Frank Rich, Barack Obama, and the Corporatist "Punking" of America
"OBAMA MIGHT BE JUST ANOTHER CORPORATIST"
Let history record that on August 9, 2009 Sunday New York Times columnist Frank Rich toyed with acknowledging the manipulative, fake-progressive nature of Barack Obama and the broader corporate-managed "democracy" Obama epitomizes.
In an opinion-editorial bearing the provocative title "Is Obama Punking Us?" Rich notes the absurdity of Republican efforts to frighten the electorate by claiming that Obama is a socialist. "They have it backward," Frank observes (without bothering to explain what would be wrong with having a socialist president). "The larger fear is that Obama might be just another corporatist, punking voters much as the Republicans do when they claim to be all for the common guy."
Consistent with "the larger fear," Frank observes that Obama put together an economic team headed "Robert Rubin proteges and Goldman-Citi alumni" who have fueled public cynicism by handing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street parasites and perpetrators. The president has cut a price deal with the same drug company lobbyists Obama mocked as examples of "what's wrong with Washington" during the 2008 campaign. "Now," Rich wrote, "we know why the president has ducked his campaign pledge to broadcast [health reform] negotiations on C-Span."
It isn't just about Obama. Rich also notes the broader "bipartisan nature" of the "beast[ly]" "maze of powerful moneyed interests" that has made "change we can believe in" a bad joke in the nation's capital.
Rich thinks that a health "reform" bill "will pass in a Democrat-controlled Congress," but that the resulting legislation will be "a CAT scan of those powerful Washington interests he campaigned against, revealing which have been removed from the body politic (or at least reduced) and which continue to metastasize." The financial-regulatory package Obama pushes through could render an even darker "verdict on his success in changing the system he sought to reform." (NYT, August 9, 2009, sec. 4, p.8). Rich might have added things that Obama and other parts of the "maze of powerful moneyed interests" in Washington have blocked, like for example, meaningful labor law reform (the Employee Free Choice Act on which Obama campaigned has been kicked to the capital's curb with no protest from the administration, the re-negotiation of NAFTA, and single-payer health insurance, whose many advocates have been systematically evicted from the health "reform" debate.
"THE ESSENCE OF AMERICAN POLITICS" UNDER "DEMOCRACY INCORPORATED"
Rich is on to something, no doubt about it. But isn't a little late in the game for the Sunday Times' reigning "left liberal" to be figuring this basic sort of stuff out? When exactly did he wake up to the discomfiting but elementary and long-understood fact that American "representative democracy" is crippled by "too much [corporate and military] representation" and "too little [actual popular] democracy" (Arundhati Roy)? It's more than a century past the time when the prolific American philosopher John Dewey darkly noted (in the age of U.S. Steel. JP Morgan, Social Darwinism, and the Billion Dollar Congress) that "politics is the shadow cast on American society by big business." Its more than seven decades since the left commentator Ferdinand Lundberg noted (even as the New Deal reconfigured mainstream U.S. politics) that "The United States can be looked upon as having, in effect, a single part: the Property Party. This party can be looked upon as having two subdivisions: The Republican Party... (dubbed 'Conservative') and the Democratic Party...(dubbed 'Liberal')."
It's more than sixty years since the liberal American historian Richard Hofstader's widely read The American Political Tradition concluded that "the range of vision embraced by the primary contestants in the major [U.S.] parties has always been bounded by property and enterprise...They have accepted....capitalist culture as [a] necessary quality[y] of man."
It's nearly three decades since the first publication of Howard Zinn's bestselling People's History of the United States, which showed, among other things, how the Democratic Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman. John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter presidencies stayed firmly within Hofstader's "range of vision."
It's nearly two decades since the former Richard Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips noted that "Part of the reason survival-of-the-fittest periods are so relentless rests on the performance of the Democrats as history's second-most enthusiastic capitalist party. They do not interfere with capitalist momentum but wait for excesses and the inevitable popular reaction."
It's a decade since a still left Christopher Hitchens usefully described "the essence of American politics, when distilled," as the manipulation of populism by elitism. That elite is most successful which can claim the heartiest allegiance of the fickle crowd; can present itself as most 'in touch' with popular concerns; can anticipate the tides and pulses of public opinion; can, in short, be the least apparently 'elitist.' " 
Hitchens' reflection was most especially aimed at the two-term presidency of Bill Clinton, elected on his promise to "Put People First" (ahead of profits) and in the not-so vaguely reminiscent names of "hope" and "change." As George Bush the First was showing himself to be hopelessly out of "touch with popular concerns," Clinton pitched his White House bid around Jeffersonian promises to the working majority. The new president then proceeded to construct a richly Hamiltonian, corporate-neoliberal administration that served the rich and punished the poor. 
Last year the venerable left-liberal political scientist Sheldon Wolin noted (before the election) the tepid, business-captive nature of the Democratic Party and the slight chances for progressive change under the United States' business-coordinated "democracy" and its "one-and-a-half party system." As Wolin predicted in his book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008): "Should Democrats somehow be elected, corporate sponsors [will] make it politically impossible for the new officeholders to alter significantly the direction of society. By offering palliatives, a Democratic administration contributes to plausible denial about the true nature of the system."
In the United States' proto-totalitarian election-focused political culture, Wolin elaborated, "the parties set out to mobilize the citizen-as-voter, to define political obligation as fulfilled by the casting of a vote. Afterwards, post-election politics of lobbying, repaying donors, and promoting corporate interests - the real players - takes over The effect is to demobilize the citizenry, to teach them not to be involved or to ponder matters that are either settled or beyond their efficacy....The timidity of a Democratic Party mesmerized by centrist precepts," Wolin observed, "points to the crucial fact that, for the poor, minorities, the working-class, anticorporatists, pro-environmentalists, and anti-imperialists, there is no opposition party working actively on their behalf." (Wolin, Democracy Incorporated, pp. 201, 205, 206).
