It's taken a long while, but I'm finally coming around. I'm about ready to admit the truth. Supporters of the president have long insisted that The Man simply knows things most of us don't. After all, he's the president. He's got access to the facts, the figures. He's looking further, they say, seeing deeper, playing sixth dimensional chess while most of us can barely get our minds around checkers.
You know, they just might be right. If there's one thing this phony debt ceiling crisis proves, it's that Barack Obama really is smarter than most of us, especiall smarter than the tens of millions who voted him into office.
Before we examine that any deeper, we'll need a working definition of Âsmartness.Â Let's make it simple. We'll call it the ability to get things done your way in a complex world, a world where lots of other people would rather see them done some other way. By that yardstick, who is smarter? The voters and volunteers who made Obama's career possible? Or Barack Obama himself? Who's getting what he wants, and who's getting left out?
For useful answers, we need look no further than the current trumped up crisis over the federal debt ceiling. Debt ceilings have been raised scores of times in recent years, 14 times under the Bush-Cheney administration alone. This time is an emergency only because Wall Street banksters, corporate media and the good cops of the Democratic party along with the bad cops of the Republican party agree to say it is. The government and the economy then, will run out of money unless Medicare, Medicaid and social security are savagely cut so that Âjob creatingÂ speculators and banksters can receive another round of tax cuts.
Obama supporters whine and wring their hands in impotent fury, pointedly threatening a loss of enthusiasm for his 2012 re-election campaign. But their good cop president and his party leaders are all about pre-emptive compromise, meeting the bad cop Republicans half, three quarters or nine-tenths of the way to a goal that moves further rightward every hour. The president's unwillingness to stand with the Democratic party's electoral base, the nation's poor and working people, is for many Obama supporters utterly inexplicable.
But what if President Barack Obama never intended to fight for jobs or justice? What if he believes the nonsense about Wall Street being Âjob creatorsÂ instead of economic vampires? What if Cornel West finally got it right? What if Black Agenda Report has been right all along? What if Barack Obama is a Reagan Democrat in every meaningful way, right down to a fanatical belief in trickle down economics? What if the president counts on corporate media and his army of careerists and sycophants to shut down and cover up cracks in the Obama consensus through which reality might leak? What if Obama is not weak, or timid, or vacillating or waiting for us to Âmake him do itÂ? What if what we've seen is all there is, all there ever was?
The truth is that Barack Obama's actions are entirely rational, understandable and even predictable if you suppose him to have been a vicious, vacuous and cynical right wing operative from the very beginning.
The historic pattern of post-sixties Democratic candidates has been to come in on the high tide of public disgust at Republican rule, but to push the pro-corporate agenda further than would be allowable under Republicans.
Jimmy Carter followed the disastrous administrations of Nixon and Ford. Nixon killed at least a million or two in Vietnam and Cambodia, committed numerous crimes and after narrowly escaping impeachment was pardoned by President Gerald Ford who like Barack Obama, preferred to look ahead rather than at crimes past. Carter declared Middle Eastern oil a vital US interest worth going to war over, signing secret treaties beginning the building of US super-bases, so-called Âmilitary citiesÂ which were eventually used in the first Gulf War.
Bill Clinton was swept into office in 1992 after twelve years of Reagan and Bush misrule. Like Carter before him and Obama after, he rolled up criminal investigations of Reagan-Bush figures including Robert Gates, who would be Secretary of Defense under Bush 2 and Barack Obama. Clinton squashed the peace dividend and rounded up enough Democratic votes to go along with a solid Republican vote that passed NAFTA, which failed to make it through the Congress three times under Bush 1.
Bill Clinton virtually ended public assistance programs in the US, privatizing and tying them to low-wage work and workfare schemes instead, another accomplishment that Republicans would have found impossible. The Clinton-Gore White House even launched what was called the ÂReinventing GovernmentÂ initiative, under which every state, county and city in the nation was required to put as many of its core functions, from building maintenance to fleet management to payroll to elections out to be bid upon by private contractors.
All of these achievements of the Carter and Clinton-Gore administrations were major victories for corporate power that could not have been accomplished under Republicans without massive protest and dislocation. They say that only Nixon could go to China. Only Democrats can double down on and enact Republican policies by disarming and disbanding opposition to those policies. When Clinton bombed Serbia, there was no antiwar movement in the street to oppose him. Would the same have been true of Reagan, Bush 1 or Bush 2?
Still don't believe it's the job of corporate Democrats to push the corporate agenda further than Republicans ever could? When Bush 2 couldn't even pass his own bankster bailout in September of 2008, he called Barack Obama in off the campaign trail to round up a sufficient number of Democratic votes, including votes in the Congressional Black Caucus, to pass the Bush bailout. Before even assuming office, Barack Obama was carrying out Republican policies even Republicans could not enact. Upon becoming president himself, Barack Obama quintupled down on the $3 trillion Bush bankster bailout with a further $16 trillion, the largest transfer of public wealth to private hands in the history of humankind.
So if you're an Obama supporter, and you're disappointed that your president won't fight for you --- if you're an Obama supporter and you wonder why the president won't stand up for Medicaid, Medicare and social security --- here's the answer. The president really, really is smarter than you. He knows what side he's on and you don't. He knows that the two-party system is a veal pen, where as long as Âhe can play good cop to the Republicans' ever worsening bad cop, the game is fixed, and not in your favor.
Look out! Over there! It's President Michelle Bachman!
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report.Â
July 27, 2011