What a difference a year makes. In December, 2008, Democrats basked in the glory of a triumphant presidential election campaign that saw their candidate, the first African American in history, take the presidency. Democrats swept to bigger majorities in the Senate and the House. It appeared with Obama in power that the country was on the brink of major, progressive change.
But a year later, the wheels have already come off the Democratic bus and it appears to be swerving toward the edge of a cliff. Here are some poll numbers from a just-released Battleground Poll as reported in the L.A. Times:.
The president’s job-approval rating has slipped to 49%, Republican pollster Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake say. And the percentage of people who strongly disapprove of the president’s performance, 41%, outweighs the 37% who strongly approve.
Disapproval of the job that Congress is doing has risen to 68%, "an all-time high," and 77% among independent voters.
The problem for the president’s party, the pollsters say, is that the most passionate supporters of the Democratic president appear less likely to turn out to vote in congressional elections next year. And the most angry of the independent voters — a swing-voting bloc that supported Obama in 2008 — appear heavily motivated to vote against Democrats.
"There is a potential for this being the 1994 of the angry white male," said Goeas, pointing to the pivotal year during President Clinton’s first term when Republicans gained control of the House.
The reference to 1994, of course, refers to the year the Democrats lost the House to the Republicans a loss that pretty much cut off any chance that the DLC-orientated Clinton White House had for any meaningful reform, not that they had such ideas. One character was pivotal in 1994 and is again pivotal today: Rahm Emanuel. Recall that Emanuel was a close advisor to Bill Clinton in 1994 and in fact was in charge of getting more Democrats elected back then. Today, he’s in an even more elevated position as Obama’s Chief of Staff.
Rahm, whatever his other faults, is no dummy. So he can obviously read the "tea leaves", the polls, and knows the implications for the party in 2010. It’s apparent, as the L.A. Times article points out, that the Democrats will be in major trouble in 2010. From the same article linked above, here are comments and statistics that show that Obama has lost independent voters and that Democrats won’t come out in the numbers needed in 2010:
"Only 28% said their priorities match Obama’s priorities, and 64% said they do not," Goeas said. "There’s a disconnect."
Most voters surveyed, 56%, say the country is on the wrong track, with 34% seeing the nation going in the right direction.
In a "generic" contest between an unnamed Democratic candidate and an unnamed Republican candidate for Congress, 42% of those surveyed said they would support the Republican; 40% opted for the Democrat.
Among those swing-voting independents: 40% said they would select the Republican; 19%, the Democrat.
The voters most likely to support Republican candidates for Congress are more likely to vote next year, according to the survey.
On a related note, one Democrat, Michael Capuano of Massachussets, a failed candidate for Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat, was asked about what he saw on the campaign trail and what the mood of the voters is. Capuano’s reply: "You’re screwed." Surely, both Rahm and Obama know this and doubly so after this failed health "insurance reform" bill comes out. An excellent diary here at Firedoglake by TheCallUp summarizes progresssive discontent with the Obama administration, especially over health care legislation in the last few days.
So then the question is: why? With the Democrats heading toward the cliff, with it obvious that Obama is failing because he has jettisoned the very platform that he ran and won it, the question is why would Rahm-Obama continue this disastrous path? At first, I chalked it up to stupidity. But once again, Rahm may be a thug, but he isn’t stupid, nor is Obama. Coincidence? Neither Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot believed in coincidence for good reasons. What’s instructive is that Rahm engineered pretty much the same results in 1994. So it has to be deliberate, not just coincidence, not just stupidity.
Here’s what I have come to regard as the reason for the disastrous course the Obama administration has taken: Rahm KNOWS that Obama and the Democrats are driving toward the cliff and that is part of the plan. Because after 2010 when the Republicans either take back the House or reduce the Democratic majority in it to such an extent that Blue Dogs (i.e. Republicans in Democratic garb) control it with their allies, Obama can work with the people he is most akin to: the GOP and the Blue Dogs. Note that overall Obama’s world outlook most closely resembles not progressive Democrat’s but that of Rockefeller Republican’s: strong on defense spending and the expansion of the American Empire, strong on help to major corporations and Wall St., bread and circuses for the masses.
