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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-04-09 08:41 AM
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A Day in the Life
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A Day in the Life
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist

Thursday 04 June 2009

What we imagine is order is merely the prevailing form of chaos.

- Kerry Thornley

The Obama administration opened the White House doors to NBC correspondent Brian Williams and a large herd of television cameras last week, the fruits of which became a two-day television special titled "Inside the Obama White House," which NBC aired Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Most of it is fluff - among other things, we learn that Rahm Emanuel walks fast, M&M's taste good, Bo the dog is growing fast and Five Guys makes a mean cheeseburger - but the lasting impression left by the show is how busy a place this White House is. During a Blue Room interview between Williams and President Obama, the question of whether the Obama administration is taking on too many massive tasks came up. Mr. Obama laughed, shook his head and made a good point: "What, exactly, would you have me give up?"

It's a fair question. The President has departed an overseas very-strained-friendship tour through the Middle East that will culminate with a historic address in Cairo. Eight years of Bush administration violence and idiocy in the region, coupled with a deliberate disinterest in fostering any meaningful movement in the Israel/Palestine peace process, has left the Mideast even angrier and more dangerous than usual. Can't ignore that.

Mr. Obama cannot give up his focus on the deteriorating situation in Pakistan for a variety of reasons, one being the ongoing and umbilically connected American war in neighboring Afghanistan, another being the fact that bungling the Pakistan situation could unleash a sub-continental conflagration that would imperil us all, and, well, those two reasons pretty much do the trick. Pakistan is fighting the Taliban in its own streets, and the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is dubious on the best of days. Can't ignore that.

The month of May has seen a deadly upsurge of violence in Iraq; bombs are once again going off in markets and near police stations, and more American soldiers were killed in May than in any of the prior eight months. The ongoing chaos in Iraq, already a flashpoint for Muslim fury, has been conflated with the scandal surrounding America's broad use of torture during the Bush years. Army Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former top commander of US forces in Iraq, has joined a fast-growing chorus of calls for a truth commission to expose and investigate the torture issue. Speaking to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, General Sanchez declared that he was speaking out in order to "ensure that the future leaders of America clearly understand the failures that occurred, so that our soldiers are never abandoned on the battlefield again like mine were." Hard to ignore that.

As if the world wasn't berserk enough already, North Korea abruptly decided to elbow its way onto center stage by detonating a nuclear device, flipping a bunch of missiles into the ether, and declaring that all the treaties that have been keeping the Korean peninsula from plunging into all-out war don't count anymore. North Korea is not new to the role of deranged bull inside the Asian economic china shop, but the timing of this latest flip-out couldn't be worse. Can't ignore that.

The long goodbye for General Motors came to an end this week with the car giant's declaration of bankruptcy. After an elaborate dance between creditors, union members, stockholders and the taxpaying public, Mr. Obama now finds himself with yet another fragile egg in his basket. A good deal of patient skepticism exists about the quality and effectiveness of Mr. Obama's economic moves to date, and the absorption of the failed GM into the whole has added to the stress. Cratering banks, reeling insurance companies, millions unemployed, a spreading global recession, and now a gigantic Chevy dealership on the White House lawn? Can't ignore that.

The assassination in a Kansas church of Dr. George Tiller by an extremist anti-choice activist, along with a California Appellate Court decision to uphold the Prop. 8 ban on gay marriage, has put the Obama administration at the center of a new explosion in the so-called "culture wars." Advocates of gay rights, already frustrated by what they perceive as a significant lack of White House action, protested outside a fundraising event in California featuring the president. The murder of Dr. Tiller has hurled the contentious issue of abortion and women's rights back into the headlines on the eve of what could be a contentious Supreme Court nomination process. Oh, and he's trying to put a female Hispanic judge with an actual brain in her head - a dangerous combination in some sad minds - on the Supreme Court. Can't ignore that.

It almost makes you feel bad for the guy, like he's some accidental Atlas who had a whole planet suddenly land on his shoulders ... until you remember that he worked for the job 25 hours a day every day for two years. No shrugs allowed.

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