happens they will lose business from me and many other people such that we will put pressure on those CEOs to help get us the legislation that we want.

    I agreed with the bailout of the banks and the partial nationalization of GM and Ford but now it appears OUR turn such that we get a $10 an hour minimum wage, a passage of the employee free choice act, a passage of the women’s freedom of choice act, a passage of a compromise SINGLE PAYER PUBLIC OPTION paid for by general taxes which will allow private health insurance but in which those who choose this new single payer public option will have no premiums, no copayments, no yearly deductibles, no recisions, no rejection for preexisting conditions and cover everything: doctors visits, surgery, hospital stays, abortion, dentistry, eye care, nursing home and hospice care and home care and it will serve as a health insurance EXODUS so that the private health insurance companies will let our people go. We also need to end the war in Iraq and a way to end the war in Afghanistan but we need to help build Afghanistan up so the Taliban and Al Qaeda will no longer get the favor of some people in Afghanistan. We need other legislation that helps those less fortunate in our country.

    Republicans only talk about freedom but they offer us no real solutions. These Republican corporate masters only offer us FIEFDOM and wage slavery and a kind of slavery to insurers where they exploit the economic conditions of those who don’t have enough money to pay for their insurance and not freedom. These Republican corporate masters offer their middle class and even poor supporters FREEDUMB organizing them in a rabble of misnamed fake populist Tea partiers for which those Boston patriots of a few centuries ago would probably say, hey these Republican FREEDUMB lovers HAVE REPRESENTATION, so what excuse do they have for disrupting government town halls that we helped to establish?

    Really Mr. President, those present day so called tea partiers appear a perversion of those real patriots that helped liberate our country a few centuries ago. Do these false tea partiers stand for a living wage? No. Do these false tea partiers stand for unions? No. Do these false tea partiers stand for helping those less fortunate in our country? No.

    These Recruited Republican FREEDUMB lovers claim that they appear PATRIOTs.

    I say NAY, those Recruited Republican rabble appear as

    stand PAT RIOTers

    disrupting government who attempt to help the less fortunate in our country. How many times have I seen or heard this Republican rabble express their contempt for the poor and less fortunate in the middle class? I have seen and heard such contempt by these conservatives for decades blaming most of the poor and less fortunate middle class for their own problems as an excuse to shift blame away from many corporations who disadvantage such people and also as an excuse to have government dissolve in the area of social justice.

    These Republican rabble stand PAT RIOTers want us to stand pat for their corporate masters to continue to profit on the suffering of people in many areas and not just health care. They want us to stand pat and yell no more higher taxes deliberately wanting the American people to not see the way corporate governors want to PRIVATELY TAX people with low pay aka Cheap labor aka wage theft not giving workers in many cases the worth of their work that they do and suppressing the organization of people in unions. These corporate governors also tax people privately with high prices in a cartel working with other corporate governors in fixing prices so even though you have a few companies in a sector of products you really have a polyopoly keeping PRIVATE TAXES high in a lot of product sectors. Yes high prices and low wages function as a PRIVATE TAXATION system run by private government which the Republicans support and come from and they have their stooges in the stand PAT RIOT movement to pose as as populists. NAY!

    So next time Republicans criticize our party for taxation in their miscommunications at election time we Democrats will remind the people that the Republicans continue to tax us PRIVATELY and raise these PRIVATE TAXES through POLYOPOLY, DUOPOLY, MONOPOLY, cheap labor and high prices and that Republicans need to get relieved of their power in government which they deliberately sabotage social programs through deliberate deficit creation through oil wars, unjust tax breaks for the wealthy and cutting of social programs. This deliberate deficit creation has gone on for 30 years now started by Ronald Reagan the miscommunicator and it has to stop. The Republicans create a huge deficit so when they get relieved of power then the Democrat has to clean up the mess and cannot or will not continue on the path of social justice or water it down such that supporters of Democrats get angry as they did in Bill Clinton’s time and now yours!

    So Mr. President, we will make you promote real social justice and not catering to corporations in the quest for social justice and eliminate these so called public private partnerships that these corporations take too much money from the poor and less fortunate that the Republicans have done in the past years and until this day and create regular government programs that do not allow these corporations to leech upon the public and profit to the detriment of middle class and poor people.

    I have seen this in Medicare Part D and Medicare Disadvantage and now thanks to conservative Democrats we face this in the new health insurance and Pharmaceutical company enrichment act of 2010.

    No more Mr. President. No More.

    Help the middle class and the poor and until then, the Democratic party gets no money from me and in 2010 and 2012 I will go to the polls and only vote on referenda, meaning I will not vote for anyone for representative, senator and President. I will stay in the Democratic party and do what I can to rid us these conservatives in OUR party from power by peaceful means through boycotts of consumers products of their contributors that give them money and convince other Democrats to also boycott these contributors to conservatives in both parties and force these CEOs to go to congressional leaders and tell the leaders that hundreds of thousands of people will no longer buy from the CEOs companies until congress passes real progressive legislation that citizens want and have petitioned the CEOs for.

    In the end, Mr. President we will get this done peacefully and we will do everything peaceful to make you help us.

    In the tradition of Moses, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu, we will get this done for social Justice for the less fortunate in our country. I encourage other people reading this open letter to the President to organize and petition the government and the CEOs of corporations that aid meanspirited conservatives in both parties to go to my electric pamphlet at http://www.democratz.org and sign those petitions that you see best to accomplish social justice for the less fortunate in our country. Once you sign them, electronic letters will go out right away to congressional leaders and the Corporations that aid meanspirited conservatives. Do this for the less fortunate! Let our people grow and to meanspirited conservatives, let our people GO from your greed, high prices and wage slavery and private taxes and your religious oppression.

    So let it get written so let it get done.

    Sincerely,

    http://www.democratz.org

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