Monday, October 27, 2008

Recycling For a Better America

The Sideshow has this bit today:
Digby says: "I've been writing for a very long time that the minute a Democratic president is sworn in, the Village cries for bipartisanship are going to be deafening. They did it after 2006 --- imagine what they'll do now. Just last week, Broder laid down the gauntlet. Now Obama fan (and former Bush sycophant) Howard Fineman is starting to get nervous." Yes, it's terrifying to think that Obama might actually do what the people elected him for, rather than to protect the Villagers and the Republicans from paying for their sins.
Digby herself links to Howard Fineman at Newsweek. The article is blurbed "Obama's supporters have high expectations, and they may expect to have a voice in governing." It's startling to see such a blatant example of what Noam Chomsky has been claiming for years -- that American political elites, despite lip service to "democracy", are terrified by the the thought that the rabble might try to horn in on their racket. Fineman writes:
"His supporters have sky-high expectations and expect to be involved," says Will Marshall, who studied the Obama organization for the Democratic Leadership Council. "They are loyal but not easy to control." ...

"We have a very trusting organization," David Plouffe, the campaign manager, told me. ... "These are people who are responsive," he says. "They want to be respected and to continue to be involved in what we do." And so they will be if Obama is elected. "If he wins, he's going to have a personal following he can use to press his agenda," says Marshall. "He can use these millions to reach over the heads of the Washington insiders, the Democrats on the Hill. It could be powerful."

Fineman goes on to worry that Obama's "machine" might force (or enable?) him to defy "much of America" who want more US troops in Afghanistan. Even worse, "initiating talks with Iranian and Venezuelan dictators enjoys more support on his e-mail lists than in the rest of the country." (By "dictators" Fineman of course means properly elected presidents, unlike our own Dear Leader.) And so on; it's an entertaining performance. David Sirota, also linked by Digby, jeers at Fineman for "freaking out about an Obama presidency and how it might actually mean real change": "This is a portrayal designed to press Obama to immediately shun his base, capitulate to conservatives ... [and] deliberately 'disappoint' the people who elected him."

As Alexander Cockburn put it at Counterpunch last weekend,
So far as the progressives and the left are concerned, Palin’s useful function has been to detain them from misgivings about the Democratic ticket which 98 per cent of them are going to vote for. From the vantage point of 2008 I wouldn’t blame Al Gore or John Kerry from feeling that maybe there’s been a double standard at work here, between the rough treatment they got from the left and from radical environmentalists, as compared to the well-mannered silence about Obama’s call for a 90,000 increase in the Armed Forces, his endorsement of nuclear power, “clean coal”, warrantless wire-tapping, tort reform, real ID, groveling to the bankers and the Israel lobby and so forth. K St loves Obama. So do the defense contractors. They love Biden too. Just to refresh your memories of what a progressive platform actually looks like, take a look at the website of the Nader campaign. Like the U.S. senators’ knowledge of foreign policy, the bar these days for what the left finds bearable is awfully low. The more the left holds its tongue, the lower the bar will go.
Of course the Democratic Leadership Council is worried that Obama's constituents might be able to pressure him to move in a leftish direction; the DLC are the Reaganite scum who gave us the Clintons and Gore, among others, and they've been pushing the party to the right for decades. But I don't see any indication that Obama has any intention of being pushed in that direction, having made his plans deafeningly clear: continued occupation of Iraq, enlarge the armed forces, increase troop strength in Afghanistan and elsewhere; he wants to continue the Cuban embargo and restore US dominance in those Latin American countries that have begun to break away from it; he believes that Social Security is in crisis, he voted for the renewal of the Patriot Act and FISA, he helped drive through the Bush-Paulson bailout, and so on. (Obama has been advocating bipartisanship all along, in fact, and here's Rachel Maddow trying to argue that Obama is so bipartisan! -- as if collaboration with the Bush gang were something to be asserted with pride.)

None of this is exactly obscure, and I hope I'm not the only person who remembers how the Democratic Congress of 2006 paid back those who voted them into office. Yet Obama fans and critics alike ignore what the man has been saying, quite loudly, all along. Ironically, his fans and his opponents agree that Obama is only pretending to be a "moderate" (read: right-wing supporter of empire and corporatism) and that once he's elected he'll rip off the mask to reveal himself as a man of the Left!!!!!! Of course it's possible, but it's more likely that he'll swing even farther to the right, with or without the help of the DLC. I mean, he's already been talking about bipartisanship with regard to the financial crisis. Does anyone have any illusions about what that means?

I hear some folks saying, Okay, once he's in office we'll hold his feet to the fire. Just how do they plan to do this, I wonder? By thinking pure thoughts? Does that mass network of supporters who've given him their money and worked for him have any independent access to each other that might enable them to build a mass movement that could actually bring pressure on him to "do what the people elected elected him to do"? A March on Washington? Or maybe they'll de-friend him on MySpace? That would bring him to heel! It seems to me that this talk is just a wishful-thinking fantasy. I think they believe Obama himself will lead them, and in the light of his record that's just plain nuts.