A new book from filmmaker Oliver Stone offers a scathing critique of President Barack Obama’s time in office.
Stone, who wrote “The Untold History of the United States” with historian Peter Kuznick, puts forth a liberal interpretation of American history from the turn of the last century to present day. The 618-page book, slated for release Tuesday - a week before Election Day - from Gallery Books, slams Republicans and Democrats alike, and the authors’ assessment of Obama’s presidency is tinged with disappointment.
“The country Obama inherited was indeed in shambles, but Obama took a bad situation and, in certain ways, made it worse,” Stone and Kuznick wrote. “…[R]ather than repudiating the policies of Bush and his predecessors, Obama has perpetuated them.”
Obama’s election “felt like a kind of expiation for the sins of a nation whose reputation had been sullied, as we have shown throughout this book, by racism, imperialism, militarism, nuclearism, environmental degradation and unbridled avarice,” they wrote.
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But on subjects from Wall Street reform to health care to Afghanistan, Stone and Kuznick rip Obama for breaking campaign promises and continuing the policies of President George W. Bush — who’s roundly condemned throughout the book. In some instances, they write, Obama went further than Bush’s White House toward anti-progressive policies.
“Obama asserted presidential power in ways that must have made Dick Cheney jealous,” they wrote.
“In 2011, Obama defied his own top lawyers, insisting that he did not need congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution to continue military activities in Libya,” they continued, in their write-up of Obama’s handling of intervention in that country.
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An accompanying documentary series is set to air on Showtime starting Nov. 12.
Stone said in 2008 that he backed Obama, but earlier this year said that he would support GOP Rep. Ron Paul over Obama if he could.
The biting criticism from Stone and Kuznick includes:
On Wall Street reform: “The biggest winner under Obama was Wall Street.”
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On health care: “Obama’s failure to articulate a progressive vision was also apparent in the fight over health reform, which was to have been his signature initiative…Obama’s health care reform effort, marked by the inability to even refute Republican charges of death panels, was so unpopular that it became an albatross around the necks of Democrats in the 2010 election.”
On a troop surge in Afghanistan: “When it finally came down to decision time, Obama didn’t have the courage or integrity of a post-Cuban Missile Crisis John F. Kennedy. He settled on a 30,000-troop increase, giving the military leaders almost everything they wanted and more than they expected.”
On civil liberties: “Among the greatest disappointments to his followers was Obama’s refusal to roll back the expanding national security state that so egregiously encroached on American civil liberties.”
On ‘imperialism’: “[He] was not offering a decisive break with over a century of imperial conquest. His was a centrist approach to better managing the American empire rather than advancing a positive role for the United States in a rapidly evolving world.”
On defense spending: “While cutting defense spending, pulling combat forces out of Iraq and beginning the drawdown in Afghanistan represented a welcome retreat from they hypermilitarism of the Bush-Cheney years, they did not represent the sharp and definitive break with empire that the world needed to see from the United States.”
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