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Obama’s Comfort Zone: King of Collaboration

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    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    Corporate media say Barack Obama seems rejuvenated, recharged, only two months after his party’s catastrophic defeat. In fact, the Democratic disaster has created the conditions in which President Obama can be his collaborationist, center-right self while being praised as a statesman who knows how and when to compromise. Obama is closer than ever to achieving his wished for grand consensus with the GOP – as Clinton did with NAFTA and banking deregulation. That’s why he’s once again hired Clinton’s old economic team.


    Obama’s Comfort Zone: King of Collaboration

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    In order for Obama to reach his comfort zone, it was necessary that the Democrats be defeated.”

    No matter what Barack Obama says in his State of the Union Address later this month, it is clear where he is headed: ever rightward. His appointments tell the tale. Obama also gave the game away – that he would govern from the center-right and attempt a grand consensus with the GOP – in the weeks before he was first sworn into office, January 20, 2009. That is, his appointments of Bill Clinton’s Wall Street deregulation crowd to head economic policy and his retention of George Bush’s Secretary of Defense to guard and expand the empire, should have signaled to every sober observer that Obama’s political orientation might differ dramatically from his predecessor’s in tone, but not in substance. The problem was, there were very few sober Left political observers around two years ago, and nearly all Black folks were falling down drunk on ObamaL’aid – a brain-softening condition that persists among many, to this day.

    In the intervening 24 months, the Right has achieved a near-miraculous comeback, a reversal of fortune that could not have happened without considerable assistance from Mr. Obama. By positioning his administration to the Right of center from the vey beginning, becoming more intimately identified with Wall Street bankers even than Bush, and waging relentless war on the Left half of his party, Obama reduced fellow Democrats to a state of demoralized confusion, leading to catastrophic defeat. Defeat, that is, for the party, but not for the president, who has at last arrived in his comfort zone.

    Sperling and Daley are seasoned operatives in subverting government to private purposes, having made their bones in Bill Clinton’s administration.”

    Indeed, in order for Obama to reach his comfort zone, it was necessary that the Democrats be defeated. Only then could New Democrat Obama’s collaboration with the GOP in furtherance of corporate rule appear to be an act of statesmanship, a grand compromise (as the tax deal was pitched) in the interest of orderly government by the “grownups.”

    With Obama’s appointment of JP Morgan Chase executive William Daley as his chief of staff and Gene Sperling to head the National Economic Council, the White House is tooled to coordinate even more seamlessly with Wall Street. Both are seasoned operatives in subverting government to private purposes, having made their bones in Bill Clinton’s administration, where Daley was the indispensable man in passing the Clinton/Republican NAFTA bill despite the opposition of 60 percent of Democrats in the House. Both are now rich banksters specializing in moving effortlessly from the boardroom to wherever the public’s money is kept.

    Economist Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, doesn’t mind the money Sperling made from Goldman Sachs. His problem with Obama’s new top economic advisor is:

    Sperling saw nothing wrong with the stock market bubble that laid the basis for the 2001 recession. The economy did not begin to create jobs again until two and a half years after the beginning of this recession and even then it was only due to the growth of the housing bubble. Gene Sperling also saw nothing wrong with the growth of that bubble. Gene Sperling also saw nothing wrong with the financial deregulation of the Clinton years which, by the way, helped make Goldman Sachs lots of money. And, he saw nothing wrong with the over-valued dollar which gave the United States an enormous trade deficit. This trade deficit undermined the bargaining power of manufacturing workers and helped to redistribute income upward.

    In short, Sperling has a horrible track record of supporting policies that were bad for the country and good for Wall Street.”

    Which makes him perfect for Barack Obama, who is Wall Street’s guy by choice, and always has been. In fact, it is disrespectful to Obama to argue that his consistent appointment of Clinton’s clique of deregulating Wall Street warriors as his economic generals is not reflective of the president’s own worldview. Either Obama is his own man, or he is a hireling, a whore, and a mere figurehead.

    Barack Obama is Wall Street’s guy by choice, and always has been.”

    I operate on the assumption that Obama is a purposeful, talented, and extremely effective center-right politician straight out of the Clinton Democratic Leadership Council mold who is determined to shape all of the public sector to finance capital’s advantage. He has chosen the best men for the damnable job.

    With Wall Street’s hegemony at the commanding heights of the world’s sole superpower unchallenged, the crisis of finance capital has become a crisis of the U.S. state and a threat to every other capitalist economy and state on the planet. But of course, Wall Street calls that an opportunity. Not an opportunity, mind you, to invest in anything remotely productive. The team that brought us NAFTA in order to export the U.S. manufacturing sector, and destroyed the financial regulatory infrastructure of the New Deal so that Wall Street could dominate every aspect of American economic and political life, has no interest in productive enterprise or good jobs creation.

