Monday, June 16, 2008

Paul Krugman Doesn't Drink Koolaide

Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur

I saw this phrase in Alan Furst’s new book The Spies of Warsaw; it means “The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.” A good slogan for the Bush years - but not only in reference to Bush.

I just read Naomi Klein:

Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC, “Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.”

followed by a rant against Jason Furman.

Look, Obama didn’t pose as a Nation-type progressive, then turn on his allies after the race was won. Throughout the campaign he was slightly less progressive than Hillary Clinton on domestic issues — and more than slightly on health care. If people like Ms. Klein are shocked, shocked that he isn’t the candidate of their fantasies, they have nobody but themselves to blame.

Oh, no, The Precious is just another lying politician, what ever shall we do?

Paul Krugman and the rest of us sane Democrats have been trying to tell you kool-aide swilling fools that Obama was further right than the rest of the Democratic field. Millions of voters tried to show you the error of your addled ways by voting their economic self-interest and choosing the lady with the concrete socio-economic policies. Hundreds of bloggers typed their fingers to the bone explaioning that you were projecting your fantasies onto this cypher, pointing out his economic team is not very progressive, that his major donors are all Wall Street financial people, and that he never met an economic measure favorable to the middle class that he didn't want to compromise on. You got snookered by your own irrational fantasies.

Hope you like kool-aide. Me, I drink Maker's Mark, just like Hillary.



Palomino said...

Naomi Klein and her colleagues at The Nation are living, deplorable proof that Geraldine Ferraro was right. The only thing more deplorable is the treatment Ferraro got for telling the truth, and for the unvarnished way she told it. What if the Kleins and the vanden Heuvels, the Nations and the MoveOns, had simply said, "Look, we know Barack Obama's policies are to the right of Hillary Clinton's, and we know that he's not ready to be president, but, damn it, he's black, and it's high time this country had a black president"? And really, what else could they have said? What other rationale could they, or the candidate himself, have offered for this particular candidacy at this particular time? If they had said this, I could have respected it. I might even have jumped on the bandwagon myself, since I too think it's way past time for an African American president. But if we had to choose--and, given the two remaining Democratic candidates, we did--this was no time for us to subordinate superior qualifications, deep experience, and a record of progressive accomplishment to ideals of equity, however noble or well intended. Nor can elevating one underqualified biracial man to the presidency address the racism that persists in our society and institutions. Progressives used to understand such basic concepts. What this primary season has exposed is how Barack Obama's black skin serves as an Afrodisiac to certain self-styled progressives. Obama's being black liberates them to revel in being white, but with plausible deniability, since they can do so under cover of a compulsive, narcissistic orgy of obsessive white guilt. And Hillary's Appalachian supporters are slandered as racists!

HenryFTP said...

If you read the letters posted to Klein's article so far, you can see that Kool-Aid consumption is apparently way up among the so-called left intelligentsia.

For the Nation crowd, as well as Kos and Arianna and Josh, and above all the Party Leadership, this was always really an anti-Clinton rather than pro-Obama campaign. From their perspective, it was far more of a power struggle than an ideological struggle. As most of them are the sort of people who think that power struggles are the province of the coarse and uneducated (e.g. Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton), they dressed it up as (i) an ideological struggle, (ii) a struggle between "change" and the "status quo", (iii) a renewal of the struggle for racial enlightenment, (iv) a struggle for "political realignment", or (v) a struggle between "transcendent post-partisan politics" and "negative", "gutter" or "Nineties" politics.

With the economy wrecked by Republican misrule and Bush and Cheney deaf to the pleas of Americans to end our counterproductive and bloody occupation of Iraq, eighteen million voters, particularly those in the biggest states, were not deceived by either the elite "framing" of the campaign or the pure ad hominem vilification of Hillary in the Corporate Media. These troubled times call for a capable and tested leader and authentic Democrat to tackle these serious problems with determination and skill, and Hillary emerged from the scrum of candidates as the prospective nominee in whom most Democrats would repose their trust.

The coalition arrayed against her were never terribly concerned with the popular choice of voters, just power, and of course the more resiliently popular Hillary proved to be the more panicked they became, shamefully briefing the Corporate Media with Hillary character assassination in true Rovian style.