If Rich is behind the curve on grasping the true nature of U.S. political culture, he's equally slow and still insufficiently cynical when it comes to grasping Obama's corporatism.
What's with "might be" a "corporatist"? "Might be?" Hello?
"Change Means More of the Same"
Early last April the New York Times published an article with an ironic title: "In Cuba, Change Means More of the Same." This "news" item reported that "rather than dismantling Cuba's socialist framework," Cuba's President Raul Castro "seems to be trying to make it work more efficiently." Castro, the Times3 reported in highly critical vein, sought to keep power concentrated "at the top." 
But what has U.S. President Barack Obama (endorsed by the Times as a change candidate before 2008 election) - Mr. "Change" himself - tried to accomplish other than to make the American corporate profits system "work more efficiently" without "dismantling the [capitalist] framework" and with power (and wealth) still concentrated "at the top?" As the Times acknowledged last March in an article titled "English-Speaking Capitalism on Trial," Obama and his neoliberal partner Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, have "focused on ways of revitalizing the [existing] system.... Even as both men have embarked on enormous increases in public-sector spending," Times correspondents John Burns and Landon Thomas noted, "they have maintained that the solutions to the crisis lie in reawakening the markets and recapitalizing the banks rather than tearing at the system's foundations. And both, when they respond to private anger at the private sector, have seemed more geared to managing anger than stoking it."  As the prolific Marxist geographer David Harvey observed on the left television news and commentary show "Democracy Now" last April, "what [the Obama team is] trying to do is to reinvent the same system" - to "reconstitute the same sort of capitalism we have had over and over again over the last thirty years in a slightly more regulated, benevolent form" that doesn't "challenge the fundamentals."
"The Quiet Coup"
In the May 2009 edition of the centrist public affairs magazine The Atlantic, Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (no Marxist), argued that the Obama administration was for all intents and purposes in Wall Street's pocket. In an article titled "The Quiet Coup," Johnson argued that, in the words of the Atlantic's editors, "the finance industry has effectively captured our government--a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises If the IMF's staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we're running out of time." By Johnson's account, "Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here...[the] elite business interests [who] played a central role in creating the crisis...with the implicit backing of the government" [are] "now using their influence to prevent precisely [the] reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive....The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them."
Chomsky rightly saw this as chilling confirmation of the great 18th century economist and philosopher Adam Smith's warning that "the architects of policy protect their own interests, no matter how grievous the effect on others."
"And they are the architects of policy," Chomsky added. "Obama made sure to staff his economic team with advisors from [the financial] sector." 
"A Blunt Lesson About Power"
As giant financial bailouts exposed the chasm between the investor and political classes and the broad citizenry last March, the incisive liberal-left journalist and author William Greider made a telling observation in a Washington Post column titled "Obama Asked Us to Speak, But is He Listening?":
"People everywhere [have] learned a blunt lesson about power, who has it and who doesn't. They [have] watched Washington run to rescue the very financial interests that caused the catastrophe. They [have] learned that government has plenty of money to spend when the right people want it. 'Where's my bailout,' became the rueful punch line at lunch counters and construction sides nationwide. Then to deepen the insult, people [have] watched as establishment forces re-launched their campaign for 'entitlement reform - a euphemism for whacking Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid."
The "Unleft" President Between Big Capital "and the Pitchforks"
A glowing Los Angeles Times assessment of Obama's first hundred Days reproduced an interesting statement from Obama to the leaders of the banking industry last March. As the financial chieftains began to complain to him about the public's failure to understand their industry's need for high levels of compensation, Obama cut them off. "Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen" Obama said. "The public isn't buying that. My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." 
A student who told me about this Los Angeles Times report wrote me with an interesting comment. "The question for me (and I assume for many leftists) is why is Obama using his administration to protect the bankers from the angry rabble (us)? Why doesn't his administration simply address the people's needs and leave the bankers to their fate? These are, of course, rhetorical questions. We know that he is serving to protect and legitimate the highly undemocratic and destructive class system of state capitalism through another crisis."
As Harper's Magazine President John R. MacArthur noted last March, Obama is "a moderate with far too much respect for the global financial class." He is "surely the unleft, unradical, president" , even if he is regularly described as an aggressive "leftist" on the preposterous, proto-fascist and still quite racist U.S. right. Currently we are being subjected to the maddening idiocy of watching the crackpot right being taken seriously by the "mainstream" media while it absurdly denounces Obama's healthcare efforts as "socialist." The mainstream Obama Democrats' health care agenda is much more accurately described as corporatist. In brazen defiance of majority citizen sentiment, real human need, and the Democrats' progressive-sounding campaign rhetoric, "Obamacare" leaves the leading parasitic drug and insurance companies in basic underlying control of the nation's health-care future. [10A]
Obama knows very well that you can't have meaningful progressive health reform without removing the for-profit insurance vampires from the equation. He said as much quite explicitly late in his career as a state legislator during a speech in downtown Chicago. The solution, he said, was an "everybody in, nobody out" single payer system, of which he said, "I happen to be a proponent." The way to get it, he argued, was for the Democrats to take back Congress and then the presidency.
The federal legislative and executive branches have been "taken back" by the Democratic Party. Sadly, however, the United States' corporate-managed "dollar democracy" and its narrow "one-and-a-half party system" (Sheldon Wolin) have yet to be taken back from concentrated wealth. Obama's single-payer speech (viewable on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpAyan1fXCE) was delivered before the future president knew he had a serious shot at the White House. Once you enter the high-stakes, big business-coordinated arena of "in-it-to-win-it" and "winner-take-all" presidential politics, social-democratic principles go out the window. You become subject to what the left writers Edward Herman and David Peterson call the United States' "unelected dictatorship of money," which "vets the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties, reducing the options available to U.S. citizens to two candidates, neither of whom can change the foreign or domestic priorities of the imperial U.S. regime." (Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "Riding the 'Green Wave' at the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and Beyond," Electric Politics, July 22, 2009).
