O-Ba-Ma! O-Ba-Ma! O-Ba-Ma!

Paul Street from February 2007:

Liberal bloggers and writers at places like Daily Kos and the leftmost sections of the corporate-neoliberal punditocracy (e.g., Frank Rich at the New York Times) can speak and write all they wish about the “progressive” potential of a Barockstar presidency. As David Sirota rightly observed last summer, Obama is “interested in fighting only for those changes that fit within the existing boundaries of what’s considered mainstream in Washington, instead of using his platform to redefine those boundaries. This posture,” Sirota notes, “comes even as polls consistently show that Washington’s definition of mainstream is divorced from the rest of the country’s (for example, politicians’ refusal to debate the war even as polls show that Americans want the troops home).” It is because of Obama’s “rare ability to mix charisma and deference to the establishment,” Sirota finds (in an overly respectful assessment), that “Beltway publications and think tanks have heaped praise on Obama and want him to run for President.” (David Sirota, "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington," The Nation, June 2006)

But then, Obama would never have risen so quickly and remarkably to his current position of dominant media favor and national prominence if he was anything like the egalitarian and democratic “progressive” that some liberals and leftists imagine. In the corporate-crafted and money-dominated swamp that passes for “representative democracy” in the U.S., concentrated economic and imperial power open and close doors in ways that preemptively suffocate populist potential. Big money is not in the business of promoting genuine social justice or democracy activists (so-called “gadflies” like Wellstone, to use Obama’s description). Viewing public policy as a mechanism for the upward distribution of wealth, it promotes empire and inequality by underwriting what Ken Silverstein calls “the smothering K Street culture and the revolving door that feeds it—not just lobbyists themselves but the entire interconnected world of campaign consultants, public relations agencies, pollsters, and media strategists”—without whose favor and assistance serious presidential bids are next to unthinkable. “All of this,” Silverstein notes, “has forged a political culture that is intrinsically hostile to reform.” (Ken Silverstein, “Barack Obama Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine,” Harper's Magazine, November 2006)
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He wouldn’t be where he is, practically overnight, if he hadn’t made his “Hamiltonian” (corporate-imperial) safety clear to the masters of national policy and doctrine, who hold the keys to the kingdom. As a Washington lobbyist recently told Silverstein, “Big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn’t see him as a ‘player’…. What’s the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?”

complete article: The Obama Illusion

see also:

  • Why I’ve Focused On Obama: Seven Points
    28 December 2007, Paul Street, ZNet
  • The Manufacture of Progressive Illusion
    12 December 2007 - Paul Street, Black Agenda Report

    "something in the water in Washington DC"

  • 1 comment:

    eRobin said...

    Thanks for this well-sourced post. It's all so depressing. I had a predictive flash of insight about Obama when I watched him speak at the DNC in '06. I was somehow immune to the brilliance that everyone else took away from his appearance - maybe b/c I was an eyes-wide-open Dean fan, maybe because I'm jaded. Anyway, I saw Obama coming. I wish I had been wrong.

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