How President Obama reacts to three catastrophes will define his presidency.
And none is the health care crisis, as critical as that is, and as annoying as are the Republican lies about public health care.
The catastrophes are Afghanistan, Veterans Affairs and Goldman Sachs, none of which show a clear path to an acceptable humanitarian and political resolution.
“Fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia!’” said Vizzini in The Princess Bride, a brilliant film my girlfriend talked me into watching.
Or as Gregory Feifer puts it in The Great Gamble, The Soviet War in Afghanistan (HarperCollins, 2009), “The Soviet war in Afghanistan again confirmed that no power ever successfully conquered that land … [From] Cyrus the Great [to] Alexander the Great … [to] the British … foreign forces have often moved into Afghanistan with relative ease, they’ve never been able to maintain control.”
Feifer and Vizzini might have added that the difficulties of the invaders paled in comparison to the devastation wreaked upon the invaders’ Afghan victims who after all were slaughtered and maimed on a level surpassing the American imagination.
But as the American death tolls mount, the Obama presidency is in political peril.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) is a disaster made much worse by George W. Bush and the American Enterprise Institute who waved the American flag, lied us into war, and specifically ignored federal administrative law made to protect our veterans, while playing Joe McCarthy to political opponents.
See Gordon Duff’s To Veterans Affairs Secretary Shensiki: Time to Take the Gloves off – Veterans around the country are waiting for Secretary Eric Shensiki to come to grips with the fact, obvious to all of us in the "real world" that we are in a war. I don’t mean Iraq and Afghanistan, I mean here at home. We have many times more veterans than we have serving military and many more people in harms way at the hands of rogue elements of the Department of Veterans Affairs than from any foreign enemy.
For every national veterans care scandal, whether ‘Shreddergate’ or ‘Snoopgate’ there is now one every day popping up at one medical center after another. The stories are treated as hundreds of ‘isolated incidents.’ The big ones, thousands risk death from infection or incompetent treatment get a day of news, hidden behind the endless circus of petty political bickering that has replaced government in America.
As for Goldman Sachs, one need look no further than these two pieces describing the appalling situation that under the political circumstances could make Enron look like nothing more than a mere celebrity scandal by comparison:
Robert Scheer’s Government Sachs’ Strikes Gold … Again – Connect the dots: Goldman Sachs made $3.44 billion in profit this past quarter, while the U.S deficit topped $1 trillion for the first time in the nation’s history and appeared to be headed toward doubling that figure before the budget year is out. Since most of the increase in the federal deficit is due to bailing out the banks and …
Matt Taibbi’s The Great American Bubble Machine – The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.
Lessons learned in achieving acceptable policy metrics thus far: Listen to the peace movement, the left, and Vietnam War-era veterans!