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The Racist Red-Baiting of Obama is About More than Race Alone


The persistent, deeply entrenched, and often all-too hidden power of racism in American life needs to be acknowledged [1] and acted upon in progressive ways if the left is going to have any chance of successfully and desirably advancing democratic social transformation. It is important, however, for progressives not to seem to overstep the bounds of common sense in too readily reducing current events to race (well, to racism) alone. We should remember that while white supremacism is widespread, ingrained, and ubiquitous in the U.S., often in maddeningly cloaked ways, it doesn’t magically explain everything. And we should always keep in mind the capitalist-imperial framework within which American race and racism are constructed and function and the service that racial division provides to the (yes, predominantly white) U.S. ruling class and its fake, corporate-managed "democracy."

 

 

"THE RED-BAITING IS ACTUALLY ABOUT…SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY"

 

These are things that the prolific white anti-racist author and activist and "Progressives for Obama"(PFO) member Tim Wise would have done well to keep closer to the front of his mind when writing a recent provocative PFO essay titled "Socialism as the New Black Bogeyman – Red-Baiting and Racism."[2]

 

Wise’s thesis is that the only real content behind the American right’s attempt to ludicrously demonize the nation’s first black president Barack Obama as a radical leftist – a "socialist" – is racism.

 

The real and only relevant content behind the absurd "socialist" charge against Obama, Wise argues, is racism. "It is not, and please make note of it," Wise proclaims, "about socialism. Or capitalism. Or economics at all, per se" The people issuing the charge" of "socialism" against Obama are really "using the term……as a symbol for something else entirely."

 

That "something else" is race.

 

 

BEYOND TOM FRANK

 

Wise is on to something, God knows.  Accurately described by Harper’s Magazine president John MacArthur as "a moderate with far too much respect for the global financial class," Barack Obama is anything but a socialist. He has predictably proved to be a most definitely "unleft" and "unradical president" (MacArthur). [3]

 

At the same time, it doesn’t take a lot of work to discover a deep undercurrent of toxic racial animosity behind the intense white "conservative" hostility to "socialist Obama" that is expressed on talk radio, on FOX News, at Republican "tea-bag parties," and during some of the recent "health care town-halls." As Wise correctly observes, the white right "now too often views Obama’s moves to more comprehensive health care as simply another way to take from those whites who have ‘played by the rules’ and give to those folks of color who haven’t. Even as millions of whites would stand to benefit from health care reform-and all whites," Wise adds, "would enjoy greater choices with the very public option that has drawn the most fire- the imagery of the recipients has remained black and brown, as with all social programs; and the imagery of the persons who would be taxed for the effort has remained hard-working white folks." The popular noxious Amerikanner television personality Glenn Beck, a leading voice in the right crusade against Obama’s mythical "socialism," has "sought," Wise notes, "to link health care reform, and virtually every single piece of Obama’s political agenda to some kind of backdoor reparations scheme." Beck has even "claim[ed] to have discovered a communist/black nationalist conspiracy in the administration’s Green Jobs Initiative."

 

Does Obama’s racial identity give a special edge and hook to the right’s predictable red-baiting of the nation’s first president? Do some, perhaps many, maybe most, right-wing whites connect the dots between (a) their reactionary fear/hatred of "socialism" and "redistribution" and (b) their related fear/hatred of black civil rights, affirmative action, and reparations for blacks (we might add their fear/hatred of predominantly Latina/o immigration and citizenship)? Do a considerable number of "conservative"/ Republican Caucasians accept and advance (what we on the actual left know to be the) bizarre claim that Obama is a "socialist" in order to stealthily attack a president they really fear and/or hate because he’s black (and intelligent and charismatic and widely supported by highly educated people) – this in a time when open racial prejudice is no longer considered publicly acceptable?

 

I’m quite certain that the answer to each of these questions is a resounding YES. As I have occasionally gone blue in the face trying to argue with race-/racism-denying denying white Americans, race and racism are ubiquitous in American society, culture, and politics.  Racial oppression is ever-present in American life, shaping and lurking behind numerous interrelated inequality structures of wealth, class, geography, and gender. The red-baiting of Obama could not lack a sharp racial edge any more than could the refusal of employers to hire people with felony records or the skewed spatial distribution of full-service grocery-stores and livable wage jobs and campaign contributions and disease rates across segregated zip codes and city ward boundaries.  Moreover, the red-baiting of Democrats and Democratic social programs by the American Right has long contained a significant racial/racist content even when the politicians targeted are and were white, from Franklin Roosevelt through John F. Kerry and Nancy Pelosi. 

