All the mainstream corporate media and radical right-wing media unceasingly asserting that Obama is some kind of socialist does not change the facts. Fox, CNN and the rest of the media can act like President Obama is the progressive crusader the left has been dreaming about since the 60’s ended, but anyone capable of reason knows that it is not the truth. President Obama is a centrist Democrat and he is distinctly to the right of that center line. In fact he is progressive or liberal on very few issues.
IKE was to the left of Obama on economic policies. He actually believed in Keynesian economics and acted on those policies. This led to growth and wealth redistribution. Ike believed in Labor Unions. He wanted a strong middle class. But on foreign policy issues, Ike talked like he was anti-war, just like Obama, while he nurtured the seeds of the cold war planted by Truman, Forrestal and Byrnes. IKE believed that the Military Congressional Industrial Complex was a threat to the freedom and security of the United States but he did everything in his power to make the stranglehold the war machine had on the people of the USA and the world permanent. IKE was the ludicrous inspiration for Kubrick’s greatest film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It was IKE who feared that the contact with his Generals would be lost if there was a nuclear war. Therefore he gave the Generals the authority launch nuclear bombs. The Generals feared they would be out of contact with their operation’s commanders so they gave them the authority to launch the bomb if they lost contact with the Generals…eventually that scenario plays out so that someone who is completely nuts, Major T.J. “King” Kong (played by Slim Pickens) has the authority to start nuclear annihilation.
Obama embraces the defense department, the imperial foreign policy and the newly born security terror infrastructure. Ronald Reagan and the deluge of propaganda that has inundated the American public since the 80’s has moved both political parties so far to the right that the reality is IKE would be a Democrat now and Obama would have been a Republican in the 50’s and 60’s. Even Nixon who established the EPA was to the left of Obama on many issues.
The only issues where Obama actively pursues an agenda that can be remotely called progressive are those which have involved civil rights. He has moved the country slowly forward on issues like gay rights and women’s rights through the Fair Pay (the Lilly Ledbetter Act). He has acted to reduce the draconian sentencing of drug users through the Fair Sentencing Act and recently by tepidly over hauling the grossly unjust and nonsensical mandatory minimum sentence policy that has been part of the so-called War On Drugs for a half century. However, Obama did not pardon the thousands needlessly in jail. He per usual took the least confrontational action he could and made a modest reform. He is also slowly exploring remedies for the massive voter suppression efforts of the Libertarian, Tea Bagger, and Neo-Conservative wings of the Republican party. However here his effort is again lukewarm at best.
On civil liberties on the other hand Obama has been a disaster for liberals and is in reality a consistent neo-conservative. He in essence supports the Bush-Cheney view of America. He has had the justice department actively prosecute Whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are now playing the role that the free press was supposed to play under the constitution. The press was supposed to honestly report the ugly, the bad and the very ugly of the United States Government and those influencing their decisions. The press was given special protection in the constitution to do so. Yet rather than embrace and celebrate the courageous acts of Whistleblowers, Obama ruthlessly prosecutes them. The near melt down he has had over Edward Snowden is the case in point. All the President had to say about Mr. Snowden was that he is this generation’s Danial Ellsberg and forget about him. Instead he acts like Mr. Snowden is some kind of cold war super spy that has revealed some great secret to the “enemy”. Who is the enemy by the way and what has the enemy gained by Snowden’s revelations? No liberal president would ever prosecute Manning or Snowden because they have done a service to their country. In addition the government spying was widely believed to be occurring. Further why don’t people realize all the government is doing is tapping into information the multi-national corporations already have? That fact alone makes the Snowden episode just a Trumanesque case of macho blustering over nothing which ultimately makes society a more dangerous and less inviting place to live. Part Orwell and part Huxley, the information gatherers are the right hand of today’s totalitarian states.
The Don Siegelman case really shows Obama’s true colors. Clearly a liberal president would have moved to completely pardon Siegelman as soon as he got into office. Rove’s operatives stole the election in Alabama from Siegelman and then put him in jail because he talked. The case is so outrageous that it is Stalinesque. His crime was to interfere in the gaming casino racket that Republican insiders were working on Native American tribes to make millions in campaign and lobbying payments. Siegelman’s crime was that he supported a state lottery that would take money away from the casinos.
