August 2, 2011

open secret

Earlier this month, Nate Silver wrote, “the mix of spending cuts and tax increases that Mr. Obama is offering is quite close to, or perhaps even a little to the right of, what the average Republican voter wants, let alone the average American.” And as Democratic Congressman John Conyers confessed a few days ago: “The Republicans -- Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Cantor -- did not call for Social Security cuts in the budget deal.  The President of the United States called for that.” 

Yesterday Grover Norquist tweeted: “Sounds like a budget deal with real savings and no tax hikes is a go. We'll see.” And from the NY Times this morning, a front-page article declares: “However the debt limit showdown ends, one thing is clear: under pressure from Congressional Republicans, President Obama has moved rightward on budget policy, deepening a rift within his party heading into the next election.” The article added that Obama “put on the table far more in reductions for future years’ spending, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, than he did in new revenue from the wealthy and corporations. He proposed fewer cuts in military spending and more in health care than a bipartisan Senate group that includes one of the chamber’s most conservative Republicans.”

Even wonk-face Matthew Yglesias comes around occasionally to admit the obvious: “Obama has successfully transformed massive debt ceiling hostage taking from an act of breathtakingly irresponsible brinksmanship into a proven effective negotiating tactic. Suppose he gets re-elected in 2012. What’s he going to do when this issue recurs in 2013? Every time the president’s party has fewer than 60 votes in the Senate, we may face a recurrence of this crisis.”

In addition to the extension of the Bush tax-cuts, one could easily add to these revealing assessments of Obama by considering:  

·         The continuation and extension of executive power so prized by the Bush administration yet once decried by liberals,
·         the secret deal Obama made with Pharma to ditch the Public Option,
·         high unemployment,
·         having presided over the greatest transfer of wealth in history as well as increasing gaps between levels wealth and income,
·         the failure to close Guantano Bay and secret-prison sites around the world,
·         the failure to enact or even promise meaningful cuts to greenhouse emissions,
·         and, who can forget, the casual jabs made by Obama and members of his staff at the “professional Left,” otherwise considered by many to be his electoral base.    

And yet some “progressives” somehow conveniently forget all that stuff. Amanda Marcotte, for example, makes an absolutely asinine argument by whitewashing decades of pro-war, neo-liberal policies openly pushed for by the Democrats. She writes, “If it wasn't for the batshit crazy Republicans willing to destroy our economy to get their way, none of this would be happening.” So, “no matter what lurks in Obama's heart, none of this would be happening if Republicans didn't win the House.  So I think that my priorities are just fine, thank you very much.” I’ll let Marcotte speak for herself, and only recommend a link to her evisceration.

Still, some supporters of Obama amongst the electorate do believe in the righteous benevolent soul of Barack Obama, whatevah he does. Here actions and reality don’t seem to matter much; what matters is The Man Himself, his essence and inner-being, which they seem to know so well as if it actually mattered anyway. What they see in the True Obama is a True Progressive who unfortunately “has to compromise” with a dysfunctional Congress, and, à la Marcotte, maniacal saboteurs in the Republican party. By making excuses for him they get to see in Obama what they have always wanted to see in him: the personification of a New Age America that is post-racial, post-political, open, transparent, gluten-free. Though they probably find Obama’s ties to the financial industry disgusting they end up accepting them as inevitable, even if unfortunate, like the class system itself. As David Atkins writes, these class free liberals “recoil at strident aggressive approaches” to fighting Wall Street like the kind FDR displayed in 1936. “Go to any convention of progressives,” Atkins states, “and you're far likelier to see images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi than either Teddy or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. To most Democrats and progressives, Barack Obama is simply following along in their tradition of passive resistance and refusal to play by their terms.”

What is sadder and probably more common amongst the electorate is the person who does see through the machinations of Brand Obama and the Democrats, as well as those of the GOP, and who has consequently given up on politics, and resigned themselves to silence and apathy but who, come election day, will hear the campaign slogans, and find some reason to get their sorry ass into gear to the voting booths to vote Democratic anyway. Oh the absolute horror of it all: people who give up on staying informed and participating in political action in whatever capacity but because they want to do the right thing – bless their hearts –  end up voting for feckless liars. Could the scheme work any better?

No comments: