Deeper powers shape presidential policy
Is Who Becomes the Next President All That Matters?
Whoís president makes a difference, if they address needed structural reform. We trim and run this 2008 article posted on AlterNet on May 14. The author pens a blog for MediaChannel.org and wrote "Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception: How the Media Failed to Cover the War on Iraq".
by Danny SchechterI know. I know. How this is the most important election in history, and the next occupant of the White House will possibly be saving these not always United States from the decline that even Time magazine has announced the country is facing. Yet this logic leaves out some important considerations.
Whoever becomes president may not have the power he or she assumes goes with the office. (In fact, after the fact, in their memoirs, most presidents complain they often felt powerless, besieged by lobbyists, party factions and reticent bureaucrats at every turn. They see themselves constrained by institutional obstacles at every turn.)
The Democratic candidates have withdrawal plans from the Muslim world that will take years because they donít think they can tell the military what to do.
We have military power but have not subdued Iraq or Afghanistan after five years nor captured Bin Laden or even neutralized the Taliban. As our dollar falls and our credibility with it, the US cannot unilaterally impose its will anymore. Even a strategy of negotiation as opposed to confrontation is no guarantee for success because other power blocs -- the EU, the Russians, the Chinese, the Persian Gulf and OPEC -- have their own interests. They will listen to our proposals but may reject them.
Many of our problems are global. Globalization has assured that. We are all impacted by threats like climate change, escalating food prices, world hunger, endemic poverty and pandemic disease that the White House canít wave a magic wand to cure them.
Even problems we cause, like the mortgage collapse, we might not be able to solve alone, since foreigners who invest in America can influence policy.
Wall Street wonít take marching orders from any president. Both Clinton and Bush turned to Goldman Sachs to run the Treasury, and itís not clear if their former execs were ambassadors to The Street or from the Street. Financial power trumps political power in a country dominated by a corporate system.
Since 2007 August, at least one million families have lost their homes. Another two and half million are threatened. Our government has done nothing meaningful to help people in need.
We are dealing with a structural crisis of American capitalism in an era of waning empire. We can throw money at these problems as we probably should, but they are intricate and subject to pressure politics. When the Senate run by Democrats tried to bring relief to distressed homeowners, their final bill was shameful with more giveaways to homebuilders and lenders than to mortgagees.
Sure, change is needed, and badly, but the changes being proposed -- like a summertime tax break at the pump -- wonít do much about the deeper energy crisis. Many of the proposals being debated are tinkering with deeply flawed policies. They aim to bail the water out of the Titanic while it is sinking
Unfortunately, our scandal-obsessed ďgotchaĒ mainstream media is not explaining or investigating these deeper problems. It focuses only on the horse race. Cable news -- where opinionizing has replaced reporting -- is increasingly a pundit-heavy distraction machine, a weapon of mass deception.
Sorry to rain on the parade as the primaries roll on and the excitement builds like in a sports event; who wins matters, matters deeply. However, the president can lead, but Congress, the military, Wall Street, foreign investors and foreign powers need not follow. Letís temper our expectations about what the next president can actually get done in a system of many checks but very few balances.
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