Obama finally fulfills expectations
It’s been nearly two-and-a-half months since the Inauguration of the re-elected Barack Obama, and almost five months since the election. At the time this blog noted that it would not take long before those voting for the President would be disappointed, as he once again would set his campaign rhetoric aside and president as the center-right politician that he is on matters of economic policy, justice and military and foreign affairs. And while he kept lurching towards fulfilling this prophecy, liberals kept ignoring his attempts. He may have finally rung the bell.
The President began his attempts almost immediately re-election by appointing a string of corporate-beholden officials to positions where their loyalties could adversely affect the country, among which were: Valerie Caproni (General Counsel to the FBI during the second Bush Administration who presided over the legal department while exigent letters to obtain search warrants ran rampant and most recently in the legal department of military-industrial oligopolist Northrop Grumman) was appointed to the federal bench; and Mary Jo White (former federal prosecutor who spun the lucrative revolving door to cash in defending Wall Street) was named to head the SEC the week after the inauguration. These did little to shake the faith, because, after all, Obama’s coziness with Wall Street and lack of backbone when it comes to roiling the waters where the financial and military powers-that-be swim had already been priced into his supporters’ expectations.
Shortly after re-election the military’s abominable handling of Bradley Manning was exposed. Liberals would have inundated “conservative” Jimmy Carter and DLC-sponsored Bill Clinton in protest (not to mention what would have happened under LBJ, who in all likelihood would never have permitted such abuses). But nary a word do the current day liberals say against the commander-in-chief of this military railroading. And, after all, why should they? The Constitutional Law Professor-in-Chief had already pronounced Manning guilty. John Brennan, champion of the Bush-Cheney torture regime, withdrew his name from consideration as CIA chief in 2008, because the stench of such hypocrisy by Obama would have been too great, it was thought. But re-elections are great deodorizers and John Brennan is now the confirmed CIA Chief. The only opposition? Rand Paul! Who “liberals” claimed was engaged in a stunt.
No one knows exactly what, if any, limits there are on the President’s use of drones, even against U.S. citizens. We know that use of them are not sufficiently hostile (at least if no more than about 100 of them are used at a time) to require notification under the War Powers Resolution. And the President evidently needs no warrant or court approval to kill an American citizen who is hostile or even his teenager son. And the White House isn’t even required to acknowledge that it engaged in assassination. Figures are stacked to increase the number of hostiles killed in the President’s drone program, and even the press, much less liberals, have no objection to considering all males in a strike area presumptively hostiles, because that’s the accounting system of the White House.
And through all of this liberals sat on their hands because one of their own was President. Despite what polls and the election showed the public wanted, this President has reverted to his mean.
But now, the President is about to take a step that will redefine the Democratic Party and strike at the signature legislation of liberals’ twentieth century ascendancy: The Social Security Act. According to a number of news reports the White House budget will include a reduction in future social security benefit, achieved by “chaining” SSI increases to less generous cost of living index. The move, in complete disregard of popular sentiment, in response to no political or financial realities, and at a time that the country desperately needs spending not austerity (and seniors are in no position to contribute part of their pittance to the altar of the Grand Bargain), shows the triumph of Obama’s neo-liberal advisers, despite all the evidence of the wreckage they have done since the Clinton administration. Robert Reich makes the case against the move here. But even if there were a credible counter argument (which no major politician has attempted), the interesting question is how liberals will abide this rightward lurch. My guess is that the old stand-by will be trotted out: Obama prevented even greater calamities. The ability of the liberal part of the Democratic Party to delude itself these days is breath-taking. I suspect that even in the inevitable backlash against this policy with which the public will punish the party the liberals will not blame the President or his policies.
Evidently, the Democratic Party and the Obama “coalition” has decided that it is secure against all future realignment. Hispanics, professional women, college-educated white males, blacks must be the limit of the big tent of this Party. While Obama defenders like Joan Walsh gnash their teeth at the obtuseness of the white working class, they demonstrate that they are in fact elitists because they show no outrage at how the policies of this neo-liberal administration deprive them (as well as Hispanics and African-Americans in even larger numbers) of work, depress their wages, reduce their opportunities, allow education expenses to sky-rocket, and permit the plutocrats to pick their bones even in old age. Yes, social security and retirement options like 401-K plans are “equal” among the classes. The working class can invest in 401-Ks for their retirement, just like the rich will be prosecuted for stealing bread, as Anatole France explained how economic equality works. But the new Democratic liberals don’t look to Anatole France for lessons in economic justice, they rather read Fortune, which today reported yet another surprisingly anemic employment report. They will undoubtedly skip that article to get to more edifying ones on how the stock market is better for retirees than social security.