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Friday, December 03, 2010

Krugman throws in the towel on Barack Obama
Posted by Jill | 5:03 AM
I'd pretty much thrown in the towel after health care "reform". I've realized for a long time that what we have in the White House is yet another guy replaying his childhood tape loops on a national stage. George W. Bush spent eight years and the nation's economy and reputation trying to simultaneously prove that his dick was bigger than his father's, and simultaneously gain that father's approval. Barack Obama seems bound and determined to spend four years (because it's impossible to believe that having completely alienated his base AND independence, he'll get eight) trying to prove to an intransigent Republican Party that would hang him by a rope from a tree if it thought it could get away with it that he's not one of those THREATENING, MEAN black men. No, indeedy, he's a NICE black man, one who won't knife them in a dark alley. And he seems bound and determined to spend four years and what's left of the nation's economy and reputation trying to prove that.

And that's the CHARITABLE interpretation.

One of the less charitable ones is that 56% of American voters were hoodwinked by a guy who's more like the Republicans than anyone even now wants to believe; a guy who BELIEVES in torture and assassination; a guy who BELIEVES in tax cuts for the wealthy and screw everyone else; a guy who WANTS endless war; a guy who is all about doing the bidding of corporations BECAUSE HE WANTS TO; a guy who feels every bit as "icky" about Teh Gays as John Edwards did, only who lacks even the courage that a weasel like John Edwards had to admit it; a guy who WANTS to gut Social Security and Medicare; a guy who decided to become president as a kind of ruling class internship; in which he spends four years doing Wall Street's bidding in exchange for a nice eight-figure gig upon leaving office.

The even less charitable, tinfoiley-scarey one is that American Presidents have absolutely zero power; that there are shadowy figures who really run things who sit every new president down and lay down the law. And that if he (or she) wants his/her children to survive to adulthood and not be gunned down on live television to be replayed over and over again on 24-hour cable news, the line is to be toed and their bidding is to be done without question. And that bidding is to wreck the middle class, push everyone who doesn't sit at their table into grinding poverty, and expand military adventures without end to feed the defense contracting beast. On the right they would call these shadowy figures "George Soros". There's FAR more evidence of this from right-wing corporate circles, what with the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch. But if such a shadow government exists, it's not run by anyone that we have ever heard of. It wouldn't be shadowy in that case.

But whatever the deal is with Barack Obama, there's no denying now that there is no game of 11-dimensional chess going on, -- that he really does know what he's doing and we should just trust him. No, it's clear that what we have to look forward to is two more years of utter sellouts to a lunatic right-wing House of Representatives and corporate interests, followed by an election in which a despairing public forgets what a grifter the Wackjob from Wasilla is and puts her in the White House.

If Obama has lost Krugman, he's lost America:
After the Democratic “shellacking” in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?

On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him.

So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of.

About that pay freeze: the president likes to talk about “teachable moments.” Well, in this case he seems eager to teach Americans something false.

The truth is that America’s long-run deficit problem has nothing at all to do with overpaid federal workers. For one thing, those workers aren’t overpaid. Federal salaries are, on average, somewhat less than those of private-sector workers with equivalent qualifications. And, anyway, employee pay is only a small fraction of federal expenses; even cutting the payroll in half would reduce total spending less than 3 percent.

So freezing federal pay is cynical deficit-reduction theater. It’s a (literally) cheap trick that only sounds impressive to people who don’t know anything about budget realities. The actual savings, about $5 billion over two years, are chump change given the scale of the deficit.


Mr. Obama’s pay ploy might, just might, have been justified if he had used the announcement of a freeze as an occasion to take a strong stand against Republican demands — to declare that at a time when deficits are an important issue, tax breaks for the wealthiest aren’t acceptable.

But he didn’t. Instead, he apparently intended the pay freeze announcement as a peace gesture to Republicans the day before a bipartisan summit. At that meeting, Mr. Obama, who has faced two years of complete scorched-earth opposition, declared that he had failed to reach out sufficiently to his implacable enemies. He did not, as far as anyone knows, wear a sign on his back saying “Kick me,” although he might as well have.


The real question is what Mr. Obama and his inner circle are thinking. Do they really believe, after all this time, that gestures of appeasement to the G.O.P. will elicit a good-faith response?

What’s even more puzzling is the apparent indifference of the Obama team to the effect of such gestures on their supporters. One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset. Instead, however, Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.

Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.

Krugman is more charitable than I am. He implies that there ever was a purpose other than what we're seeing.

(Obama has lost the Kossacks, too. And yeah, what Yellow Dog said.)

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Anonymous Tata said...
I voted for Mr. Obama knowing he was far to my right, but I did not know he was far to his right as well.

Anonymous Nancy said...
Nice piece by Krugman. I don't normally read blog comments, but comment #2 by Ben is worth a read.

Anonymous Nancy said...
Liked your post, too, by the way. Sorry I didn't mention that before.

Blogger Nan said...
I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Obama, but I did hope that he at least cared enough about the country to not be a total sellout to Wall Street. No such luck.

Anonymous Tlachtga said...
D.) All of the above.

By which I mean, (A) he probably thinks he's this great, transitional figure, but is really trying to be the nice black man who the white establishment can trust. Which doesn't contradict with (B) in which he's basically a right winger who doesn't realize he's a right winger, which goes for much of the Democratic establishment, and frankly, much of the American establishment for at least my whole life (being born in 1979). And none of which really contradict (C), in which this is all a circus, and the real rulers are the guys with the money. But saying the president has zero power is assuming the president wants to contradict the real people in charge. I don't think he does.

Carter, I guess, did, and he was gone.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm beginning to think that being President is a little like being an Emperor was in the old days: You live in insulated bubble, where what you believe and wish for is taken to be reality.

And I'm beginning to think that because of that, Obama really believes that craven surrender to the Repubs is being Reasonable and Moderate, and that not only the Repubs but everybody else in America will just LOVE him, when he totally caves in to Republican demands.

...And if his advisers are telling him this, what kind of spineless wimps has he surrounded himself with?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Conservative here and speaking for myself and those I fraternize with, none of us wish harm to President Obama. We just want him to get a job he's better suited for (and where he can do much less damage). Sorry we aren't all bent on a lynchin'.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
that's the crazed interpretation.

Blogger jurassicpork said...
And the folks at Daily Kos thought I was the scum of the earth for bringing up these same points two years ago.

Anonymous mandt said...
It couldn't be more clear: Obama is incompetent and if not outright cynical---a corporate tool. All this equivocating among the haute bourgeoisie is equivalent to frogs dying in ever increasing hot waters. Obama has failed on every significant piece of legislation affecting the increasing numbers of poor, hungry Americans, the foreclosed and unemployed. What is it going to take to get people to wake up and create a primary challenge for 2012?