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Obama: The Fairy-Tale President?


Obama: The Fairy-Tale President?

John Feffer

In fairy tales, the hero makes a wish. After a few trials the wish comes true, and everyone lives happily ever after. But only in this Disney version of fairy tales is wish fulfillment so straightforward.


Well, presidents are nothing if not grim. Are we to argue over whether Cheney is the wolf and Obama the witch while we figure out who cooked fewer children into a pie?

Feffer hits a notable low in Obama apologia. Apparently it is no longer good enough to excuse theft and murder by comparison with prior presidents or sitting senators or governors or racist justice(s) or even the upcoming candidates of an opposition party doing Lex Luthor cartoon takes in public. Nope, to arrive at an excuse for this president, Feffer summons the ghosts of presidents future.

This makes for a real Darth Cheney moment. Don't like the unitary executive, you sold-out Calrissians? Pray we don't alter it further. On behalf of its leaders, Feffer offers the left wing of his party an apology by way of threat.

There is some element of non-fiction here: the fascist enclaves that have centralized control of the Democratic as well as the Republican party may indeed consolidate their grip on government and windpipes.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has run a good campaign as witches and wolves and baked kids go. There's plenty of compromise there, for those who are of the taste, most of it around Israel and killing and so forth, for those who are of the taste. If Bernie's embrace of all that is still too sweet and Disney for Democrats, maybe we had better alter something further.


And so, with a shrug of his shoulders, the author accepts seven years of Obama's crimes and sins because, well, the next president is likley to be worse. Lesser of two evils politics at its most disgusting. Feiffer has no shame.


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Wasn't "HOPE AND Change" the 2008 Obama campaign mantra ?

Hope plus two bucks buys a good cup of coffee, change is what you put in the barista's tip jar.

The biggest change to become part of the Obama legacy will be his upcoming TPP, TTIP and TISA that enable global corporations to create a permanent nightmare for the 99% in the US and abroad.


We used to have term for people like Obama: Jive Turkey.


The author accepts more than just that with a shrug of his shoulders. I felt a distinct this is just the way things are acceptance of the status quo in the background. Hillary gets a pass with a mildly critical reference to Netanyahu. Maybe more penetrating a comment might have been in order considering the foreign policy focus of the author?

Bernie however gets the full status quo broadside about middle America not voting for a socialist. It was as if Feffer was just turning his attention to the race and hasn't noticed the support that Bernie is getting from Americans all over. Lots of support!

Sometimes acceptance of the status quo goes deep and is never questioned internally.

Lol... i almost feel that even after Bernie might become president that there are those who still won't be able to believe that the majority of Americans will have voted for him. They simply are not used to having to see the world differently than they happen to be used to seeing it right now.

Perhaps Feffer should forget the labels and speak of the man and his record. Maybe Feffer should be told that a state has repeatedly reelected a socialist Sanders (democratic socialist actually not a socialist) for over two decades. That probably doesn't seem probable to someone like Feffer but it is still the reality in any case.

Sometimes acceptance of the status quo goes too deep and isn't noticed.


I agree wholeheartedly. Obama is more a horror-film president than a fairy-tale one. Just ask the people of Syria, Libya, and Yemen. Sort of like the latest installment in a horror-film series, say, Halloween II.


Aw, c'mon, Obama's a good man. He means well. The Republicans made him do it. It's not his fault.


The deferential tone of this article... as it searches for things to praise about Obama reminds me of a writer auditioning for the job of writing modern history for high school students.

And one wonders... why would THIS be placed into the "positive legacy" camp?

"...and preserving State Department funding from congressional attacks."

Yeah. The world needs more State Department funding.


Amazing that Feffer left THAT out!


Obama was not fairy tale. Obama was/is a corrupt nightmare. Now just what was that Nobel Peace Prize worth?? This relply was not meant as a response to SR1; it is just a reply to the article in general. The clowns never quit grinning and the circus never seems to cease.


Obama. Three words: liar and hypocrite. From the moment he decided to stand for the office of POTUS.


"Some commentators on the left have blasted his presidency because it doesn’t conform to their Disney understanding of American politics (in which the fairy leftist waves a wand and all Americans suddenly become Swedish socialists). "

This is a condescending, patronizing and simplistic, specious statement about the Left's disagreements with the President. The Left is not so unsophisticated as to misunderstand the nuances of politics. Apparently, the Left understands it far better than President Obama, who naively believed that if he spoke reasonably with the Right and incorporated their ideas, such as into healthcare reform and cap & trade to name a couple, that the Right would compromise with him. What the President failed to understand is that you must fight, hard, and be willing to hurt your enemies political with the power at your disposal. The President does not know how the game is played. The Left does and we are disappointed the President failed to learn what it takes to enact change. This is why the Left is backing Sanders, who understands a political revolution is necessary. Those who stand in the way must be fought tooth and nail. Resources must be poured into defeating them, revolutions are not won with magic wands; don't be so patronizing. That you characterize the Left this way suggests you are happy with the status quo, which means you stand in the way. Move aside; we do not need you. Settling for crumbs on the floor will not do. It is time for a revolution in our politics.