There's no "might be" about it. Obama is a corporatist and has been one since the start, as we shall see below.
"OBAMA'S DOLLAR VALUE" BEFORE THE ELECTION
The ranks of the "punked" apparently include Rich himself. "Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose chief presidential campaign strategist [Mark Penn] unapologetically did double duty as high-powered corporate flack," Rich ruefully writes, "Obama promised change we could really believe in."
As someone who knew and followed Obama during his years in the legendarily money-saturated and business-corrupted political culture of Chicago and Illinois, I am baffled as to why Rich makes such a sharp distinction between the corporate-captive Hillary Clinton and the purportedly progressive Obama, with the latter supposedly offering real "change we can believe in." Many of us on the actual and therefore officially invisible left within and beyond Chicago had no pre-election and pre-presidency difficulty whatsoever in correctly seeing candidate Obama in the Clinton mode and placing him in the deeper context of "Democracy Incorporated" and Hitchens' manipulative "essence of American politics."
Ken Silverstein's prescient November 2006 (more than a month before Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency) Harper's article "Obama, Inc." captured the corporate-captive nature of the Obama phenomenon quite well. "It's not always clear what Obama's financial backers want," Silverstein noted, "but it seems safe to conclude that his campaign contributors are not interested merely in clean government and political reform." "On condition of anonymity," Silverstesin reported, "one Washington lobbyist I spoke with was willing to point out the obvious: that big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn't see him as a 'player.' The lobbyist added: 'What's the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?'"
Pre-president Obama gave many strong indications of his underlying corporatism. Obama's reliance on wealthy supporters certainly helps explain why he voted for a business-driven federal "tort reform" law that rolled back working peoples' ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation from misbehaving corporations. The so-called Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) of 2005 was a Republican bill backed and signed with great gusto by President Bush on February 18, 2005. Opposed by Senators Biden, Boxer, Byrd, Clinton, Corzine, Durbin, Feingold, Kerry, Leahy, Reid, and sixteen additional Democratic U.S. Senators, it closed off state courts as a venue to hear many class action lawsuits. This followed in accord with large corporations' calculation that such lawsuits had a much lower chance of surviving corporate legal challenge in the "backlogged Republican-judge dominated federal courts." The bill was a "thinly-veiled special interest extravaganza that favored bankers, creditors and other corporate interests" over and against workers, consumers, and the public. 
"Opposed by most major civil rights and consumer watchdog groups," David Sirota noted, "this Big Business-backed legislation was sold to the public as a way to stop 'frivolous' lawsuits. But everyone in Washington knew the bill's real objective was to protect corporate abusers." "The bill," Silverstein noted, "had been long sought by a coalition of business groups and was lobbied for aggressively by financial firms, which constitute Obama's second biggest single bloc of donors." Such firms loathe class action suits, which can instantly impose massive burdens on industries into which they have often poured untold millions of dollars. 
As the CAFA Senate vote approached, Senators received an eloquent plea for mercy from more than 40 civil rights and labor organizations, including the NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Justice and Democracy, Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund), and Alliance for Justice. "Under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005," this appeal stated, "citizens are denied the right to use their own state courts to bring class actions against corporations that violate these state wage and hour and state civil rights laws, even where that corporation has hundreds of employees in that state. Moving these state law cases into federal court will delay and likely deny justice for working men and women and victims of discrimination." Obama certainly understood the regressive consequences. As Pam Martens noted:
"Senator Obama graduated Harvard Law magna cum laude and was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Given those credentials, one assumes that he understood the ramifications to the poor and middle class in this country as he helped to gut one of the few weapons left to seek justice against giant corporations and their legions of giant law firms. The class-action vehicle confers upon each citizen one of the most powerful rights in our society: the ability to function as a private attorney general and seek redress for wrongs inflicted on ourselves as well as for those similarly injured that might not otherwise have a voice." 
"Why," asked Ralph Nader's 2008 running mate Matt Gonzales, "would a civil rights lawyer knowingly make it harder for working-class people to have their day in court, in effect shutting off avenues of redress?" Obama's vote was not even required for CAFA's passage. The Senate majority on its behalf was "filibuster-proof." By Alexander Cockburn's account in the spring of 2006, "he just wanted the top [Wall Street] people to know how safe he was." 
The same calculating instincts and corporate funding reliance and connections that likely drove Obama's CAFA vote were likely part of why he further served leading financial firms by opposing an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent" in early 2005.  Obama claimed he voted against the amendment because it was "poorly written" and its rate ceiling was "too high." But he advanced no lower rate as an alternative and did not offer an amendment clarifying the language he claimed to find objectionable. 20 "Appeasing a Powerful Industry"
Another example of Obama's business-friendly behavior on key policy issues as a US Senator was his was his early initiative to pass a "healthcare for hybrids" bill. This proposed legislation would have granted hundreds of millions of federal dollars to the nation's leading auto companies "to relieve them of some of the costs of paying for retirees' healthcare. In exchange," Sirota noted, "the companies would produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. The goals are unassailable, but the policy reflects the liberal carrot of appeasing a powerful industry rather than the progressive stick of forcing that industry to shape up by simply mandating higher fuel-efficiency standards."
Consistent with the market-oriented language of the corporate-neoliberal era, Obama sought to "incentivize" corporate capital to temper its assault on global ecology at the taxpayers' expense rather than to compel it to align its behavior with the environmental needs in the public interest.  "Everything Should Be on the Table"
In the fall of 2007, Obama concerned many progressives by telling an interviewer with The National Journal that major government action was required to prevent what he called "the Social Security crisis." Earlier in the same year, Obama claimed "everything should be on the table" when it came to "fixing" Social Security, including raising the retirement age. He thereby became linked to the Republican Party's longstanding deceitful propaganda campaign, heavily underwritten and advanced by Wall Street's leading investment houses, to "reform" - meaning dismantle and privatize - Social Security on the spurious pretext that it is approaching a terrible fiscal calamity. The widely accepted notion that a major catastrophe looms in the foreseeable future was and is a corporate and Republican concoction disseminated through a sophisticated propaganda effort that "compares well," Noam Chomsky noted in 2006, "with...the government-media campaign to convinces Americans that Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat to their survival." 
