Obama Nation: Sixteen Reasons*
* What follows is a slightly adapted version of the fifth chapter of my recently released book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (
There is nothing wrong at all in the hopes we have that Obama’s rhetoric speaks to. The problem lies in what Herbert Marcuse called “repressive desublimation” — a hope, a need, that has been buried and denied by an oppressive system, is allowed some room to breathe, then co-opted and redirected back into a form that ultimately reinforces the oppressive system that denied and suppressed out hopes and needs in the first place.
-- Juan Santos 
“Since the founding,” Barack Obama told Ken Silverstein in the summer of 2006, “the American political tradition has been reformist, not revolutionary. What that means is that for a political leader to things done, he or she should ideally be ahead of the curve, but not too far ahead.”
It would be an understatement to describe the cautious and traditionalist Obama as “not too far ahead.” He as been behind “the curve” of the
This raises an obvious and uncomfortable question. Why and how has he achieved such remarkable success running as a “progressive” candidate of peace, justice, reform and democracy? Why did so many primary voters “choose” Obama over other Democratic presidential candidates, including ones who could legitimately claim to be more progressive than him like Kucinich and (closer to the center) Edwards? And why did so many voters’ support for Obama take on a “millennial” and even “messianic” feeling and aspect, producing an unusually large quantity of gratuitously adoring behavior and commentary, inspirational for some and disturbing for other observers?
Here (below) are sixteen mutually reinforcing and overlapping explanations for the often fervent mass constituency behind the “improbable” emergence of an “Obama Nation” in 2007 and 2008. In constructing this list, I have taken the liberty of including some personal and speculative reflections based on my own considerable direct experience with Midwestern voters and the presidential campaign in the second half of 2007.
1. The Longstanding Devaluation of Issues in U.S. Political Culture. It may not matter all that much in terms of election outcomes that Obama’s actual issue positions are often to the right of the populace when “issue awareness” – knowledge of and concern for the candidates’ actual policy stands – is as remarkably low as it is in the U.S. In 2004, roughly 1 in 10 U.S. voters chose, in an open question, “agendas/ideas/platforms/ goals” as a top rationale for their electoral decisions. A much larger number and percentage voted in accord with their sense of candidate “qualities” and “character,” including “likeability,” “honesty,” and religiosity. In the period covered by this study (July 27th of 2004 through mid-April of 2008), Obama scored very high among active voters on questions of personal character and attractiveness – questions that seem to have more impact on voters’ choices than policy and ideological “issues” in a candidate- and image-centered elections system and political culture.
That culture is significantly shaped by a corporate media that seems dedicated to the notion that citizens should function as little more than spectators and consumers of history, leaving big and serious questions of policy and ideology to their supposed superiors in the political class, As Noam Chomsky noted in regard to the 2004 presidential election, “news commentary focused on ‘style,’ ‘likabilty,’ ‘bonding,’ and ‘character,’ and on such flaws as Bush’s occasional ‘testiness’ or Kerry’s getting the name of a football stadium wrong….a major triumph of marketing, which permits the leadership to carry out its programs without concern for public opinion.” We have seen how well this stark judgment applies to the 2008 Democratic primaries in chapter two of the present study.
The problem, it is worth noting, has origins dating back to the beginning of American mass politics in the antebellum era. “By 1840,” historian Eric Foner notes, “the mass democratic politics of the Age of Jackson had absorbed the logic of the marketplace. Selling candidates and their images was as important as the positions for which they stood.” As the radical historian Gabriel Kolko noted in his dark classic Main Currents in American History:
“With apathy and infantilism two of the main characteristics of American political campaigns…concern for the ephemeral rather than the candid fundamentals is...a constant in American political dialogue; and it created a nationally underdeveloped politics...Apathy and infantilism aid political hegemony and the stability of machines and hence their utility to politically dominant factions. By linking political issues to the extraneous concerns for race, glamour, religion, or experience, and avoiding central questions of power and purpose in society, the real intellectual and ideological questions of the social order have been wholly obscured and the mass capacity to respond to the problems of that order seriously reduced.” 
“Presidential elections,” Alexander Cockburn noted last March, “are mostly about keeping important issues off the agenda, whether it US complicity in Israel’s atrocious crimes in Gaza or the funds voted by Clinton and Obama for the Iraq War, now arriving at its fifth anniversary, or impeachment of a President destroying constitutional protections.”
2. Deception. Those elections are also very much about fooling voters on important issues. Consistent with the “timeless dance” of America’s “winner-take-all” political culture and party system  (a topic to be addressed in more detailed fashion in the next and final chapter), Obama is by no means unique among other presidential candidates past and present in being a master of flat out policy and issue deception. His real positions on Iraq, empire (more broadly) health care, energy, and trade might actually be centrist and even in some cases quite conservative, but his rhetoric and image have (like those of Hillary Clinton) been “carefully crafted” to tell progressively inclined primary voters that he is one of them. It’s an old game, consistent with Christopher Hitchens’ comments on the “essence of American politics” [14A]. It has been played at one level or other by nearly every major Democratic presidential candidate – Bill Clinton in 1992 was an especially dramatic, textbook example – in recent memory. The Republicans have also long practiced the art of pseudo-populist deception, to no small regressive effect in U.S. political life and policy.
3. Time Poverty and Information Overkill. Time is a severely underestimated “democracy issue” in the U.S., home to the longest working hours in the industrialized world. As the founders of the U.S. labor movement observed in the early 19th century, the democratic legacy of the American Revolution doesn’t mean much to people who lack the time to function as educated and effective citizens. Given the relative absence of serious critical media scrutiny on the considerable conservative content of Obama’s (or Hillary Clinton’s) public record, discovering the darker, more traditional corporate-imperial and racially accommodationist reality beneath his “fresh” and progressive image and rhetoric is an at times exhausting research project. Most working Americans lack time for such an undertaking.
Another part of the problem is the sheer volume of material that has been put out in dominant media about and by the Obama campaign. Myself a veteran researcher and the author of numerous previous books and project studies on complex and detailed matters of policy and history, I have on more than a few occasions gone practically numb trying to wade through the plethora of media commentary and coverage on Obama. Hopefully this book will help fill some of the information gaps for Americans with less time or patience or energy to demystify the Obama phenomenon.
4. Celebrity. Two days before Obama spoke at a mass rally in Iowa City in April of 2007, I was getting ready to leave an Iowa City coffee shop when a young brown-haired female University of Iowa student sitting nearby announced that she “couldn’t wait” to hear him. I asked her if she knew exactly when Obama was going to appear. She gave me an extra flyer.
