Super Tuesday II, as Fox dubbed it, took some steam out of the Obama bandwagon, but he’s still the likely Democratic nominee, and therefore the likely president-to-be. Which is remarkable, really—a nonparticipant can only stand slackjawed in awe of Obamamania. Previously rational people whom LBO admires, like Barbara Ehrenreich and Christopher Hayes, have fallen in love with the Senator’s brand of change we can believe in, a slogan that has to be one of the emptiest since Sandburg’s “The people, yes!,” that the New Party used in New York in the early 1990s. Obama has become the Tokio Hotel of politics.
On what is this mania based? Obama is inspiring the young, lifting the alienated off their couches, and catalyzing a new movement for…change, presumably one we can believe in. The content of this change is hard to specify. Some serious leftists we know and love point to Obama’s roots as a community organizer in Chicago, though many people in a position to know say he didn’t rock many boats in those days. He was embraced by foundation liberals, however, who greased his way into the Harvard Law School via a lakefront condo.
All of which doesn’t make Obama uniquely bad: he’s just another mainstream Democrat with a sleazy real estate guy in his past. Though he’s being touted as an early opponent of the Iraq war, he told the Chicago Tribune in 2004: “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position….” He voted to renew the PATRIOT Act, campaigned for happy warrior Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont in 2006, and wants to increase the size of the U.S. military. He supports Israel’s continuing torture of the Palestinians penned into the Gaza Strip. A Congressional Quarterly study found his Senate voting record was virtually indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton’s; the only major difference in their votes is a surprising one: a move to limit class actions suits against corporations, which Clinton voted against, and Obama for. Obama’s vote was against the preferences of a Dem financial base, trial lawyers, but pleasing to the Fortune 500 and Wall Street.
In this binary world, when you criticize Obama, people immediately include you’re a Hillary Clinton fan. Uh, no. Her politics are bellicose and neoliberal. Her “experience” consists largely of having watched her husband be president for eight years, though it’s likely they were sleeping in separate bedrooms for much of the time. A plague on all their houses.
Some more thoughtful victims of Obama Disease point to detailed position papers on the candidate’s website. These must always be taken with a grain of salt, especially during primary season. Candidate Bill Clinton promised to “invest in people” and ended up being the president of “a bunch of fucking bond traders,” as Hillary’s husband memorably put it. LBJ campaigned as the peace candidate in 1964, and ended up killing a million Indochinese.
Obamians also point to his rejection of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC); they put him on their list of rising stars, and he asked to be removed. Encouraging—except for the fact that his chief economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, the fellow who told the Canadians not to take the anti-NAFTA rhetoric seriously, is the DLC’s chief economist. Goolsbee has written gushingly about Milton Friedman and denounced the idea of a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures. That hire is more significant than asking to be struck from a list.
Big capital would have no problem with an Obama presidency. Top hedge fund honcho Paul Tudor Jones threw a fundraiser for him at his Greenwich house last spring, “The whole of Greenwich is backing Obama,” one source said of the posh headquarters of the hedge fund industry. They like him because they’re socially liberal, up to a point, and probably eager for a little less war, and think he’s the man to do their work. They’re also confident he wouldn’t undertake any renovations to the distribution of wealth. You could say the same about Clinton—but you know those hedge fund guys. They like a contrary bet. A share of Obama stock on the Iowa Electronic Market was 30 on May 19, 2007, the day of Jones’s Obama bash; it peaked at 86 on March 1, a gain of 187% (in a year where triple digits are rare). It’s since settled back into the low 70s, which is still quite a gain.
Read all of it here.
From Mariann Wizard / The Rag Blog