Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Edward Harrison:
"The Democratic defeat in yesterday’s Massachusetts Senate race puts a punctuation mark on the grinding erosion of support for the Obama Administration and its economic policy in a tough first year. Clearly voters were sending the Administration a message that America is on the wrong course with Obama’s poll numbers slipping below 50% by December and Democratic defeats in both of the major state elections in which Obama campaigned in November (Gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey).

But, I don’t think the President gets it. He is holed up in the echo chamber called the White House. If the catastrophic loss in Massachusetts’ Senate race and the likely defeat of his health care reform bill doesn’t wake Obama up to the realities that he is not in Roosevelt’s position but in Hoover’s, he will end as a failed one-term President."

Harrison goes on to say some very, very smart things about the nature of the Obama Administration, and also about the economic situation, and the Obama Administration's misapprehension of it. First, on Obama's political positioning:

"Obama is yet another centrist, triangulating New Democrat in the Bill Clinton mold. Don’t be bamboozled by Republican propagandists telling you Obama is running left or that he is a ‘socialist.’ This is nonsense – kabuki theater, if you will. They are merely using Obama’s weakness to gain control of the historical political narrative. In reality, Leftists are absolutely outraged at his legislative agenda.

Obama is a corporatist like other New Democrats of the neo-liberal mold. The schtick – as also used by Schroeder in Germany, Koizumi in Japan and Tony Blair in the UK – is to say the things that progressives want to hear, but do the things that big business wants to be done. You have to give a sop to the base here and there like exempting unions from the healthcare bill’s Cadillac policy tax. But, the goal is to curry favor with big business, which is the paymaster of both established parties in the U.S."

The perfect political storm that carried away Bush's Republican Party, and made Obama, President, failed to carry the day. It failed to take down the corporate news Media, which has been propagandizing America into political impotency, and it failed to put the progressives in charge of the Democratic majority. And, the result has been a cold peace, preserving a status quo that no longer works.

Harrison quotes Marshall Auerback:
"While the Administration continues to take credit for averting a financial catastrophe, it is far more accurate to suggest that they have merely forestalled that eventuality."

A renewal, or even just a continuation of the economic depression, will result in a political catastrophe, as voters turn to demagogues. Who can say they are wrong to do so. There's no reason to trust the integrity or judgment of the neo-liberals.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe I'm not understanding you correctly, but is your critique of Obama that he is not liberal enough? When Harrison writes that Obama is not genuine - that he only says "the things that progressives want to hear" but then does what big business wants done, he is arguing that Obama's professed liberalism (which is still pretty benign) is only for show. A real progressive I suppose would stand up to powerful interests.

    This seems not only cynical, but wrong. There is I suppose a possibility that Obama means none of what he says. And while maybe not completely agreeing with a corporatist (republican?) agenda, he would merely be doing whatever it took to get campaign financing. Very cynical and conspiratorial. There are structural issues that I think make much more sense as far as sculpting what liberal ideas "make it" to Washington, much less the presidency. I mean, the idea that Obama has spent his entire life working these issues over for what - some campaign money - just seems kind of silly. More believable is that ideas must be plausible enough to enough people that corporate interests want to back the candidate most likely to win, AND do them least harm/greatest good. If politicians were all completely controlled by corporations, legislating would be a breeze.

    So not only cynical, but wrong. I still don't understand those who place the blame for legislation at Obama's feet. Policy decisions that he has complete control over are one thing. But even if he, in his heart of hearts, not only wanted a single-payer system, but got down on his hands and knees and begged every last congressman he STILL would be exactly where he is today: stuck with a Republican party giving him zero votes, and a large mass of blue dog Democrats afraid to be very liberal on anything. So whether or not Obama feels one way or the other, blaming him for things only congress has the authority to move is simply wrong.

    Or am I completely missing something?!! :)