Citing the "The American Character" in Opposing Single-Payer
Reliance on corporate cash and power was also likely related to Obama's opposition in a 2006 interview to the introduction of single-payer national health insurance (an obvious efficient and social-democratic solution to the nation's health-care crisis) on the grounds that such a welcome progressive change would lead to employment difficulties for workers in the private insurance industry and that "voluntary" solutions are "more consonant" with "the American character" than "government mandates."  The last comment was interesting. As Chomsky noted in 2006:
"A large majority of the [U.S.] population supports extensive government intervention [in the health care market], it appears. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found that 'over 2/3 of all Americans thought the government should guarantee 'everyone the best and most advanced health care that technology can supply;' a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent regard universal health care as 'more important than holding down taxes'; polls reported in Business Week found that 67% of Americans think it is a good idea to guarantee health care for all U.S. citizens, as Canada and Britain do, with just 27 5 dissenting; the Pew Research Center found that 64 percent of Americans favor the 'U.S. government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes' (30 percent opposed). By the late 1980s, more than 70 percent of Americans 'thought health care should be a constitutional guarantee,' while 40 percent 'thought it already was.'"
It is not likely that Obama would have claimed to support the American scourge of racially disparate mass incarceration  on the grounds that it provides work for tens of thousands of prison guards or that the U.S. should pour nearly half of its federal budget into the Pentagon system because of all the people who find employment in the military-industrial complex. Surely the senator knew of the large number of socially useful and healthy alternatives that exist for the monumentally wasteful investment of human labor power employed in insurance companies.
Obama's business-friendly distance from the left-progressive health care position was consistent with his campaign funding profile. Obama's presidential run was assisted by more than $2 million from the health care sector and nearly $400,000 from the insurance industry through October of 2007 . He received $708,000 from medical and insurance interests between 2001 and 2006.  His wife Michelle, a fellow Harvard Law graduate, was a Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, a position that paid her $273,618 in 2006.  Obama's take from the health and insurance industries rose to new heights as the presidential heated up, as we shall see.
Given his repeated claim during the Democratic presidential primaries that he hoped to make health coverage universal by "first making it affordable," it is ironic that he joined all of his party's presidential contenders except Kucinich and Mike Gravel in opposing single-payer. The supposed "left" and "progressive" Obama rejected HR676, sponsored by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. Supported by more than 75 members of Congress, single-payer health insurance would slash administrative costs that account for one-third of every health care dollar spent. "The expected $300 billion in annual savings such a system would produce would go," Gonzales noted, "directly to cover the uninsured and expand coverage to those who already have insurance." Obama's plan left the health insurance corporation's gigantic and dysfunctional administrative costs in place - a stark and rarely noted (outside "far Left" circles) reality that the popular progressive film Michael Moore rightly noted when he observed that "Obama wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan-the same companies who have created the mess in the first place."
"No One Has Asked You to Build a More Just America"
Then there was Obama's effort to appeal, ala Charles Dickens, to the corporations' supposed underlying and far-seeing benevolence. In the late summer of 2007, Obama made a revealing statement at the end of a speech that purported to lecture Wall Street's leaders on their "Common Stake in America's Prosperity." Speaking at NASDAQ's headquarters, he told the nation's financial elite that "I believe all of you are as open and willing to listen as anyone else in America. I believe you care about this country and the future we are leaving to the next generation. I believe your work to be a part of building a stronger, more vibrant, and more just America. I think the problem is that no one has asked you to play a part in the project of American renewal."
These were strange beliefs to (claim to) hold in light of the actual historical pattern of business behavior that naturally results from purpose and structure of the system of private profit. An endless army of nonprofit charities and social service-providers, citizens, environmental and community activists, trade union negotiators, and policymakers has spent decades asking (often enough begging) the "American" corporate and financial capitalist over-class to contribute to the domestic social good. The positive results are generally marginal and fleeting as the "business community" works with structurally super-empowered effectiveness to distribute wealth and power ever more upward and to serve the needs of private investors and capital accumulation over and above any considerations of social and environmental health and the common good at home or abroad. Holding no special allegiance to the American people in an age of corporate globalization, the economic elite is more than willing to significantly abandon the domestic U.S. society and its workers and communities to serve the ultimate business purpose: enhancing its bottom line Pretending Not to be an "Avowed Free Trader"
Frank might also want to recall how Obama "punked" (to use Rich's word) working-class voters on trade during the primary campaign. When addressing blue-collar audiences in the 2007 and 2008 primary campaign, Obama recurrently boasted of his purported opposition to NAFTA - widely blamed for job loss by organized labor and many working class voters but deemed a boon to the U.S. economy by the corporate interests that provided campaign dollars for his campaign. "I don't think NAFTA has been good for Americans, and I never have," Obama claimed just before the Ohio Democratic primary, where "trade" and NAFTA emerged as leading campaign issues. 
The reality of his record on the corporate-neoliberal "investor rights" bill  was considerably less populist than that comment suggested. During his 2004 Senate campaign he argued for "more deals such as NAFTA" , claimed that one of his primary opponent's call for higher, job-protecting tariffs would "spark a trade war," and spoke repeatedly of the "enormous benefits" that "accrued to his state from NAFTA." 
In late February of 2008, New York Times business writer David Leaonhardt noted that both Obama and Senator Clinton had been "straddling NAFTA and trade issues." After quoting a recent Obama speech telling Youngstown, Ohio workers they'd seen "job after job disappear because of bad trade deals like NAFTA," Leaonhardt noted that "none of" Obama's trade agenda was "particularly radical. Neither candidate calls for a repeal of NAFTA, or anything close to it. Both instead want to tinker with the bureaucratic innards of the agreement...It's a bit of an odd situation," Leaonhardt added. "They call the country's trade policy a disaster, and yet their plan starts with, um, cracking down on Mexican pollution."
