Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Waiting for Godot, er, Obama

Apart from ambition, there is no "there" there. There are as many Obamas as there are interlocutors. He is a hollow man, I concluded, a Third World anthropologist studying us with engaged curiosity but complete emotional detachment. In this respect he is unpredictable. _Spengler
Some people simply never truly arrive. They project an image to make others believe they are there, but each believer is merely seeing an illusion conjured up by his own mind.
From the day Obama was elected to 9:30am Tokyo time on Monday morning, the S&P 500 index has lost 17% of its value, after absorbing Obama's proposed cabinet and hearing the gist of his economic stimulus plan. That can't be blamed on Bush. It counts as the "Obama crash". With the unprecedented power of his office, Obama inherits a commensurately high level of accountability. Unless he offers something radically different, the boomerang of expectations could flatten him faster and more thoroughly than the swift ascent of his star. People in power get blamed; people with absolute power get blamed absolutely. As the economy continues to deteriorate, there will be no one left standing to blame but Obama.
Ah, but Spengler, anything and everything can and will be blamed on Bush. The habit for doing so is too deeply engrained within what passes for brains, in the skulls of American media. Still, the credibility of the media has been in even steeper freefall than the value of the real estate in California.
He will make resonant speeches, hold frequent press conferences, consult friend and foe alike, and tread water while America's economy and strategic position continue to deteriorate. His entourage of one-trick wizards, as I called them in a recent commentary, will pick over the broken American economy for trophies to put into private equity funds... Without casting aspersions on anyone involved, the opportunity for self-dealing in a multi-trillion-dollar bailout-cum-recapitalization of the financial system exceeds the grandest dreams of Third World kleptocrats.

At a certain point he will have to take a decisive stand on something. And then we will learn who Obama is, and what he wants
Decisive? Obama? My dear Spengler, you really must be thinking of someone else who goes by that name. The reason Obama is unpredictable, as you say, is because frankly there is no Obama. The person inside the shell who was supposed to have developed, never coalesced. America has elected a shell as its leader.

Perhaps the shell popularly known as Obama, believed that being elected president would provide enough external energy of affirmation to conjure a self -- like Pinocchio becoming a "real boy", the android Mr. Data becoming a human, or Sally Field becoming a "real actress" because "you really like me!" No such luck.

So America is left waiting for Obama. Will he ever arrive? I hope you brought enough sandwiches to share, and perhaps a little wine. Make yourself comfortable.

Previously published on Al Fin

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