Is the President Really in Charge?

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Well, that would explain things, wouldn't it? He wouldn't be the first president not really in charge. Remember Cheney? Wasn't he in charge when George W. Bush was president? So, perhaps this time our guy isn't in charge. Why else would he be thinking of sending thousands of troops to Afghanistan? Why would he have nearly abandoned a health care public option? What happened to getting rid of lobbyists? And, why does he tell us nothing for so long, and then deliver one of his teleprompted speeches thinking we'll be mesmerized by the rhetoric instead of engaging in the openness promised by his administration?

It's a scary thing to think that the man in charge may not be at all. Possibly he opened one of those early days briefings and discovered he'd better start practicing obsequiousness with some of the generals and God knows what other powerful forces or he'd be on his way out in four years, and that's if he turned out to be lucky.

Otherwise, the whole thing doesn't make sense. This promising president, determined to bring about change, has mostly given us more of the same. Does he know something he just can't tell us? That would be good. I guess. Is he preparing for events in Pakistan that require troops on the ground in Afghanistan? Has he simply forgotten Vietnam? Or for that matter, the Russians experience in Afghanistan?

Is he so unnerved about a possible universal health care debacle on his watch that he'll take nearly anything that gives off a whiff of victory?

A lot of us have gone through these kinds of mental gymnastics. But maybe the Chenyesque, Darth Vadar types are corralling power. The question is: Who are they? The economic advisory what's-in-it-for-me, keep-out-the-women-with-opinions cadre has always looked scary to me? Weren't they a big part of the economic problems we're now in? So, why are they so powerful?

Why is this president with so much to offer abdicating responsibility, hiding behind his press secretary, giving us so little to go on, and leaving us in the dark? Is it because he never was the courageous leader we considered him to be? Or is it because he simply never had a chance?

Dr. Reardon also blogs at bardscove.

As "jollyelle" below recommends, be sure to listen to Bill Moyers' interview with Glenn Greenwald for insight into hypocrisy and what really isn't common sense and what is.

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