But they prevailed. Reading between the lines of Klein's article, I think the Nation crowd have always recognized that the ideological struggle within the anti-Clinton forces would begin in earnest only after her eclipse. Klein and vanden Heuvel are just putting their marker down -- if they have been deceived, it's perhaps only in thinking that Obama will give them a seat at the table. With their puny and impecunious readership, I doubt he will -- he's far more likely to stick with Kos and Arianna.

As for the Party Establishment, there will be smiles all around so long as "change" remains campaign rhetoric and nothing too concrete. And they can always blame the Clintons just in case we downmarket, aging rubes don't come back into the fold.

Potato Head said...

Just a note in defense of Klein. There is nothing in her quick identification of Obama's lurch to the right to suggest that she "drank the Kool-Aid" before. As anyone who has read her stuff should know, she is not so naive as to think that any US candidate for president is a serious threat to the status quo, and in that light her article reads like a big "I told you so."

On her website you can find all the articles she's written. Of these, exactly three mention Obama, including this one. The only other one that expresses a view of Obama says this: "Some of the most prominent anti-war voices--from to the magazine we write for, The Nation--have gone this route, throwing their weight behind the Obama campaign.

"This is a serious strategic mistake. It is during a hotly contested campaign that anti-war forces have the power to actually sway U. S. policy. As soon as we pick sides, we relegate ourselves to mere cheerleaders.

And when it comes to Iraq, there is little to cheer. Look past the rhetoric and it becomes clear that neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton has a real plan to end the occupation. They could, however, be forced to change their positions -- thanks to the unique dynamics of the prolonged primary battle.

"Despite the calls for Clinton to withdraw in the name of "unity," it is the very fact that Clinton and Obama are still fighting it out, fiercely vying for votes, that presents the anti-war movement with its best pressure point. And our pressure is badly needed.

"For the first time in 14 years, weapons manufacturers are donating more to Democrats than to Republicans. The Dems have received 52 percent of the defense industry's political donations in this election cycle – up from a low of 32 per cent in 1996. That money is about shaping foreign policy, and so far, it appears to be well spent.

"While Clinton and Obama denounce the war with great passion, they both have detailed plans to continue it. Both say they intend to maintain the massive Green Zone, including the monstrous U.S. embassy, and to retain U.S. control of the Baghdad Airport."

Does that sound like someone who's drinking the Kool-Aid?

I agree with the sentiments about the run of the mill Nation writers. It even looks like Alex Cockburn as put aside his hatred of the Democrats long enough to give Obama a pass.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

Anglachel, do you think Obama is *really* conservative, or do you think instead that he's neither liberal nor conservative but simply looking for the most pragmatic way to establish an Obama coalition? Not that either alternative paints him in a better light, but I'm just curious about your take on it.

Anglachel said...

Hi Turtle,

Honestly, I have no read on this guy. He likes being adulated and he'll do anything to win.

I'm not sure there is a political bone in his body. He doesn't seem to think government is good for doing anything, though he's all for making government "good". He has never articulated what he intends to accomplish and for whom. He hangs out with "radicals" from the 60s and some very conservative economists who like precisely the socio-economic order his political friends want to see dismantled.

No center, no stake in the ground, just a continual vote of "present". I keep coming back to his assetion that he wants people to be Obamacans, not Democrats or Republicans. I guess that's his politics - all about himself.


desert dawg said...

Thanks, Palomino and Henry for excellent comments. Re: potato heads': There is nothing in her quick identification of Obama's lurch to the right to suggest that she "drank the Kool-Aid" before.

She's an investigative journalist for crying out loud, her specialty is economics, and she somehow didn't read about all of Obama's advisers being libertarians before now? Or find sitting on his Senate website gems like this one?
Obama also outlined his opposition to President Bush’s proposal to privatize Social Security, saying the plan is flawed in part because the U.S. would borrow from other nations to pay for the staggering transition costs to alter traditional Social Security.

That's right. Obama doesn't like W's plan for privatization because we'd have to borrow too much from the Chinese. Not because it's wrong, but because it's expensive.

As Anglachel points out, there was evidence galore that Obama was libertarian and not progressive. Klein chose to ignore it.