    And neither does Barack Obama – or else he wouldn’t have appointed Daley and Sperling or the 2009 crew. All of which should be perfectly obvious, except to the mush-brains who are still sipping from vinegary old bottles of ObamaL’aid.

    BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

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    Challenging Position For Sure!

    I agree, Obama is in a tough position. I know he can get the job done right though for whoever takes over next.

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    Obama has done well in my opinion, he started in really hard time (with the economy) and has managed to copy pretty well.



    Considering the challenges

    Considering the challenges that hes faced, hes done ok.

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    Bernie Sanders Attacks!

    Exclusive: Obama may cut Social Security, Sen. Sanders tells Raw

    By Sahil Kapur
    Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 -- 8:26 am

    One-year payroll tax holiday key to toppling seniors' safety net, Sanders warns

    Social Security may be on the White House chopping block, a US Senator recently told Raw Story, expressing deep uneasiness about President Barack Obama's noncommittal attitude toward staving off cuts to the cherished program.

    "I have to tell you, I have been on the phone to the very, very, very highest levels of the Obama administration, and the responses that I am getting are not assuring," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in an exclusive interview. "What I’m told is that no definitive decisions have been made on the issue of Social Security – I expect that is probably true."

    Progressive activists, fearing that the holy grail of American liberalism could fall prey to a bipartisan deal on Capitol Hill, have launched a campaign to pressure the White House and Congress to oppose cuts. And Sanders has stepped up as their champion in the Senate, confirming their concerns based on knowledge drawn from his relative proximity to the president.

    "What I’m hearing does not reassure me – that we have a president who is not prepared to defend the heart and soul of what the Democratic Party has been about since Franklin Delano Roosevelt," said Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist.

    The independent from Vermont on Friday wrote to President Obama urging him stick by his campaign promise and oppose cuts in Social Security benefits, as Washington debates ways to cut the national debt.

    Sanders cited as one cause for concern the president’s decision to appoint two longtime "foes" of Social Security, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, to co-chair his deficit commission, which proposed trimming the program's payouts by increasing the retirement age.

    Obama "could have said that’s not on the table," Sanders said. "He didn’t say that."

    But much more disconcerting, the senator added, was the tax deal the president struck with Senate Republicans last month, which included a one-year cut in the payroll tax – the source of Social Security's funding – from 6.2 to 4.2 percent. Obama previously argued the compromise was necessary to prevent a tax hike on middle class Americans.

    "I believe very strongly that it will be very, very difficult to undo this one-year program," Sanders said. "Republicans will say it is a tax increase on workers, and they control the House." Indeed, GOP lawmakers have since admitted they have no intention of letting the payroll tax return to its original, higher level in a year:

    "So what the president has done is walked us in an unprecedented direction in terms of diverting huge amounts of money from Social Security," Sanders said. "A very, very, very dangerous precedent. And when aides of his such as [Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers] Austan Goolsbee were asked to reflect on this, he chose not to do so."

    Polls have shown strong public opposition to proposals that would reduce the scope of Social Security:

    While the program's payouts did exceed revenues for the first time last year, the Social Security Trust Fund has a surplus of $2.6 trillion and is expected to remain solvent in its current form until 2037, according to its trustees report:

    "It’s inexplicable to me that anybody in the White House would give two seconds of thought to cutting Social Security," Sanders concluded.

    The White House did not return requests for comment.

    What would the Repukes do?

    As BAR writes, Obama is in his element, collaborating with rich, elitists, White males.

    White House 'open' to GOP suggestions to improve health law

    By Perry Bacon Jr.

    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 18, 2011; 7:34 AM

    "The White House is continuing what it started after the November elections: a determined effort to reach out to congressional Republicans and reduce the partisan divide in Washington.

    As House Republicans prepare this week to hold a vote to repeal the health-care law that President Obama signed last year, the administration says it opposes that idea but is "open" to Republican suggestions to improve the provision. That is a marked shift from last year, when the president and congressional Democrats repeatedly blasted the GOP for not backing the law and cast as them as uncaring of the millions who would gain health insurance under it.

    The president has invited rookie lawmakers, a group that overwhelming consists of Republicans, to a reception at the White House next week, as first reported by Politico."

    HA.  When was the last time Obummer invited a group that consists of "overwhelming Liberals and Progs" to a White House reception?   Yes, Obummer is in his comfort zone.  Is it me and my cynicism (and/or despair), am I the only one who believes that Obummer would still garner overwhelming Black support EVEN if he brought back lynching? 

