Thursday, August 18, 2011

Will Obama Pull an LBJ?

I've mentioned here and there in comments around the web and have alluded in posts here that Barack Obama has never shown himself to be all that interested in being elected and I've suggested that as a consequence of the Debt Crisis Crisis Deal, his reign is essentially done.

He seems to be out of ideas, and if you watch and listen to him on the stump in the Midwest, he really is not into it at all. He has little to say, and what he does say is not very reassuring, to say the least. There is little "hope" in his eye.

I was talking to a friend, a black friend, a few minutes ago, and he said that he's been hearing from all kinds of people that Obama doesn't have a chance next year, and that we'd better be prepared for President Perry or Bachmann, and he said he's been trying to tell them that Obama knows exactly what he is doing, and he will be re-elected.

And I said, "Are you sure? Have you seen his eyes lately?"

My friend said, affirmatively, "He will be re-elected because the alternative is too crazy to even consider."

Oh? Maybe.

Yes, it's possible, sure. There's always the possibility that no matter what he does, or doesn't do as the case may be, he'll be re-elected. We, the People, actually have very little say in the end. If his sponsors and owners want him on the Throne, there he will be.

But have you listened to him lately? Have you seen his eyes?

He's not into it. He's thinking of something else, and it is probably Hawaii.

So. Will he pull an LBJ next spring and announce (on Facebook?) that he shall not seek nor shall he accept the nomination of his party for the Presidency -- and for approximately the same reasons LBJ cited in 1968: the nation was too polarized, the factions were too rigid in their beliefs, and for the Good of the Nation, he would not participate in further factionalizing and polarizing the country?

Here are the key statements of the LBJ speech. I haven't seen it since I watched in astonishment (and yes, excitement) all those years ago:

It was thrilling to hear him say he wasn't going to run again, but not so thrilling was what followed. The assassinations. The riots. The crackdowns and oppression. The installation of that paranoid drunk in the White House. The hundreds of thousands of additional needless deaths in the Indochina Wars.

Be careful what you ask for.

1968 was a seminal year, and that murdering, drugged out freak in Norway cited 1968 as the year that Europe "surrendered" to the Marxists/Islamists/Multiculturalists. I suppose there are lots of people who still think that 1968 was the year that the Hippies won the Revolution right here at home. Some of the Liberationist objectives of the Revolution were achieved, yes. Even under Nixon. But the cost was much heavier than many people understood at the time or do now. The repression was severe, and we are still living with it in the criminalization of so many black and brown men, in the surveillance and police state that has arisen practically unchallenged, and in the consequences of the liberation of capitalism from any obligation to the nation or the People of the United States.

There was a huge trade off that I don't think many people are recognizing even now.

So I wouldn't doubt that if Obama pulls out of the presidential contest next year there will be as much of a social, political and governmental upheaval as there was in 1968, and I wouldn't doubt that the results won't be pretty.

John Ellis over at the Business Insider puts the question of whether Obama will resign or pull and LBJ and just not run this way:

So, at a time when the only issue that really matters is jobs and falling living standards, the president will head into the fall campaign next year with not much to say except "it could have been worse." That's not a winning message, obviously. Which leaves him with a campaign based almost entirely on (what Bill Clinton used to call) "the politics of personal destruction."

Such a campaign would leave President Obama stone cold, even if he's perfectly willing to do it to get the job done. He would hate every minute of it. He didn't travel the road he traveled and scale the mountains he climbed, to have the capstone of his political career read: "Mitt Romney is a Mormon weirdo" or "Rick Perry is a psychopath."

In Washington, the "plugged-in" people will tell you gravely that the president isn't enjoying the work. He feels, it is said, "beleaguered" and "unappreciated" and "deeply unhappy" about the state of our politics. The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has been nibbling around this Obama gloom for a while; she's always had great radar for presidential funks. If you read between the lines of her columns, you get an almost tactile sense of Obama's blues.

A long-time Democratic politician told me the other day that he would not be "terribly" surprised if Obama called it quits early next year. When I asked him if he really believed that, he said "no, not really, but you can smell it. It's in the air around him."

Read more:

Well. There you are then.

We'll see, won't we?

♫LBJ took the IRT
Down to 4th Street USA
When he got there what did he see?
The youth of America on LSD...♪

Such an innocent age.


  1. I can't really give an opinion. I remember the run up to the second War with Iraq, "Oh, it will never happen, it's just saber rattling. They have to know how stupid it would be and besides the rest of the world would never go along. Iraq would fall apart and Iran would gain influence with the Shia majority. "

    I was soon regretting those words over a delicious bowl of "Freedom" Vanilla Ice Cream. (Remember how stupid things were then? I often wanted to give myself an impromptu lobotomy with a dull pencil just to fit in.)

    Oh, what the heck, I'll say what I think: I don't think he'll drop out.

  2. As I've said, my Predict-O-Meter hasn't worked since the 2000 election when it said, "The American People will not elect George W. Bush to the Presidency" -- and they didn't.

    As for Obama, all I've got to go on right now is my Spidey Sense from watching him and listening to him on the stump. His heart's not in it. His eyes are looking far away. But he was like that during the 2008 campaign, sometimes, too.

    So I dunno.

    Still, LBJ's speech is startling for how similar the situation he describes is to the one we face now... partisanship, factions, government not working for the people, not working at all, etc., etc.

    If he's going to bow out, I'd expect it by next March, but probably not before. And I'd expect Biden to be the anointed Dem candidate. And I'd expect him to lose to... Romney? Or, conceivably, a coup and the installation of the Semi-Divine General Petraeus...

    EEK! I scare myself.

  3. Nah, Obama ain't gonna decline to run. He thinks too highly of himself, and besides, he's doing what he wants to be doing, or is doing what he is being told to perform.

    Man, I am so tired of the politics of this country. It just gets worse and worse. More and more fascistic. More and more police-statish. More and more ignorant. Must be a sign of being an old fart.

  4. In his withdrawal speech, LBJ comes across as incredibly principled compared to what we're dealing with now, that's for sure.

    Who sits on the Presidential Throne is not really something we get to decide, though, a message that was driven home, you might say, on November 22, 1963. The presidency has been in crisis ever since.

    Whatever happens with Obama, we certainly do live in "interesting times."