“So is that who University of Iowa students are going for – Obama?” I asked as I stood to exit.
“Oh totally,” the student said. “We love Barack. Everybody in my dorm is going to vote for him.”
“Wow,” I said, “what’s that all about?”
“Oh,” the young woman said, “he’s just so cool. He’s on television all the time and he’s just really excellent. Nobody ever heard of him before and then boom – there he is, like...I can listen to him all day.”
“He’s really handsome,” another female student chimed in.
“And he’s smart. We hate Bush,” the second student added.
“Yeah, Bush is an idiot,” a third student said.
I asked them what they thought of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the leftmost candidate in the Democratic primaries. They’d never heard of him.
“What about John Edwards?” I asked, observing that Edwards actually led the Iowa polls and that his positions were more progressive and detailed than Obama’s.
“He’s good-looking,” the first student said. “And I really admire the way his wife is fighting cancer and all. But I’m with Obama.”
“Yeah, and what’s up with that haircut?” the second student added, picking up on the corporate media’s obsession with the fact that the Edwards campaign had spent $400 on an ill-advised grooming session for the former North Carolina Senator.
My “conversation” with the students was nearing its conclusion. “See you at the speech,” I said and left. “Way to engage the issues, kids,” I muttered to myself on the way out.
“Brand Obama’s” pure celebrity-hood has been a major factor in his ascendancy, particularly with regard to younger voters.
5. The Novelty Premium mentioned in the introductory chapter of the present study resonates with the deeper “cult of newness” at the heart of American national mythology. It takes on distinctive meaning when the present seems especially oppressive and wrong-headed, as in the spring of 2008, when an astonishing 80 percent of Americans told pollsters that their country was “headed in the wrong direction.” Here’s how I tried to explain it to an audience of students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in early March of that year:
“We always crave the new and the fresh in America. But we crave it with special passion in special moments of crisis and despair. The great political, cultural, and economic nightmare that is the Bush era is we hope finally coming to an end and with the ever more imminent disappearance of the proto-fascistic arch-reactionary Bush-Cheney administration there’s this great and understandable up-swell of, well... hope. It’s a wave of euphoria as we realize that the Wicked Warlords will soon be dead and we can click our heels and go home again and the that maybe the new fresh prince of politics – the great and wonderful wizard of Oz/Obama – will point the way back to where the present is about the future and not the past as it has always been in the ‘First New Nation.’”
“Obama and his handlers are riding this wave as much as they are creating it. He is the right candidate in the right place at the right time.”
“And when it gets bad enough in the present, everything old gets tarred, especially by young people. We become indiscriminate in our rejection of the ‘old’ and our embrace of the new. Hillary gets tarred. John Edwards gets tarred with the stink of the past. Heck, middle-aged lefties like me get tarred with the stench of being from ‘the past’ – the ‘bad old days.’ You say, ‘Give us something, someone fresh and brand new.’”
“And if there’s one thing about Barack is that he looks new and different: He’s black, technically speaking. His father was from Kenya, but his mother was a white lady from Kansas! He grew up in Hawaii and lived three years in Indonesia! And that name!”
“You get into all of that ‘newness’ and you forget or (more likely) never focus on the more traditional and conservative stuff about Obama: the ruling class indoctrination at Harvard. The corporate connections and big money contributions. The connection to the foreign policy establishment and, well, as I have just shown, to empire. The attachment to class rule I just spoke about. The deception. The traditionalism even or especially on race. It all goes out the window or never gets in the window.”
“Americans are hungry for a freshness,” John Kerry noted last April, “that speaks to the public fatigue with politics as usual.” That elementary observation is truer than usual in the wake of the Cheney-Bush experience.
6. The Intellectual Premium. As the former editor of the Harvard Law Review, a former professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and the author of two serious (and widely read) books, the “refreshingly cerebral” (according to George Will ) Obama is a candidate of certified high intelligence. He would perhaps be the most officially intellectual U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson. Displaying a notably “professorial” style in town hall meetings, he has made a point of reaching out to and surrounding himself – on the model of JFK – with numerous intellectual “stars” (professors Austan Goolsbee and Samantha Power, for example) from the elite academia.
There is nothing inherently virtuous or progressive about possessing and corralling brain power. High intelligence can be (and often is) marshaled to destructive and regressive causes. At the same time, American political culture has long harbored a special suspicion of “pointy-headed” intellectuals.
Obama has nonetheless benefited from being mentally hyper-competent in the wake of the often highly incompetent Bush administration’s “reign of error.” After seeing their country and its global reputation seemingly run into the ground by a former C Student who has often seemed boorishly out of touch with basic aspects of American policy and experience, the nation is ready like no time in recent memory for a Valedictorian chief executive. At the same time, Obama’s intellectual and academic credentials and his skill at flattering the intelligentsia have helped him win strong support from the professoriat and other members of the U.S. intellectual and “coordinator” class, for whom professionally certified brain power is all important.
7. Black Pride. As exit poll data shows , the two leading and most reliable sections of the Obama coalition during the Democratic primary seasons were black Americans and affluent, highly educated whites. Racial factors were critical in both cases. With many black voters, the huge majority of whom have chosen Obama (and who tell pollsters in large numbers that race is a major factor in their choice), it’s been a simple (and understandable) matter of racial pride. Despite some lingering black reservations about Obama on both right and left, the prospect of electing the nation’s “first [actually] black president” naturally carries no small weight in the black community
8. White Psychological Race Wages and the Political Psychology of Race. With affluent Democrats, the racial calculus has been different and more complex. Two days before the heavily Caucasian Iowa caucus, one unusually forthcoming progressive Iowa City Democrat in a heavily academic and 99 percent white precinct told me something I’d been picking up for some time. “Obama,” he reflected, “is a way for highly educated liberal and moderate whites around here to pat themselves on the back and say ‘hey, I’m not too prejudiced to vote for a black guy.’ Look, I hate nuclear power. Your candidate [Edwards] is better on the issues, no doubt about it, but it’s not going to mean a hill of beans with these folks around here. This is their big chance to say something on race.” But it was all premised, he agreed, on Obama being a "good,” that is “middle class” and “not-too fiery black" – one who promised not to offend white sensibilities by confronting white privilege in any meaningful way. Like the racially accomodationist, white-soothing media mogul and mass Obama marketer Oprah Winfrey (who held huge campaign events with Obama in Iowa before that state’s critical Caucus), Obama could capitalize on many middle- and upper-middle-class whites’ repudiation of what I have (in chapter three) called “level-one” (state-of-mind) racism because he reassured them he would honor their reluctance to acknowledge and confront the continuing power of deeper, “level two” (state-of-being) societal and institutional racism in American life.
