Obama from the Oval Office
No Direction Home
Obama came on TV last night—his first speech to the American people from the Oval Office, we were told, as if that made it special—to talk to us about the Gulf oil catastrophe. It was almost total bullshit.
First, he tried to convince us he’d jumped right on the crisis, not delayed the federal response as so many say. Excuses, excuses! Nothing but PR.
Then he said it would all be fixed, the beaches restored to normal by next season, the wetlands saved, all made right again. Ha! I’m sure! Where are they going to get the money for that? BP? Their lawyers are working overtime right now to obstruct any serious claims on their vast wealth. And the federal government already owes more than it may ever be able to pay because of the crash of Reaganomics.
Then—the only positive part of the speech for me—he said this was the wake-up call to get on the stick about alternative energy. But big oil, gas, and coal (not to mention the nuke dicks) are already lined up in full force to block any serious initiatives along those lines, and, again, the money needed to stimulate those industries and “create American jobs” has already been spent, as far as Congress is concerned.
And finally, after saying any more delays in developing alternatives are unacceptable, he ended with the usual inspirational crap about how we Americans always overcome difficulties, and this is no exception. As PBS commentators David Brooks and Mark Shields both said after the speech, he gave no details, offered no specifics. He didn’t ask us to change, to rally behind any sort of sacrifice or innovative program to create a future any different from the consumer culture which is failing us on every side.
For my money, Obama may have a glimmer of a vision, but he seems too sunk into the dying system to rise out of it and lead us into a new era, which must happen or we’re done for. This ubiquitous government, which is little more than the phony face of corporatism, has become all but useless. That’s my opinion.
Where we go from here is up for grabs. But who are the grabbers? Surveying the ranks of the individuals and movements who clamor for power on all sides in the midst of increasing chaos, I’m not much cheered. In fact, the words of W.B. Yeats’ “Second Coming” seem ever-more apt:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world....”
As I listen to Obama and his various spokespeople and apologists, to BP executives, to Congressional committee members, to the various “experts” stepping up to cameras and microphones all over the world, each with something to lose—as we all do, as the world as we’ve known it crumbles around us (and not just in the Gulf, either)—I feel John Lennon’s wail brimming up in me:
“Just gimme some truth!”
But, while many posture and pretend, does anyone know what the truth is? I fear not! As a result my last personal defense is in Voltaire’s immortal line:
“We must cultivate our garden.”
(Tomatoes are looking good this year, and for once I got my cucumbers, squash, and broccoli in ahead of the caterpillars and worms. Lettuce and collards worked out, and I have high hopes for my peppers and egg plant.)
And, for what it’s worth, here’s my own philosophy, based on personal experience:
“Be ready at a moment’s notice to throw your entire life up in the air and let it fall where it will.”
Then, chances are, you might get through these times with just a few scratches and bruises instead of shattered bones. But there are no guarantees! Not even from the Oval Office of the (late) great President of the United States (POTUS).
(Did anyone else take note that, during his speech, there was absolutely nothing on his desk? No papers, no reference books, no maps, not even a cell phone?)
I deeply mourn what’s happened in the Gulf of Mexico. But I mourned that before this catastrophe. The oil spill seems destined only to hasten the destruction of life already well underway all along the coast and within the sea of that vast region and beyond. When will human beings learn to live in harmony with each other and the natural rhythms of this planet? Frankly, and especially after Obama’s speech, I see no indication it will happen soon.
Therefore, I cultivate my garden—which, incidentally, includes this blog—not expecting a harvest but grateful if there is one.