 

For what it’s worth,  failure to grasp the longstanding relevance of racism as a driving force behind Republican power in the late 20th and early 21st century is one of the truly  egregious failures of liberal author and Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank’s widely read book What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America? (2004).[4] I was astonished at the length to which Frank went to avoid the obvious factor of white racial backlash in seeking to explain the plutocratic Republicans’ success in getting tens of millions of ordinary white working people to vote for them.  Wise is absolutely right to bring race back into the picture. [5]

   

 

THE RED-BAITING OF WHITE DEMOCRATS, PAST AND PRESENT

 

Still, race is not the whole story. It is all too easy, I think, to over-focus on Obama’s blackness when it comes to explaining the current ongoing escalation of popular "white-wing" red-baiting. Please recall the right’s ridiculous, out-of control neo-McCarthyite smearing of the entire Democratic presidential field during the 2007-2008 primary season.  The Republicans and their noise machine’s insistent claim that the Democratic contenders as a group were "radical leftists" and "socialists" (I monitored Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh a fair amount during the primary campaign) got so strident and unrelenting that I was moved to write a satirical, Onion-like essay based on the purposefully preposterous proposition that each one the Democratic candidates except Kucinich (who I painted out as a mock left-anarchist) was some kind of orthodox Marxist.[6] I do not recall the right claiming that the Obama was any more radical than the rest of the Democratic candidates. If anything, the proto-fascistic Hannity-Limbaugh team seemed most especially worried about the Marxist specter of (the abjectly corporatist) Hillary, smeared as a "socialist" by the talk radio mob since the early 1990s. Looking for evidence of radical leanings in the Democratic Party, the Republicans particularly enjoyed going after the fighting populist pro-labor candidate John Edwards and his "communist" notion of "two Americas" – the rich and the rest of us.

 

By mid-June of 2008, of course, Obama had secured the nomination and thereafter naturally absorbed the lion’s share of the right’s neo-McCarthyite obsessions and red-baiting energy. But imagine that the presidency was currently held by Hillary Clinton or, more impossibly, John Edwards.  Both a president Clinton II or a president Edwards would in all likelihood be pushing ahead right now on a modest, all-too business-friendly health reform package on the same model as Obama’s Guaranteed Choice plan. An Edwards White House (yes, impossible) might be more aggressively pursuing a public option than Obama or Hillary.  It might also be using the White House to advance the already forgotten Employee Free Choice Act (kicked to Washington’s curb with minimal protest from the president than one of my correspondents calls "Wall Street Barry"). A president Clinton II and even a president Edwards (who sat for years on the board of Wall Street hedge fund) would also likely have spent untold billions bailing out "too-big [and powerful]-to-fail" Wall Street firms and have advanced a moderately–sized economic stimulus program. 

 

Does anyone seriously doubt that right-wing propaganda factory and the G.O.P. would nonetheless be going bonkers absurdly accusing a Clinton II or Edwards administration of "socialism"?

 

Imagine (completely impossible under "our" corporate-managed U.S. electoral system) a Kucinich or Nader administration. Beck would have to broadcast from a psych ward. Hannity and Limbaugh would be apoplectic with charges of Bolshevism, maybe even anarchism. The white right would be far beyond tea-bags and town hall harassments.

  

Of, course, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was anything but a radical.  He was an initially hyper-cautious and moderate upper class reformer who voiced pride in his contribution to "saving the profits system" (his words) during the 1930s. He and his New Deal brain trust kept the southern white segregationist wing of his (Democratic) party on board by making sure that blacks (southern blacks especially) were largely excluded from the new social programs and protections of the middle and late 1930s. This hardly stopped the Depression-era Republican right from regularly FDR a socialist and even a communist on a regular basis.

