Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant!

An excellent article on XPOTUS Barack Obama's legacy.
You can usually judge a person pretty well by their friends, and nobody who voluntarily spends his free time with Bono should be trusted.
Sorry, I couldn't resist quoting that; the Devil made me do it.  Ahem:
The most important aspect of the story is not that Obama accepted Cantor Fitzgerald’s offer, but that the offer was made in the first place. Indeed, it’s hard to escape the impression that certain powerful interests are now rewarding the former president with a gracious thanks for a job well done. Rather than asking whether Obama should have turned down the gig, we can ask: if his administration had taken aggressive legal and regulatory action against Wall Street firms following the financial crisis, would they be clamouring for him to speak and offering lucrative compensation mere weeks after his leaving office? It’s hard to think they would, and if a Democratic president has done their job properly, nobody on Wall Street should want to pay them a red cent in retirement. Obama’s decision to take Cantor Fitzgerald’s cash isn’t, therefore, some pivotal moment in which he betrayed his principles in the pursuit of lucre. It’s simply additional confirmation he has never posed a serious challenge to Wall Street’s outsized economic power.
Of course it's too early to pronounce on the legacy of the new POTROK, Moon Jae-In, but his beginning has been promising.
It has only been five days since the presidential election, but the government has already agreed to convert irregular workers at Incheon International Airport to regular status before the end of the year, lifted the ban on sing-alongs of “March for the Beloved” (a song associated with the Gwangju Democratization Movement), recognized the short-term teachers who died on the Sewol Ferry as having lost their lives in the line of duty, and temporarily shut down aging coal plants to deal with fine particle dust air pollution. These are some of President Moon Jae-in’s swift actions. President Moon is attracting attention by carrying out the promises he made during the campaign one after another, making personal visits and starting with the promises that only require an executive order or the revision to an enforcement order.
Once it was clear he'd won the election, Moon made an appearance in Gwanghamun, the site of the candlelight vigils in Seoul, showing solidarity with the popular movement that agitated for the removal of former president Park Geun-Hye from office. (He'd participated in the vigils almost every week for months, in fact.)  No wonder there's so much concern about Moon in American elite media. And of course it's important not to exaggerate his liberalism. (You want cynicism? That article is cynical.) I remember all too well the dashed hopes among my Korean friends over Roh (or Noh) Mu-hyun, also a former human rights lawyer who became president of South Korea.  (Moon worked in Roh's election campaign.  It's a small country.)  The extraordinarily corrupt Park Geun-hye was an easy act to follow; Moon is going to have to do more than coast on not being Park.  But hey, he has a hot bodyguard; that should keep criticism at bay for a while.