The Democrats lost the House on Rahm’s watch in 1994 and it looks likely to happen again. Coincidence? I think not since as I mentioned anyone who has an IQ above 90 should be able to read these polls and see the results. Could it be that Rahm (and the man who hired him) really want to lose in 2010? Why? Because then Obama and Rahm could even more openly deal with the GOP whose values they share much more than they do those of progressive Democrats. That’s why, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, the Obama administration has not hesitated to put massive pressure on progressives but has not done the same thing to Blue Dogs, to Lieberman, to Max Baucus, etc. Writes Greenwald:
That’s what the White House can do when they actually care about pressuring someone to vote the way they want. Why didn’t they do any of that to the "centrists" who were supposedly obstructing what they wanted on health care? Why didn’t they tell Blanche Lincoln — in a desperate fight for her political life — that she would "never hear from them again," and would lose DNC and other Democratic institutional support, if she filibustered the public option? Why haven’t they threatened to remove Joe Lieberman’s cherished Homeland Security Chairmanship if he’s been sabotaging the President’s agenda? Why hasn’t the President been rhetorically pressuring Senators to support the public option and Medicare buy-in, or taking any of the other steps outlined here by Adam Green? There’s no guarantee that it would have worked — Obama is not omnipotent and he can’t always control Congressional outcomes — but the lack of any such efforts is extremely telling about what the White House really wanted here.
…We’ve long heard — from the most blindly loyal cheerleaders and from Emanuel himself — that progressives should place their trust in the Obama White House to get this done the right way, that he’s playing 11-dimensional chess when everyone else is playing checkers, that Obama is the Long Game Master who will always win. Then, when a bad bill is produced, the exact opposite claim is hauled out: it’s not his fault because he’s totally powerless, has nothing to do with this, and couldn’t possibly have altered the outcome. From his defenders, he’s instantaneously transformed from 11-dimensional chess Master to impotent, victimized bystander.
The supreme goal is to shield him from all blame.
Greenwald also notes that Obama and his administration today are harshly criticising Howard Dean, a Progressive, but they never did the same thing to Blue Dogs:
>…an NBC reporter explained how Robert Gibbs used his Press Briefing today to harshly criticize Howard Dean for opposing the health care bill. Why did Gibbs never publicly criticize people like Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and the like if they were supposedly obstructing and impeding the White House’s agenda on health care reform (this is a point Yglesias acknowledges as a "fair" one)? Having a Democratic White House publicly criticize a Democratic Senator can be a much more effective pressure tactic than doing so against a former Governor who no longer holds office.
In truth, Rahm and Obama share much more in common with Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman than they do with Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold. Rahm has famously told the progressives, on at least one occasion, to go "f___ themselves." Moreover, Rahm really represents Goldman Sachs and the banking elite (he’s a millionaire many times over because of his banking work), he represents the power elite and he also represents Israel. His dad is a self-professed Zionist. The power elite would prefer Republicans in office but in 2008 they knew that ANY Republican would lose to just about any Democrat. So they advanced their paid salesman, Barack Obama, who was sold as a progressive to the American people when in fact he was in the employ of the people really running this country. People like Bob Rubin. So Obama was a stealth candidate, or if you prefer, a kind of Trojan horse whose exterior masked the presence of the banking and corporate elite inside.
Recall that in 2006, Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs funded a free trade think tank embedded in the Brookings Institution. Their free trade baby is called the Hamilton Project, after Alexander Hamilton of the "people are a great beast" fame. At the opening of the Hamilton Project in April, 2006, Rubin and Goldman Sachs invited a young senator to speak: Barack Obama. His speech extolled free trade, referred to his "friend Bob" (Rubin), and also included the need for cutbacks in entitlements (read Social Security and Medicare). For more on Obama and the Hamilton project, see this diary.
So, we are seeing the Democrats going from their most popular period in decades in 2008 to driving over the cliff in 2010. Obama as salesman has pushed for: TARP, trillions in bailouts to Wall St. and banks, no policy on job creation, and escalation of an unpopular war in Afghanistan. The real president is Bob Rubin, former head of both Goldman Sachs and Citibank; Obama is Rubin’s hand-selected salesman; Rahm is Obama’s handler and the conduit from Rubin-Goldman Sachs-the power elite to Obama.
