Politics Magazine

Nontransformational

Posted on the 03 October 2011 by Erictheblue

If you're suffering that kind of sunken mood for which any sensation at all might be therapeutic, I recommend going to Hendrik Hertzberg's blog--he's on the Blog Roll down and to the right--and, in his Categories, click on Campaign '08.  Those were heady days, all about "hope" and "transformation."  Is the adjectival form of "transformation" "transformational" or "transformative"?  No one has to know, because no one is talking about transformation anymore.

On the middle east, to take one example, Obama now sounds like a spokesman for the Netanyahoo government.  "Let's be honest," he said in his speech to the UN General Assembly, "the fault lies entirely with the Palestinians."  I don't know his exact words but that was the gist of it.  Nothing about occupation, settlements, 1967 borders, the Nakba.  Everything about Israeli citizens murdered while riding public transporation.  It's clear that the United States will exercise its veto power to keep the UN from recognizing a Palestinian state. 

Here's what would be transformational, transformative, and tending to effect a transformation: if when the question of Palestinian statehood came before the Security Council, the United States abstained from  the vote.  Charles Cecil, a former foreign service officer posted to the middle east, describes what would happen then:

The resolution would pass.  The world would be stunned.  The United States would enter an entirely new order in our relations with the Muslim countries of the world.  The vision [Obama] outlined in Cairo for better relations with the Muslim world would take the largest step forward of [his] presidency.  The United States would once again have regained the high moral ground we so often claim to occupy.  The energies loosed by the "Arab spring" would continue to be devoted to their own domestic affairs rather than being diverted into condemning the United States.  We are hypocrites when we claim to want justice for the Palestinians but we do nothing meaningful to help achieve this.

Not going to happen.  The standard line in the Obama government is that Israel and the Palestinians must negotiate an agreement.  To get its state, Israel did not have to negotiate with the Palestinians, and it is not going to negotiate now when it can continue to achieve on the ground, with new settlements, what would never be accepted in a fair settlement.

After the 2008 election, there was a New Yorker cover that was all dark except for the Lincoln memorial and the "O" in "The New Yorker," both of which shimmered in white light.  It was the artistic counterpart of Hertzberg's editorial euphoria.  I was myself a victim, to a degree.  My post for November 5, 2008, entitled "Dyspeptic Jubilation," concluded:

The moments surrounding ten o'clock local time, when CNN finally called Virginia for Obama just before turning the Pacific rim blue as the polls closed in the west, the announcement of the projected winner accompanied by shots of a variegated and cheering throng in Chicago, were for this dour Norwegian positively exhilirating.  What a night!

"Were there ever any writhed not at passed joy?" 

UPDATE: Though if McCain had won, things would be worse; and, if Perry does, they certainly will be. 


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