In my liberal white university town, Obama was something of a Great White Hope. There as elsewhere across the disproportionately white, affluent, educated, and college-town-based white islands of Obama Nation, Kathleen Parker’s observation that Obama “smoothly, strategically, and subtly mines the wells of white guilt” is highly relevant. So, sadly is the following observation from the black conservative Shelby Steele: “It’s all about gratitude. White people are just thrilled when a prominent black person comes along and doesn’t rub their noses in racial guilt. White people just go crazy over people like that.” 
Meanwhile, in what constitutes part of his attractiveness to the predominantly white power elite (see point number 10 below), Obama’s race frankly inhibits many white liberals and progressives from honestly engaging evidence of his conservatism on all of Dr. King’s interrelated “triple evils.” [22A] Obama’s technical blackness has encouraged many voters to see him as more progressive than he actually is, partly because the black community as a whole tends strongly towards the leftward side of the issue and policy spectrum.
Of course, Steele was wrong to generalize about “white people” as a whole. Obama’s white support has been disproportionately affluent. Contrary to claims that his campaign transcended race , Obama’s primary campaign was heavily plagued by racial bloc voting. While he pulled down more than four in every five black votes in most states, he lost the white working- and lower-class and rural vote and he did particularly badly with white voters in the South, reflecting historical tendencies that are well known. A late February Pew Research poll showed that white Democrats would be significantly more likely to defect to the Republican presidential nominee John McCain if Obama was the nominee than if Clinton was. Ten percent of white Democrats surveyed reported they would cross party lines and support McCain if Clinton was the nominee. But twice as many – one in five – said they would choose McCain if Obama was the nominee. Nearly a fourth (24 percent) of white Democrats without college degrees acknowledged they’d defect to the GOP standard-bearer if Obama was the nominee.
It would be comforting (from a progressive standpoint) to think that white working class voters have resisted Obama and preferred Hillary Clinton (and to some extent Edwards, who dropped out before Super Tuesday) because of the Illinois senator’s closeness to capital and empire. I saw some of them of that dynamic working on the surprisingly populist Edwards’ behalf in union households in Iowa. But Hillary Clinton is just as economically conservative and if anything closer to the corporate and imperial elite than Obama. The “other thing” explaining white working- and lower-class voters’ greater reluctance to support Obama is that he is black and the notion of putting him in the White House works against what W.E.B. DuBois once called the “psychological wage of racism”, once usefully summarized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as “the satisfaction of …thinking you are somebody big because you are white.” Such “satisfaction” is more commonly sought and “required” by whites in the lower reaches of the United States’ steep socioeconomic structure than it is by those in positions of relative wealth, power, and status.
But this does not mean that Iowa City’s liberal middle- and upper-middle-class whites were all that much “better” on race and Obama. There are racism- and classism-preserving white psychological “race wages” above as well as within and below the working class. For some whites in more elite occupational and socioeconomic categories, there exists what might be called a “psychological wage of superficial non-racism” – the boosting of one’s sense of superiority over less well-off whites by exhibiting one’s rejection of uncouth, lower-class racial bigotry (by voting for a certain kind of safe, technically black politician, for example) while simultaneously resisting any substantive challenge to persistent racial advantages accruing to middle- and upper-class beneficiaries of white skin privilege. The Obama campaign was perfectly calibrated for that curious mixture of racial pseudo- benevolence and intra-Caucasian class arrogance.
9. Skin Color and the Illusion of Greater Liberalism. At the same time, the fact that Obama is black has helped deepen his appeal to certain white middle class voters by making him seem more liberal than he really is. According to researchers studying the political psychology of race, voters asked to compare a black and a white candidate with proximately similar political positions will tend to see the black candidate as “more liberal.” According to MSNBC’s exit polls, Obama was supported by 54 percent of Massachusetts Democratic primary voters who identified themselves as “very liberal,” compared to just 36 percent the state’s Democratic primary voters who called themselves “moderates.” By clear contrast, Clinton received 42 percent of the state’s “very liberal” Democratic vote but 62 percent of its “moderate” Democratic tally. In Illinois, Obama beat Clinton 65 to 34 percent with “very liberal” Democrats and got defeated by her 65 to 34 percent with “moderate” Democrats. Across the country, Obama did much better than Clinton with Democratic primary voters who identified themselves as “very liberal,” and Clinton did slightly better with the large number and percentage of Democrats who called themselves “moderates.” Since Obama’s actual policy agenda was generally no more liberal than Clinton’s – and his health care plan was considerably more conservative – it seems likely that many voters were identifying Obama as more liberal because of his race [29A].
10. Managing Mass Hope and Euphoria From the Top Down. African-American voters, star-struck college students, and middle class professors aside, it is supremely important that key people within the intersecting networks of the corporate, political, military power elites bought into “the Obama phenomenon” from and even before the beginning. As I demonstrated in this book’s introduction and second chapter, ordinary voters would never have been in a position to appreciate Obama’s virtues (real and perceived) if he had not been approved in advance by some powerful masters of Laurence Shoup’s “hidden primary.”
For those masters, one argument on the Obama fan John Wilson calls “the far left” posits with some credibility, Obama is nicely suited to stealthily wrap establishment corporate politics and the related American Empire Project in insurgent garb. Once he was properly “vetted” and found to be “reasonable” – to be someone who would not fundamentally question core underlying power structures and doctrines of class, race, and empire – Obama’s multicultural background, race, youth, charisma, and even early opposition to the planned (and ultimately disastrous) Iraq War became useful to corporate and imperial interests in the dark and polarizing wake of the Bush-Cheney regime. His outwardly revolutionary image and “change” persona promises: to divert, capture and safely control current and coming popular rebellions; to stealthily prick and smoothly drain the alternating boils of mass disgust and mass elation (at the impending passing of the Bush regime); to simultaneously surf, de-fang, and “manage” the citizenry’s hopes for radical structural change – perhaps even revolution. By Los Angeles writer Juan Santos’s account in early February of 2008, Obama is distinctively qualified for the critical task of “repressive desublimation” – an essential system-preserving job thanks to the vast popular alienation and revulsion that the proto-fascistic Bush administration and Bush era  have generated and to the great popular expectations raised by the ever more imminent passing of the Bush White House. According to Santos:
“There is nothing wrong at all in the hopes we have that Obama’s rhetoric speaks to. The problem lies in what Herbert Marcuse called ‘repressive desublimation’ — a hope, a need, that has been buried and denied by an oppressive system, is allowed some room to breathe, then co-opted and redirected back into a form that ultimately reinforces the oppressive system that denied and suppressed out hopes and needs in the first place. That’s what Obama represents.”
