FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Mendacity of Hope

“Change we can believe in.”

“Yes we can!”

“Change the world.”

For hundreds of millions of people, the slogans of the Obama campaign are not the focus-group tested products of marketing gurus and professional campaign strategists. They’re not empty words printed on cheap plastic yard signs, on banners, or on the podium from which Obama speaks.

To them, these slogans and Obama’s candidacy are what the 2008 elections are all about. Somewhere around 85 percent of the country thinks things are going in the wrong direction. It’s gotten so bad that even Black Republicans are thinking of voting for Obama.

The question is: will Obama deliver?

Of course, electing a black man to the throne of the American empire would make history, given that America is the land of the free and the home of the slave. But the millions, especially in the black community, who look to Obama for change don’t simply want a black man in the White House. They want real, substantial change. Health care coverage for all. Reform of the criminal justice system and out-of-control police brutality both of which have devastated black and hispanic communities. Debt relief for homeowners. Halting the three decade decline in working-class living standards and the skyrocketing price of food and energy. Fixing the dysfunctional two-party system. Steps to finally overcome centuries of racism. An end to the war in Iraq.

That’s a tall order for one man to live up to. Unfortunately, I don’t think Obama has any intention of delivering on these lofty goals.

For example, take his position on Iraq. According to conventional wisdom he is the candidate who will get U.S. troops out of there, as opposed to old man McCain who is more than happy to keep them there for 100 years. But Samantha Power, one of Obama’s foreign policy advisers (who resigned after she called Hillary Clinton a “monster”), made it clear that Obama has no intention of being bound by anything he says on the campaign trail.

Obama’s criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a similar case of mendacity. Behind the scenes one of his advisers  told Canadian officials “not to be worried about what Obama says about NAFTA.” Translation: don’t worry, Obama is just telling voters what they want to hear. Given the free-market ideologues he has surrounded himself with, lying about NAFTA shouldn’t be a surprise.

However, I don’t think Obama is a bad person, that his lying is some kind of personal flaw, or that it’s a compulsion that he has no control over (as it seems to be for President Bush).

Rather, it’s because Obama has made a series of political choices, the cumulative effect of which is real change we can believe in because we can see it before our very eyes. He might have set out to change the system, to change the way politics is done in this country, but it is the political system that has changed him.

The first and foremost example of this has been the way he threw his pastor of two decades under his campaign bus. The thought police – er, I mean the corporate media – focused with laser-like intensity on Reverend Wright’s suggestion that AIDS was the product of a government conspiracy to rid the country of blacks (as if AIDS only infected them). They exploited this remark to villify Wright and distract people from the content of what he said about U.S. foreign policy. When he spoke up in his own defense, Obama severed all ties to him, proving without a doubt that Obama is indeed a conventional politician. As Wright himself put it, “politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls.”

The corporate media forced Obama to choose between his pastor and a shot at the presidency, between principles and power. After some hesitiation, Obama chose the latter.

Obama faced the same choice on the issue of Israel and Palestine. He could either continue saying “nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people,” or he could stop worrying about them and learn to love Israel for ensuring American dominance of the Middle East. (One Major General said Israel is worth “5 CIAs” and that it would cost $125 billion a year to maintain an American force in the region the size of Israel’s, making the $5 billion a year the U.S. gives to Israel every year an amazing bargain).

The day after clinching the Democratic Party nomination, Obama told the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel, i.e. that the Palestinians had no claim whatsoever over the Holy City. That put him to the right of Bush and the Israeli government, both of whom pay lip service to Palestinian aspirations and say that the city’s final status is subject to “future negotiations.” He said he would do “everything” in his power to defend Israel. Over time Obama chose the Israeli Goliath over the Palestinian David.

Apparently he didn’t see the irony of the first black President-to-be calling for Jerusalem to be a Jews only city and pledging to preserve Israeli apartheid by any means necessary. Malcolm X had a term for politicians like Obama. Hint: it wasn’t field negro.

People may not want to hear it, but “change we can believe in” is a lie almost as big as Iraq’s WMD or Saddam Hussein’s connection to Al-Qaeda.

If Obama represents some kind of watershed or fundamental break with the past, why is his panel of foreign policy advisers dominated by officials from the Clinton administration? If Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the woman who said killing half a million Iraqi kids through sanctions was “worth it,” is giving Obama foreign policy advice, how many Iraqi and American lives will be “worth it” because he refuses to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq? If he represents such a dramatic break with Bush’s policies, why is he open to keeping Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Pentagon? Is it because Gates is secretly a big fan of Cindy Sheehan, or is it because Obama and Gates want to mend, not end, the occupation of Iraq and American domination of the oil-rich Middle East?

Even Obama’s call for ethanol to replace gasoline as a fuel source is disingenuous. He opposes importing Brazilian ethanol derived from sugar which is cheaper, cleaner, and produces more energy than the domestically produced ethanol derived from corn. Why? Could it be because Archer Daniels Midland and other American agribusiness corporations that produce corn ethanol have close financial and personal ties to his campaign and his advisers?

Like McCain, Hillary Clinton, and every politician on both side of the aisle, his positions on every issue are heavily conditioned by what big business is willing to tolerate. That doesn’t mean he won’t talk a good game on the campaign trail and ride the intense desire for change that’s gripped the country all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

However, it does mean that progressives (or The Left, if you prefer) need to wake up and take advantage of the rising expectations generated by Obama’s campaign. Both the hunger for real change and the elite’s determination to block it have never been greater.

PHAM BINH is on the editorial board of Traveling Soldier . His blog is http://prisonerofstarvation.blogspot.com and he can be reached at anita_job@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

November 21, 2018
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism
Kenneth Surin
Return to Denver: Clouds on the Horizon
Jonathan Cook
Netanyahu’s Ceasefire is Meant to Keep Gaza Imprisoned
John Steppling
Liar Liar
Bill Hackwell
Paradise Lost
Gary Leupp
“Maybe He Did, and Maybe He Didn’t:” Reflections on Morality in 2018
W. T. Whitney
Criminal Behavior: US May be Developing Biological Weapons
Zhivko Illeieff
How Media, Tech, and News Networks Normalize Trump’s Propaganda
NEVE GORDON - NICOLA PERUGINI
Migrant Caravan: Branding Migrants “Human Shields” Has a Deadly Motive
Wouter Hoenderdaal
Jordan Peterson’s Disturbing Views on Inequality
Dean Baker
Nicholas Kristof and the China Trade War
Colin Todhunter
Approaching Development: GMO Propaganda and Neoliberalism vs Localisation and Agroecology
November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail