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 Day 19

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Obama's Numbers Game

The Triumph of Conservatism

by TARIQ ALI

Obama’s victory was no surprise. Agitated liberals, fearful that their man might lose or trying to save what was left of their depleted consciences, chose to paint Mitt Romney in garish colors, a satanic monster had to be kept out of the White House.

How lucky for liberals that Obama gave the Presidency the power to execute any US citizen without recourse to law. Had it been Bush, the Democrats would have been baying for blood in the NYRB and the NYT.

As the debates showed there were hardly any differences between the two men. Both products and defenders of the Reagan consensus, they had to fight a testy campaign in order to spend the billion dollars they had raised: the electoral stimulus that is much more generous proportionately than the other kind.

Nothing could disguise the fact that it was a painfully dull election, a tribal conflict at which little was really at stake.  Obama, with his Wall Street chums giggling hysterically, pretended to defend the poor by denouncing Mitt as a rich ‘un.  Romney , desperate to win, denouncing Barry as a radical, when, as Wall Street honchos acknowledge, he has done nothing that might make them apprehensive.

I hoped in vain for some non-political excitement that might liven things up a bit. A Biden faux-pas? A sex-scandal involving Ryan and a giraffe, Romney unveiled by a Mormon lass from yesteryear?  No such luck.

From beginning to end it was  a numbers game and, unlike in Europe, the incumbent won. And then came the dreaded clichés: ‘We are not red and blue states, we are the United States.’  This was bad even by Obama’s low standards.

In the real world business will go on as usual. Washington will speak with Teheran to see if a compromise can be hammered out? After all both parties were on the same side in the Iraq and Afghan wars. Teheran could promise help to remove Assad if Washington tied Netanyahu and Lieberman to the post.

In Af-Pak the drones will continue to rain. Many more innocents will die before the promised withdrawal.

On Palestine, every US government in recent years has helped Israel to bury the Palestinians alive. The zombie leaders of the PLO have lost all credibility and Hamas’ tired rhetoric offers no solution.

Of course there is one thing Obama could do without fear or favor. Lift the embargo on Cuba and recognize the country. It is in the interests of the US itself to do so, but will he? Will the Clintons who are dreaming of a return to the White House let him?  Nixon in Beijing. Obama in Havana.  Might make a good opera and help posterity forget the drones and assassinations. Just a thought.

Tariq Ali is the author of The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power.  He can be reached at tariq.ali3@btinternet.com.