the essence of tragedy : obama november

This is the essence of tragedy,
To have meant well and made woe, and watch Fate
All stone, approach.

I AM AS FAR FROM BEING AN APOLOGIST FOR OBAMA AS ONE COULD GET. WHAT I FIND BEAUTIFUL ABOUT HIM IS THE AURA OF TRAGEDY THAT FOLLOWS HIM LIKE “A BLACK DOG BENEATH THE GREY SKY BY THE BLIND ALLEY BESIDE THE DEEP OCEAN.”

why is Obama’s administration meeting with such critical negativity from all sides of american consciousness? admittedly, he has not fulfilled the promises he made: his healthcare legislation has not changed much except that insurance companies cannot refuse to insure you based on pre-existing conditions; if you have such a condition, you will simply pay a higher premium. (this is from my limited understanding of the new American healthcare; i am not American; if I am wrong or misinformed, please be kind enough to let me know.) on august 19th, American forces withdrew from Iraq minus a reserve force of 50 000 American soldiers, as Obama said back in February 2009. Guantanamo is still operative. the american economy is far from “recovery.”

all this and more contribute to his future legacy as a Supremely Tragic figure on par with the greatest heroes of Greek tragedy. a few reasons why i say he is tragic:

    —he’s black
    —his presidency is the restoration of democracy proper
    —he has to / has had to deal with unprecedented crises (not least of which was the BP oil spill which has ominously disappeared from the front pages …)
    —many of the problems he faces are not solvable through executive power or legislation alone, i.e. “the economy”
    —the american president has little power domestically, and obama himself seems reluctant to unilaterally bypass the system of checks and balances (the exception being the bailout)
    —he smokes

let’s face it, Obama’s healthcare plan will eventually work out for the better, for all Americans. it will be rough going at first, but once it has sufficient funds to actually provide decent coverage for citizens, it’ll be fun on a bun. of course, the critique that bailing out the auto and financial sector could have funded universal healthcare is another issue altogether; the short answer is that there is a structural asymmetry in american economics in which Main street does not thrive without Wall street. this is not Obama’s doing.

of course waging “war on terror” is not Obama’s doing either: that is Bush’s legacy and the boredom of proto-american fascists who are bored at home and need combat abroad (see THE HURT LOCKER). “opportunities for battle were increasingly scarce; not so women eligible for proposals of marriage” (theweleit, 28). the problem with Guantanamo is that no state wants the prisoners who are imprisoned there so that even if they were released today they would have nowhere to go.

it is true for every leader that there will always be opposition to the decisions made. but Obama is a special case. every single decision he makes will be the “wrong” one and not just because people are opposed to it. it will be “wrong” because his presidency is invested with the hopes of saving the american nation, a thoroughly impossible and thankless task. people voted in droves for Obama not because “they knew” his presidency would bring radical change but because “they believed” and “wanted to believe” and were therefore deceived into believing their own illusions for a better future.

Obama will be the one they blame for improving upon the disaster which preceded him: how dare he!? all who voted for Obama are anticipating the final betrayal that he is, after all, limited by obligations to his campaign donors, his corporate sponsors, the members of his cabinet—all of whom precede his obligations to “the people.”

his highest obligation, however, is one that even he is unaware of: Obama’s presidency is the tragedy that will be repeated as farce, and the repetition of farce become history.

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