“The Bush regime was and remains an expression of a conscious plan by the far right — to crush everything that came to life in the upheavals of the cultural revolutions of the 60s era. They meant, as they consciously expressed it, to counter the counter culture, the culture of hope, and offer a new ‘hope’ of a ‘purpose driven life’ in the context of the old traditions of oppression. …The regime of Bush the Lesser was the pinnacle of this effort; he carried the agenda as far as it could go, before it began to fracture and collapse under the weight of its own madness...Literally, in terms of time in office, and as a sweeping reactionary social agenda, the Bush regime is coming to an end. With its end, inevitably, comes a wave of hope and euphoria.”
“This is the wave Obama is riding, the ocean of energy he is trying to steer into an acceptance of the same old deal, the same old wars, the same old systemic racism, packaged as if it were something new. This wave of energy is not something he’s inspired, it’s something he’s riding and that he is uniquely qualified to channel toward his own ends — which are not our ends.” 
That “channeling” is a key part of what we should understand as the service Obama provides to the moneyed elite when Doug Henwood says that the wealthy see him as “the man to do their work.” After noting that Obama is “backed by the biggest Wall Street firms,” the brilliant Left Australian author, journalist, and filmmaker John Pilger made much the same point in his usual eloquent and deeply informed fashion at the end of May 2008:
“What is Obama’s attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy’s [in 1968]. By offering a ‘new,’ young and apparently progressive face of Democratic Party – with the bonus of being a member of the black elite – he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell’s role as Bush’s secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the U.S. antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent.”[32A]
Unpleasant though it may be to acknowledge, Obama’s race is no tiny part of what makes him “uniquely qualified” to perform the task in question. As Aurora Levins Morales noted in a Z Magazine reflection written for left progressives and titled “Thinking Outside the (Ballot) Box” in April of 2008:
“We’re far more potent as organizers and catalysts than as voters. Our ability to create a world we can thrive on does not depend on who wins this election, it depends on our ability to dismantle profit-based societies in which greed trumps ethics. This election is about finding a CEO capable of holding domestic constituencies in check as they are furthered disenfranchised and...[to] make them feel that they have a stake in the military aggressiveness that the ruling class believes is necessary. Having a black man and a white woman run helps to obscure the fact that …decline of empire is driving the political elite to the right. Both [Obama and Hillary Clinton] represent very reactionary politics...Part of the cleverness of having such candidates is the fact that they will be attacked in ways that will make oppressed people feel compelled to protect them.”
11. The Emperor’s New Clothes? “To Reinvent America’s Image Abroad” Through “Biography.” As suggested in the introduction to this book, there’s a related foreign policy dimension to what Henwood calls “their work.” A considerable segment of the U.S. foreign policy establishment thinks that Obama’s race, name (technically Islamic), experience living (in Muslim Indonesia, as a child) in and visiting (chiefly his father’s homeland Kenya) poor nations overseas will combine with his nominally anti-Iraq War history to help America repackage and advance the imperial project in a softer, more politically correct way around a world that has become more deeply disaffected with the U.S. than ever.  John Kerry, who ran for the presidency four years earlier largely on the claim that he would be a more effective manager of Empire (and the Iraq War) than George W. Bush  was certainly thinking of these critical imperial “soft power” assets when he praised Obama as someone who could “reinvent America’s image abroad.”  So was Obama himself when he said the following to reporters aboard his campaign plane in the fall of 2007:
“If I am the face of American foreign policy and American power, as long as we are making prudent strategic decisions, handling emergences, crises, and opportunities in the world in an intelligent and sober way...I think that if you can tell people, ‘We have a president in the White House who still has a grandmother living in a hut on the shores of Lake Victoria and has a sister who’s half-Indonesian, married to a Chinese-Canadian,’ then they’re going to think that he may have a better sense of what’s going on in our lives and country. And they’d be right.” 
Obama’s distinctive ethno-cultural and geographic biography is one of his great attractions to the foreign policy elite in a majority non-white world that has been deeply alienated by U.S. behavior during the post-9/11 era (and truthfully before that). Call it “the identity politics of foreign policy.” The Empire wants new clothes and Obama is a good man to wear them.
12. The Dee Grip of American Exceptionalism. It is difficult to advance a critique of Obama’s toxic nationalism and related imperial militarism when much of the U.S. populace is caught up in the notion of "American exceptionalism.” As a longstanding antiwar and political activist, I can report that the nationally narcissistic notion of the United States as a specially benevolent and far-seeing super-state that uses violence only for good and democratic purposes is hardly restricted to the U.S. foreign policy establishment and power elite. Many ordinary Americans have a very difficult time trying to wrap their minds around serious moral and legal criticism of U.S. foreign policy and militarism.
Having witnessed, learned about, and often enough experienced U.S. imperial aggression and oppression  over many decades (in the case of Latin America more than a century), the majority of the world's politically and morally cognizant populace knows to respond skeptically to U.S. politicians like Obama (he is hardly unique in this regard ) when they say that the United States is "the last, best hope on Earth." Millions of world citizens have been on the wrong end of "noble" America's imperial guns, policies, and "hope" for far too long to share that belief.
But things are very different in the eye of the U.S imperial hurricane. Few Americans have been encouraged (to say the least) to know or care all that much about "their" nation's remarkable and ongoing record of imperial violence and criminality. When confronted (no matter how politely) with evidence of this record, many Americans find it too morally and ideologically counter-intuitive to process. The dark and living record of U.S. foreign policy presented by such fearless historians as William Blum, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and John Pilger sparks too much painful cognitive dissonance for a populace that has been told again and again from cradle to grave – at home, in church, at K-12 school, in "higher education," on television, at the movies, at the workplace, at the Fourth of July barbecue, from the White House, in video games, on billboards, at the bar, in the grocery store, etc. – that "We Are Good," "We Are Good," "We Are Good."
