Friday, January 22, 2010

Obama at the End of One Year - A Boxing Metaphor

Not many friends are aware, but I kept fairly close track of professional boxing for a long time. My dad watched all the professional fights on TV in the 50s and 60s, when I was growing up. I watched Rocky Marciano's last fight against Archie Moore. Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson were my dad's favorites.

I got to watch two of Ali's best fights before he challenged Liston - the bouts against Moore and Henry Cooper (1963's fight of the year). I listened to the Clay-Liston title bout over a transistor radio at a Highline High School basketball game. There must have been 50 others at the game, with their little radios plugged to their ears.

Since then, I followed title fights and professional rankings up into the mid-90s. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, I watched a lot of championship fights at hotels or bars, because they weren't on TV.

I then turned against the sport. But many of the famous matches over the past 100 years or so make great metaphor.

Thinking of Obama's first year in office, I can't help but remember the 8th round of the Rumble in the Jungle:

Ali seemed exhausted - even over the radio, where I listened to the title match with my friend Michael Wiater in Seattle. But Foreman was more exhausted.

Or the 15th round of the March 1975 fight against George Weppner. I listened to that at KLAM Radio's studios in Cordova:

I was in the Army when Ali announced his intent to be a conscientious objector. Fellow soldiers supported him or denounced him largely upon racial lines. We've come so far since then, though racism is still omnipresent.

Ali's court battle - which he won - kept him out of pro fighting during what would have been his best years. During that time, and since Ali's name change from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, were my first experiences with American Islamophobia.

What does this have to do with President Obama? Essentially, Obama has to learn to fight, and to punch back. There has been way too much stinging like a butterfly and dancing like a bee coming from the White House. Ali's outspokenly poetic one-liners broke through all sorts of resistance to his views, and brought them to the fore. Obama, is always trying to appear to be willing to meet his opponents, should they desire it. It hasn't worked much.

There have been no benefits to the White House for Obama's support of the banksters he inherited from the failed Bush administration. There have been no benefits for his coddling of perpetrators of Bush administration war crimes. He is even hiding their evil deeds from public scrutiny. There have been no benefits from his staff's enabling of Congress to turn health care legislation into the most unpopular set of ineffective possibilities many could have imagined.

President Obama might need to develop an "anchor punch."


anon. said...

Obama would probably appreciate someone who better understood the constraints placed on Obama from the start.

You supported Obama with your vote, Obama will continue to need your support if he's to be able to advance both his and your agenda.

Keep up the imbalanced and impatient harping, and you'll only assist your opponents in their quest to take us back to another Nixon, Reagan, Bush clone.

I'm not saying we or you need ignore any issue but a fairer perspective of both criticism and a recognition of Obama's accomplishments would help balance out your increasingly unbalanced and biased view.

I'd like you to take equal time to recognize the positive accomplishments of the Obama administration which have been unprecedented and which have resulted in adoption of long fought for rights and policies.

As it is, only emphasizing your pet negatives without providing any of the other side of the scale for perspective seems petty and extremely short-sighted if you're intent is to lend support to the advancement of a truly progressive agenda.

Sure you feel you should hold his feet to the fire, but you and the rest of us would be well served if you also exercised your responsibility to add a much deserved perspective that your harping lacks.

It's your choice, continue to only aid and abet your avowed enemy, or acknowledge the whole of both the positive and negatives conditioning the task that lies ahead for progressives.


Philip Munger said...


He got my support, my time, my money and my vote. He didn't get unconditional obedience. Nobody deserves that.

I am more anti-war than he is, and I knew that from the beginning. My avowed enemies are greed, corruption, stupidity and superstition, not political parties, though.

anon. said...

If you don't understand that a political party is and can be definitely an entrenched enemy of progressive policy there's little reason for you to imply you're writing a blog for or about progressives, or progressive ideals in Alaska.

And beyond that, you didn't address my point at all. I didn't call for obedience.

Either you're a bit testy this morning and just trying a diversionary tactic, or your comprehension is diminished to the point that you see only what you want to think you see.

I'd appreciate if you can address what I said, and not what you'd like to infer I might have said.

flying fish said...

freeper, maybe you can enlighten me, I'm not that wise... Explain some of the positive accomplishments in simple terms. Not trying to be snarky here, just wishing for some positive input about the path that we seem to be traveling as a country.

anon. said...

How 'unwise' does one have to be to not be able to comprehend that announcing a plan to end the war in Iraq, refocusing our strategic plan in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bringing about consensus among the world's economic leaders to agree to a plan to avert economic collapse, shifted away from Bush era policies on defense sharing in Europe vis a vis missile defense, helped to arbitrate between Turkey and Armenia resulting in their normalizing relations, committing the US to strengthening non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, pushing for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, announcing with Russia a plan to begin new START treaty talks, reset Russian US relations, directly addressed Iran's people, agreeing the US will participate in UN talks with Iran, proposing a progressive military budget that prepares the Pentagon for revision, cut funding for the unnecessary F-22, the DDG-100 destroyer, and Future Combat Systems, vowing to bring the budget for war in Afghanistan and Iraq into the budget process, committing to funding more money to vets and medical coverage for vets, offering the largest increase in veterans funding in 30 years, elevating diplomacy as the key tool in US foreign policy, restoring the UN Ambassador to cabinet level positioning, engaging the Muslim world and announcing the US is not at war with Islam, inviting Syria's ambassador to meet and sending two representatives to Syria along with the Secretary of State, pledging 900 milllion in aid at the Gaza conference to foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realized and recognized, improving relations with Cuba, removing travel bans on Cuban Americans, improving relations in Central and Southern American nations by making commitments at the Summit of the Americas, pushing for a treaty to end small arms trafficking in the Americas, beginning the creation of a national climate policy, providing significant funding for clean energy R&D, committing the US to the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, repealing the gag rule which withheld US funding for organizations that discussed or provided family planning services abroad, resumed funding for the UN population fund for family planning, committing US aid to Haiti, pledging half a billion to vulnerable populations and a billion to food safety at the G2 summit, urged the Sudanese to allow aid workers back into Darfur, announced support for the International Criminal Court, increased funding for the UN peacekeeping force, supporting the UN declaration urging nations to decriminalize homosexuality, creating an Ambassador for Global Womens Issues, established a White House Council on Women and Girls, announcing the US will run for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

Should I go on? Do I need to go on? There is much much more, these are just representative of moves and initiatives in more of the foreign policy realm, domestically, there are many more achievements I could list, but I grow tired of doing research for people that ought to do some for their own selves.

I can add, that nearly all of these initiatives and moves by the Obama administration would not and could not be accomplished by previous administrations. In fact, many of them we have been compelled to act on to reverse the damage previous administrations have done.

Instead of just looking for what everyone else might focus on, try to get a bit of a comprehensive view of your world so you don't get trapped into the narrow view of others.

Yep, that's an unshielded slap at Phil's trite and narrow reporting.


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