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 [email protected].