On Monday the important banking CEOs were to attend a Presidential meeting at which it was billed Obama (getting slammed in the polls for his entanglements with Wall Street) would dress them down for their unrepentant behavior since receiving hundreds of billions of taxpayer's cash.
But the biggest CEOs didn't show up because of "fog and rain".
Don't ask if they might not have taken a limo from NY to DC. Or (better yet) the Metro liner. Or (even better) gone the night before to prepare. Don't ask if they feel any need to help their Obama (at least a little) in the public relations department, even as he has helped them beyond measure (keeping them, for instance, from drowning at the bottom of their deep blue financial sea).
Don't ask who the hell they think they are? Don't ask who the hell Obama thinks he is, even as he was elected with the solid majority of millions of us, even as he was delivered a mandate that it now appears he has squandered to such an extent that there isn't even a peep from him or "his people" as he was snubbed like the butler it appears he is to these gargoyles of human excuse coiled up in their pinstripe suits and "grounded" Lear jets.
So how do I contain my rage at the absolute lack of separation of church and state that now exists in this country? Because, let's face it, our national religion isn't something cooked up in the deep Baptist south nor in ephemeral New Age San Francisco. No, it has been built stone by gothic stone down on Wall Street.
Our new Popes are the likes of Vikram Pandit, Robert Rubin, Lloyd Blankfein. Our new cathedrals the multinational sky scrapers that gleam with post-modern panache. Our altars of choice are the numbers rising to heaven on the stock market, which will only fall when the mysterious devil of whatever it is intrudes (not deregulation - God knows - not greed, not murder of ethics, etc).
So how do I contain my rage that unemployment soars; that millions more children have gone hungry in just these past three months; that the mass transportation systems throughout the nation are going the way of a corpse; that school systems slip into the red, chaos and bewilderment; that Health Care becomes another way to say "I love you" to the big boys...while all the while these giant financial tumors of Citicorp, AIG, Bank of America and Goldman (let them eat cake) Sachs -- now too big too fail, therefore backed by our government forever -- are able to "pay back" their TARP money by raising speculative billions from around the world because...
...well, who wouldn't invest their money in monsters backed forever by the US government? Who wouldn't invest in as sure a thing as the United States of America with it's Army, Navy, Air Force, Blackwater and taxpayers willing to pay for it all till there's nothing left? Who wouldn't give as much as they possibly could to institutions that claim to be doing the "work of God" (Lloyd Blankfein's proclamation last month, CEO of Goldman -let them eat cake- Sachs)?
So is it true that our President is now little more than their butler?
I am reminded of lines from T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
And indeed there will be time/To wonder, 'Do I dare' and, 'Do I dare?/Do I dare/disturb the universe/...For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
Yes, I believe Obama is their butler, albeit an intellectual one (so many of the great butlers were intellectuals, after all) with his "decisions and revisions" which can so easily be reversed - ever the Harvard grad. For hasn't Obama emerged with the same kind of twisted dialectic ala Alan Greenspan (with his Harvard's honorary degree) that bankers will ultimately do the right thing when pushed a bit? And yet how is it that even the least sober bum hanging out on Main Street; the sharecropper bumping along in the back of his nasty boss' truck; the private in any army on this planet; the guy (or more than likely in the coming months - the child) peeling carrots in a kitchen knows better. Again Eliot:
I grow old, I grow old/ I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
For what is going to happen to our "thinking" President after all is said in done, sinking deeper into his little war in Afghanistan (graveyard of empires)? His war looks so good on paper, I suppose.
But what is going to happen with what has brought on all this rage in me (and in so many others)?
I am reminded of another quote from a fellow African American that Obama has so assiduously attached himself to: Martin Luther King, a monstrous crowd of humanity swirling around the marble steps he stood on at the time:
I have a dream...(that) we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
Rage was the order of the day then. I remember that brutal time. But Martin Luther King risked everything to gather up that rage to try to use it to hew that mountain.
J. Alfred Prufrock did not. Obama has not not. We have not. Will we? Can we?