A year ago, as Barack Obama was assembling his administration, he was at a crossroads with two paths going off in very different directions: one would have led to a populist challenge to the Washington/New York political-economic establishments; the other called for collaboration and cajoling.Such are the blandishments of the CorpoRat State and the Status Quo. We can see where this is leading, by now. It would have required a really strong leader/personality to have resisted. And Prez Shamwow--the negotiator, the compromiser--is not that person. So what follows is "traingulation" and the eventual, inevitable capitulation to the "special interests."
Faced with a dire financial crisis and two foreign wars – not to mention a host of long-festering problems like health care, the environment, debt and de-industrialization – Obama’s choice was not an easy one.
If he took the populist route and further panicked the financial markets, the nation and the world might have plunged into a new Depression with massive unemployment. (Possibly it would be as accurate to say, "He would have been punished by the financial mavens, whou would have vengefully plunged the world int ruin rather than concede even a sciontilla of their wealth and power"?--W)
There were also political dangers if he chose the populist path. The national news media rests almost entirely in the hands of corporate “centrists” and right-wing ideologues, who would have framed the issues in the most negative way, blaming the “radical” Obama for “wealth destroying.”
This media problem dates back a quarter century as American progressives have mostly turned a deaf ear to those calling for a major investment in media and other institutions inside the Washington Beltway, as a way to counter the dominance of the Right and the Establishment. (Jooc, who are the leftish cognates of Coors, Koch, Murdoch, Scaife, et al?--W)
So, if Obama had nationalized one or more of the major banks, the stock market would likely have dived – even more than it did in early 2009. And there would have been lots of commentary about the inexperienced and inept Obama making matters worse.
He would have confronted media denunciations as a “socialist” or worse. The CNBC “free-market” crowd, led by Larry Kudlow, would have used their influential forum to rally the business sector; Fox News would have cited nationalization as proof they were right about the “communist” Obama; Washington Post editorials would have chastised him. (Ummmmm. Which of those things DIDN'T happen, anyway?--W)
A new Depression might well have been pinned on Obama. (Yah think>--W)
Similarly, if Obama had ordered aggressive investigations into torture and other crimes committed by George W. Bush and his administration, there would have been howls about Obama’s vindictiveness; about how his promises of bipartisanship had been lies; about coddling terrorists. (Investigating/prosecuting the Busheviki was always a non-starter for the simple reason that had Prz. Shamwow undertaken it, he would have been signing the warrant for his own eventual persecution when the regimes changed again. That is nto to say it still mayn't--or probably won't--happen. But to have pursued the Busheviki would have guaranteed it--W)
Given the tiny size and marginal influence of the progressive media, any cheers for Obama’s courage and principles would have been drowned out by the condemnations that would have bellowed forth from CNN, Fox News, the Washington Post and other powerful media voices.
In other words, the populist route would have traversed some very dangerous territory. At least superficially, the collaborationist route looked less daunting. (Except that that terrain was gonna be--and ultimately was-- traversed, no matter what--W)
By continuing Bush’s policies of bailing out the banks, Obama might succeed in stabilizing the financial markets. He could reverse the collapse of the stock markets (which had wiped out trillions of dollars invested in middle-class retirements and union pension funds, as well as the paper wealth of many rich people and top executives).
By reaching out to Republicans and Democratic “centrists” on health reform – and by adding lots of tax cuts to his stimulus bill – Obama also could blunt right-wing attacks portraying him as a crazed radical. By “looking forward, not backward” on Bush’s crimes, he could show independent voters that he was serious about his campaign promises regarding bipartisanship.
By retaining Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates (a Washington Establishment favorite) and by recruiting his primary opponent Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, he could win applause from the mainstream media for his “team of rivals” and maybe win over a few influential neoconservatives who would see these hawkish appointments as continuity for Bush’s war policies.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Eleven-Dimensional Chess Masters
Via Robert Parry's ConsortiumNews, a labor of love, if ever there were one. He's got some the widest and best contacts in bloggo-land. Parry recounts that Prz. Shamwow faced an incredible array of clusterfux from Day 1. He had choices among which advisors and what advice to adopt. Prob'ly he fucked up:
I admonish you to get thee thither and read the rest of the story, and if you have a little scratch, leave a smidgeon behind. Such devotion deserves it.