Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The Audacity Of 'Hype'
There is a simple -- and not very profound -- reason why Barack Obama appears headed for the Democratic nomination, and it comes down to three simple things: Manufactured Media Hype, Corporate Loyalty and a Room Full of Lobbyists.
Never mind, for example, that Obama was recently hailed as a “Hamiltonian” believer in “limited government” and “free trade” by Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, who praises Obama for having “a mentality formed by globalization, not the SDS.” Or that he had to be shamed off the “New Democrat Directory” of the corporate-right Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) by the popular left black Internet magazine Black Commentator (Bruce Dixon, “Obama to Have Name Removed From DLC List,” Black Commentator, June 26, 2003).
Never mind that Obama (consistent with Brooks’s description of him) has lent his support to the aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and “other Wall Street Democrats” to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party (David Sirota, “Mr. Obama Goes to Washington,” the Nation, June 26). Or that he lent his politically influential and financially rewarding assistance to neoconservative pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman’s (“D”-CT) struggle against the Democratic antiwar insurgent Ned Lamont. Or that Obama has supported other “mainstream Democrats” fighting antiwar progressives in primary races (see Alexander Cockburn, “Obama’s Game,” the Nation, April 24, 2006). Or that he criticized efforts to enact filibuster proceedings against reactionary Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
Never mind that Obama “dismissively” referred—in a “tone laced with contempt”—to the late progressive and populist U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone as “something of a gadfly.” Or that he chose the neoconservative Lieberman to be his “assigned” mentor in the U.S. Senate. Or that “he posted a long article on the liberal blog Daily Kos criticizing attacks against lawmakers who voted for right-wing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.” Or that he opposed an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Or that he told Time magazine’s Joe Klein last year that he’d never given any thought to Al Gore’s widely discussed proposal to link a “carbon tax” on fossil fuels to targeted tax relief for the nation’s millions of working poor (Joe Klein, “The Fresh Face,” Time, October 17, 2006).
Never mind that Obama voted for a business-friendly “tort reform” bill that rolls back working peoples’ ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation from misbehaving corporations.
Never mind that Obama voted to re-authorize the repressive PATRIOT Act. Or that he voted for the appointment of the war criminal Condaleeza Rice to (of all things) Secretary of State. Or that he opposed Senator Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) move to censure the Bush administration after the president was found to have illegally wiretapped U.S. citizens. Or that he shamefully distanced himself from fellow Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin’s forthright criticism of U.S. torture practices at Guantanamo. Or that he refuses to foreswear the use of first-strike nuclear weapons against Iran.
Resolute, Tough, Intense... Presidential
It's all very well for Sen. Obama to campaign on a "we can make change" platform. It's all very well for Obama to recite the mantra of "Hope" ad nauseum. It's a great marketing idea. However, because the mechanics of government have become so detached from the interests of the electorate, the truth of the matter is that "we," in a practical sense, are altogether powerless--irrespective of which candidate we put in the Oval Office. We The People have, for quite some time, seen the interests of campaign financiers and lobbyists taking precedence over our own. And all the clever rhetoric in the world will not alter that sorry situation.
Now of course Obama would be better than the simian creature that currently occupies the White House, but he clearly is not our best option (based on his voting record). The MSM and their corporate masters desperately want to give one of their chosen few the appearance of being destined to be the next president. They would be tickled to have anyone from the Republican camp, but they know the American people are almost certainly going Democratic this time around. So what are their options? Simple, select those who are least likely to upset the applecart and promote them to the front (Clinton, Obama and, to a lesser degree, Edwards) while marginalizing anyone who poses a threat to the status quo (Kucinich, Gravel).
Obama, if elected, will be hailed as a "historic change", and he will be, but primarily in a cosmetic sense. If you look closely at his record (as I shall be doing over the next few weeks), you will see that he might have the capacity to make you feel good, but with little promise for real change.
The reality of the situation is this- lobbyists and employees of finance, real estate, and related firms have kicked down millions in bundled contributions to all of the leading candidates. Now, those lobbyists have backed off and are watching and waiting in the shadows.
Regardless of who wins the Democratic and Republican primaries, the lobbyists will still be waiting and watching.
The Republican operatives will roll out every dirty trick in the book as the electoral process proceeds, and have already started doing so. Their goals will be to reduce Democratic turnout and increase Republican turnout. Democratic political operatives will be doing the same thing - sort of a "George Lakoff vs. Frank Luntz" view of the electoral process. Talk is cheap, however, and Lakoff and Luntz are nothing but psychological manipulators, truth be told.
Let's say that Obama wins the primary and the presidency. People will cheer, we'll see a lot of self-congratulatory behavior, and people will go home to sleep, oh-so-happy about their victory over the Republican Party.
However, that's the point that the lobbyists wake up and roll into action - AFTER THE ELECTION. They'll contact all their people in the Obama campaign, they'll demand favors, and they'll push candidates for various government departments and cabinet posts who will protect their interests. They'll present pre-written bills that they want the President to support, and on and on. This is the case regardless of who wins.