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Was The Guard All That Obama Should Have Changed?

Yesterday, President Barack Obama was faced with protesters angry about his failure to keep most of the promises of change that he made during the last election. He asserted that change had taken place, with a clever little play on words.

“The last election was about changing the guard. This election is about guarding the change,” he said.

Word play is loads of fun, but it’s often unintentionally revealing. Consider President Obama’s claim about the change of the 2008 elections: He says it was a change of the guard, but that’s not the change I was hoping for. I wanted a change in what was being guarded.

Before the elections of 2008, the government was guarding dictatorial, unconstitutional powers, a neglect of the problem of climate change, bigotry on the basis of sexual orientation, record breaking military spending, out of control agents of Homeland Security, religious kickbacks through the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, and pervasive corporate influence over government decisions. After the elections of 2008, Barack Obama’s government set about guarding those very same things.

It doesn’t matter to me that the personal identity of the guard has changed. The personality of George W. Bush was an undeniable problem, but I wanted more than the removal of his individual smirking, snickering, face from the White House. I did not want a more competent leader to promote the same agenda. I wanted a change of ideas. Now, the Democrats’ change is getting loose.

The last election was about promising a break with the past. This election is about trying to get past broken promises.

10 thoughts on “Was The Guard All That Obama Should Have Changed?”

  1. amy says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t pretend to have near the research skills and political savvy that Irregular Times writers have. I just don’t. Period. However, don’t give up on Obama that quickly, and here’s why — I get a “feeling” that it’s all about intent versus reality. I get the feeling that the past 30 years have been so very entrenched in corruption and obstruction that an intelligent/thoughtful/analytical guy gets in there, perhaps with a little naivete, and finds corruption and obstruction so strong that he has to cave in to some things just to do what he’s been able to do. I get this feeling especially after I read somewhere that he told us progressives to not give up, keep fighting the good fight. I think the man is exhausted, jaded, and wishes he were miles away. I voted for him and am DAMNED GLAD I DID. I still feel an overwhelming surety that his efforts will be applauded, if not in my lifetime, then down the road … you know, likened to Lincoln et al. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

  2. amy says:

    Correction: In the fourth sentence, I meant to say “However, I don’t give up on Obama that quickly …”

  3. Tom says:

    Amy, i’m glad you find Obama a better president than McCain would have been and i agree that it would have been much worse had the election gone the other way. However, i no longer think ANYONE can change the “gamed system” that politics has become. As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, Obama is decidedly NOT living up to the campaign hype to which we were subjected. i volunteered for the guy and help get him elected, and though i’m not sorry i did, i’m disappointed that he’s no where near the figure i thought we were electing. i’ve been cynical for a long time, but now i’m pissed off at being “fooled” so many times in my life (thinking voting changes anything for the better – it doesn’t; it merely slows down the rate of misery we feel when one party wins over the other). The ownership class in this country won’t allow it any other way.

  4. amy says:

    Thanks, Tom. I love this site — I learn a buttload.

    Still, a black guy moving into the WH with an arguably racist group of thugs in Congress (you’ve heard all the crap) is still amazing to me, particularly given the transformational rhetoric he has used. I never once thought he could accomplish the things he has in so short a time. I thought it would take two terms, if not more. But if what you say is true, who’s to say that what he’s done already is not Herculean? To me, it doesn’t reflect on Obama the man or his intentions. Frankly, I think he DOES believe in everything he says as well as things he doesn’t (bet you a million that he DOES believe in gay marriage, gun control, and legalization of pot but doesn’t go there). I think he knows it will take a second term to keep laying the groundwork. I guess half-full, half-empty differences here between you and me.

  5. Hendrix says:

    Amy, please help us see how much he has accomplished in so short a time. I grant that he got a healthcare bill passed, but it was pretty damn weak; we can only hope it will cut down on the pre-existing condition discrimination while costs keep going up faster than quality of care or inflation.

    I think Obama may well believe in some of those progressive principles, but I don’t get excited by that if he won’t stand up for them. And yes, he occasionally mentions that his progressive base should keep fighting and hold him to a higher standard, but then his spokesmen come out and call us druggie-french-canadian-sympathizers while online his blind followers praise his inaction (and his world-police-state actions) and say to be patient as we watch the Dems lose their majority in congress.

    1. J. Clifford says:

      I agree, Hendrix, and you know, Obama is the chief EXECUTIVE. We didn’t elect Obama to BELIEVE things. We elected him to DO.

  6. amy says:

    Hi Hendrix —

    I’m referring to website

    I really think the only stuff the guy IS able to present become weaker because D-Congress is spineless and pulled too far right. I guess this is where I let BO off the hook. I know some blast him at that point for weak leadership, but I think that the transformation that he’s dreamed of is WAY more complicated and slow a process than we could imagine. I think if we had 2 or 3 Obamas in a row, BO’s foothold could be expanded upon.

    Like I initially said, guys, I’m not the best at research and I’m pretty low on the pole when it comes to understanding politics. My thoughts about the character of BO are based on these few years of facial expressions, body language, and also his consistency of thought with his books. I think we have expected way too much too soon, that’s all.

  7. amy says:

    J. Clifford —


    Obama is the constitutional scholar and believes that COs map out the plan and Congress acts on it. For 30 plus-minus years, we’ve watched chest-beating, bullshit-bleating repub COs distort our understanding of their job description, no? D-Congress had the majority for 3 months in the past 20+ months (because of vacated seats, etc), and even a short time with a majority, BO has had to work with 5 or so Blue Dog Dems throwing monkey wrenches in there. You can’t forget the fact that repubs wanted him to fail FROM THE START (in my opinion based on fear of progressive agenda AND racism). There is only so much bullying and deal making he can do, then it’s simply out of his hands. Not that far back, didn’t a bunch of dems declare they wouldn’t seek reelection because the country is essentially ungovernable? For all of the above, I still think he is doing and will continue to do a remarkable job. Just one woman’s opinion …

  8. Hendrix says:

    I take it CO is Chief or Commanding Officer? We are well familiar with the excuses of republican obstruction. There is plenty more deal making he can do. Some issues have not been addressed, so he has not yet made the deals to compromise our principles. He has not been making deals that get the votes needed to advance a progressive agenda. A good deal would be something like “I will not push to raise capital gains taxes by 10% next year if you extend the tax cuts on incomes under 250k” or even “I will allow you to lower the minimum wage by $0.10/hour if you include a public option in this healthcare reform.” Instead he makes deals like “I will remove anything you ask from the healthcare bill if you promise not to filibuster it.” and “I will not prosecute the Bush administration if you will continue to call me a Muslim socialist at every opportunity.” OK, perhaps that last deal didn’t go down like that …. but it does worry me that the Republicans may decide to impeach Obama for continuing Bush’s crimes when they retake congress. (I’m not saying it was impeachable for Bush but not for Obama; I’m worried by the dizzying heights of hypocrisy that they so effortlessly scale.) seems to be a generic news site with no explanation of the president’s herculean achievements.

  9. amy says:

    Thanks, Hendrix, but I’m content with my beliefs. I also do not believe that the deal making you suggest would be possible in the obstructionist world of Repubs. They went over-the-top months ago (Boehner and his “Hell No” in front of Congress all but seals the deal). They are intent on destroying him and have made that clear from the start, and I thoroughly believe it is mostly racially motivated. His hands are tied. I don’t believe Repubs would go for impeachment, as they would most assuredly be attacked for being the racists that they are. provides links to his herculean achievements, and I think they are otherwise quite self explanatory. So we’ll agree to disagree? Either way, God help us, no?

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