Matt Gonzales noted around the same time that Obama had dropped the populist ball when given an opportunity to protect workers from unfair trade agreements. Obama cast the deciding vote against an amendment to a 2005 Commerce Appropriations bill that would have "prohibited US trade negotiators from weakening US laws that provide safeguards from unfair foreign trade practices." The amendment would have been "a vital tool to combat the outsourcing of jobs to foreign workers."
Obama's ambiguous - no, deceptive - position on "trade" received some specially unwelcome attention in the week before the Ohio and Texas primaries of early March of 2008. That's when his campaign was hit by the revelation that a top Obama staff member had made a revealing comment to Michael Wilson, the Canadian Ambassador to the United States. As the Canadian Television network (CTV) reported on February 27, 2008, the Obama staffer told Wilson to disregard Obama's populace-pleasing political language on NAFTA. That language was geared toward winning working-class votes in Ohio and should not be taken as a serious threat to the corporate globalizatization agenda U.S. and Canadian elites shared, the Obama aid wanted the Canadian government to know. According to CTV News, "Barack Obama has ratcheted up his attacks on NAFTA, but a senior member of his campaign team told a Canadian official not to take his criticisms seriously, CTV News has learned....The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticism would only be campaign rhetoric and should not be taken at face value."  Subsequent inquiry determined that the "staff member" was none other than Obama's top economic adviser, University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee, who also happened to be the chief economist of the explicitly corporatist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) - an interesting fact obscured by the fact that Obama once asked (in response to critical questioning by the black left writers Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford) to have his name stricken from a DLC list of rising stars. 
This disturbing news item spoke to cynicism and class elitism at the heart of the Obama campaign. It was briefly noted by Wall Street Journal reporter Jackie Calmes and senior CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood on the U.S. Public Broadcast System's February 29th edition of the weekly television show "Washington Week." Commenting about the superficiality of Hillary and Obama's apparent abject anti-NAFTA pandering in Ohio, Harwood coolly observed that the two Democratic presidential candidates were in fact "both avowed free traders."
"The World As It Should Be"
During the Democratic Party's national convention in Denver last year, millions watched as Michelle Obama recalled falling in love with a young Barack who spoke about the need "to fight for the world as it should be."  She told that story and used that phrase (which appeared in bold letters across the front page of the Chicago Tribune the day after Mrs. Obama's speech) repeatedly on the campaign trail, portraying her richly corporate-sponsored (see below) husband as a warrior for social justice.
She was punking the electorate. Obama had already made his underlying "pragmatic" and "realistic" commitment to the corporate-capitalist and imperial world as it is crystal clear to those willing to conduct the basic elementary due-diligence research and come to honest conclusions. During a presidential candidates' debate in Iowa in late 2007, John Edwards argued that it was a "complete fantasy" to believe that progressive goals could be attained through sitting down at a "big table" to negotiate with Republicans and corporate lobbies. The corporations would eat everything at the table, Edwards argued during the campaign, leaving only scraps for ordinary working people. Only an "epic fight" with the corporate powers that be could achieve meaningful healthcare reform, living wages, the reduction of inequality and the end of poverty and homelessness. Obama's response to Edwards' fighting economic populism was what Mike Davis calls Obama's "typical eloquent evasion:": "We don't need more heat. We need more light." 
Edwards' critique of Obama and Clinton's "big table" fantasy has of course been richly born out in the first seven months of Obama's predictably but nonetheless alarmingly "unleft" and corporate-militarist presidency. [42A]
Earlier in the primary season, the New Yorker's Larissa MacFarquhar made clear the limits of Obama's vision of "the world as it should be." As MacFarquhar noted in a May 2007 Obama portrait titled "The Conciliator," the "solutions" offered in Obama's book, speeches, and town-hall meetings were "small and local rather than deep-reaching and systemic." Obama also showed a special talent for addressing deep social problems with no policy at all, preferring to substitute empty political platitudes and soothing bromides of hope and togetherness for concrete proposals. Such refusal to advance large reform - e.g. single payer health insurance on the Canadian model - reflected what MacFarquhar found to be Obama's "deeply conservative" take on history, society and politics:
"In his view of history, in his respect for tradition, in his skepticism that the world can be changed any way but very, very slowly, Obama is deeply conservative. There are moments when he sounds almost Burkean. He distrusts abstractions, generalizations, extrapolations, projections. It's not just that he thinks revolutions are unlikely: he values continuity and stability for their own sake, sometimes even more than he values change for the good. Take health care, for example...Asked whether he has changed his mind about anything in the past twenty years, he says, 'I'm probably more humble now about the speed with which government programs can solve every problem. For example, I think the impact of parents and communities is at least as significant as the amount of money that's put into education."
MacFarquhar found that Obama's "deep conservatism" was why "Republicans continue to find him congenial, especially those who opposed the war on much the same conservative grounds that he did." She noted that some of Bush's top fund-raisers were contributing to Obama's campaign and observed that Obama garnered 40 percent of the Republican vote in his 2004 Senate victory. 
INVISIBLE LEFT CRITICS
These and numerous other pre-election examples of Barack Obama's "corporatism" are treated in greater detail in the first chapter of my 2008 book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Paradigm, 2008) - another monograph I'm sure Rich hasn't bothered to read. Titled "Obama's Dollar Value," that chapter left little room for doubt that Obama could be expected to act in accord with the analyses of Dewey, Lundberg, Zinn, Hitchens, and Wolin (along with a much larger number of left writers and activists) by plutocratically "punking" the American people and manipulating populism on behalf of elitism. Consider it part of the genuinely progressive bibliography that reigning corporate media pundits - even and especially "left-liberal" ones like Rich - can't treat seriously if they want to keep their privileged positions in the dominant, mass- consent-manufacturing communications order.
