In my last Counterpunch essay, “How Obama's Initial Personnel Decisions Hardwired the Wipeout” I organized my argument around verbiage describing how Obama “fatal move” to the middle,” leaving the misleading impression that his connection to the middle occurred after the election. This was sloppy wording and in retrospect it is clear to me that impression did not even reflect what I was trying to say. “Irrevocable” would have been a better modifier than “fatal.” And the word “move” was more related to the perceptions of the people whose enthusiasm he unleashed during the campaign, not Obama's political proclivities.
Obama has always been a center-right politician tightly connected to ruling oligarchs in the US. I have been concerned about this connection with the oligarchy since December 2007, when I became aware of the people who were advising him on defense, foreign policy, and treasury matters. I publicly expressed concerns about his defense advisors in July 2008 and all of them on 5 November 2008, (see last paragraph here) the day after he was elected. “Hardwiring the Wipeout” was basically a first-cut bookend to the 5 November piece (what I called the outer layer of the onion).
Lest you think I am quibbling about what the meaning of “is” is, for the record, I agree with the critical comments (attached below) from my good friend Pierre Sprey, who has taken the trouble to give an incisive correction to my sloppy wording, and which he has graciously agreed to let me forward. Think of this as a roadmap for probing into the second and more rancid layer of the onion.
——————————- [Sprey's Comment]————————
Superb analysis of why the voters tossed out Bush and his cohorts, how Obama generated such strong support and, two years later, why many of those supporters felt betrayed enough to stay home or to vote Republican. The article is most certainly needed and timely to fend off the tsunami of obfuscation that both the Republican and Democratic pundits are about to unleash.
On the other hand, I view your chronology of Obama's (and the Democratic Party's) “move to the middle” a bit differently–and our differences have serious implications for judging Obama's character, his decision-making and the futility of expecting change in anything but his rhetoric:
1. I see no evidence that there's been any change or “move” in substantive actions and stated policies going from Senator Obama to Candidate Obama to President Obama. Needless to say, over this entire time most of his policy “positions” were (and are) rhetoric cleverly crafted to avoid any specific position at all.
2. Given that early financial backers of Obama in Chicago politics were the Crown family (General Dynamics and super-Zionists) and the Pritzker family (credit business, Goldman Sachs allies and super-Zionists), I'd say it's likely that Obama's commitment to the MICC, to Wall Street and to Israel predated his run for the Senate.
NOTE: MICC: Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex
3. No matter whether Obama was or was not committed to Wall Street well before his Senate term, by the time of the huge Wall Street contributions to his presidential campaign, the die was cast. The appointments of Geithner, Summers and all the Goldman Sachs sleazes were not tactical error, they were foreordained payback. Ditto for the MICC sleazes you mention. Ditto for the compromised-from-the-start health care and insurance reforms–they were foreordained payback to the drug and insurance mega corporations.
4. Among Obama's earliest appointees was Rahm Emanuel, a pick that certainly helped cement Obama's ties to both his Zionist and his Wall Street backers. Appointing a vicious, unprincipled attack dog like Emanuel (a Democratic version of Karl Rove, but less politically skilled) was not a mistake based on bad recommendations from someone else, it was deliberately picking a man whose lack of ethics Obama had already observed and understood for a dozen years in Chicago politics. For me, that was an eye-opening insight into Obama's character.
5. You are quite right that the second layer of the onion is crucial, but it is not mysterious. I don't think Obama played the governance game ineptly. He simply played it the way he had to, given the interest groups he had allied himself with and who had paid for his presidency. And there's no mystery as to why the Democrats went along. They were accepting money from the same corporations and were similarly obligated. Given that both of them were serving the interests of the people that had pillaged the working and middle classes, there was simply no way that Obama and the Dems could avoid pissing off the voters who had believed in the promises of real change.
6. Since the Democratic Party is clearly defined by who they take money from–and since there's not a chance that they're going to disturb the money flow, it's guaranteed that there's going to be no “long-term dispassionate inquiry…to build a meaningful self-definition”, just as you intimated. Instead, we're going to be treated to the Dems sweating bullets in an agonized search for the magic rhetorical formula that re-seduces the pissed-off voters–without upsetting the paymasters. And, of course, that agonized search will be utterly futile.
I've appended below as food for thought an entry from Wikipedia, first highlighted and emailed to us by one of GI's buddies. It may shed light on just how early in his career Obama decided to work for the moneyed establishment. Consider: in 1983, just after graduating from Columbia with a brand new BA in political science/international relations, Obama's first job, lasting somewhat more than a year and just before his Chicago community organizing stint, was with a New York international consulting company that had deep ties with most of the largest corporations in America, that had provided cover for CIA agents and that I think was quite accurately described as representing “the left wing of the ruling class.” Obama's job was to edit one of the company's financial newsletters, a job for which he had no qualifications at all. This first job scenario has astonishing parallels with John Perkins' first job as described in his rather strange autobiography, Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man. Perkins details how he was recruited to become a well paid agent of the American economic empire at a company almost identical to BI while doing almost exactly the same job with an identical lack of qualifications. Hmmmm…
Phi Beta Iota: We provide a link to the Wikipedia entry below, and other links. We have for some time spoken of the five CIA's, one each for Wall Street and the White House, one clearly visible as a magnet for attention, a fourth doing some very decent technical support, and the fifth doing rendition and torture and sometimes called the Safari Club. In recent years Wall Street has been creating its own CIA based in New York and along an axis from Dave Cohen (former CIA/DI) in the New York Police Department and Jack Devine (former CIA/DO) at The Arkin Group. If Mayor Bloomberg runs for President in 2012 as some believe he will, we look for him to be the new Manchurian Candidate, an alleged Independent who will not actually clean up the system…. he will simply buy Wall Street “four more years” to finish their looting of America. The “myth” will be promulgated that he is spending his own money and obligated to no one, but the reality will be that he is Of, By, and For Wall Street, and in no way anti-thetical to the corruption described so well by Matt Taibbi in GRIFTOPIA.
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Review: Dark Alliance–The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
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Review: Running on Empty–How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It (Paperback)
Review: Grand Illusion–The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
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Reference: Electoral Reform Act & Third Party Politics