Obama has even bought into the neo-conservative new Cold War philosophy. McCain in 2008 with help from Rove tried to push some old but still festering buttons with the war in Georgia. Nothing makes the aging right-wing nut jobs more angry than being reminded of Viet Nam or Communism. These are issues the younger generation is ignorant about, but those votes were going to Obama anyway. Most of them could not tell you why there was a South Vietnam or who Ho was. McCain tried to make the Cold War an issue during the campaign. Rove instigated an attack against Russian interests in Georgia to kindle the flames. As far as the right is concerned any war is a good war. The infinite war on terrorism which is ongoing in every country in the world 24/7 makes a nice complement to a new Cold War which will divert resources to nuclear bombs, tanks, air craft carriers and weapons that are useless in the war on terror, but a huge source of corporate welfare and profits and campaign contributions for wealthy oligarchs and their congressional representatives. The Cold War can generate billions in profits for the old guard while the Security State’s war on everything and its infinite thirst for information generates defense profits for the new technology companies. Even Amazon is now a defense contractor. To keep two unending all-consuming wars going at the same time is the clear foreign policy goal of the neocons. Many of the founding fathers were against having a standing army. Now we see why. The US military is the world’s biggest consumer of oil. The Koch brothers and other members of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex readily embrace a new Cold War because it will continue to add billions a year to their accounts in Switzerland and other foreign hiding places.
Clearly Obama who was born in 1961 does not remember the Viet Nam war. He was never eligible for the draft. He never marched in the streets, he never participated in a sit in, he was never in the street throwing tear gas back at the cops. His life was not directly effected by Viet Nam. Like many of his generation, the pre Gen-X and post Baby Boomers, his only connection to the revolutionary spirit and the politics of the sixties was the freedom to enjoy drugs and pre-marital sex. Obama was not radicalized by the Viet Nam war or its aftermath. He did not understand who RFK and JFK were. He did not understand or care why the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers changed American history. But the assassinations of MLK and Malcolm X may have actually caused him to stop and think. Being of mixed race he was directly effected by their deaths and their politics. In fact the insane right-wing media claims that Obama is Malcolm X’s son. Hard to believe but true.
Possibly this is why Obama can swing to the left on issues of civil rights but still clings to an essentially neo-conservative foreign policy. Like many of the Tweener Generation he was not “into” politics. He was not into creating an ideal society. There is little that is idealistic about Obama. He is more like Truman than FDR. Many of his generation considered Hippies to be analogous to the Homeless. They view them as a social problem not a social movement. I know a plethora of his generation who view the word “Hippie” as an insult. And quite humorlessly they would “insult” others by saying you look like a “Hippie”. Long hair was viewed as ugly, and other fashions of the 60s were eclipsed by a new generation trying to say “We’re not them.” as opposed to anything meaningful. Replacing bell bottom jeans with straight legged jeans is considered a revolutionary act by the standards of Obama’s Tweener Generation. Absolute non-sense. Of course there is a host of reasons for this. The Baby Boomers had a significant impact on the world while those of Obama’s generation did not. So they seek to demean and minimize the role of the counter-culture in the 60’s.
And since Obama was not radicalized by the war his ideas were shaped not by independent thought, meaningful discussions with close friends about significant issues or long tough, life or death, decisions about whether or not to go to Viet Nam or Canada but only by what he heard on TV. Thus he idealized Ronald Reagan instead of RFK or FDR. To Obama, Reagan’s only flaw was that he was a racist. The fact that he was a war monger, saw the world in terms of black and white, never shades of gray, and believed in American Imperialism was just fine. His supply side economics justified the ethos of greed and narcissism that formed the backbone of generation dedicated to itself and itself alone.
This begs the question if Obama had been named Wilson and was raised as a white Southerner of mixed race who would he be?
I think the weird almost Invasion of the Body Snatchers like transformation of John Kerry into war monger coupled with Obama’s thirst to start yet another war with an Arab nation shows his real political heart. The half-white part of Obama is a neo-conservative who believes in supply side economics and world domination by the US military as a foreign policy. Had he not been influenced by his experience of being mixed race in a racist nation he would be the leading intellectual force behind the tea baggers today. He would be dining with the Koch brothers and be essentially a George Bush with a triple digit IQ.
Obama was forced to confront the reality of the United States’s dark side as black man. He was never forced to look at the imperial foreign policy. He was never threatened by the draft or subjected to extreme poverty. His generation and their fascination with video games leads to a black and white view of life. Winning at no cost to his side is fine. The game goes on. Thus his love affair with the drone wars and his intent to launch yet another war in the Middle East reflects the half-white side of his nature. That side is essentially conservative. He grew up with Ronald Reagan values and a simple us against them view of life. If Obama had not been half-black he would certainly be a far right-wing conservative and support the Bush-Cheney world view, Reaganomics and be the Koch brother’s favorite politician. Obama is not a liberal or a socialist. He is a neo-con.