The Third International after Lenin

Sunday, January 31, 2010

State of the Union 2010 (take 2)


Obama: I am not a radical or a Bolshevik

January 30, 2010

Louis Proyect

Perhaps nothing encapsulates the essence of the Obama administration better than his encounter with the Republicans in Baltimore yesterday where he tried to paper over his differences with the labor-hating and racist politicians.

Pressed by Mike Spence, the verbose Representative from Indiana who puts Joe Biden to shame, why he failed to adopt Republican-style tax cuts, Obama defended himself by referring to the key role of tax cuts in his stimulus package:

The package that we put together at the beginning of the year, the truth is should have reflected, and I believe reflected what most of you would say are common-sense things. This notion that this was a radical package is just not true. A third of them were tax cuts. And they weren’t — when you say they were boutique tax cuts, Mike, 95 percent of working Americans got tax cuts. Small businesses got tax cuts. Large businesses got help in terms of their depreciation schedules.

I mean, it was a pretty conventional list of tax cuts.

Do you see how he denied that there was anything “radical” about his package? This kind of pleading reminds me of nothing more than the ex-Communists testifying before HUAC or Senator McCarthy trying to establish their True American bona fides even though they signed a petition against General Franco in 1938. But that was never good enough for the witch hunters. They would only be assuaged if the hapless former Communist named names. In Obama’s case, the only way to save himself is to go the whole hog and adopt the Republican Party’s full program, something he apparently has embarked upon.

Even more self-abnegating was his performance before Marsha Blackburn, the Representative from Tennessee who complained about his sorry health plan that looks like it will die on the vine anyhow. He practically got on his hands and knees to beg the filthy right wing politicians to accept him as a True American:

The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year.

Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Tom — and certainly you don’t agree with Tom Daschle on much but that’s not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.

And so I’m thinking to myself, “Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist . . . “

No, look, I mean, I’m just saying — I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans — it — it’s similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

What a pathetic display, trying to disabuse these Republicans of the idea that he is not a “Bolshevik” as if anybody outside of the deranged ideological universe of AM talk radio would believe such a thing. What does Obama expect? That these howling hyenas are going to lie down with sheep? That is the fundamental problem of American politics today after all. The Republicans want blood and the Democrats are all too anxious to bare their neck.

It is also obvious that this Columbia University and Harvard educated president does not have a very good grasp of recent American history. Holding up Robert Dole and Howard Baker to this mob is a complete waste of time since the Republican Party has mutated into an ultraright body that is bent on ridding itself of any vestige of centrism, such as the kind that Dole and Baker represented. It is like asking a serial killer to remember what a nice boy he was in kindergarten.

This Republican Party, with its bible-thumping, xenophobic, market fundamentalist base, is not the party of Richard Nixon. Indeed, we would be lucky if the Democrats were as far to the left as Nixon, whose Keynesian economics and support of affirmative action makes most Democrats look reactionary by comparison. As the Republican Party continues to shift to the right, we end up with Democrats trying to stake out a center that also keeps shifting to the right. It is as if liberal politicians in Weimar Germany tried to maintain the center during the rise of Hitler. Come to think of it, with all proportions guarded, that is what we are up against today.

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