U.S. Presidents: Two-Party Smoke and Mirrors (May 15, 2007)
The two greatest presidents of the 20th century were Theodore Roosevelt and. . . . hey, what a coincidence, they have the same surname!
Anyone who thinks the Powers That Be hated Teddy and FDR doesn't get it. It really didn't matter that they came from different political parties; they secured the Elite's position by smoothing over the disparities which threatened to upset the peasantry enough to lead to revolt.
So Teddy busted the Trusts while he built the Panama Canal and the Great White Fleet, and FDR (who served as Secretary of the Navy) saved capitalism and the Elite's power by introducing the crumbs of Social Security and the W.P.A. to keep the peasants from getting too restless and angry.
The history of the Presidency is best understood as the on-going battle by the Elite to have one of their own or at least a water-carrier for the Elite in the Presidency.
Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Jack Kennedy were slam-dunks: "one of our own" in the White House. This is always the Elite's preferred solution; it makes things easier. Various pretenders to the Throne like Nelson "Rocky" Rockefeller only made it as far as the Vice Presidency, but hey, he did his duty to the nation . . . and his class.
Due to the unfortunate necessity for elections, every once in a while a Cowboy--someone not of the Elite--threatens to become President. This poses a real problem, and that President has to be collared, contained and held to one term.
The preferred solution is to position members of the Elite to advise the Cowboy president and keep him in line. Various politicos of either party have ably served as water-carriers, sustaining policies which maintain the Elite's domestic wealth and power. And if the U.S. can extend its global reach on that Cowboy's watch, that's fine, too, because that is ultimately an extension of the Elite's power.
Local Party politico Harry Truman rose to many great challenges in his presidency--ably aided by Elite advisors like Dean Acheson. But he was never trusted by the elite, who had him replaced with General/international player Dwight Eisenhower.
Cowboy Lyndon Johnson was a master of domestic Congressional politics, but way over his head internationally. Even though he retained most of Kennedy's "Whiz Kids" Elite advisors like Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy, he was safely shunted aside after one term. The hope that populist Elite scion Bobby Kennedy would ascend to the Presidency was cut short by another assassin.
The problem for the Elite is when a Cowboy president refuses to be "guided" by Elite mandarins. Then the solution is to render him powerless, and shuffle him from office after one term in favor of an Elite or Elite-controlled president of either party.
The two presidents who were uncontrolled Cowboys/Outsiders were Nixon and Carter.
Here is a short list of the century's presidencies:
Perhaps the most threatening Cowboy was Californian Richard Nixon. Nixon was not over his head domestically or internationally; he was a master player on the Big Board, and he took the reins at a perilous moment for the Elite: Vietnam was a quagmire, U.S. prestige was low and dropping, the anti-war movement was disruptive, the Cold War was still threatening, and rising inflation and economic malaise threatened the nation's (and thus the Elite's) wealth and power.
Like Johnson, Nixon was the consummate Outsider/Cowboy/Westerner. A Cowboy ( i.e. not Northeastern elite), a Quaker, a distrustful, private man with a fanatically loyal inner circle, he placed Elites (William Rogers et. al.) in weak "show" positions outside his inner circle. His chief advisor was outsider academic superstar Henry Kissinger, in whom he recognized a kindred Big Board player.
Though the Elite did not approve of Nixon--he wasn't "one of us"--they were so desperate to right the sinking ship that they swallowed their distaste and gave him their (mixed) blessing.
Here are two examples of Nixon's modus operandi as a player. During the Palestinian hijacking crisis of 1970, Nixon wanted to bomb the Palestinian positions (those that could be identified) but these wishes were not carried out due to "excuses" offered by Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird.
When the Israelis were in danger of losing the 1973 Yom Kippur War due to high losses of aircraft, Nixon had the 6th Fleet position aircraft carriers across the Atlantic. Limited-range A-4 Skyhawk combat aircraft were then hopped across the Atlantic to Israel, carrier to carrier, to replenish the Israeli air forces. The reinforcements enabled Israel to carry the day and overcome the Soviet-supplied air defenses of the Arab armies.
This annoyed the Saudis sufficiently that they embargoed oil shipments to the U.S., triggering the "energy crisis" of 1973 and the recession of 1973-74. Nixon imposed wage and price controls at the critical juncture and worked "Shuttle diplomacy" in the Mideast with Kissinger to cool off tensions and open the flow of oil. Needless to say, the Saudis remained our "pals" despite the little "lesson" they taught us.
Loathed by the Eastern Media Elite--and the entire Eastern Elite, behind closed doors--Nixon brought the messy Vietnam adventure to a costly, drawn-out close--but a close nontheless, and managed to pull together a "detente" which consolidated the U.S. position at the expense of the Soviets.
By triangulating with China and limiting Soviet ambitions with the SALT I treaty, Nixon planted the seeds of the USSR's decline and ultimate failure, and the rise of China as a U.S. trading partner. The Elites should have been delighted, but since he wasn't "one of us," he was never trusted. Reagan went on to mobilize his "Silent Majority," and many of Nixon's domestic innovations--block grants to state and local governments, for instance--were eventually recognized as good policy.
