“[T]he president would not be a lame-duck,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a presidential historian at the University of Houston, of the possibility that the House of Representatives might fail to pass a revived Trade Adjustment Assistance bill that would enable the Trade Promotion Authority bill to go to Barack Obama’s desk for signature rather than back to the Senate. “He would be a dead duck. It would be a body blow for the administration.”
I’m recalling something from a translation of an ancient Chinese text of divination, the I Ching, called the “mandate of heaven.” It refers to the ability of emperors to impose their will which, if I understand correctly, is irretrievably lost when they overreach. Speaking of China, ironically,
Friday’s lopsided vote wasn’t simply a humiliating blow for President Barack Obama, who invested significant amounts of political capital in a high-profile, last-minute lobbying effort that would help him complete a landmark trade pact with 11 other Pacific Rim nations. The biggest consequences could instead be felt in Asia, where jittery U.S. allies are already afraid that Washington is neglecting the region while China continues to expand its economic and military influence there.
The U.S. has been the hegemon in the Pacific since World War II, but now, Obama may have finally overreached. It would not be a moment too soon. Obama has been arrogant with his refusal to prosecute Bush administration crimes, with the bank bailouts, with his dismissal of single-payer health care, with his refusal to meaningfully help underwater homeowners and the unemployed in the financial crisis, with his hippie-punching, with his offers to further decimate the social safety net, with his drone attacks, with his secret wars, with his war crimes, with his domestic and foreign spying.
Always, always, always, we are supposed to accept that Obama is right and that his opponents are wrong, naïve, irresponsible, “on drugs,” and letting “the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Always, always, always. We are supposed to trust him as he sends ever more troops into one hellhole after another. We are supposed to trust him on domestic spying. We are supposed to trust him on so-called “free trade.” And, “[w]e all know that there are limits to what government can and should do, even during such difficult times.” He knows best and if the rest of us are left to twist in the wind, if people all around the world are being killed for policies that only lead to more people being killed, well, he knows best.
Fuck you, Mr. President. You’ve had this coming for a long time. I hope this comeuppance stands. I hope with all my heart that somehow you will endure something of the humiliation that some of the rest of us have had to endure, something of the pain the rest of us have had to endure, something of the absolute sense of futility the rest of us have had to endure, something of a life of sheer hell that the rest of us have had to endure. Fuck you.
- Brandon Rottinghaus, quoted in Jordan Fabian, “White House battles back at suggestions Obama has no clout,” Hill, June 12, 2015, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/244897-white-house-battles-back-at-suggestions-obama-has-no-clout↩
- John Hudson, “Obama’s Trade Defeat Imperils U.S. Credibility in Asia,” Foreign Policy, June 12, 2015, https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/12/obamas-trade-defeat-imperils-u-s-credibility-in-asia/↩
- Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on the Economy,” White House, November 12, 2009, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-economy-jobs-forum↩