This is a horrible article by John Feffer. It is infused with sophistry, sleights of hand, and defeatism. Perhaps the biggest single problem that Americans face in their political culture is a fundamental poverty of the moral and political imagination. Many people are aware of the mounting chaos and barbarism that is slowly but surely claiming the body politic, but few people have any real idea of how to reverse the coming collapse into dystopia. The Republican Party is stark raving mad. The Democrats are timid and cynical. The ruling class, with its use of the totalitarian state, is on its way to becoming the Iron Heel that Jack London warned of. The people are desperate. Some of them are ready to commit murderous violence on "the Other" they see as a scapegoat. But now comes John Feffer with the disenchanting message that Barack Obama is as good as it gets.

Feffer's brand of "realism" is repulsive. He chides the Left for asking too much of an Obama administration, and he says that the Left's "Disney understanding" is really no better than right-wing lunacy. This is bullshit. Most Leftists had a realistic sense of what we were getting with Obama. In fact, many on the Left were skeptical of all that "hope and change" malarkey: they knew quite well that Obama was never going to deliver on his promises. Obama was preferable to the vicious John McCain, but I don't recall anyone on the Left describing him as the Second Coming of Malcolm X.

I would argue that far from being trapped in Disney narrative concerning political possibility, Leftists tend to be the most realistic people in the room. Leftists certainly understand the genuine evils of capitalism and the American Empire. Unlike Feffer, who counsels the old liberal line that what is possible is pretty much what our masters will allow.

Even the lunatics of the radical right understand that if you want something from government you have to fight for it and don't take "no" as the first answer. For as Frederick Douglass noted, power concedes nothing without a struggle. I always knew that Obama was a bad man (good people don't become President); but I thought his election might open some doors, to the extent that progressive forces in US society might be able to push him Left from time to time, on certain key issues. The reason this didn't really happen is that the US populace is more deeply disciplined, demoralized and disenfranchised than any of us properly realized. Eight years of Bush did tremendous harm to the country. The ravages of neo-liberalism have left behind a blasted landscape of nihilism, despair, distraction, addiction, depression, hopelessness. When the people are weak, the government only gets stronger.

Obama speaks as though he wants to go Left, but he has continued the rightward tendency towards fascistic totalitarianism, which began with Reagan, continued under Bush and Clinton, but really got going with W. Bush and his sinister cabal of corporatists, militarists and imperialists.

Feffer praises Obama for his work on climate change, but has little to say about how Obama has expanded the reach of the War on Terror. Obama has killed tens of thousands--many innocents, many children. Are we supposed to think well of the man because he didn't kill a million like his barbarous predecessor George W. Bush? Feffer doesn't see that even if we put aside Obama's violence, his warring on the world is a major source of pollution and environmental ruin. In other words, Obama's wars are major contributors to climate change. Praising him for reaching a climate change accord is like praising a murderer who pays for the funeral of one of his victims.

Feffer would like to see Bernie Sanders elected and so would I. Sanders has faults, but he wins my respect because he has excited the political imagination in a genuine way, not like the Madison Avenue antics of phony progressive candidate, Barack Obama.

The point is, we don't need any more "realism" of the kind Feffer proffers. I, for one, have heard enough of the argument that you just have to take the world as it is. The slaves in Haiti would never have won their freedom had they accepted that argument. We need robust political dreaming. Not a dreaming that is in the air, but a dreaming that looks reality hard in the face and simply says--it doesn't have to be this way..! A pox on John Feffer for telling us that it does!


I stopped reading the stupid article when the author immediately jumped to the Paris conference as part of Obama's legacy, a treaty with no real obligations for signing countries, that will not stop the world from reaching 2 degrees. The consequences and impacts of the Paris agreement are still to be played out, but the TPP, with thousands of pages of actual rules and obligations most of which work against the common interest and completely undermine the Paris agreements, is an actual treaty that will have profound impact, but the author ignores it. The Paris agreement, with no teeth and no defense against the TPP treaty and its Investor-state Dispute Settlement boards, that's Obama's legacy!?! And the author works for a foreign policy think tank? I'm a high school teacher and can do better than that.

Common Dreams really needs to vet its contributors a bit more closely.


A double pox on Feffer.


The author has been very kind to the fairy-tale prince.
"If Obama had focused for the last seven years exclusively on diplomacy" !! Diplomacy is ignored, violence is the rule. Why is Obama insisting on treating Russia not only as an enemy, but rudely, mocking its every action, showing no sympathy for the victims of the planes shot down by NATO maverick Turkey?
Why insist on the removal of Al-Assad in Syria, to be replaced by - whom? What about Ukraine's overthrown government and the IMF continuing to fund the illegal takeover? Diplomacy, US style????


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