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Obama Prepares to Triangulate Himself
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
What a guy! Barack Obama has neutralized Blacks, the white left, and the majority of his own party in service to Wall Street, and some still call him “liberal” (The insane call him “socialist.”) With Social Security and Medicare in his sights, “the stage is set for a performance of presidential political gymnastics that will make Bill Clinton, once known as the Great Triangulator, bow down to the master.”
With Social Security and Medicare in his sights, “the stage is set for a performance of presidential political gymnastics that will make Bill Clinton, once known as the Great Triangulator, bow down to the master.”
Obama Prepares to Triangulate Himself
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“Obama invented the deficit reduction commission as his customized vehicle to subvert his own party’s cherished ‘entitlement’ programs.”
One thing is certain: the corporations will win and civilization will lose on November 2nd. The outcome is foreordained, since the dwindling electoral forces of civilization don’t have enough candidates in contention even to fill an effective caucus.
With 83 nominal members, the Progressive Congressional Caucus is, on paper, the largest of the House ideological groupings, but has been neutered since Barack Obama entered the White House. The Congressional Black Caucus has not been a coherent force for progressive change for most of this century, and now behaves as if lobotomized by the presence of a Black chief executive. Having allowed themselves to be whipped, kicked and scorned by a White House concerned only for the president’s most narrow interests and schemes, “left” Democrats are at their nadir of legislative influence, despite their chairmanships.
Whether the GOP actually wins one or both chambers of Congress or not, the people’s interests are in deep trouble. The most immediate threat looms, not from the Tea Party, which will no doubt have its own little caucus in the next Congress, but from Barack Obama and his President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. When the right-heavy commission makes its recommendations in early December, the stage will be set for a performance of presidential political gymnastics that will make Bill Clinton, once known as the Great Triangulator, bow down to the master.
Barack Obama will triangulate himself.
“’Left’ Democrats are at their nadir of legislative influence, despite their chairmanships.”
President Clinton skillfully triangulated his own Democrats, seeking to position himself between the party’s liberal-ish core and the Republicans, thus moving the center of political gravity rightward through the Nineties. Obama, whose first major act while still a candidate was to save the Bush bank bailout after it failed a first vote in October, 2008, has elevated Clinton-style triangulation to what he hopes passes for statesmanship. Obama likes to calls it “non-partisan,” “consensus-building” politics and other variations on the theme, but the result is always the same: the fundamental interests of corporations are protected at the beginning of the process, which can only end with the people in worse shape than before it started. This is how a broad and deep public demand for comprehensive health reform was transformed into a guaranteed, subsidized, central role in the national health system for the hated insurance and drug companies for the foreseeable future.
Obama, a genius at creating opportunities for himself while undermining the life prospects of others, invented the deficit reduction commission as his customized vehicle to subvert his own party’s cherished “entitlement” programs: Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and others. Republicans didn’t force his hand or box him in. Instead, Obama set the torpedoes in motion against entitlements in the days before his inauguration, declaring, on January 8, 2009, that an overhaul of Medicare and Social Security would be “a central part” of his presidency. Not long afterwards, he said that Social Security and other entitlements would be “on the table” for cutting. All this, before any Republican had blurted an angry word about Obama in congressional debate.
“Obama has elevated Clinton-style triangulation to what he hopes passes for statesmanship.”
Obama’s ambush of entitlements is premeditated. He was determined from the very start to succeed where George Bush failed – by gutting Social Security. That’s how Obama measures greatness.
The problem was, most Republicans remembered Bush’s Social Security debacle of 2005, and were not anxious to relive the experience, while debating Social Security was the last thing on Democratic congressional minds. With Republicans in no mood to launch a legislative attack on Social Security, there was nobody for Obama to make one of his grand comprises with. So, in February of this year, he issued an executive order creating his own anti-entitlement missile, the 18-person panel that quickly became known as the “cat food” commission, harkening back to the pre-Social Security days when many of the elderly where reduced to eating cat food.
Obama’s trick was to conjure up a political demand for the gutting of entitlements when no serious movement in that direction existed in the Congress. The commission route allowed him to concoct a majority right-wing constituency in a bottle, so to speak, by weighting the membership with pro-corporate players.
No one doubts that the panel is rigged to recommend cuts that Democrats (and a few Republicans) would be prepared to fight tooth and nail if proposed by the GOP. Blood would flow in the halls of the House and Senate, and in the end the assailants would likely lose. But by packaging the poison in a commission, Obama is allowed to behave as if the entitlement debate has oozed from the ether, demanding to be made manifest.
“The commission route allowed him to concoct a majority right-wing constituency in a bottle, so to speak.”
Now comes the good part. In a classic triangulation, Obama would position himself as close to the Republican legislative position as politically convenient. However, that’s easier said than done, and full of risks, in the heat of debate on tricky congressional terrain. Instead, the presidential commission, acting as the supposed “deliberator” of the fate of the nation’s sick and elderly, will spew forth a range of recommendations from which Obama will pick and choose. He will vow to protect “the most vulnerable” from the more draconian ideas put forward by his commission. In the end he will stake out and occupy a “non-partisan,” “consensus” center as defined by the makeup of the commission, the president’s own creation.
Obama will have triangulated himself, and screwed us all. Mark my words.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.