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President Obama vs. Richard III: the monumental tragedy of Machiavellian politics

[I recently responded to a comment at DailyKos claiming that Shakespeare’s Richard III has no modern rival, when it comes to the character’s charm, brilliance, and malevolence. Who in today’s shabby world could match the Bard’s misshapen misanthrope with regard to those three qualities? Karl Rove and David Brock, two of the more disgustingly amoral strategists of the far-right, are mere PIKERS in comparison to Shakespeare’s Richard III, the commenter asserted. I agree. Below is my full response to that DKos commenter, disagreeing with his/her main premise that the tragically flawed hero has no modern rival… because I know the answer, and it isn’t pretty. Below is the latest refinement of the argument I’ve been making for several years now about the significance of Obama’s presidency: a “Win-Win for the Right.”]

No modern rival to Shakespeare’s Richard III? Au contraire: President Barack Obama is both brilliant and the all-time champ of the far-right. How’s that for Machiavellian?

What Republican could have sealed the deal on the $16-trillion Wall Street coup de grace to the middle class, with zero prosecutions or meaningful reforms, leaving “casino” banking, TBTF, and the promise of more socialized losses intact? Who else could have revived the neocons’ utterly discredited, counterproductive (and ultimately genocidal) regime-change agenda (in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine…) — effectively giving Bush/Cheney’s foreign policy two additional terms?

What other president could have made it “legal” for the government to assassinate anyone anywhere, without a whisper of due process?

What post-Bush politician other than Obama (the CIA’s choice in 2008) could have dramatically expanded the use of civilian-killing drones or forgiven and normalized torture, removing it from the realm of criminality by reducing it to a matter of bipartisan disagreement about “waterboarding” (quite the red herring, when Obama has continued all but a few of Rumsfeld’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” — and has sanctioned and continued the practice of torture in numerous ways, as Jeremy Scahill and Alfred McCoy have reported). Who else could have swept under the rug the monstrous war crime of “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” with several hundred thousand Iraqis dead, possibly over a million?

Who else could have so painlessly lied to the American people while normalizing the vacuum-collection of virtually everyone’s data? Or used the Espionage Act more than all previous presidents combined, to hunt honest whistleblowers and journalists as if they were enemies of the state? While the left snoozed on and on (save for CODE PINK and a few stalwarts out here in the wilderness).

Who else could have insisted on the demise of Posse Comitatus with nary a national debate? (Ditto for the TPP, under ZERO public pressure from the GOP.) What other Democrat or Republican could have been PRAISED for adamantly opposing legally-binding carbon emissions targets in Paris, while the Great Barrier Reef dies and the oceans signal collapse? While the world runs out of potable water? (And speaking of water, what other president could possibly get away with letting Nestle drain the Great Lakes – at zero cost – while the population of Flint pays good money to drink poison? Obama’s EPA has been following Gov. Snyder’s lead for far too long.)

President Obama has even begun tearing away at the legendary “Third Rail of American Politics,” Social Security and Medicare — a little chained-CPI here, a little retirement age-hike there (“Work longer, manual laborers, because white-collar workers are living longer!”). And he’s given the far-right what they’ve long been clamoring for, fracturing Medicare and shifting costs to taxpayers (the more affluent). It also has the effect of weakening that segment of the population’s support for the program.

ONLY charming, brilliant, Third Way Democrat, Barack Obama, could have managed to make Nixon’s wettest dreams of presidential power and corporatism-uber-alles come true… while the left went straight to sleep (leaving it to the kids and the country’s last few progressives to rally around an independent Brooklyn Jew, suddenly missing over 125,000 of his PURGED voters!).

So don’t tell me that President Obama isn’t impressively Machiavellian…

And yet the Wall Street/neocon-darling who is looking to succeed him (by hook and by crook) is clearly FAR to his right… yet running as a Democrat. And she can’t wait to embrace Netanyahu. Hell, she’ll probably make him her Secretary of Defense, with the GOP singing her praises.

Take that, Richard III.

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