Obama Snarls at the Left, But Winks at the Right

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford


Obama's press secretary's assault on the Left also represents a presidential "wink" to the Right, "reassuring the corporate world that Obama will not yield an inch to the Left in this election season." Once again, the president shows that he regards the Left as either his flunkies - or his enemy.

Obama Snarls at Left and Winks at Right


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Gibbs' remarks were a naked threat to Left Democrats that there will be repercussions for criticizing the president on war, on jobs - on anything."


In the months after Barack Obama won the presidency with near-total support of Blacks and the white Left, a New York Black activist was fond of telling audiences to pay attention to the First Black President's face, not necessarily his actions. According to this theory, the president had to pretend he was in synch with the corporations and conservative whites, but he's really a good "brother" with Black folks interests at heart. Just look for "the wink." That presidential wink at Black folks was supposed to be the signal that Obama is working his game to our benefit.


Obama has been doing lots of winking as president, but all his signals are designed to please the other side. He almost injured his eyeballs winking at Republicans when he stacked his administration with Bush holdovers and Wall Streeters. He winked till his eyelashes nearly fell out at the insurance and drug companies as he arranged for their continued dominance and super-profits in health care. Obama winked his way into a much larger war in Afghanistan and beyond. He's got that wink, alright, but it's always in the wrong direction.


It takes a lot of winking to run a Center-Right Democratic government, so Obama has underlings to do some of his winks for him. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's right eye was twitching ferociously as he excoriated "the professional Left" - whatever that is - for making "crazy" demands for such things as "Canadian healthcare." The attack was, of course, a huge wink to the Right, reassuring the corporate world that Obama will not yield an inch to the Left in this election season. He is winking at "the markets" - a euphemism for the super-rich - that they can rest easy.

"He was warning labor to watch what it says at the October 2nd march on Washington for jobs."


Gibbs' remarks were a naked threat to Left Democrats that there will be repercussions for criticizing the president on war, on jobs - on anything. You will be punished. This was not a wink, but a snarl.


Robert Gibbs was not engaging in an emotional outburst; his statements were as cold and absolutely calculated as candidate Barack Obama's fawning praise of Ronald Reagan just before the Nevada primary. Like all press secretaries, Gibbs' job is to relay and define the administration's message, and to keep the press on-message. It was no coincidence that Gibbs had his anti-Left tantrum in an interview with The Hill, the newspaper that covers Congress. Gibbs was warning Democrats - like the 112 that voted against Obama's war funding bill, including three-quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus - that they had better get back in line. He was warning labor, which has been repeatedly snubbed and betrayed by this White House, to watch what it says at the October 2nd march on Washington for jobs, called jointly with the NAACP.


Obama knows that labor, and even the timid Black establishment organizations, must do something to show their constituents they are not mice. The president is telling them to scurry back to their holes and be silent. We shall see if they are mice, or grown women and men.


For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].