Here is Barack Obama with renowned ruddy ladykiller Ted Kennedy. Ted is kind of a dick, but so was Suharto, and yet he had his good points too, as Barack learned when he was a little kid and Suharto seized power from the democratically-elected Sukarno in a US-assisted miltary coup and Barack's stepdad, an officer in the Indonesian army, got a nice little raise. For years Suharto grew the economy and the profit margins of Nike at the expense of democracy and the poors until the Asian Financial crisis happened and suddenly everything was being set on fire by mobs of angry future Al Qaeda sympathizers. If anyone is in need of a new era of "change", it's Indonesia, as Barack taught us in The Audacity of Hope. (Also: we found the part of the book where he fellates Reagan! It's all inside!) After the jump, Megan and I discuss what our moms would have thought of Barack's mom, and also, Toni Morrison OMG!
MEGAN: Good morning. Apparently there is so little news that CNN is reporting that occasionally birds fly around together in large groups.
MOE: Soooooo! How was your weekend? Nevermind, because it wasn't as eventful as Barack Obama's! Lessee, a 51% victory in the South Carolina primary, endorsements from Caroline and Ted Kennedy, the death of the US installed military dictator that took control of the government of his childhood home in the wake of Barack's very first coup, and today, an endorsement from Toni "Bill Clinton is the first black president" Morrison.
MEGAN: And, you know, birds are pretty.
MOE: And yeah, you'd think maybe CNN might, I dunno, think of something that happened over the weekend and try to cover it a little more in-depth?
MEGAN: I can literally feel myself getting dumber watching, which is the reason I don't usually watch Fox News.
MOE: Hahaha but you were the one who tipped me off to the Drew Peterson interview the other day? Do you just have a weakness for Shep? Because there are a lot of people with a weakness for Shep.
MEGAN: Honestly, I was just watching because they were the only channel with live pictures of the Monte Carlo burning, and then Shep was like "Up next: an interview with Drew Peterson about his dating contest".
And I like fires and train wrecks equally.
Shep's make-up was fascinating, though.
MOE: Haha it almost always is. Um, sooooo. Can I tell you what I did last night? I broke into the Audacity of Hope for a bit. I found some good bits about Indonesia and the whole bit about Reagan that I'll share with you today! He talks about how after Suharto took over his stepfather got a nicer house and more money to buy Coca cola, etc, cause his father was in the Army. But all that came at a price!
MEGAN: Wow, now I'm totally going to feel obligated not to fall asleep while reading the Hillary bio. Also, please tell me he sorta identifies the whole "military dictator took over and I got more Coke" as a bad thing in restrospect.
MOE: Here's the broad takeaway.
In many ways Indonesia serves as a useful metaphor for the world beyond our borders — a world in which globalization and sectarianism, poverty and plenty, modernity and antiquity constantly collide. Indonesia also provides a handy record of U.S. foreign policy over the past fifty years. In broad outline at least, it's all there; our role in liberating former colonies and creating international institutions to help manage the post-World War II order; our tendency to view nations and conflicts through the prism of the Cold War; our tireless promotion of American-style capitalism and multinational corporations; the tolerance and occasional encouragement of tyranny, corruption, and environmental degradation when it served our interests; our optimism once the Cold War ended that Big Macs and the Internet would lead to the end of historical conflicts; the growing economic power of Asia and the growing resentment of the United States as the world's sole superpower; the realization that in the short term, at least, democratization might lay bare, rather than alleviate, ethnic hatreds and religious divisions — and that the wonders of globalization might also facilitate economic volatility, the spread of pandemics, and terrorism.
MEGAN: Also, everyone's forgotten about East Timor.
MOE: Barack didn't forget about East Timor! But then there's Aceh. I mean, 240 million people. He blames the unchecked corrupt pursuit of GDP growth at all costs for the economic crisis and the economic crisis for the rise of militant Islam, basically, I think. I mean, he doesn't make huge mention of the big "race" problem there, which is that not only is it a Muslim country, but it's a Muslim country with a non-Muslim Chinese minority that has all the money. When the Muslims dominated the Army and the Army dominated the government and the Chinese paid off the government, all that was okay. But, you know, it was fragile.
He also doesn't mention that Indonesia's yet another one of those MUSLIM countries that has already had a FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT, not that it mattered.
But I will say this: Barack's mom seems like she was pretty awesome.
MEGAN: But was she a minority?
I meant the female President of Indonesia, not Obama's mom
Mostly because I know she wasn't.
