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America used to have this vague sense of fair play, religious tolerance, transparency, which went along with a good work ethic and quiet honesty. Remember? All that shit’s out the window now.
But there was a time where the USA was really something exceptional. The facts are staggering. We created a constitution that basically changed what it meant to be a country on earth, and thereby what it meant to be a human being on earth. We invented 90% of everything. We at crucial times exhibited real moral leadership where there had been none. Before there was exceptionalism, we must remember, there was simply the fact that we were exceptional.
America’s view of itself as exceptionalist among nations is a recent phenomenon. It only became such an important thing to emphasize, to reify, because its reality was morphing into a simulacrum. When we were truly exceptional, we actually would never have insisted on being exceptionalist. But the need for exceptionalism does indeed come from having been exceptional. We used to have a more level playing field than other places around the world, and that, along with our abundant natural resources and people, was why so many people wanted to come here. As being exceptional waned, we emphasized more and more our exceptionalism, which only served to finish off those modest qualities that were part of our being exceptional.
Then, when even the exceptionalism started to go shaky, we hired a guy who viewed himself with the same exceptionalism we wanted to reinvigorate America with, and said: “Hey, you know how to act like you’re special. Do it for America.” So Trump is the guy with the gold plated toilet seat that reminds us how important we used to be. To a country full of people harkening back to a pretend time when we were special, he shows us how to act like you’re special. Projecting into his entitlement placates our losing our grip.
I am today announcing my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.
I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I’m obliged to do all that I can.
I run to seek new policies – policies to end the bloodshed in the Islamic World and Middle East, policies to close the gaps that now exist between black and white, between rich and poor, between right and left, in this country and around the rest of the world.
I run for the presidency because I want the Democratic Party and the United States of America to stand for hope instead of despair, for reconciliation instead of the growing risk of a world driven to its knees by terrorism.
I run because it is now unmistakably clear that we can change these disastrous, divisive policies only by changing the men who are now making them. For the reality of recent events in the War on Terror, and for that matter all our current Wars, on Drugs, on the Poor, have been glossed over with illusions.
The truth of Global Warming has been largely ignored.
The immediate crisis in our financial markets was well handled by President Obama. But the causes of the collapse, a consolidation of wealth in the hands of too few, along with far too many abuses to the commons and to the comman man and woman by corporations, these bigger issues have all been met with too little and too late.
No one knows what I know about the extraordinary demands of the presidency. What I know is that no one can be certain that any mortal can adequately fill that position.
But my service in the White House, the previous attempt to get Health Care for all Americans, helping New York through 911 as Senator, orchestrating the shift in balance of power from Europe to the Pacific, and highlighting the role women need to play in a global solution, as Secretary of State, have taught me something about both the uses and limitations of military power, about the opportunities and the dangers which await our nation in many corners of the globe in which I have traveled.
As a member of the cabinet and member of the Senate I have seen the inexcusable and ugly deprivation which causes black citizens to riot in Ferguson; young Indians to commit suicide on their reservations because they’ve lacked all hope and they feel they have no future, and proud and able-bodied families to wait our their lives in empty idleness in suburbs across America.
I have traveled and I have listened to the young people of our nation and felt their anger about the world they are about to inherit.
In private talks and in public, I have tried in vain to alter our course at home, and respond to the growing institutionalization and militarization of our society. We do not wish to become Rome in its waning days. We must ever-renew the promise of America to the world: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” And we must ever-renew the promise of America to itself, that no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion shall ever be passed.
As we fight the violence of its extremism, we are likewise called upon to listen to the voice of Islam, for it’s radical expression is not disconnected from its spiritual source, as mad and dangerous as it may temporarily be. Our faith must be in the deeper connection to its core that we share, and not just focused on the hate of the outliers. For ultimately a military solution will not abide, and in a global conflict we shall all surely die. We have too sacred a trust on our hands to ignore the cry of 1.6 billion Muslims just because a tiny fraction of them wish us dead. To that tiny fraction who harbor these sentiments, make no mistake, we will hunt you down and we will find you and we will eliminate you. But to the great religions of the world we must reaffirm our sacred values.
I cannot stand aside from the contest that will decide our nation’s future and our children’s future, and the world’s future.
The remarkable Massachusetts campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren has proven how deep are the present divisions within our party and within our country. Until that was publicly clear, my presence in the race would have been seen as a clash of personalities rather than issues.
But now that the fight is on and over policies which I have long been challenging, I must enter the race. The fight is just beginning and I believe that I can win …
Finally, my decision reflects no personal animosity or disrespect toward Presdident Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry, or Senator Warren. They all served with the utmost loyalty and have executed their jobs with the utmost professionalism.
I have the deepest awe for the role awaiting the next person to carry the burden that all our Presidents have carried. I am here to announce today that I am prepared to carry it.
And so to any of my opponents, past or present, I say to you: The issue is not personal. It is our profound differences over where we are heading and what we want to accomplish.