“Good Americans'” faith in the United States' essential global kindness, integrity, and righteousness and the related extremely high domestic popularity of the U.S. military  are so great and so deeply reinforced by government and media disinformation that I repeatedly encountered Midwestern voters who could formulate opposition to the Iraq War only on the grounds that "we shouldn't be giving our soldiers and money to help the Iraqis when those ungrateful people don't even want our assistance."
Part of this terrible reality is about systematic indoctrination and propaganda – “manufacturing consent.” But another part is about simple human reluctance to admit that one's “own” country is guilty of deadly and immoral violence and sheer hypocrisy on a monumental scale. Who wants to think that one's tax dollars, allegiances, and more (including in some cases one's own child's life or limb and/or sanity and/or eyesight and/or hearing, etc.) have been given to help a “rogue” superpower assault masses of innocent global others while further enriching privileged elites at home, including the leading investors behind such proponents, agents, and beneficiaries of "forward global force projection" (sometimes called "defense") as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, GE, Boeing, Henry Crown Investments (a leading Obama election investor), Halliburton, and Blackwater Worldwide? For many Americans, it is psychologically preferable to believe that Uncle Sam is a wise and kindly old man who wants and advances nothing but the best for the people at home and abroad.
The highly intelligent and ambitious Obama knows all this very well. When he peppers his speeches and comments with references to the U.S. as a “magical place” with a mission and qualifications to give the world hope and to benevolently manage world affairs – by force, when and if necessary – he is tapping into a deeply rooted American exceptionalism he hardly invented.
“The level of culture that can be attained in the United States," Chomsky noted in 1966, "is a matter of life and death for large masses of suffering humanity."
13. Media Love Matters. Along with his remarkable, heavily corporate-underwritten campaign finance profile, the abundant and favorable coverage Obama has received from “mainstream” U.S. media has been a leading expression of the approval Obama has received from the corporate and imperial establishment. Once dominant media favor was attained, it became a, perhaps the, critical driving force behind “the Obama phenomenon,” permitting news and commentary authorities to report and reflect in superficially objective and detached terms on something they played a critical role in creating. It’s all part of that media’s remarkable capacity to create celebrity and to shape hearts and minds for or against specific public personalities. Along the way, that media has also rendered special service to Obama in emphasizing candidate image over issues and policy and in suppressing conflicts between his rhetoric and his record.
14. The United States of Amnesia. Another media contribution to Obama has been its failure to subject his claims of “freshness” and originality to sustained and meaningful historical scrutiny. This is reflection of that media’s own amnesiac, market-driven attachment to novelty. The conservative commentator Andrew Ferguson noted and elaborated usefully on the problem in a March 2008 essay that merits lengthy quotation:
‘Especially in American politics, policed by a posse of commentators and reporters who crave novelty above all, the past is a blank; every day is Groundhog Day, bringing shocking discoveries of things that have happened over and over again. No politician has benefited from this amnesia as much as Obama. He is credited with revelatory eloquence for using phrases that have been in circulation for years. "Politics is broken," he says in his stump speech, and his audience of starry-eyed college students swoons and the thirtysomething reporters jot excitedly in their notebooks. The rest of us are left to wonder if he's tipping his hat to Bill Bradley, who left the Senate in 1996 because, Bradley said, "politics is broken," or if he's stealing from George W. Bush, who announced in his own stump speech in 2000 that "politics is broken." Obama could be flattering us or snowing us.’
‘When he tells his audiences they need "a president who will tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear," he might be quoting, gulp, Geraldine Ferraro, who as a vice presidential candidate in 1984 liked to tell audiences that "Leadership is not just telling people what they want to hear, it's telling them what they need to know." It's a timeless principle that can be found in dozens of pop business books, too--the kind read in his formative years by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who used it when he ran for governor in 2003.’
‘Timelessness may be the key here: You begin to wonder, listening to Obama's rhetoric, whether anything has changed in 20 years. "This is a defining moment in our history," Obama likes to say; but that's what Elizabeth Dole said when her husband ran for president in 1996. (They're both wrong.) In 1992, Bill Clinton was complaining that "Washington" was a place "people came to just to score political points." Eight years later Bush was complaining that "Washington is obsessed with scoring political points, not solving problems." Now, in 2008, "Washington has become a place," Obama says, "where politicians spend too much time trying to score political points."’
‘What's to be done about all this Washington point-scoring? Bob Dole's solution, 12 years ago, was to strongly favor "the things that lift this country up instead of dragging it down"; today Obama opposes "the politics where we tear each other down instead of lifting this country up." Because Howard Dean failed in his promise in 2004 – "we're going to take this country back” – Obama revives the pledge, word for word, today. But like Gerald Ford, running against Jimmy Carter in 1976, he believes "we can disagree without being disagreeable."’
‘Onward they plod, these old warhorse phrases, until Obama climbs to the climax of his stump speech. Head bowed, brow furrowed, eyes flashing, he announces that we "will choose unity over division [Jesse Jackson, 1992]. We will choose hope over fear [Bill Clinton and John Kerry, 2004].” And we will choose the future over the past [Al Gore, 1992]." In so doing, we will overcome our "moral deficit [Bush, 2000; Gore, 2000; Newt Gingrich,1994]" by "bringing people beyond the divisions of race and class [Clinton 1992]" because the "story of our country [Ross Perot, 1992]" or the "genius of our country [Bush 2000]" or the "wonder of our country [George H.W. Bush, 1988]" is, as Obama says in 2008, "ordinary people doing extraordinary things [Perot, Bush, Bush, and Ronald Reagan, 1984]."
‘...Obama has had the unbelievable luck to attract listeners who seem to think he's minted it fresh.’ 
15. Little That Seems Viable to His Left. It can be difficult to criticize the Obama phenomenon as insufficiently progressive and excessively centrist when there’s little that seems politically or institutionally viable to his left and beneath or beyond his campaign and the Democratic Party. One of the hallmark characteristics of the United States’ distinctively business-friendly electoral and party system (to be examined in more detail in the next chapter) is the nearly complete absence of genuinely left (socialist or laborite) candidate and party choices on the U.S. “electoral market.” This terrible shortage explains much of the citizen disengagement and apathy that has long plagued U.S. political culture and elections. It also explains much of the notorious vapidity and “infantilism” (Kolko) of U.S. elections and the sometimes desperate willingness of many American progressives to embrace corporate-imperial candidates who are certain to betray “populist and peace-stressing promises and gestures” upon “the assumption of power.” At the same time, the relative weakness, corporate captivity, fragmentation, and tepid, middle-class “leadership” of non- and sub-electoral social movements and organizations in the U.S. – unions, civil rights groups, environmental justice movements, the antiwar “movement,” etc. – make it hard to tell citizens that electoral politics are neither the most relevant nor the most potent outlet for their passion for change. Mass apathy notwithstanding, moreover, the notion that change is attained through a short trip into the voting booth once every 1,460 days, is a venerable, powerful, and widely disseminated idea in the U.S..
