National Commentary

Obama’s Powerful, Reassuring Sermon

nfbenton-mugI wanted to focus my attention in this column to the great David Jones, a.k.a. Bowie, who died last weekend. Not only a great entertainer, he was a creative genius in his musicology, stylings and lyrics. Veritably transcendent, while he has moved on, apparently, Ziggy Stardust shall reign forever.

But Mr. Bowie’s legacy was eclipsed by a very much still living rock star Tuesday night, by the passionate sermon that U.S. President Barack Obama delivered as his final State of the Union message.

It was delivered as a sorely-needed national balm in the face of unquestionably the ugliest political demagoguery in presidential campaigns ever seen even in the era of mass live and 24-hour TV news, an ugliness that has escalated continually in its unabashed and slanderous racist and xenophobic content since the GOP began pulling out all the stops to derail the president and especially his health care reform agenda halfway through his first term.

America has been living with the sewage these elements have been allowed to spew relentlessness on major network TV for far too long, including as the desperate efforts by the “military industrial complex” to blunt and undermine the president’s powerful foreign policy initiatives grounded in international cooperation and diplomacy.

On that score, prior to the televised State of the Union Tuesday, CNN newsman Wolf Blitzer outdid himself in a bald-faced effort to discredit Obama in advance by outrageously over-blowing the brief Iranian detainment of two U.S. Navy boats.

Blitzer again brought his favorite right-wing congressman, Rep. Tom Cotton from Arkansas, onto his show and fed him lines about the cataclysmic, apocalyptic nature of the incident, saying that Obama would have a very difficult time defending his historic nuclear accord with Iran in the speech he was about to deliver. Fueled by Blitzer’s dissembling rhetoric, the conversation went all the way to an hypothetical nuclear conflagration. It was preposterous.

Don’t forget, by the way, Cotton, an unusually frequent guest on Blitzer’s so-called “Situation Room” show, was the freshman lawmaker last March who crafted the letter to the Iranian parliament signed by 47 lunatic fringe GOP colleagues warning that the U.S. president wasn’t by law permitted to negotiate a deal with the Iranians, an action that was considered virtually treasonous by many observers.

Of course, the naval incident had been completely defused even prior to the State of the Union, and by yesterday morning it was entirely over, with all sides content with the outcome. Correctly, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the incident, far from exposing the flaws and errors in the negotiated deal with Iran, showed how it had proved the opposite, how diplomacy had, indeed, led to a swift and amicable resolution.

But the alliance of the major media, the “military industrial complex” and Republican anger-mongering presidential candidates can be expected to continue its current approach, with those like the vile but visibly aging Ann Coulter spewing her predictable hate speech, saying that GOP moderate Nikki Haley, the daughter of immigrants and governor of South Carolina who delivered her party’s response to the State of the Union, should be deported by a GOP administration.

It was perhaps coincidental that President Obama’s tour de force Tuesday night came in tandem with the publication the very same day of Pope Francis’ new book, which tells it all in its poignant title, The Name of God is Mercy. Even just the title is another of the pope’s mighty blows against the credibility of hateful right-wing religious fundamentalism in all its forms.

As Obama pointed out Tuesday, America does not face a serious threat to its global standing in the world now. In that context, there is little among the violent extremist elements around trying to stir up pretexts for wars, including those in the U.S., that cannot be traced back to clandestine operations of the “military industrial complex,” whether it was the documented involvement of those elements in the rise of al-Qaida or in the preconditions (beginning with the U.S. invasion of Iraq) for the creation and arming of ISIS.

President Obama’s resolve remained firm in his Tuesday speech not to fall for their despicable, murderous machinations.