Moreover, Obama is expendable as this disastrous path of the Democratic bus shows. Rubin and Rahm know that Obama is pushing programs that will result in defeat for the Democrats: Rahm did the same thing in 1994. What Obama bought for Rubin and Goldman in 2008 was time, and the opportunity to defeat the once in every 70 years chance that progressives have when they control the presidency, the House and the Senate. Mission accomplished by Obama and his Trojan horse campaign. He can now be jettisoned and he will be by the power elite who will shift funding away from him in 2012 to a Republican.
In a sense, Joe Lieberman is also a weather vane for what’s happening. Lieberman has an excellent sense of power (and is completely trusted by the people of the power elite). That’s why Lieberman’s vote was critical on health "insurance reform." Joe is also Israel’s guy (as is Rahm, who according to Bill Clinton in his biography was "in the Israeli army" see p. 542 of Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004)). Note that Joe has been drifting towards the right over the last decade; he’s positioned to sell himself as a Republican in 2012 when he comes up for reelection again. Joe knows already that 2012 will be a Republican year just as 2008 was a Democratic year. He’s one of the men the power elite really trust (Rahm is another) whereas Obama is expendable and probably just happy to have the chance to make some money, satisfy his ambitions, get in the public spotlight, and retire in luxury. As more and more people see through Obama’s lies and deceptive words, his value as a salesman becomes less to the power elite.
The motive here? Power and money. These motives are more powerful than even race for note that Obama has done zilch for people of his own race. The nexus between power and money and race was commented upon by the brilliant Black American crime detective novelist, Walter Mosley:
I could see where money affected both of them [2 characters in his book] more than race. It was the first time I had ever actually witnessed the power of money and class in forming character.
Source: Walter Mosley, Fear Itself (2003).
So in sum, the debacle that is "health insurance" reform has stripped back the curtain to reveal to the American people what is really happening. Our government is not working for the people, it is working to advance the power and interests of those in charge, as the actions on "insurance reform" show. The person in charge of this country is not Obama but his master, Bob Rubin. Rahm Emanuel is Rubin/Goldman Sach’s handler for Obama. Obama is dispensable especially as people see through his "salesman skills", Rahm is not, neither is Lieberman. Obama was chosen as a stop-gap measure in a year in which any Democrat would have won. That is why Rubin chose Obama as long ago as 2006 to be "his man"; someone who could be relied on to sell unpopular policies to an increasingly progressive electorate. With Obama, a Trojan Horse for Rubin and Goldman Sachs in power, the short window for real progressive change was slammed shut. That’s why Obama has dumped every progressive program that he ran on since the election. That’s why Obama froze real progressives (like Howard Dean) out of his administration and worked instead with Clinton retreads and George W. leftovers, like Robert Gates and Gen. McCrystal. All of this shows that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, as Gore Vidal and the historian William Appleman Williams noted long ago, are both wings of the Corporate Party which really runs everything.
Is all lost? Probably. Sorry for the bleak assessment but the forces in charge control not only our government but the police, the army, and most importantly, the media. Note too that the same thing is happening world wide in the "democracies". Berlusconi, a Mafia thug, is in charge of Italy and deserved his up close meeting with the Milan Cathedral (what an irony that instrument was!). Tony Blair-Gordon Brown sold Britain’s Labour Party out just as Clinton and Obama sold out the Democrats. France is ruled by a puppet of the French elites. Germany and Japan are both ruled by huge multi-national corporations like Siemens and Sony. Russia is ruled by the former head of the KGB. Voltaire recognized the human dilemma many years ago in Candide (1759) and came up with this injunction as the most fruitful course of action: look to yourself and your circle of friends and till your own garden.
Here in America, if any change happens, it must be at the local level first and done through populist organizing. Forget the Democratic Party, it’s infested with DLCers. Forget writing letters to Obama, you’re just wasting your time and energy. True change can only come about when the public is first enlightened as to what is really happening in this country. So forums like this are a first step in the right direction. Gardens and good novels are two other escapist opportunities to while away the time until either the police or the army come for us! For after all, lots of people are going to be "in Dutch" after the mandated insurance bill passes. You either sign up for the insurance, pay a fine, or go to jail. And jail is one institution that both parties really believe in and find unlimited funds for.