16. America “Off Center.” And then there’s the extreme rightward drift of U.S. politics and policy under and arguably before the second Bush administration – something that makes even the tepid centrist (so I have argued) “progressivism” of Obama seem “truly transformative” to many voters. As Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson show in their important 2005 book Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy, American politics and governance have careened far to the plutocratic and starboard side of the American majority’s “moderate” identification. “American politics made a stunning transit to the right even as the American public has not,” producing a “stark disconnect between the public and elites.” The Republicans who have tended to run U.S. government since 2000 have seemingly defied the laws of political gravity,” transforming the nation’s priorities in profoundly regressive, militaristic, and repressive ways even while possessing only the slimmest of majorities. They have repeatedly ignored the sentiments and needs of the majority of Americans and even marginalized and angered many moderate Republicans by siding with the extremely wealthy and the ideological far right. Through various mechanisms and methods including artful propaganda, bold deception, political gerrymandering, the manipulation of campaign finance laws, and the relentless polarization of the electorate around “moral” issues and “national security” threats, they have seriously “threatened democracy itself” by “attacking the foundation of representative government – the accountability of politicians to ordinary voters.”
The success of the hard right and its sponsors in tilting U.S. politics dangerously “off center” creates understandable hunger for a leader like Obama who promises to heal partisan divisions, overcome ideological and cultural “polarization,” overcome (right-leaning) “gridlock,” and rebuild the moderate “center.” It also gives special appeal to Obama’s call for “reinventing U.S. politics” and toning down the often vitriolic tone and bitter tone of the nation’s political discourse. The fact that his position and record on numerous key issues aren’t particularly populist or progressive – standing to the right of majority opinion on Iraq, heath care, empire, and corporate power – is easily overlooked by many left progressives who would be understandably pleased just to move the center of policy and political gravity closer to the moderate middle and to bring the country back from the brink of seemingly permanent hard-right plutocracy, authoritarianism, and messianic militarism. Beggars can’t be choosers.
At the same time, Obama’s centrism seems to attract a certain significant number of Republican moderates who were alienated by the hard right “excesses” of Cheney, Bush, Rove, Rumsfeld et al. This is no small pragmatic electoral concern for progressives under the rule of the United States’ “Winner Take All” elections system – a subject area to be addressed in the next and final chapter of this book.
OCTOBER 30 (2008) POSTRSCRIPT: “MARKETING IS NOT EVEN DISTANTLY RELATED TO DEMOCRACY OR CIVIC EMPOWERMENT”
The above material (from chapter five of my book “Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics”) was written in May and June of 2008. An updated version of this chapter including the general election campaign would have to make room for at least two other factors in explaining Obama’s success. The first such factor in the terrible and incompetent nature of the John McCain campaign, which has tilted far to the white-nationalist and proto-fascistic right and is plagued by a transparently cynical and dangerous vice-presidential pick. The blustering McCain’s strategists seem to have badly misread the mood of the country after eight years of hard-right messianic-militarist and arch-plutocratic rule. Obama’s string of luck in facing off against highly flawed campaign opponents lives on.
The second thing is of course the epic collapse of U.S. financial markets beginning in mid-September. This development and the escalated drift into recession abruptly ended the Republicans’ post-Convention faux-populist public relations momentum and played to Obama and the Democrats’ claims to be better stewards of “the economy” and superior agents of re-regulation. Ironically, Obama is probably closer to Wall Street than McCain and has more money from leading financial firms than his Republican opponent .
In an updated version of this chapter/essay, I would also want to say more about the historically unmatched financial resources of the Obama campaign. Those resources have permitted “Obama, Inc.” to somewhat crassly bypass and probably destroy the public presidential campaign funding system (poor McCain has had to observe the system’s spending limits) and to invest in candidate marketing on a scale and at a level of sophistication that was previously unimaginable. Just last night (I am writing on Thursday, October 30, 2008), four national television networks broadcast a slick 30-minute Obama “infommercial” that delayed the conclusion of the baseball World Series. Meanwhile the campaign continues to deploy a remarkable far-flung “grassroots” ground organization that is intimately linked back to the best micro-targeting, electorate-expanding, and image-building methods and technologies ever employed in U.S. politics.
Reviewing Obama’s infommercial and recalling Obama’s spectacular nationally televised oration before a giant football stadium crowd at the Democratic National Convention last August, I was reminded of something the left and black writer and activist Bruce Dixon wrote last February. The 2008 Obama presidential run,” noted Dixon, “may be the most slickly orchestrated marketing machine in history.” . According to the campaign’s financial report to the Federal Election Commission, Obama had by February 2008 spent $52 million on “media, strategy consultants, image-building, marketing research and telemarketing.” As Pam Martens observed last March:
‘The money has gone to firms like GMMB, whose website says its "goal is to change minds and change hearts, win in the court of public opinion and win votes" using "the power of branding - with principles rooted in commercial marketing," and Elevation Ltd., which targets the Hispanic population and has "a combined experience well over 50 years in developing and implementing advertising and marketing solutions for Fortune 500 companies, political candidates, government agencies." Their client list includes the Department of Homeland Security. There's also the Birmingham, Alabama- based Parker Group which promises: "Valid research results are assured given our extensive experience with testing, scripting, skip logic, question rotation and quota control ... In-house list management and maintenance services encompass sophisticated geo-coding, mapping and scrubbing applications." Is it any wonder America's brains are scrambled?’ 
Besides contracting with big client corporate marketing firms like GMMB and the Parker Group, the Obama operation grew its own considerable internal, sophisticated, and vertically integrated mass market research and sales capacities for identifying and seducing political consumers (voters) susceptible to “brand Obama.” When ABC News anchorman Charles Gibson visited Obama’s sprawling Chicago office seven days before the Ohio and Texas primaries, he observed the quiet hum of a corporate sales office. “The tone of the campaign headquarters,” Gibson noted, was “strikingly serene.” He observed “33,000 square feet of downtown Chicago office space and no one is sure exactly how many staff...The 20-somethings in the New Media department,” Gibson said, “are responsible for everything from designing merchandise sold on the Web site to blogging to unloading videos and managing chat rooms.” By Gibson’s account, “the money flows through the computers, a steady infusion of cash in $10, $25, and $50 dollars.” Obama’s legendary media maven David Axlerod told Gibson, “It’s strange that a computer terminal can make politics more intimate, but that’s what happened.”
