Saturday 25 November 2017

Television review: Intersection of incompetence and malevolence

* Inside Obama's White House (BBC2)

Barack Obama speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington (AP)
Barack Obama speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington (AP)
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Like the Beatles, Barack Obama is under-rated.

The Beatles have always been regarded as a great band, but perhaps are not truly appreciated for the extent of that greatness - they are not just better than most, they are miles better.

Likewise Obama is safely in the Hall of Fame for the miracle that made him President in the first place, but it is only now, as we look at the creatures lining up to replace him, that we are starting to realise his true stature.

Some of us, admittedly, have known this all the time, but commentators in general have tended to be wrong about Obama, as they are wrong about so many things. Obsessed with the trivia of the Washington game, they miss the bigger truth that Obama saved America from another Great Depression that was enabled by the delinquency of the Republicans, who then did everything they could to oppose his remedies.

The superb opening episode of the four-part series Inside Obama's White House clarifies the scale of Obama's achievement in this regard, the fact that it was the "pro-business" crowd who did the damage, while the supposed bleeding hearts were the ones who sorted it out.

Indeed, Obama's enemies have even suggested that his massive government intervention in the US car industry may have worked, but then we don't know what would have happened if he hadn't made that intervention - maybe that would have worked too.

Ah they're very clever, those "conservative thinkers", if not quite clever enough to stop the car industry from going down the toilet in the first place.

While these programmes make us wistful already for the departing Obama, they provide an equally powerful demonstration that the Republican Party for a long time has been operating at that deadly intersection of incompetence and malevolence.

Not only do they deserve Trump, they are lucky to get him, because he probably doesn't believe a word that he is saying - Cruz is more of a true Republican, a force for bad who actually believes in the badness.

So having saved the American economy somehow, and by extension the world, Obama will eventually be dismissed by correspondents as being poor on the Middle East.

Unlike so many of these correspondents, I am not a Middle East expert, and unlike them I have not worked out an excellent result for all, but since the actions of the Bush administration in this area can only be described as completely catastrophic, you'd have to say that "poor" is some sort of an improvement.

I think there is an important moral difference too, in the sense that Obama probably would prefer to do the right thing if he could figure out what it was. Indeed, such is the degeneracy of the Republicans, this is now a major distinction in all areas - we might soon discover that Obama will be the last democrat in the White House for some time, and yes that is democrat with a small "d".

So we should enjoy these four programmes, because the next eight-year White House retrospective may not be so pretty. Sadly the series will not include the scenes in which Gerry Adams is kept waiting outside the St Patrick's Week White House reception, which caused Adams to complain bitterly that "it is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who seek to treat Sinn Fein differently". So they'd treat Sinn Fein differently would they? And why would that be, I wonder? What possible reason could they have for treating differently a party which has been intimately connected with a globally renowned terrorist organisation?

How can they justify delaying a man on his way into the White House, and him only the leader of that party?

Like that strange American habit of putting the odd massive fraudster in jail, perhaps this notion of "treating Sinn Fein differently" is not as crazy as it looks to us in Ireland.

These days you'd be looking at the Claire Byrne Show or Prime Time and you'd think there was nothing different at all about the Sinn Fein representative, that he's just some fellow in a suit looking for a big job like the rest of them.

So we should take Adams's challenge and just re-phrase it slightly: why are there some who seek not to treat Sinn Fein differently?

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