A whole lot of people who believe themselves to be liberals or — ye gods! — progressives, watched and listened to Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech and apparently heard something entirely different from what he actually said.
From what I’ve read, they heard a “pragmatic” liberal give a great speech, and they’re eager to support him for reelection. They can’t imagine why any liberal finds him wanting.
Rather than being genuine political liberals and/or progressives, those self-deluding, unquestioning Obama supporters are far more closely related to the members of the various Tea Party organizations than they are to anyone on the political left.
Obama Capitulating to the Right
Neither group will recognize the existence of facts that don’t fit comfortably into the fantasy worlds they occupy. Both are like kids on a playground, with fingers stuck in their ears, loudly mouthing “La,la,la,la I can’t hear you la la la la.”
The speech was, as Obama speeches increasingly tend to be, mostly smooth-flowing emptiness. It’s like the old joke about Chinese food: “An hour later, you’re hungry again.” Except that an hour after a fine-sounding Obama speech, people who haven’t tuned out reality wake up and try, mostly unsuccessfully, to remember one solid thing he said.
In fact, Tuesday’s speech was a capitulation to the right -– of a piece with his killing of the public option for health care before he had any conversation with Republicans, and with his escalation of our wars, and expanding “defense” spending and continuing and expanding Bush Administration policies on illegal domestic spying and torture and dozens of other issues.
Freezes Federal Employee Pay
Rather than go point by point, take just one point:
Obama talked about how, though it was a tough thing to do, he froze the salaries of millions of federal employees.
Yes, he did, and it was and it is a shameful act, a bit of political theater that sacrifices the economic well-being of those employees for the sake of a gesture to the far right –- which will not for a second be appeased.
Worse, it strengthens one of the right’s major current campaigns to further diminish the economic well-being of working Americans and strengthen the hands of corporate billionaires.
Divide and conquer, you know: Lead people who work for private employers to believe that government employees are lazy, overpaid and have retirement programs that let them live like, say, Wall Street bankers. Then you cut the government employees’ pay, slash their pension programs and get rid of many of their jobs, farming out the work to private contractors.
A few lies are useful: Claim that public employees make far more than people in the private sector, which is untrue to begin with and even more untrue when you realize that public employees are, on average, considerably better educated than the private sector employees to whom the right wingers compare them.
Eventually you discover the contractors are paid more over-all than the government employees were, but their employees make less. The real money is in profit for the contracting companies. And, of course, with pay standards lowered, private employers can now say that their employees make too much and must take pay cuts.
So with his little bit of theater, Obama made the right wing campaign seem legitimate. He signed on to the claim that federal employees are overpaid – or so it inevitably will appear to most of the public. He strengthened the corporate right’s campaign against the middle class.
This is a serious campaign, created and coordinated by the Republican National Committee under the guidance of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation and other strategy centers of the extreme right. And Obama signed on.
Think through most of the points in his speech -– those that are not completely empty of content -– and you’ll find similar results.
Those who simply won’t, or can’t, face up to the facts call his frequent surrenders, usually before the enemy has been sighted, “practical,” and “realistic.”
Obama could openly join congressional Republicans in tearing down all of the safety net features that were built up between the 1930s and the 1990s and get rid of most government regulations of business and those same Republicans would still try to gut him and stick his head on a pole in front of the Capitol.
That’s because the corporations and super-rich individuals who finance the Republican Party and used to also finance Democrats no longer need Democrats. The Supreme Court (Extreme Court) of John Roberts saw to that a year ago. Why would they help Obama to be reelected or allow Democrats to retain or regain any real power in Congress?
Why accept the 80 percent of a loaf Obama is trying to hand them when they are certain of the whole loaf? They intend to rule entirely unimpeded.
In pushing that 80 percent of a loaf at them, Obama shows himself to be an articulate fool. He’s thrown the American people into a dumpster and is actively trying to crush the people who put him in office –- that is, country’s liberals and progressives. And he’ll undoubtedly be bitter when they abandon him, as many of us already have, in 2012.
Obama’s Recent Additions to the Administration
Want a true and clear picture of who Obama is and who he works for? Look at his recent additions to his administration:
- Head of his new economic advisory council: Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of General Electric (a major finance corporation and defense contractor), a rightist Republican, an executive who has moved thousands of jobs out of the United States, a director of other giant corporations.
- Obama’s new chief of staff: William Daley, head of “government affairs” for JP Morgan. Daley also has been a chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a major player in opposing regulation of the “derivatives” that almost destroyed our economy and, of course, former Clinton czar on NAFTA, where he worked hard to export U.S. jobs.
- Head of the National Economic Council: Gene Sperling, yet another Goldman Sachs retread, a board member of “Third Way,” a supposedly “centrist” organization that Sperling used mainly to attack “entitlements” such as Social Security and Medicare. He’s also a director of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and a director of Boeing, one of the largest “defense” contractors.
Elizabeth Warren, Where Are You?
There are more, of course, those are just the newest such appointments.
Oh, and for balance, remember the new consumer protection agency that got buried under Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner? Under great pressure from liberals, Obama sort-of named the agency’s creator, Elizabeth Warren, to temporarily head consumer protection (with Geithner sitting on her). A deadline for appointing Warren as official head of the new agency is fast approaching and Obama hasn’t so much as whispered her name.
The mouse-timid liberals who simply can’t unstick from the idea that “Democrat” has something to do with political liberalism and a desire to benefit the vast majority of the people, are effectively abandoning the principles they profess to hold.
Two Wings of the Corporate Party
It’s been obvious for a couple of months now that the panicky, breathless demands that we all hold fast for Obama have begun much earlier in this new election cycle than they have in the past for other Democratic fakers.
“Oh. My. Gawd. He’s doing the best he can under terrible circumstances. If we don’t re-elect Obama, a terrible, awful, nasty, evil Republican will be elected president and things will be terrible, awful, nasty, evil and not nice.”
To me, that early-onset panic suggests that somewhere in the backs of their heads, the panicked know that they’ve been hornswoggled and that Obama is taking us exactly where the corporate-owned Republicans want to go.
Why does it matter whether he or, say, Tim Pawlenty is at the wheel? We’re going to end up in the ditch in a ruined vehicle either way.
Even a cursory look shows a rational person that the Obama administration is every bit as corrupt and every bit as subservient to the money elite as its predecessor.
Far better to start now to create an alternative to the two wings of the Corporate Party. Perhaps, eventually, we can get back to a point that the outcome of a presidential election does matter. The odds aren’t good, but it’s possible.
James Clay Fuller