In Dixon’s judgment, however, the Obama campaign’s massive investment in selling their candidate was “not a good thing. Marketing,” Dixon noted, “is not even distantly related to democracy or civil empowerment. Marketing is about creating emotional, even irrational bonds between your product and your target audience.” 
Paul Street is the author of many articles, project studies, op-eds, and books, including Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004) and Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefied, 2007). His recently released study Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics can be ordered at www.paradigmpublishers.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=186987 and is available at leading national chain and local independent bookstores.
1 Juan Santos, “Barack Obama and the End of Racism,” Dissident Voice, February 13, 2008.
2 Ken Silverstein, “Barack Obama, Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine,” Harper’s (November 2006).
3 John F. Kerry, “Truly Transformative,” Newsweek (April 28, 2008). P 34.
4 Noam Chomsky, What We Say Goes (New York: Metropolitan, 2007), p.95.
5 Adolph Reed, Jr., “John B. Judis, “American Adam: Obama and the Cult of the New,” The New Republic (March 12, 2008).
6 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); Larissa MacFarquhar, “The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?,” The New Yorker (May 7, 2007). According to MacFarquhar, “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.”
7 For relevant opinion data and analysis indicating the stark disconnect between “surprisingly” progressive U.S. majority policy opinion – shockingly irrelevant in the actual making of U.S. domestic and foreign policy – and U.S. politics and policy, see Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (New Haven: Yale university Press, 2005), pp. 2, 15, 17, 21,, 34-43, and passim (page citations too numerous to list); Noam Chomsky, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (New York: Metropolitan, 2006),pp. 204-250; Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, “Global Views” (October 2004); Anthony Arnove, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal (New York: New Press, 2006), pp. 65-66; Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar, Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2007), pp. 116, 192; Katherine Adams and Charles Derber, The New Feminized Majority (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008), pp. 67-75
8 By which I simply mean a remarkable and often dedicated fan and voting base across the nation in 2007 and 2008.
9 Gallup Poll, December 16, 2004, accessed on January 1, 2005 at www.galluo.com.
10 Chomsky, Failed States, p. 223.
11 Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! An American History, volume 1 (New York: WW Norton, 2005), p. 377.
12 Gabriel Kolko, Main Currents in American History (New York: Pantheon, 1976, 1984), p. 306.
13 Alexander Cockburn, “The Spitzer Sting,” The Nation (March 31, 2008).
14 Steven Hill, Fixing Elections: The Failure of America’s Winner Take All Politics (New York: Routledge, 2002).
14A According to a still-left Hitchens in 2000, “the essence of American politics...when distilled, consists of the manipulation of populism by elitism.” Christopher Hitchens, No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family (New York: Verso, 2000), pp. 17-18.
15 Paul Street, “Labor Day Reflections: Time as a Democracy Issue,” ZNet Daily Commentaries (September 3, 2002) at www.zmag. org/ sustainers/content/ 2002-08/01street.cfm.
16 Associated Press, “Most Americans Say America on the Wrong Track” (April 4, 2006), read online at http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/04/dissatisfied.poll.ap/index.html
17 John F. Kerry, “Truly Transformative,” p. 34.
18 George Will, “The Problem With Populists,” RealClearPolitics (January6, 200)
19 MSNBC, 2008 Primary Results and Exit Polls, read at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/ 21225966’
20 Paul Street, “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. Thus, Iowa City is loaded with middle-class white “progressives” who proclaim their willingness to vote for a black man but know or do nothing about the fact that their state ranks number one in terms of racially disparate mass incarceration.
21 Kathleen Parker, “Obama Has U.S. Hooked on a Feeling,” Chicago Tribune, 11 January 2008, sec. 1, p.21.”
22 Steele is quoted in Joe Klein, “The Fresh Face,” Time (October 17, 2006).
22A. [People who see Obama as a strong progressive opponent of American plutocracy, racism, and militarism/imperialism came in for a rude awakening in chapters one to four, which portrayed the presidential candidate as much closer in world view to previous presidents and current politicians in both dominant U.S. parties then to Obama’s oft-claimed historical role model Martin Luther King when it comes to each of what King called “the triple evils that are interrelated”: (1) economic exploitation/poverty; (2) racism (deeply understood); and (3) militarism/war/imperialism. For a statement on the triple evils, see Martin Luther King, Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here?,” pp. 250-251 in James M. Washington, ed.., A Testament of Hope: the Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King,, Jr. (San Francisco, CA: Harpercollins, 1991);
23 Michael C. Dawson, Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994).
24 Kirk Johnson, “We Agreed to Agree and Forgot to Notice,” New York Times, 6 January 2007, sec. 4, p.4.
25 Andrew Kohut, “Getting it Wrong,” New York Times, 10 January, 2008, p. A27; Karl Rove, “Why Hillary Won,” Wall Street Journal, 10 January. 2008, p. A15; Mike Dorning and Christi Parsons, “Race Emerging as an Issue in the Democrats’ Campaign,” Chicago Tribune, 13 March 2008, sec. 1. p.6.; MSNBC, 2008 Primary Results and Exit Polls; Patrick Healy and Jeff Zeleny, “Racial Issue Bubbles Up Again for Democrats,” New York Times, 13 March 2008, A1, A14.
26 Dorning and Persons, “Race Emerging.” For more detailed reflections on race, class, and racial bloc voting in the 2008 Democratic primaries see Paul Street, “Race and Class in the Democratic Primaries,” ZNet Magazine [Featured Article] (April 25, 2008), at www.zcommunications.org.
27 For instructive historical reflections on DuBois, race, and white working class consciousness, see David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London: Verso, 1991).
28 Martin Luther King, Jr. “The Drum Major Instinct,” pp. 259-267 in Martin Luther King, Jr.., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. By James M. Washington (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1991), p. 264.
29 So I argue in more detail in Paul Street, “Race and Class in the Democratic Primaries,” ZNet Magazine [Featured Article] (April 25, 2008), adding a critical point from chapter two of the present monograph – that the largely corporate-imposed narrowness of the policy and ideology contest between Hillary Clinton and Obama tended to enhance the significance of racial (and gender) identity in voters’ struggle to make meaningful choices between those two candidates.