I do not lightly dismiss the dangers and the difficulties of challenging an incumbent vice-President, essentially a third term for the existing administration. But these are not ordinary times and this is not an ordinary election. At stake is not simply the leadership of our party and even our country. It is our right to moral leadership of this planet.
46 years ago, another partner to an ex-President, in this case the President’s brother, Bobby Kennedy, decided to seek the office. It occurred to me how similar having been a President’s brother who also served in government and then ran himself was to having been a President’s wife who also served in government and then ran herself was, and how much RFK could be a precedent for Hillary, insofar as she had a similar role.
But just to show how unworthy Hillary is of the same honor, I did my level best to take Bobby’s original announcement ( you can read it here: http://www.4president.org/Speeches/rfk1968announcement.htm ) and tailor it to Hillary. As little as possible has been changed. Imagine Hillary in a few months making an announcement such as the above. And we can see why such a thing is entirely unimaginable.
Putin is ascending, insofar as he is expanding his and Russia’s power and sphere of influence. It continues to be unlikely that sanctions will drive him to the bargaining table. His popularity will grow, and the stakes will seem too high to directly oppose him. Thus, he will be successful with his strategy of territorial expansion in the name of refighting WWII. The West’s only response will be to whine and impose limited monetary and trade sanctions. What Putin offers back is a clear goal of Greater Russia that makes historical sense to his constituency. His behavior reveals a nuanced and polemical understanding of the trajectory of these historical forces and a willingness to play his hand out on the world stage.
The question is whether it is up to the US to rise up and accept the challenge. Let’s consider what a stronger US response might look like, the ideology on which it could be based, and the messaging that would result. One can imagine an American President saying: “If we have to re legislate this, let’s get on with it, and, if necessary, let’s win again.” Putin has been clothing his initiative in Cold War rhetoric, and it may be that the goal is to take up the gauntlet of this redeemed failed glory that Putin has thrown down, and hit them over the head with exactly that. The advantages of reframing the debate in precisely those historical terms the Neo Soviets so selectively romanticize is that at the end of the day, they stand more to lose from such a resurrection than we do. So perhaps we should not shy away from reminding, in whatever ways are necessary, those remaining vestiges of Soviet grandeur that that system died for a reason, and their attempt to resurrect a post-collapse Soviet state, a capitalist collectivism (elitism), will fail. With the ubiquity of mobile devices and the transparency of social media, augmented with satellite imagery, it is easy to discredit Putin’s untruths, and perhaps we should. We should consider making a full court press of presenting our findings about what’s really going on on the ground in a media blitz with a rhetoric we have been far too timid to use, but that we avoid at our peril.
Putin is lying to his own people about where the troops are being sent, and in fact they’re being sent 30 miles inside Ukraine. He’s lying about casualties, going so far as to actually move graves so people can’t see them. He’s lying about his involvement and his goals. He’s lying about the existing situation, and meanwhile he’s driving the situation. And the scariest aspect is the subtext: we really were great and we took a fall we shouldn’t have, and so now we’re getting even while Europe sleeps, scapegoating a lot of people along the way, all to reclaim some of those power dynamics. Somehow, the other side has to say: not so fast. I’m suggesting we do it by painting them with their own brush. We would create a new context, and a powerful one at that, by taking up what is essentially their core marketing slogan, some kind of USSR pseudo-renaissance, against them. Imagine if the message from the West was: nobody liked this non-democracy fascist deal to begin with, your corrupt statist oligarchy has already failed, and we’re not going to let Ukraine get swallowed up. We’re going to correct on a daily basis and publish to the world what we know to actually be true about this war. We’re going to shine a light.
What would you do if you were Obama right now? How serious is the crisis of confidence? Certainly the most serious so far, probably by a lot.
I always thought of Obama as kind of a jock in nerd’s clothing, doesn’t really get into the details. And while I liked the idea of leveling and raising the playing field a little bit for health care, what’s emerging is that he didn’t really think it through.
I’ve been trying to use the Website the last few days, and it does freeze up a lot. Sadly, the whole country was in such a tizzy about the ACA that all it really took was the system failing like this to tip things the other way.
So what can he do? Defend his steady hand and calm demeanor, and regarding this debacle, be humble and beg for forgiveness. What if he said: “I think my strengths have been genuine competence, where at this unsteady time, that actually counts for a lot. I deliver. I execute. I am a good manager. I need a little support from the American people right now, so I’ll ask you, do you think I’m working for your best interests? I’d like to hear from you.”
And then from here on out he has a virtual town hall thing going. He manages a Web site directly in touch with the American people. He agrees to spend 25% of his remaining term on issues that emerge from this process that are not adequately receiving attention in other realms.
OK, that’s not gonna happen. He seemed like a populist, but he doesn’t govern like one. I just wish Obama could connect with the American people as President, and not just as a candidate.