In his book “Death of the Liberal Class”, as well in recent articles Why Liberal Sellouts Attack Prophets Like Cornel West and The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic, Chris Hedges condemns what he calls “the liberal class” for its refusal to confront the truths about the Democratic Party, about Barack Obama, and about liberals themselves. In short, the Democrats and Obama are complicit in great injustices, and most self-styled liberals are too invested in the corrupt system, or are too cowardly, to take effective steps to oppose it.
I think Hedges paints with a too broad brush. He repeatedly ridicules liberals, calling them “sellouts”, capitulators, useless, and irrelevant. “And this is why liberals are rightly despised by the working class and the poor.” “For once the callous heart of the corporate state is exposed, so is the callous heart of the liberal class.” (source)
Heck, Hedges sounds like Rush Limbaugh.
And here Hedges sounds libertarian: “By extolling the power of the state as an agent of change, as well as measuring human progress through the advances of science, technology and consumption, liberals abetted the cult of the self and the ascendancy of the corporate state..”
Nonetheless, Hedges is spot on in his willingness to state unpleasant truths about the Democrat’s complicity in militarism, secrecy, and corporatism.
Hedges discusses black intellectual Cornel West, a professor of Religion at Princeton University and a member of the Democratic Socialists. During the 2008 election campaign, West worked ardently for candidate Barack Obama. West now feels betrayed. Hedges writes:
West, who ,did 65 campaign events for Obama, believed in the potential for change and was encouraged by the populist rhetoric of the Obama campaign. He now nurses, like many others who placed their faith in Obama, the anguish of the deceived, manipulated and betrayed. He bitterly describes Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.” — from The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic
Among Democrats in the local party establishment, almost everyone I know is critical of some or many of President Obama’s policies. But few are ready to take bold steps to condemn Obama or to call for a primary challenge. “Do you want Republicans to win in 2012?” they say.
Most Democrats will defend President Obama, pointing out what he was up against: a divided Senate, a united and extremist Republican Party, a conservative Supreme Court, and a horrible inheritance of wars, debt, corruption, and economic mismanagement from the Bush Administration. They’ll point to his success at reviving the economy and overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This is all true, though the bailouts were massively corrupt and unjust, and though unemployment remains unacceptably high.
Apologists for Obama will also point to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (called “Obamacare” by detractors) and to regulation of Wall Street as successes, But these two successes were decidedly mixed. Health care reform, in particular, was largely a gift to the insurance industry. Obama didn’t even allow single-payer advocates at the table, and the final bill lacked a public option.
An examination of Obama’s overall record — his staffing choices and his policy decisions — indicates a marked tendency for the President to choose war over peace, Wall Street over Main Street, torturers over whistleblowers, centrists over progressives, and secrecy over transparency. See this petition for a summary of the case against President Obama.
Worst of all, President Obama worked ardently to protect Bush Administration officials from prosecution for torture, war-mongering, and corruption. Obama thereby hid the truth about the recent past from the American people and allowed the Republicans to regroup and rebuild. Who would have thought that two years after the end of the Bush presidency, Democrats would be blamed for the economic mess and Republicans would win the House? President Obama’s lack of leadership, and his naive bipartisanship, are largely to blame.
As William Kuttner of The American Prospect says, “Let’s stop pretending. Barack Obama is a disaster as a crisis president. He has taken an economic collapse that was the result of Republican ideology and Republican policies, and made it the Democrats’ fault. And the more that he is pummeled, the more he bends over. “
In Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating, Glenn Greenwald writes, “Whether in economic policy, national security, civil liberties, or the permanent consortium of corporate power that runs Washington, Obama, above all else, is content to be (one could even say eager to be) guardian of the status quo. And the forces of the status quo want tax cuts for the rich, serious cuts in government spending that don’t benefit them (social programs and progressive regulatory schemes), and entitlement ‘reform’ — so that’s what Obama will do.”
See also Katrina vanden Heuvel Lays Out the Unfortunate Truth About Obama, Why Progressives Should Run Against Obama and “Blue Dogs” in the 2012 Democratic Party Primaries By Rabbi Michael Lerner, and Olbermann on how Obama has betrayed both his base and his country.
Most disturbing is the decision of the Obama Justice Department to prosecute whistleblower Thomas Drake. As reported in an article by Jane Mayer in the May 23 issue of the New Yorker, Drake is apparently being targeted largely as punishment for his revelations about mismanagement and illegal wiretapping by the NSA in its infamous Trailblazer program. Mayer writes:
Grbriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist at the Hudson Institue, who in his book “Necessary Secrets” (2009), argues for more stringent protection of classified information, say, “Ironically, Obama has preside over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history — even more so than Nixon.” ….
Mark Klein, the former A.T.& T. employeee who exposed the telecommunication company wiretaps, is also dismayed by the Drake case. “I think it’s outrageous,” he says. “The Bush people have been let off. The telecom companies got immunity. The only people Obama has prosecuted are the whistle-blowers.”
Yes, the Republicans are worse. Yes, I’ll probably end up voting for him, given the horridness of the likely alternative. But, no, I do not feel eager to support President Obama’s re-election, and no, I won’t donate money to his campaign and to the DSCC,, as I did in 2008.
The situation is grim. A glimmer of hope lies in the recent win in New York State by Democrat Kathy Hochul for a special House race. The Republicans have overreached.