Saturday, August 22, 2009


Is Obama a shill for corporate capitalism? That's the question that keeps haunting me lately. It's a heretical question still in the progressive community, though on the Left, it is being stated very plainly as a growing conviction (see here, for example).

With all my heart, I don't want to believe it. Without knowing Obama personally, I find him extremely appealing both as a person and as a politician, which is to say, I'm attracted to the 'public image' of him that has been popularized through the media. But something is wrong.

Here are a few of the things that just don't jive.

Obama imported wholesale the Clinton economic advisors, like Larry Summers, who along with other likeminded neo-liberals contributed mightily to the recent housing bubble and economic crash. At the same time, he refused to bring aboard any economic advisors who had been warning of the bubbles and looming catastrophie, such as Joseph Stiglitz.

He has supported the bailout of the big banks, with no pretense of any really tough measures against them.

He has kept the Defense advisors that Bush brought aboard in his second term, such as Secretary of Defense Gates.

He has broadened and expanded the Afghanistan War, while keeping most of our troops in Iraq.

He has grown increasingly silent about climate change, allowed the weakening of climate change legislation, in such a way that benefits the energy industries mightily. Coal is back.

And most recently, he seems to be supporting the Max Baucus/Gang of Six health care reform, which will probably be no real reform at all.

Progressives across the board are beginning to wonder what in the world is going on with Obama. I'm one of them. I want to believe in a progressive Obama who will bring 'change we can believe in' to this country of ours, but he is making it awfully hard.

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