29A John Judis, “The Big Race: Obama and the Psychology of Color,” The New Republic (May 28, 2008), p. 24]
30 In addition to the sources cited in chapter one, see Glen Ford, “White Boys and Barack Obama,” Dissident Voice (February 21, 2008). “The no-nonsense white men who rule society and cling to ownership of the world,” Ford notes, “were harder nuts to crack; you’ve got to sign a prenuptial to get skin-tight with them. No problem. Before he even began to strut on the national runway, he won the approval of the Wall Street and military/industrial (and nuclear power) branches of the Money Family.” Laurence H. Shoup, “The Presidential Election 2008,” Z Magazine (February 2008).
31 For the notion that there are serious hints of potential American fascism (highly informed by fundamentalist U.S. evangelical Christianity) behind the Bush II era, see Chris Hedges, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (New York: Free Press, 2006); Charles Derber, Hidden Power: What you Need to Know to Save Our Democracy (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2005), pp. 150-180; Chomsky, Failed States, p. 224; Henry A Giroux, The Terror of Neoliberalism: Authoritarianism and the Eclipse of Democracy (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004), pp. 9-32, 147-148.
32 Santos, “Barack Obama and the End of Racism.”
32A John Pilger, “After Bobby Kennedy (There Was Barack Obama),” Common Dreams (May 31, 2008), read at www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/31/9327/; Doug Henwood, “Would You like Change With That?” Left Business Observor, No. 117 (March 2008).
33 Aurora Levins Morales, “Thinking Outside the Ballot Box,” Z Magazine (April 2008).
34 James Traub, “Is (His) Biography (Our) Destiny?” New York Times Magazine (November 4, 2007); Liza Mundy, “A Series of Fortunate Events: Barack Obama Needed More Than Talent and Ambition to Rocket From Obscure State Senator to Presidential Contender in Three Years,” Washington Post Magazine (August 12, 2007).
35 See Paul Street,“Bush, Kerry, and ‘Body Language’ v. ‘Message.’ Notes on Race, Gender, Empire and Mass Infantilization,” ZNet Magazine (October 12, 2004), available online at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm? SectionID=90&ItemID=6396%20.
36 Kerry, “Truly Transformative.”
37 Traub, “Is (His) Biography (Our) Destiny?”
38 A very useful and accessible compendium is William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 2005). See also Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb (New York: Vintage, 1995); Richard J. Barnet, Intervention and Revolution (New York, NY: Meridian, 1972; Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins (New York: New Press, 2002 ); Noam Chomsky For Reasons of State (New York: New Press, 2003 ); Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy (New York: Hill and Wang, 1991); Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot; Noam Chomsky, Hegemony Over Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (New York: Metropolitan, 2003); Noam Chomsky, World Orders, Old and New (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994, 1996); Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues (Boston, MA: South End, 1993); Chomsky, On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures (Boston, MA: South End, 1987); Noam Chomsky, The New Military humanism: Lessons From Kosovo (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 1999); Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar, Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2007); Noam Chomsky, What Uncle Sam Really Wants (Berkeley CA, 1995); Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power (New York: New Press, 2002); Noam Chomsky, What Uncle Sam Really Wants (Berkeley CA, 1995); David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); Alexander Cockburn, Corruptions of Empire (new York: Verso, 1987); Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger (New York: Verso, 2001); Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York: Holt & Holt, 2004); Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan, 2004); Kolko, Main Currents in American History, pp. 348-398; Sidney Lens, The Forging of the American Empire, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2004); Rajul Mahajan, The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism (New York: Monthly Review, 2002); Thomas McCormick, America’s Half Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989; John Pilger, Hidden Agendas (New York: New Press, 1998); Howard Zinn, Postwar America: 1945-1971 (Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1973), pp. 1-88; Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 1492-Present (New York: HarperPerennial 2003); Howard Zinn Terrorism and War (New York: Seven Stories, 2002).
39 For examples from “my” second presidential 2008 candidate John Edwards, see Paul Street, “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.
40 FoR reflections on the theory of cognitive dissonance and its relationship to American exceptionalism and Iraq War attitudes inside the U.S., see Paul Street, “Loss, Class, Empire and the Vicious Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance,” Empire and Inequality Report No. 27, ZNet Magazine (July 6, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13219.
41 For contemporary and historical reflections and sources, see Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (New York: Oxford, 2005).
42 This is a substantively accurate paraphrase of something I heard again and again from middle- and working-class voters in Iowa in the fall and winter of 2007.
43 Herman and Chomsky, “Manufacturing Consent; Solomon and Ehrlich, Target Iraq; de la Vega, The United States V. George Bush; Street, Empire and Inequality, pp. 32-35, 67-83, 90-98, 110-134,
44 For relevant data and related reflections, see Paul Street, “Profit Surge,” ZNet Magazine (February 10, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12089.
45 Street, “Loss, Class, Empire.”
46 Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins, p. 313.
47 Andrew Ferguson,“The Wit and Wisdom of Barack Obama.” The Weekly Standard (March 24, 2008).
48 Chomsky, Failed States, p. 215: Edward S. Herman, “How Market Democracy Keeps the Public and Populism At Bay,” ZNet Sustainer Commentary (August 23, 2007).
49 Edward S. Herman, “Democratic Betrayal,” Z Magazine (January 2007).
50 Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005). The quotations come from 223 and the dust jacket.
51. Here are some of my more recent reflections on these and other matters related to the general election campaign: “One Heartbeat Away: Reflections on the Palin Nomination,” ZNet Sustainer Commentary (September 17, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/3621; “Profiles in Cowardice and Corruption: Why Obama and McCain are United in Weakness on the Financial Crisis,” ZNet (September 26, 2008), read at www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/18930; “The Obama Phenomenon: An Interview with Adam Burke and Little Village” (October 5, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/19027; “Fear McCain,” ZNet Sustainer Commentary (October 13, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/3647; “Proto-Fascism in the United States: Campaign Reflections,” ZNet (October 17, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/19150.
52. Bruce Dixon, “Holding Barack Obama Accountable,” Dissident Voice (February 15, 2008), read at www.dissidentvoice.org/2008/02/holding-barack-obama-accountable/
53. Pam Martens, “The Obama Bubble: Why Wall Street Needs a Presidential Brand,” Black Agenda Report (March 5, 2008).
54. ABC News, “Backstage at Barack Obama’s Headquarters,” February 28, 2008.
55. Dixon, “Holding Barack Obama Accountable”