It's not for nothing "Wall Street Barry" Obama set new records in corporate fundraising during the 2008 election cycle, blowing up the public presidential election financing system while taking in an astonishing $39.5 million from the nation's financial, real estate and insurance sector (including $995,000 from Goldman Sachs alone) along with $19.5 million from the health sector (data from the "Open Secrets Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics). And it's not for nothing that a significant number of left writers and activists resisted the corporate-funded Obama punk-job from the outset.
When Rich asks "is Obama punking us?" he should be more specific about who exactly "us" means. Many of "us" on the actual left side of the spectrum - well to establishment "liberalism's" left - were never fooled either by Obama or by the larger corporate-crafted narrow-spectrum, candidate-centered "quadrennial electoral extravaganza" (Chomsky's excellent term) that passes for the only politics that matter in the U.S. We hate to say "we told you so" to liberals but, well, we...told them so (see the sources listed in note 11).
But of course "we" on the actual historical left don't quite exist in the narrow universe of acceptable discourse in the reigning corporate-managed media and politics culture. One of the many services dominant U.S. corporate media has granted to Obama over the years is to make serious left criticism of him close to invisible.
One revealing example among many comes in a New York Times editorial published the day after President Obama's much-ballyhooed speech to "the Muslim world" in the capital of Egypt on June 4th, 2009. "Before Thursday's speech, and after," the Times wrote, "Mr. Obama's critics complained that he has spent too much time apologizing and accused him of weakening the country." As far as the Times' editorial board was concerned, "Obama's critics" amounted to the Republican Party and the right wing FOX News and talk radio mob. A number of left writers and commentators made extensive and substantive criticisms of Obama's Cairo speech. Those criticisms - indiscernible and/or irrelevant as far the Times was concerned - had nothing whatsoever to do with claims of excessive "apology" or "weakening" the U.S. They noted Obama's failure to seriously acknowledge the basis for Palestinian and Arab anger with Israel and to seriously advance alternatives to Israel's criminal occupation and the apartheid-like regime Israel imposed on the Palestinian people. 
There are many similar examples in other policy areas. Hard right Republican assaults - some shading quite far into the crackpot, hateful and conspiracy-oriented fringe - are given regular and respectful coverage. But reasoned and careful left criticism of Obama goes largely unseen and unheard beyond the margins of the narrow dominant media and political culture. 
THE PUNKED AS PUNKER
Rich should also admit that he is not without culpability in the corporate-Obamaist "punking" of America. After Obama secured the Democratic presidential nomination in early June of 2008, Rich childishly lauded "Mr. Obama's vision" for "an inclusiveness that...can start to relieve Washington's gridlock." He praised Obama "viral organization and fund-raising" as "a seamless fit with bottom-up democracy as it is increasingly practiced in the Facebook-YouTube era."(Frank Rich, "One Historic Night, Two Americas," New York Times, June 8, 2008). On the Sunday following Obama's election to the presidency, Rich waxed eloquent about how "the 1960s are over," having given way to "another America...a union that can change and does, aspiring to perfection even if it can never achieve it." (Frank Rich, "It Still Felt Good the Morning After," New York Times, November 9, 2008)
Rich wasn't just some silly, whiskey-addled campus-town liberal with a "Hope" or "War is Not the Answer" poster on his lawn when he wrote those words. He was and remains an influential columnist (widely read with approval by less exalted liberals) at the nation's leading newspaper. When he gets (involuntarily or voluntarily) "punked" (if that's really how we want to describe his willingness to see and describe Obama as a democratic change agent), so do untold masses of other people who read him.
Paul Street (email@example.com)is the author of many articles, chapters, speeches, and books, including Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004), Segregated School: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Routledge, 2005); and Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008).
1 Christopher Hitchens, No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family (New York: Verso, 2000), pp. 17-18.
2 A brilliant study is Robert Pollin, Contours of Decent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity (New York: Verso, 2003), pp. 3-76.
3 Ian Urbana, "In Cuba, Change Means More of the Same, With Control at the Top" New York Times, April 6, 2009.
4 John Burns and Landon Thomas, "English-Speaking Capitalism on Trial," New York Times, March 29, 2009, section 4, p.4.
5 "Marxist Geographer David Harvey on the G20, the Financial Crisis, and Neoliberalim," Democracy Now (April 2, 2009), read at http://www.democracynow.org/2009/4/2/marxist_geographer_david_harvey_on_the
6 Simon Johnson, "The Quiet Coup," The Atlantic (May 2009), read online at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200905/imf-advice
7. Noam Chomsky, "Crisis and Hope: Theirs and Ours," Speech to the Riverside Church, New York City (June 12, 2009).
8 William Greider, "Obama told Us to Speak Out, But Is He Listening?" Washington Post, March 22, 2009,
9 Fay Fiore and Mark Barabak, "AUDACITY AND AMBITION: Obama Begins Leading America in a New Direction," Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2009.
10 John R. MacArthur, "Obama is Far From a Radical Reformer." The Providence Journal, March 19, 2009, read at www.projo.com/opinion/contributors/content/CT_rick18_03-18-09_1SDM2BF_v26.3e689c2.html
10A There's a rich progressive literature on corporate-captive inadequacy of Obama's health care plan and the superiority of single-payer health insurance For my own efforts on these topics please see Paul Street, "Blue Cross and Blue Dog Democrats: Reflections on 'Health Reform' Under "The Unelected Dictatorship of Money," ZNet Sustainer Commentary (August 12, 2009), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/3949; Paul Street, "Corporate-Managed Democracy and Health Reform in the Age of Obama," Z Magazine (newsstand/forthcoming - September, 2009).