In other words, like him or not, he was a Big Board player. The Elite was never comfortable with Nixon, however, and so his demise was no surprise. The more amenable water-carrier Gerald Ford was ushered in, with Elite "Rocky" Rockefeller as backup in case Ford was knocked out of office (he survived two assassination attempts).
I can hear the protests: what about Watergate? Nixon was a crook! Um, have you examined the obstruction of justice which has occurred in the current administration? Do you honestly think it's mere coincidence that Nixon's crimes (as Chairman Mao so aptly put it, "All Americans play with tape recorders") were splashed across page one day after day, while the crimes of this administration are mentioned on page A-17, if at all? Why is that?
My thesis is: Bush is a coddled (incompetence is tolerated) scion of the Elite, a leader who is very adept at persuading the peasantry to fall on their swords to defend the interests of the Elite; therefore, he will be protected. Nixon was an Outsider/Cowboy, and his demise was therefore welcomed/abetted.
The sad irony is the very peasants who voted so enthusiastically for "values-based" Bush are the very peasants who will soon be bankrupted debt-serfs reduced to abject poverty by the policies of this administration. Meanwhile the President's cronies and pals will be living in unimaginable wealth, paying few if any taxes while their kids get plum positions of power--anything but military service, because, well, all that duty-honor-country crap is for peasants.
If you think I'm exaggerating, or merely indulging in "class warfare," you need to get out more--say, to Kailua-Kona Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii, an airport and area I know well, where the private $80 million jets are so numerous they're seriously overcrowding the tarmac. Homes in the $20 million range are as common as lava on the coast.
In sum: the "party affiliation" of the candidate is utterly meaningless. That "show" is the Coliseum entertainment of talk-show tirades and a lot of hooey about "values" to distract the peasants from noticing how they're serving the interests of the Elite.
So who will meet with the EMEGD's approval?
Hillary Clinton: Yes. Has shown she's a willing water-carrier for the Elite, fundamentally an Elite wannabe like her husband. Will toe the line in all important matters and will staff her administration with Insiders and Elites.
Obama. Yes. Product of an elite prep school (same one I graduated from, Punahou School, hahaha), well-versed in "safe" liberal positions which don't fundamentally threaten the Elites wealth or reach, the consummate "American success story" and "trustworthy African-American" who will also staff his administration with safely Elite "liberal" advisors.
McCain: No. Classic Cowboy, Westerner, non-elite, wild-card "loose cannon" who can't be trusted to carry water consistently for the Elite. Adamantly no.
Giuliani. Maybe, but far from first choice. No evidence he'll be guided/advised by Elites, so why gamble?
Milt Romney: No. Religious element is untrustworthy; Elites are not interested in guessing who you will be once in office.
Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich: No way. Dangerously Outsider, both support ideas which could undermine the domestic wealth and power of the Elite. No, no, a thousand times no.
But what about all the "differences" between the parties? I hate to disillusion you, but here's how national healthcare will work: when the Elites' interests start getting squeezed, either by a peasant revolt or a reduction in profits and power, then a national plan will suddenly be hurried into law, over the objections of various entrenched interests who had successfully held it at bay for years (the AMA, etc.)
The main feature of the Plan will be that it is supported by taxes on wage-earners. Therefore its passage will have zero effect on the Elite, except in one way: by freeing corporations of the burden of providing health insurance, the Plan will increase corprorate profits. Like all products which serve the Elites, it will be packaged as a "non-partisan" bill that everyone can claim credit for. The peasantry will glance up from their entertainment and give a hearty cheer, somehow missing that the burden of paying for the plan falls to them, not the Elite.
Oh, and please don't tell me the canard about how the wealthy pay most of the taxes. The "wealthy" wage earners pay most of the taxes, but the truly wealthy (those with hundreds of millions in assets) pay little or nothing, because there are innumerable ways for them to avoid all taxes--ways we peasants cannot even grasp (interest rate swaps, offshore holding companies, and the like).
A truly fair tax would be a percentage of all assets, including all assets held overseas and in tax-free bonds. Failure to comply would mean not a slap on the wrist but revocation of your citizenship (for starters) and criminal charges akin to money-laundering by gangsters--in other words, grounds to freeze accounts. This would collect a "fair share" of wealth from those who evade income taxes. Is such a plan even feasible? Don't make me laugh. The Elites go to a lot of trouble to control the poltical process, and the last thing they will ever allow is an asset-based tax because, duh, they'd have to pay something!
Some of you may be surprised that I would lump a radical Libertarian (Ron Paul) with a radical Liberal (Dennis Kucinich) but in my view, they are cut from the same cloth: outsiders who are feared by the EMEGD. I would support either one, because either one would be sure to upset the apple cart in favor of the peasants.
For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit my weblog.
copyright © 2007 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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