O'Rourke (The View From the Couch): Transparency?


Where is the honesty? The Obama administration seems to stumble into the same non-reality-based mindset so often employed by the Bush administration now and then. Take veep Joe Biden's remarks re the swine flu. Stay out of subways! Avoid confined spaces! Planes are germ factories! After Biden made himself perfectly clear, the White House attempted to walk back reality by saying Biden meant to say....all sorts of things he didn't intend to say. Obama could have handled it differently, joking in his way that that's what Joe thinks, but we think differently, making light of it, playing off the well-known foot-in-mouth propensities of the vice president. Obama could have certainly gotten away with it, but, instead, leaving it to staff, they distorted reality to the edge of absurdity, mimicking the Bush administration. It's discouraging. And when Air Force One (absent the president) made its "secret" run around the Statue of Liberty, it was announced to all the world that Obama's people can be as dumb as Bush's; this Brownie-size screw-up revealed the One can hire dummies, too, though he fires them more quickly than Bush, even though the former FEMA head was eventually fired.

Again, Obama is running with the Bush playbook in Afghanistan, even though Bush and company abandoned that war to muck about in Iraq. Now Pakistan is a front and the most interesting thing the president of Pakistan, the dead Benazir Bhutto's corruption-friendly husband, said, on his visit here last week, that AIG has gotten more money from the American government than Pakistan has. Nonetheless, you can see where his interests lie. Now there's a dispute about whether we used phosphoreus-laced weaponry in that conflict, the same controversy that was raised in Israel's last major Gaza conflict. Iraq continues as before.

Here are the three major domestic issues for the next 100 days and Obama's intended response:

1. He's going to "save" the auto industry, insofar and GM and Chrysler will exist in some form after bankruptcy and here, and here alone, is Obama intending to pay off his union supporters. He's not going to be Torquemada, but the wise savior. Though how selling Chrysler to Fiat helps the American auto industry is anyone's guess. But after they were bought by a hedge fund, who cares?

2. Health care Obama will sell out to the private health industry, the same way he's sold out all of us to banks and financial institutions. Health insurance companies are financial institutions, except they get to decide who they pay back and who they don't. Single payer, etc., will be put down the road in some Star Trek future far far away. Has anyone else noticed Tim Geithner's Vulcan-style eyebrows? It would be best if Obama and company just put all children into Medicare, which was the original intention when the system was first proposed.

3. Social Security will be "saved" — though it still has a big surplus — by increasing the retirement age (with a complicated formula, thereby keeping the employment pool high and the business sector happy) and raising the cap, which is the least indefensible change.

Obama is, certainly, a pragmatist, but with Dick Cheney continuing to haunt the air waves, applauding the thumb screw way of life, a lot hasn't changed except...perception. Every time Cheney appears, we all are grateful that Barack Obama is president. Unlike Bush, Obama does seem to be in the "reality-based community," where, according to Bush crowd, most journalists live. But without the stupid things, Biden talking and Air Force One swooping over lower Manhattan, no one seems to notice that Obama isn't perfect. But, even the president acknowledges how good he has it: he joked at the White House correspondents dinner that everyone in the room had "voted" for him. It got a big laugh. Because it was close to the truth.


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