Posted on Black Agenda Report, 12/14/2010
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The two corporate political twins, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, held forth at a joint White House press conference – so tightly matched that no light could be seen to shine between them. Obama soon ceded the room to his comrade in collaboration with Republicans, the senior triangulator.
Although competitors, Obama and Clinton “emerged from the same political system, and fed at the trough of the same wealthy individuals and corporate campaign check bundlers.”
It is rare for the corruption of the American political system to be revealed openly and clearly, but that is exactly what took place at a White House press briefing last week. The sight of the current president ceding the spotlight to a former president and one time rival was indeed unique, but its significance was not mere theater.
The 2008 election, which pitted Barack Obama against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, was despite the sound and fury, a fight amongst political twins. The Clinton/Obama press conference proved that beyond a doubt.
When Obama made common cause with Republicans and renewed tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country, he made it clear where his sympathies lie, and they are not with the plight of working people. The tax capitulation was blatant and the president made his situation worse by openly insulting any Democrats who dared to question him.
Barack Obama’s ability to get unqualified support from Democratic progressives is officially toast, and his dependence on Bill Clinton to get him out of the doghouse is proof. His high handed and dismissive behavior of Democratic critics was the last straw for many people who had previously been his defenders.
Like the battered wife who finally defends herself, Democrats who have excused Obama’s compromises are now screaming for blood, after their idol dismissed them one time too many. After calling his critics “sanctimonious” and singing the praises of craven compromise, Democrats were disinclined to get behind the president’s tax give away to the Republicans.
When Bill Clinton showed up with Barack Obama, who left the room so that the first triangulator in chief would be able to work the press, Obama’s defeat was clear. The events were not happenstance, but a direct result of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders making history on the Senate floor as he spoke for more than eight hours against Obama’s betrayal.
Sanders’ determination to stand up to the Obama tax bill betrayal won him millions of admirers. The Obama team must have gone into full panic mode and looked to their Democratic predecessor who also weathered the political storm after a mid term congressional defeat by moving to a “center“ which moves ever rightward.
As Bill Clinton stood by his side, Obama bizarrely claimed that he couldn’t hang around and talk to the press because his wife was waiting for him at a White House holiday party. Clinton then held court for more than one hour, making the case for the stab in the back.
In 2008, Bill and Hillary Clinton became public enemy numbers one and two for many black Americans. Her racist and ham handed appeals for white votes created fury among black voters and that anger was one factor that led to her loss of the nomination.
It is unfortunate that most black Americans were unable to see the commonalities between the two candidates. They emerged from the same political system, and fed at the trough of the same wealthy individuals and corporate campaign check bundlers. Both swore an oath to put the agenda items of those interests first and foremost in their policy decisions.
Obama outfoxed Bill and Hillary, but he is cut from the same cloth. When he over stepped his bounds with Democrats and needed a life line, he went straight to Bill Clinton for help. He quite literally ceded his position and left the room like a misbehaving high school student headed for the principal’s office.
The president is in trouble because he showed his hand and suspension of disbelief is no longer possible. By claiming that legitimate policy differences are “purist positions that don‘t lead to victory” he showed what he thinks of his own party. He doesn’t really believe in the Democratic traditions of promoting fairness and equality.
He sees compromise not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself. Consequently he refuses to use his bully pulpit as he should to enact initiatives that will undo the worst damage of Republican rule.
While Obama and Clinton petulantly beseeched party loyalists to silently obey, Senator Sanders spoke in simple, yet powerful terms about how Republican obstructionism can be thwarted.
“President Obama has said he fought as hard as he could against the Republican tax breaks for the wealthy and for an extension in unemployment. Well, maybe. But the reality is that fight cannot simply be waged inside the Beltway. Our job is to appeal to the vast majority of the American people to stand up and to say: Wait a minute. I do not want to see our national debt explode. I do not want to see my kids and grandchildren paying higher taxes in order to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. The vast majority of the American people do not support that agreement in terms of giving tax breaks to the very rich. Our job is to rally those people.”
Rally the people? Sanders surely forgot who leads the Democratic Party. The Obamas and Clintons of the world have no interest in rallying popular support because they have no interest in standing up to the forces who call the shots in this country. Clinton era deregulation led to economic collapse, and Obama continued the tradition with his trillion dollar giveaway to the financial services industry.
These are not men who are concerned with the rights of ordinary citizens. They stood together to make their betrayals palatable to the public, but it is Bernie Sanders who should be remembered in this episode. He did rally the people, and perhaps Bill and Barack have lost some of their luster and will find it harder to get away with evil twin business as usual.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.