11 Examples include Adolph Reed, Jr., "The Curse of Community," Village Voice (January 16, 1996), reproduced in Reed, Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (New York, 2000); Adolph J. Reed Jr., "Sitting This One Out," The Progressive (November 2007); Adolph Reed, Jr., "Obama No," The Progressive (May 2008); Ken Silverstein, "Barack Obama, Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine," Harper's (November 2006); John Pilger, "After Bobby Kennedy (There Was Barack Obama)," Common Dreams (May 31, 2008), read at www.commondreams.org/archive/ 2008/05/ 31/9327/; Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, "Obama Mouths Mush on War," Black Commentator, December 1, 2005, read online at http://www.blackcommentator.com/161/161_cover_obama_iraq.html; Glen Ford, "Barack Obama The Warmonger," Black Agenda Report (August 8, 2007), http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=305&Itemid=34; Glen Ford, "Obama's 'Race-Neutral' Strategy Unravels of its Own Contradictions," Black Agenda Report (April 30, 2008); Marc Lamont Hill, "Not My Brand of Hope: Obama's Politics of Cunning, Compromise, and Concession," CounterPunch February 11, 2007; Alexander Cockburn, "Obama's Game," CounterPunch (April 24, 2006), read at www.counterpunch.org/cockburn04242006.html; Matt Gonzales, "The Obama Craze: Count Me Out," BeyondChron: San Francisco's Online Daily (February 28 2008) read online at www.beyondchron.org/articles/index.php?itemid=5413#more; Juan Santos, "Barack Obama and the End of Racism," Dissident Voice, February 13, 2008; Bruce Dixon, "Holding Barack Obama Accountable," Dissident Voice (February 15, 2008), read at www.dissidentvoice.org/2008/02/holding-barack-obama-accountable/; Pam Martens, "Obama's Money Cartel," CounterPunch (February 23, 2008) read online at http://zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/16601; Pam Martens, "The Obama Bubble: Why Wall Street Needs a Presidential Brand," Black Agenda Report (March 5, 2008); Chris Hedges, "Corporate America Hearts Obama," AlterNet (April 30, 2008), read at http://www.alternet.org/election08/83890/?page=entire. My own efforts included "The Pale Reflection: Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Meaning of the Black Revolution," ZNet Magazine (March 16, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12336; "Sitting Out the Obama Dance in Iowa City," ZNet Magazine, April 28, 2007, available online at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=72&ItemID=12687; "Barack Obama's Wonderful Wealth Primary," ZNet (April 11, 2007); "Imperial Temptations: John Edwards, Barack Obama, and the Myth of Post-World War II United States Benevolence," ZNet Magazine (May 28, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12928; "Barack Obama's White Appeal: and the Perverse Racial Politics of the Post-Civil Rights Era," Black Agenda Report (June 20, 2007), read at http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=254&Itemid=34; "John Edwards and Dominant Media's Selective Skewering of Populist Hypocrisy," ZNet Magazine ( June 29, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13177; "Running Dog Obama" ZNet Magazine (July 29, 2007), available online at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13396; "Democratic Iraq Betrayal: Treachery on the Campaign Trail," ZNet Magazine (August 12, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13532; "Obama's Forgotten Wal Mart Endorsement," ZNet Magazine (August 28, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13635; "Obama's Insults," Empire and Inequality Report No. 25, ZNet Magazine (October 3, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13940; "Obama's Role: To Confuse and Divide;" ;"What Would Obama Have Done? Voted for the War and Lied About It - Just Like Hillary," ZNet Magazine (October 13, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=14030; "Leading Democrats: 'Expropriate the Expropriators' (A Satire)," ZNet Magazine (November 10, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=14243; "Obama and Pluralist Illusion," ZNet Sustainer Commentary (October 31, 2007), read at www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2007-10/31street.cfm; "Trapped By Their Own Militarism? Democrats Bare Their Back for the American Right," ZNet Magazine (November 15, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=14291; "Establishment Politics in 'Rebel's Clothing': Corporate Power, Populist Pandering, and the Ironies of Identity in the Democratic Presidential Race," ZNet Magazine (November 18, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=90&ItemID=14316; "Obama's Latest 'Beautiful Speech,'" ZNet (March 22, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/16947; "The Audacity of Reaction," ZNet (March 19, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/16918; "' No Refuge But in Audacity' Barack Obama and the Democratic Party's Holocaust Denial," ZNet (April 23, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/17231; "News Flash: Obama Lies," ZNet (June, 22 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/17974; "'No More Excuses': Putting Obama's Blackness to Racist Use (June 16, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/17919; "Hidden Revolutionary Sentiment in the Heartland - a Reason for HOPE," ZNet (May 3, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/17530; "The Pastor v. The Politician," ZNet (May 1, 2008); "Obama's 'Shift to the Center' and the Narrow Authoritarian Spectrum in U.S. Politics," ZNet (July 01, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/18052; Paul Street, "'Anyone Out There?' Reflections on the Obama Ascendancy and Left Surrender," ZNet (November 10, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/19414; "Redistribute the Wealth?," ZNet (October 29, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/19257; "John Kennedy, Barack Obama, and 'the Triple Evils That Are Interrelated,'" Black Agenda Report (July 23, 2008), read at http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=710&Itemid=1; "The Audacity of Imperial Airbrushing: Barack Obama's Whitewashed History of U.S. Foreign Policy and Why it Matters ," ZNet (July 6, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/18110.
12 Ken Silverstein, "Barack Obama, Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine," Harper's (November 2006), p.37.
13 Silverstein, "Obama, Inc." p. 40.
14 David Sirota, "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington," The Nation (June 26, 2006); Matt Gonzales, "The Obama Craze: Count Me Out," BeyondChron: San Francisco's Online Daily (February 28 2008) read online at www.beyondchron.org/articles/index.php?itemid=5413#more; Martens, "Obama's Money Cartel."
15 Sirota, "Mr. Obama;" Silverstein, "Obama, Inc."
16 Gonzales, "The Obama Craze;" Marten, "Obama's Money Cartel."
17 Gonzales, "The Obama Craze."
18 Alexander Cockburn, "Obama's Game," CounterPunch (April 24, 2006), read at www.counterpunch.org/cockburn04242006.html
19 Sirota, "Mr. Obama;" Silverstein, p. 37.
20 Matt Gonzales, "The Obama Craze: Count Me Out," BeyondChron: San Francisco's Online Daily (February 28 2008) read online at www.beyondchron.org/articles/index.php?itemid=5413#more.
