FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Worse Than McCain?

Every four years, liberals and progressives are expected to set aside their beliefs and stand foursquare behind the Democratic Party candidate. This ritual is invariably performed in the name of party unity. It doesn’t matter if the candidate is a smooth-talking politician who’s willing to toss his pastor of 20 years overboard for a few awkward comments, or whether he refuses to defend basic civil liberties like the 4th amendment’s right to privacy. All that matters is that there’s a big “D” following his name and that he shows he’s willing to engage in some meaningless verbal jousting with his Republican opponent.

For nearly a year now, the public has been treated to regular doses of Mr. Obama’s grandiloquent oratory and his sweeping “Follow me to Shangri-la” promises. These flourishes are usually followed by “clarifications” on the central issues which identify Obama as a center-right conservative with no intention of disrupting the status quo. CounterPunch co-editor Alexander Cockburn summed it up like this in a recent article on this site:

“There have plenty of articles recently with headlines such “Obama’s Lunge to the Right”. I find these odd. Never for one moment has Obama ever struck me as someone anchored, or even loosely moored to the left, or even displaying the slightest appetite for radical notions, aside from a few taglines tossed from the campaign bus.”

Obama-boosters  on the left simply ignore the facts because the thought of the unstable John McCain in the Oval Office with his stubby fingers just inches from the Big Red Switch is too much to bear. So, they throw their support behind Obama and hope for the best. But Obama has done nothing to earn their vote and there’s nothing to indicate that he has any interest in restoring the republic or putting and end to US adventurism. He’s just a one-term senator who doesn’t want to rock the boat. That’s it. He’d rather keep his position on the issues blurry and rattle off lofty-sounding platitudes than state plainly how he feels. Unfortunately, when he’s pinned down and has to give a straight answer, he quickly swerves to the right where he feels most at home.

Some Obamaniacs admit to feeling troubled from time to time. They  worry that behind the rhetorical fanfare, Barack is just an empty gourd; a well-spoken pitch man with no moral core. Could he be another Slick Willie, they wonder; another self-promoting politico as eager to sell out his working class supporters as chase a frisky intern around the Lincoln bedroom? No one knows, because no one has figured out exactly why Obama is running. Does he really want to lift the country from the muck of 8 years of Bush misrule or does he just want to gad about on Airforce 1 and make pretty speeches in the Rose Garden? What really drives Obama? It’s a mystery.

But don’t be fooled, Obama could turn out to be worse than McCain, much worse. No one doubts that he is brighter and more charismatic than the irritating senator from Arizona. And no one underestimates his Pied Piper ability to galvanize crowds and stir up national pride. But what good is that? Obama works for the same group of venal plutocrats as Bush; a fact that was made painfully clear just last week when he voted to approve the new FISA bill that allows the president to continue spying on American citizens with impunity. Obama is a constitutional scholar; he understood what he was voting for. He was sending a message to his supporters that they don’t really matter; that what really counts is the small gaggle of powerful corporatists who run the country and believe the president is above the law. That’s what his vote really meant.

So, why vote for him? We don’t need a glamor boy to trash the Bill of Rights. And we don’t need another paper-mache president who tries to conceal America’s war crimes behind stuffy-sounding pronouncements about “Islamofacism” and other terrorist mumbo-jumbo. What we need is someone with enough guts and moral fiber to shake up the political establishment, put an end to the wars and covert operations, and clean up Wall Street.

Obama has dazzled the media with his easy manner and his savoir faire, but he’s not the right man for the job. He has surrounded himself with ex-Clintonistas who will continue the global onslaught with even greater ferocity than Bush, although much more discreetly.(After all, this is the empire’s A Team) And just like Clinton, who bombed the bejesus out of Belgrade for 87 days without batting an eye; Obama will keep the war machine chugging along at full-throttle. No thanks.

What the world really needs is a five or ten year break from the United States; a little breather so people can unwind and take it easy for a while without worrying that their wedding party will be vaporized in a blast of napalm or that their brother-in-law will be dragged off to some CIA hellhole where his eyes are gouged out and his fingernails ripped off. That’s what the world really needs, a temporary pause in the imperial violence. But there won’t be any sabbatical under Field-Marshall Obama; no way. As  Bill Van Auken points out in an article on the World Socialist web site, Obama may turn out to be the point-man for reinstating the draft:

Obama has “lamented the failure of the Bush administration to issue “a call to service” and “a call for shared sacrifice….There is no challenge greater than the defense of our nation and our values,” said Obama. We “need to ease the burden on our troops, while meeting the challenges of the 21st century,” which, according to Obama, will require an “increase US ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.'” (“Obama continues lurch to the right on Iraq war and militarism” Bill Van Auken)

Is that why the political establishment is so enthusiastic about Obama, because they need a better recruiting sergeant than the uninspiring McCain?

No one has followed Obama’s rightward drift with greater interest and bemusement than the editors of the Wall Street Journal. They have faithfully chronicled all the vacillating, obfuscating and backpedaling and they’ve made up their minds; Obama is marching straight towards the welcoming arms of the Republican Party. That’s right; he’s gradually embracing the conservative platform and abandoning any pretense of liberalism. Two weeks ago the WSJ ran an editorial that summarized Obama’s metamorphosis in an article titled “Bush’s Third Term”:

We’re beginning to understand why Barack Obama keeps protesting so vigorously against the prospect of ‘George Bush’s third term.’ Maybe he’s worried that someone will notice that he’s the candidate who’s running for it.

Most Presidential candidates adapt their message after they win their party nomination, but Mr. Obama isn’t merely ‘running to the center.’ He’s fleeing from many of his primary positions so markedly and so rapidly that he’s embracing a sizable chunk of President Bush’s policy. Who would have thought that a Democrat would rehabilitate the much-maligned Bush agenda?

That’s fair enough. Obama has changed his position on his “support of  a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies”. He has wormed his way out of a definite commitment on withdrawing the troops from Iraq. (which was a real lesson in Clintonian triangulation) He’s backed off on his promise to rewrite the NAFTA free trade agreement. He’s thrown his support behind Bush’s “faith-based” social programs which provide state money for religious organizations. He’s sided with the majority  on the Supreme Court on gun rights and whether to ban the death penalty for rape. How can anyone support a candidate who is on the same ideological side of legal issues as Antonin Scalia?

In the past few weeks, Senator Switcheroo has blasted Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while, at the same time, heaping praise on our “good friend” Israel. Obama even has a two paragraph commentary on his campaign web site lauding Israel’s devastating attack on Lebanon a year ago which killed 1,500 civilians and reduced much of the country’s vital infrastructure to rubble.

Still think the “peace candidate” does not have the warmongering bone fides to do the empire’s dirty work?

Think again.

Many of us who have criticized Obama are being dismissed as cynics, but that’s nonsense. The truth is that the left Obama supporters have projected their own values onto their candidate and are trying to make him out to be something that he is not. They put words in his mouth so they can continue to hold on to the crazy notion that the system really isn’t broken and that it can be fixed by simply pulling a lever on election day. This is just the lazy-person’s way of ignoring the real work that needs to be done to restore American democracy; the organizing of groups and networks, the building of labor unions and working coalitions, the focussed determination to root-out corruption and entrenched corporate power. The system has to be rebuilt from the bottom-up not the top-down. It’ll take a revolution in thinking and lots of hard work. There’s no quick fix. Freedom isn’t free anymore; deal with it. Voting for Obama and keeping one’s fingers crossed, is not a sign of hope. It’s a sign of self-delusion.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state and can be reached at           fergiewhitney@msn.com

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail