Public Comment

The Great Pretender

By John F. Davies
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:25:00 PM

With the coming of the new Obama administration, much has been said about how much change and hope he will bring to this country. Indeed, Barack Obama did accomplish quite a creditable victory over his Republican opponent. Many thousands of starry-eyed individuals enthusiastically cast their votes for the Democratic candidate, with the hope of electing a government which would be more responsive to people’s needs. While it is quite a historic occasion to have the first black man elected to this country’s highest office, my concern is what he actually intends to do once he is there. Careful examination of Obama’s rise to power, his past voting record, and those who have supported and advised him, sadly indicate that the majority of the American public has fallen for a grand deception. 

Once his nomination was ensured, Obama suddenly shifted his positions rightward. The breaking of his pledge to vote against the FISA bill on telecommunications surveillance, as well as his suddenly not accepting public financing for his campaign, show Barack Obama to be the calculating opportunist that he really is. Indeed, during the presidential debates, almost half of Obama’s answers were: “I agree with Sen. McCain.” Following his election, Obama quickly named the members of his cabinet. His first choice was Congressman Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, who is a staunch supporter of the Iraq war, Wall Street, and especially the Israel lobby. Hillary Clinton, who publically proclaimed that Iran should be obliterated, was chosen as secretary of state. He also kept on Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and has made a point of putting former Clinton administration officials in most of the major cabinet positions. It should be noted that foreign policy hawks Zbignew Brzezinski and Madeline Albright closely advised Obama during his campaign. And it’s especially interesting that former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, whose policies led to the present housing bubble, has been a prominent advisor on economic policy. 

So why has Obama set forth on this path of betrayal? The answer lies in events that occurred 25 years ago. For those of us who are old enough to remember the 1984 presidential campaign, there was at the time a growing rebellion from within the ranks of the Democratic Party. Enraged at the Reagan administration, many Democratic voters wanted a more populist and grass roots alternative to the run of the mill party candidates. Insurgent candidates like Sen. Gary Hart, and especially Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition, challenged the Democratic status quo. This development concerned the party bosses so much that the following year saw the creation of a group known as the Democratic Leadership Council. The stated purpose of the DLC was to move the Democrats toward the political “center,” in order to make them more electable. But the real and hidden purpose was to stifle populist movements from within the party itself, in other words, to keep the Democrats in line and under control of powerful moneyed interests. The founding members of this body consisted of a coalition of a group of Wall Street supporters, such as Senator Joseph Lieberman, and a number of Southern Democrats, among them then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. The DLC has been called the Trojan horse from within the Democratic Party. They receive massive amounts of corporate funding, and select their candidates using the very same processes as the Obama transition team. In fact, the vast majority of Obama’s cabinet choices are current or former DLC members. 

The noted scholar and political commentator Noam Chomsky once spoke of the difference between the conservative Republican and the liberal Democrat. The conservative will look one straight in the eye and say: “Thus far and no further and we mean it.” Whereas the liberal will smile and say: “Thus far and no further, and look at all the freedom you have.” No real difference here. And when all is said and done, Obama is just as much in the thrall of the same moneyed interests as Bush and those who have preceded him. In other words, he will be merely an office minder. While there will indeed be a few token policy changes under his administration, Obama will still be dancing to Wall Street’s tune. It’s the same play with the same script, but with a different cast of actors. 

But what is most outrageous is Obama’s continuing silence during the present slaughter in Gaza, which ironically began shortly after his electoral victory. The issue of Palestinian rights is one that he avoids and skips around. It is indeed the real “third rail” for him or any other American office holder. And Obama’s recent noncommittal statement on the matter proves beyond a shadow of any doubt that he is being kept on a leash, and also the identity of his masters. It’s not difficult to ascertain this when one examines who Obama’s closest advisors are—all staunch supporters of the Israel lobby. On a personal note, I find his apparent indifference to the suffering of an Arab population under siege to be just as outrageous as Bush’s neglect of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. And while dozens of children were blown to pieces in the streets of Gaza City, and worshipers were killed at a mosque, President Elect Barack Obama played a pleasant game of golf in Hawaii. 

In all frankness, the man ought to be ashamed of himself. 


John F. Davies is a Berkeley resident.