MOE: Megawati Sukarnoputri? No, she was Malay
MEGAN: Barack's mom seems like the kind of mom at whose house my mom would be vaguely uncomfortable with me hanging out but would never say.
MOE: Hahaha that's funny. Having lived overseas and known foreign families that weren't, like, "expats" — he didn't have the money to go to the international school — I can totally tell you exactly how my mom would have felt about Barack's mom; she would have thought she was really cool, but really just wished from the bottom of her heart that she'd wear MAKEUP now and then.
MEGAN: My mom would've been more worried about the whole two-kids-two-dads thing, worried that I'd end up slutty or something. Whoops.
MOE: And she would have told me this. "Don't you think Ann would just look so beautiful with a little lipstick? She has such nice bohemian clothes..."
MEGAN: I'm so going to your house without any makeup next time.
MOE: Hahaha well she raised me. She's used to that by now. Every time I actually put on makeup she invariably says, "Hey, you clean up good!" And like, every time. But I think when we were overseas there was something weirdly civilizing, for her, about a little lipstick. It was like Barack and his coca-cola. Or the way my roommate wears heels in the house even though we work at home. OR something, I'm not sure...
MEGAN: My mother didn't let me wear make-up until I was 16 because she saw it on The Cosby Show or something. And, so, I still kind of suck at it.
MOE: I think I'm pretty good at makeup. It's one of my skills. There actually wasn't much to do as a kid in China, so I got good at it early.
Well let me take that back, there was a lot to do, but there was also a lot of free time since there were no, like, soccer teams or ice skating lessons or crap like that. Anyway. Back to Barry.
MEGAN: Right. Barry. Ted's a fan.
MOE: Toni's a fan too. That's the part I can't get over. But here it is. I guess she'll make some speech today maybe? Do you think that's why Obama was so unruffled when they asked him about this at the debate? Uh, and speaking of, did you see the column about how Barry will actually be the country's first Jewish president? On the basis of his intelligence and kvetching wife or something. And the Harvard Law Review.
MEGAN: Bill seems to piss off the women who love him eventually. Also, you know that there's someone in the world that will read that column and think that Obama is really Jewish. Like, the anti-Obama equivalent of Robert Morrow, or just the neo-Nazis that support Ron Paul.
Or any of the people who think, somehow, that Obama really is the Antichrist.
MOE: Oh right! My sister was telling me that she'd actually met someone, about a year ago, who thought Obama was the antichrist. I guess that rumor will have to resurface. Also maybe that he once did drugs or something?
MEGAN: And he was schooled in a madrassa, which is like, totally, a turrist school.
MOE: And he totally has a soft spot for Reagan, which I am going to lay bare for you right now after investing in an ebook of The Audacity of Hope.
But at times, in arguments with some of my friends on the left, I would find myself in the curious position of defending aspects of Reagan's worldview. I didn't understand why, for example, progressives should be less concerned about oppression behind the Iron Curtain than they were about brutality in Chile. I couldn't be persuaded that U.S. multinationals and international terms of trade were single-handedly responsible for poverty around the world; nobody forced corrupt leaders in Third World countries to steal from their people. I might have arguments about the size of Reagan's military buildup, but given the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, staying ahead of the Soviets militarily seemed a sensible thing to do. Pride in our country, respect for our armed services, a healthy appreciation for the dangers beyond our borders, an insistence that there was no easy equivalence between East and West — in all this I had no quarrel with Reagan. And when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, I had to give the old man his due, even if I never gave him my vote.
MOE: To be fair, this follows several pages on everything from ouster of Mossadegh to Grenada, Iran Contra, the Iron Triangle and the Pentagon scandals, Panama, etc. etc.
MEGAN: Wait, corporations aren't responsible for all the poverty in the world? Now I totally have to vote for John Edwards. He knows that corporations are the source of all evil
MOE: Poor Edwards. Did you read the story about how Clinton and Obama are going after his donors? Do you think Barry will ask him to be his running mate?
MEGAN: I can't really see that happening, or him accepting. Although some people are now pushing for him to be AG regardless of whether Hillary or Obama gets the nod. That would be cool.
MOE: Totes! He'd be like the honey voiced, honey haired non nebbishy Sptizer of America.
OH and speaking of Jews did you check Giuliani in Boca over the weekend? He is still around, and he is SO BAD.
He was wearing a yarmulke is why I made uh the connection there
MEGAN: I mean, I get his whole "we can win by taking big states" strategy, I just don't get why Florida is the ONLY state he's trying to win. I really think he's just trying to set himself up for retirement there or something.