Martin LeFevre: The Worst and Brightest?

Published: Fri 28 Nov 2008 09:59 AM
Meditations (Spirituality) - From Martin LeFevre in California
The Worst and Brightest?
Revealing comments about a government are often conveyed in the spaces between the surface narratives of the news. Two examples today--one from the White House mouthpiece, the other from a mainstream media mouthpiece--make the point.
The first was thoughtlessly given by White House press secretary Dana Perino, in referring to the superlative cooperation between the Bush and Obama transition teams. "They're keeping each other informed and their staffs are working closely together," she said on Tuesday. Then she added this eye-popper: "We are working hand-in-glove with them."
“Hand in glove” eh? What happened to the complete break with the policies of the Bush Administration, much less the historical breakthrough for America and the world? Incredibly, could it be that Obama is a continuation of Bush?
The other revelatory remark came from ABC’s Diane Sawyer, during an interview with Bill Clinton aide-turned-media-expert-turned-senior-analyst, George Stephanopoulos.
Sawyer asked if Obama’s “die-hard supporters” didn’t have a point in questioning why the President-elect is filling his cabinet and administration with Clintonites, beginning with the Clintons. Stephanopoulos dutifully answered, saying something to the effect that at times of crisis you need to have your ‘best and brightest at the helm.’ But Sawyer’s between the lines opinion about Obama’s “die-hard supporters” is what stuck.
‘Die-hard’ has two connotations in America-speak. On the one hand it can have a positive connotation, as with the Bruce Willis movie (and God knows how many sequels) by the same name. The hero in this context is the man (rarely a woman) who somehow prevails against insurmountable odds.
In the negative version (not yet made into a movie), the term ‘die-hard’ refers to the last holdouts, AKA ‘dead-enders’ who continue to resist. In this context, Sawyer’s slip speaks volumes, and the very irrationality of the crack opens the door to another way to view the Obama presidency.
Referring to Obama’s “die-hard supporters” makes no sense at one level, since the term should apply to Hillary. But maybe it means that Hill and Bill won after all.
Why? Because denigrating Obama’s “die-hard supporters” implies that those who supported him as an alternative to the Clinton machine, and allowed their heartstrings to be plucked by a master violinist of the voice, are naively hanging on to their hearts to the bitter end.
So the question is: Does Obama’s embrace of the Clinton apparatus mean that the whole campaign was a sham?
Sawyer cynically suggests that politics is simply being played as usual (only better) by Obama during the transition. If so, the ploy during the campaign was to dangle a ‘new politics’ before spirit-weary Americans, one that’s no longer cynically played!
The problem with this calculus isn’t that it doesn’t add up; it’s that they can’t keep the abacus spinning anymore. The consumer economy requires buyers to be unquestioning believers. What the increasingly desperate powers that be (which Obama now represents) don’t’ realize is that if people quit believing, they quit buying too.
But back to the perky Perino. What she’s saying is that Obama is not a break from Bush, but a continuation of the Bush Administration in a different form. The irony is excruciating. Barack Obama continually accused John McCain of being an extension of the Bush Administration.
But what if it turns out that Obama is the continuation of Bush, only with competence rather than incompetence?
It makes sense. The set up would not be by incompetence for incompetence. Rather, the coup de grace would be delivered by competence.
However, if the American people are already inwardly dead, then toward whom is the coup de grace being directed, heralded by the likes of Perino and Sawyer?
Darkness is playing for all the marbles now. Therefore, it’s obviously directed at the human spirit as a whole. (Apologies for waxing eschatological, but the times leave a philosopher no choice but to do so.)
Without resorting to Christian claptrap about the “last days” (though every mega-falsehood contains a kernel of truth), are these the final events in the history of the world and mankind?
They may be, but man is not humanity anymore than the world is the earth. Both are a dirty film on the surface of a riddle floating on a bottomless ocean of mystery.
So is Obama a fool, or the devil’s own? He certainly doesn’t have the look of a fool about him.
Even if they ‘win’ the war on the human spirit, there is some solace in the certainty that the devil and his minions are the real fools. After all, as an expression of human consciousness, both their defeat and their victory leave them with nothing.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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