    Obama may cut Social Security, Sen. Sanders tells Raw Story

    "Social Security may be on the White House chopping block, a US Senator recently told Raw Story, expressing deep uneasiness about President Barack Obama's noncommittal attitude toward staving off cuts to the cherished program.

    "I have to tell you, I have been on the phone to the very, very, very highest levels of the Obama administration, and the responses that I am getting are not assuring," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in an exclusive interview. "What I’m told is that no definitive decisions have been made on the issue of Social Security – I expect that is probably true."

    One thing to do


    There might be a few different ways to show disapproval with this administration. There's no question that there needs to be a mass-show of unsatisfaction. Being that it is early 2011, theres time to field a legitimate challenger to this warmonger and possibly end this 2-year-long nightmare. We need to show potential challengers that there is a lot of support out there though since a lot of the talk of Obama facing a primary, that was louder after the November election, has since fallen deftly silent.

    This is due to the MSM and Beltway pundits (consensus makers) deciding that the lame duck accomplishments for The President were enough to "bring him back." We know that's not the case because, while pundits are awwed by any compromise no matter how crappy, his tax-cut deal was a complete one-sided victory for conservatives once again.

    But we can't let talk of primarying him go away. Right now it is one of our last remaining hopes of keeping this guy the least bit accountable to the left. Of course, direct action, civil disobendience, boycotts and strikes are all very effective, but in my opinion they are that much more effective if they can be combined with a strong primary challenger taking Obama to taks for all of his transgressions.

    A primary challenger should support the following:

    • WPA-style jobs progam to dramatically decrease the unemployment rate by creating public sector jobs.
    • Out of Afghanistan/Iraq now along with an end to our ever-expanding wars in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
    • Protect and strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid at all costs, even if it means lifting the cap on the payroll tax and raising taxes on the wealthy.

    No. Not center right.

    How many times in this article did you assert that Obama is center-right?  Surely you must see that to say this is to accept the very framing that  distorts all political discussion to begin with.  Obama rules for the right/right.  He is not a centrist in any meaningful sense of the word.   The political center, as defined by the political establishment, is skewed VERY far to the right.  

    our dillema.....

    If Blacks are so stubborn that they rather give up their own children's future for the sake of Obama's political career, we,the few who care,need to explore other possibilities.One of these possibilities should be to reach out to white progressives who are more open minded.One of our goals should be to remind them that speaking out on behalf of our country and our children's future against Obama does not necessarily mean that one is a racist or a member of the tea party.The system governing us  created the tea party movement specifically for the purpose of putting true progressives in that uncomfortable position.Martin Luther King day is a great opportunity for us to show publicly our displeasure with Obama... 

    The Alarm Sounds, Americans Hit "Snooze"

    Dear Glen & BAR,

    First, THANK YOU for being a consistent intellectual voice for the progressives that aren't suckered into "the big game".

    Second, I couldn't agree more with your assessment of Obama and his sleeping with the enemy approach to governance. Problem  for us is, they aren't the enemy. At least not Obama's.

    During the presidential election, as the Economic Meltdown of 2008 (EM08) was boiling over with Lehman's implosion, I sat up straight when the Senate began their marketing pitches for why we, the people, had arrived at the absurd point in history of the people servicing banks with welfare.

    I listened with a mixture of anger and incredulity, and the fact is that Obama, in a page right out of "The Politics of Intimidation & Fear," very vocally called for bank welfare, with their time-worn "the sky's falling" techniques. Then he voted for it, just as McCain did, just as Hilary Clinton did, just as the vast majority of them did -- only *days* after the people had overwhelmingly spoken and Congress voted "no" to bank welfare.

    After his presidential win, I got curious what with EM08 laying waste to the world. And what I found was both affirming and a lesson. Of his top 20 campaign contributors, 25% were banks, the single largest industry represented. Goldman was his #2 contributor, Citi and JPMC were in the top 10. Thus, my gut was proven right and the lesson -- courtesy of Mark Felt, Watergate's Deep Throat, to "follow the money" -- is to learn from history. Unfortunately, we Americans never learn.

    With Obama's presidential victory, the turning point that Americans, and specifically Americans of color, arrived at with hope and enthusiasm has been soul-crushed. And yet, despite abundant proof, many of my friends and family continue to believe in Obama. That's disappointing; sometimes the biggest let-downs emanate from those we know and love. But that also makes the challenge ahead for true progressives and intellectuals that much more arduous. For if it's true that "power concedes nothing without a fight" then we're in the fight of our lives.

     Now is not the time for capitulation, but for digging in.

    Keep up the great work, Glen and everyone at BAR; we're out here, we're listening, we're with you.

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    Lets face it. Cleaning up

    Lets face it. Cleaning up after George is no picnic.

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