With Obama, the caution was justified

22 February, 2009

So you remember that great hope of mankind, Barack Obama, the man who pledged to erase every vestige of corruption and cronyism from politics, the man who believed in 'the audacity of hope' and who harped on endlessly about the need for change. Well now we can see this for the hooey it was. According to a report here, Obama is embroiled in a major cronyism row over the possible appointment of Louis Susman as ambassador to London. Far from being an experienced career civil servant, Susman is a lawyer who has helped to raise enormous funds for the Obama campaign.

Now there is nothing new about making diplomatic appointments on the basis of financial largesse. Robert Tuttle, the previous ambassador at the Court of St James, raised $100,000 for Bush's election campaign of 2004 and this case could be multiplied. But this is supposed to be the dawn of a new era and Obama is supposed to have drawn a clear line underneath the Bush era. Indeed the President specifically campaigned for an end to 'pay and play' politics where appointments were made on the basis of previous financial contributions.

In so many respects Obama’s first month is turning out to be one grave disappointment. Obama’s much talked about fiscal stimulus package has been criticised for its pork barrel concessions and its deeply protectionist leanings. Not surprisingly, only 3 Republicans voted for this deeply partisan measure in the Senate with all Republicans voting against in the House of Representatives. So much for bringing political parties together! Then there are the resignations of some key figures, including Tom Daschle, for alleged tax evasion. No wonder the Associated Press declared that the Daschle episode had 'undercut Obama's promise to run a more ethical, responsible and special interest-free administration.’

Obama promised a tough dialogue with Iran if its leaders were prepared to unclench their fists. The President was swiftly rebuffed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He declared that normal relations would follow only if the US prostrated itself by withdrawing its military forces from around the world, and abandoning support for Israel. So much for the unclenched fist!

The Obama administration has already announced that it will send a delegation to Geneva to help plan Durban II, the successor to the infamous anti Israeli hate fest held in 2001. By attending this event, America is inadvertently legitimising the demonization of Israel and other Western nations, both key planks of the original event. Just what other surprises does Obama have in store for the free world?

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