21 Sirota, "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington."
22 "Transcript: interview of Barack Obama by Linda Douglas," The National Journal, November 7, 2007, read online at http://nationaljournal.com/onair/transcripts/071108_obama_barack.htm.
23 Jayson Clayworth, "Clinton Sidesteps Social Security Issue, Obama Says in Des Moines," Des Moines Register, 28 October 2007, read at http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071028/NEWS09/710280335/-1/caucus
24 Paul Krugman, "Played for a Sucker," New York Times, 16 November, 2007; Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot, Social Security: the Phony Crisis (Chicago, 2001).
25 Noam Chomsky, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (New York: Metropolitan, 2006), p. 248. For background, see Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot, Social Security: The Phony Crisis (Chicago, 2001)
26 Sirota, "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington;" Joe Klein, "The Fresh Face," Time (October 17, 2006).
27 Chomsky, Failed States, p.225.
28 See Tera Herivel and Paul Wright eds., Prison Nation: the Warehousing of America's Poor (London: Routledge, 2002). . 29 Center for Responsive Politics, "Presidential Candidate Barack Obama," at http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/summary.asp?id=N00009638&cycle=2008. 30 Center for Responsive Politics, "Obama's Leading Contributors by Industry," available online at www.opensecrets.org/politicians/allindus.asp?CID=N00009638.
31 Lynn Sweet (2007a) "Barack and Michelle Obama Earned $991,296 in 2006," Chicago Sun Times, 16 April 2007, available online at http://blogs.suntimes. com/sweet/2007/04/sweet_blog_extra_barack_and_mi.html#more.
32 Gonzales, "The Obama Craze."
33 Obama, "Our Common Stake in America's Prosperity," New York, New York (September 17, 2007).
34 Public Broadcasting System, PBP News Hour, "Free Trade Agreement is Issue for Ohio Voters" (March 3, 2008), read at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/us/jan-june08/nafta_3-03.html
35 For a useful and powerful analysis of NAFTA, see Jeff Faux, The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future and What It Will Take to Win it Back (New York: Wiley, 2006),pp. 9-37, 45-47, 126-54..
36 Associated Press, February 28, 2008.
37 David Leonhardt, "The Politics of Trade in Ohio," New York Times, 27 February, 2008.
38 Matt Gonzales, "The Obama Craze: Count Me Out," BeyondChron: San Francisco's Online Daily (February 28 2008) read online at www.beyondchron.org/articles/index.php?itemid=5413#more.
39 CTV.ca News Staff, "Obama Staffer Gave Warning of FANFTA Rhetoric," www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080227/dems_nafta_080227/20080227
40 Doug Henwood, "Would You like Change With That?" Left Business Observer, No. 117 (March 2008).
41. Chicago Tribune, August 26, 2008, p. 1.
42. Mike Davis, "Obama at Manassas," New Left Review (March-April 2009. See also Paul Krugman, "Big Table Fantasies," New York Times, December 17, 2007; Paul Street, "'Angry John' Edwards v. KumbayObama," SleptOn Magazine (December 28, 2007), read at http://www.slepton.com/slepton/viewcontent.pl?id=1234.
42A For a very useful, on-point summery, see ISR Editors, "Obama in Office: Is This the Change We can Believe In?" International Socialist Review (July-August, 2009), read at http://www.isreview.org/issues/66/editorial.shtml.
43. Larissa MacFarquhar, "The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?" The New Yorker (May 7, 2007). MacFarquhar's portrait of Obama's "Burkean" world view is consistent with what Cass Sunstein, Obama's colleague at the University of Chicago Law School, identifies as Obama's "minimalist" approach to law and politics" - a preference for "modest adjustments in institutions in search of his 'visionary' goals." Sunstein is quoted in David Moberg, "Obamanomics," In These Times (April 2008), p.35.
44. "New York Times editors, "The Cairo Speech," New York Times, June 5, 2009, A20.
45. See, for example, Chomsky, "Crisis and Hope;" Phyllis Bennis, "Netanyahu Speaks: the Israel-Palestine Ball Remains in Obama's Court," Institute for Policy Studies (June 16, 2009), read at http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/netanyahu_speaks_the_israel-palestine_ball_remains_in_obamas_court.
46. Reading the Times editors' comment on "Obama's critics," I was reminded of how the far-right, monumentally incompetent and scandalous author "Jerome Corsi, Ph.D.'"s outrageously ridiculous book The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality made the rounds of leading major media outlets (CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and more)with the bizarre claim that Obama was a "far-left" and black-nationalist threat to American capitalism, militarism, and white people. Meanwhile, I struggled to obtain occasional appearances on talk radio to promote my serious and scholarly left critique of the Obama phenomenon. A local liberal bookstore in the "progressive" town of Iowa City deemed my exceedingly cautious study too "dangerous" for an author event. Even many officially left media outlets (I will refrain from naming names) viewed me and/or my study as too radical and/or irrelevant to deserve serious attention. I was reminded also of the evening last February when I heard the noxious far-right "media critic" Bernard Goldberg pronounce (on a conservative Chicago talk-radio show) that "the left" - a category in which Goldberg absurdly included the "mainstream media" - was "completely in love with Obama." Bernard Goldberg on "WGN Extension 720," WGN Radio, 720 AM (Chicago, IL), 9:30-11:00 pm. February 19, 2009, podcast available at http://www.wgnradio.com/shows/ext720/wgnam-ext720-archives-feb2009,0,3867939.htmlstory. For a critical review of Corsi's monumentally preposterous bestseller, see Paul Street, "The Madness of Jerome Corsi," ZNet (August 25, 2008), read at http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/18540.
* Full annotation would send the note count over 100.