By Bernard Jenkins
Last month, Reggie Brown, the Barack Obama impersonator, was the guest entertainer at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. The room full of whiter-than-white rightwing fatheads laughed it up as the impersonator cracked vaguely race-tinged jokes in pitch-perfect Obama style complete with ear-to-ear Cheshire cat grin, characteristic Obama head cocking and stop-and-start speech rhythms. After a couple minutes of this you would have sworn you were watching the real Obama. Then, five minutes into his act, when he started cracking jokes about Republican candidates like Willard "Mutt" Romney, the walking department store mannequin, and the human blimp Chris Christie, the managers of the conference came out and bum-rushed him off the stage in mid-joke.
But the joke is on us.
After 2 ½ years of the Obama presidency, you have to wonder: Is Barack Obama the real Barack Obama impersonator?
During the 2008 presidential campaign, the largely unknown Barack Obama was the half-black/half-white silver-tongued Democratic candidate who speechified intelligently about racism, claimed to be against the Iraq war, promised to reform the healthcare system, constrain Wall Street, protect Social Security and Medicare, close Guantanamo, end the illegal and immoral torture of terrorism suspects, support something resembling gay marriage, stop illegal wiretapping and restore the US Constitution that had been shredded to coleslaw by the criminal Bush-Cheney administration. He declared himself the bringer of "Change We Can Believe In".
That Barack Obama trounced the old coot John McCain in the Presidential election by 10 million votes.
Here, a great majority of Americans felt or hoped, was a literate, elegant, charming, confident, liberal/progressive, who promised to lead the country to the light after the eight dark, depressing outlaw years of Bush-Cheney. Yes We Can!
Whatever happened to that guy???
Almost since his inauguration, the Barack Obama who ran for and won the 2008 Presidential election so resoundingly and seemed to instill a sense of sanity, progress, prosperity and peace in this twisted, troubled and traumatized country, has been as hard to find as Saddam Hussein's WMDs.
The lean physique, loping stride, melifluous baritone, herky-jerky speech patterns and wide-screen grin are still there every time he appears on the TV machine. But it is as if we are watching a remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". President Obama bears a striking physical resemblance to candidate Obama (although with greyer nappy hair). His actions and policies, however, more and more resemble that of a puppet or ventriloquist's dummy of the mendacious, malevolent, crack-brained, cement-headed, corporate-toe-sucking GOP.
His rap sheet of betrayals of his own previous promises and positions is already loooonnnng. He gave get-out-of jail-free cards to Bush and Cheney and their entire cohort of outlaws and unindicted co-conspirators. And even filled his administration with Bush-Cheney flunkies. He has followed and, indeed, expanded many of the Bush-Cheney illegalities. He continued the Bush bank robbery/bailout by shoveling $17 trillion of taxpayers' moolah to El-Qaeda of Wall Street and encourages their continuing thievery.
He sent 60,000 more troops to the Afghanistan graveyard of empires and is slow-walking some of them back home as well as (presumably) the last 50,000 US troops still in Iraq. However, he will wind up neither military catastrophe as long there are still $billions of dollars to be stolen from them.
He sold out healthcare to the rapacious and poisonous pharmaceutical and insurance conspiracies. He welched on the promise to end the Bush tax cuts. He is silent as the Sphinx while GOP outlaw governors and state legislatures steal public pensions, squelch unions, smear and fire teachers and pass new "Jim Crow" laws to keep Americans from voting.
He never challenges the GOP/Teabag racists and ignoramuses who call him every kind of foul name variation of the "n" word. But he constantly barks and snarks at his own base of too-faithful Democrats, who presume to utter from time to time a few squeaks of disapproval of him and his actions. Just like a ventriloquist's dummy, he continually repeats the GOP's lies, phony arguments and cooked-up talking points as if they are his own words and ideas. He even seems to have given up basketball (too ethnic??) and developed a golf jones, playing regularly with (not caddying for?) fat rich corporate and political white guys.
And now, in the ultimate and inexcusable betrayal of his own alleged beliefs (and a majority of Americans) his inner GOP/Teabag/Koch Brothers corporatism has emerged in full monte. In response to the GOP's trumped up "shock doctrine" debt ceiling deadline crisis, Obama has offered up on the butcher's block the human sacrifice of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in exchange for nothing, piffle.
As if channeling Herbert Hoover and the robber barons of old, this presumed Democrat is destroying the American Dream and fulfilling the GOP's 80-year-long wet dream: the end of the social contract between government and its citizens.
Unlike the Obama impersonator Reggie Brown, President Obama will not be bum-rushed off the stage. But which Obama will be running for re-election in 2012? And which Obama - candidate, President or Reggie Brown - is the real Obama impersonator?
In this rigged game of 3-Card Monte, in which every card looks like Barack Obama, but only one of them (or none of them) is the real Barack Obama, there are no winners, only losers. This will not end well for America. No joke!