...Obama is not a flaccid Jimmy Carter, as some of his critics insist. He is instead a Franklin Delano Roosevelt—but a Bizarro FDR. He has mustered the legislative strength of his New Deal predecessor, but he has channeled that strength into propping up the very forces of “organized money” that FDR once challenged.
On health care, for instance, Obama passed a Heritage Foundation-inspired bailout of the private health insurance industry, all while undermining other more progressive proposals. On foreign policy, he escalated old wars and initiated new ones. On civil liberties, he not only continued the Patriot Act and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects but also claimed the right to assassinate American citizens without charge.
On financial issues, he fought off every serious proposal to re-regulate banks following the economic meltdown; he preserved ongoing bank bailouts; and he resisted pressure to prosecute Wall Street thieves. On fiscal matters, after extending the Bush tax cuts at a time of massive deficits, he has used the debt ceiling negotiations to set the stage for potentially massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare—cuts that would be far bigger than any of his proposed revenue increases.
As hideous and destructive as it is, this record is anything but weak. It is, on the contrary, demonstrable proof of Obama’s impressive political muscle, especially because polls show he has achieved these goals despite the large majority of Americans who oppose them.
Importantly, though, Obama himself has not suffered from equally negative polling numbers. While his approval rating is not terrific, he is in decent shape for re-election—and, more significantly, he has suffered only a minimal erosion of Democratic support. He is relatively popular, in other words, despite advocating wildly unpopular policies. Thanks to that reality, every one of his stunning legislative triumphs now has the previously unprecedented imprimatur of rank-and-file Democratic support...
Chris Floyd has a few words to say along this line:
So the deed is done. The "debt ceiling" crisis has been "resolved" by a further maniacal destruction of the commonweal, in a bipartisan pact that completely ignores the murderous imperial wars as the primary drain on the nation's treasury. As we noted here yesterday, the deal also sets up an unaccountable politburo (the special "Super Congress" committee) that will remove further coddling of the rich from the democratic process altogther.
However, I do feel I must defend our president from the charges of "weakness" and "cowardice" and "capitulation" that are pouring in on his noble head from all sides. Many learned Thebans are advancing the idea that Barack Obama has somehow "capitulated" to "extremists" who "forced" him into this "terrible deal."
The truth of course is that the Republican "extremists" served the same function for Obama as the "fatal vision" of the daggers did for Macbeth: "Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going." Obama came into office declaring his intent to strike a "grand bargain" on the deficit, eagerly putting Medicare, Social Security and other programs on the table for "reforms." He made clear from the start that his first and foremost allegiance was to the elite institutions of the financial markets (and the militarist oligarchy they feed); hence the $13 trillion offered up to Wall Street as compared to the transparently inadequate £700 billion offered as "stimulus" to the rest of the country -- money that was like tossing a few grains of sand into an ocean of economic need ... and which is now gone anyway.
Obama had many options for avoiding this "crisis," long before it came to a head. He didn't take those options because, like all good disaster capitalists, he wanted and needed a crisis of this sort to enact the brutal economic agenda he has openly advocated from the beginning. The result, of course, will be further impoverishment and diminishment in the lives of millions of ordinary people, for years to come -- and, ironically, the eventual collapse of the monstrous system that supports the ravenous elite that Obama serves with such panache.
History affords few examples of the political elite of a country commiting such an act of national suicide in order to protect the already super-rich from the slightest impingement of their already colossal fortunes.
I suppose Easter Island might serves a pertinent precursor.