 

All of this at least suggests that there might be something more than just the always relevant factor of race and racism alone behind the Republicans’ latest escalated "socialism"-smearing campaign.

 

 

SUSPECTS OTHER THAN JUST RACE

 

It is true that the U.S. right’s preposterous "socialism" charge seems much more shrill, insistent, and ubiquitous in the dawning Age of Obama than it did during the Clinton years. I’m certain racism is a big part of this, something that has been suggested to me by progressives who have infiltrated some of the tea-bag events. Wise is definitely on to something important here.  

 

 

Crisis of the Republican Party

 

But there are other explanations than only racial backlash. An obvious part of the reason for the current intensification of preposterous red-baiting from the right is the simple fact that the Democrats now control the executive and legislative branches, the latter by a significant and nearly filibuster-proof margin. The abject failures of the Bush-Cheney administration and the related, ongoing crisis and remarkable unpopularity of the Republican Party are bound to send the right into new levels of paranoid hysteria, rife with fear and loathing about the perils to "freedom" and the "American way of life" – understood by them to revolve fundamentally around (a mythical notion of) "democratic" and "free-market" capitalism – posed by the "Democratic socialists."

 

This is different from the mid-1990s, when Republicans still held two of the federal government’s three branches. The pathetic G.O.P. of the post-Bush II era has been reduced to pushing one of its timeworn, wolf-crying panic buttons ("socialism!") with special new force and frequency.  The external threat button isn’t working too well in the wake of the Cold War’s end and the fiasco in Iraq and in light of the fact that Obama is actually escalating the U.S. war "on Al Qaeda" in South Asia. This would be the case if Hillary or (miraculously) Edwards (or for that matter Biden or Dodd or Richardson or Kucinich or Nader) had attained the presidency.

 

 

Progressive Wave and Expectations

 

Second, Obama rode into office on a real wave of popular progressive sentiment and massive voter rejection of the nakedly corporate and messianic-militarist Republicans. Obama is course betraying that sentiment for the most part, consistent with the rule of what Edward S. Herman and David Peterson call "the unelected dictatorship of money," "which "vets the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties, reducing the options available to U.S. citizens to two candidates, neither of whom can change the foreign or domestic priorities of the imperial U.S. regime." As a result he is currently facing something of a welcome (non-racist and left-leaning) "progressive backlash" on his health care agenda, as Paul Krugman recently noted. [7] But the wave existed and seems (or seemed) to carry certain widespread hope for social-democratic government action on behalf of substantive progressive changes like guaranteed governmental healthcare, livable wages, carbon-emission reduction, housing relief, public works, and a post-Iraq War peace dividend. These are expectations that Obama, rightly described by Wise as "politically cautious" (I would go farther and agree with a 2007 New Yorker description of Obama as "deeply conservative" [8] and with Adolph Reed’s 1996 description of the future president as "vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal" [9]), is unwilling and/or unable to fulfill. Still, they help create a different and more fearful environment for the G.O.P. than did the Clinton ascendancy.

 

The Clintons’ rise in 1992-93 was less dramatic and less threatening to the right. It did not involve the new Democratic president winning more than 50 percent of the vote, much less seeming to stand atop a vast popular movement for "change." Bill Clinton snuck into the White House with a considerable assist from Ross Perot). It was not connected to any comparably massive repudiation of the Republican Party and was not (as was Obama’s rise) preceded by and connected to a dramatic increase in the Democrats’ numerical power in Congress. The crisis of the Republicans under the messianic-militarist George W. "Bush the Lesser" dwarfed the GOP’s difficulties under George Bush Senior

 

The Obama Media Cult (Not Just a Far-Right Concoction)

 

Third, with all due respect to JFK and Reagan, there’s never been anything quite like "BaRockstar Obama" when it comes to media adoration and popular, mass-marketed (yes) personality cult.  Picking up on the widely noted "quasi-religious" dimensions of Obama’s presidential run, Chicago attorney and author Tom Levinson observed in March of 2008 that "the Obama campaign" had "the distinct feel" of "a low-grade millennial movement." Obama’s quest for the White House "is a new expression," Levinson wrote in the Chicago Tribune, "of an age-old millennial vision because it’s believed that the ‘Change’ preached by the candidate has the potential to transform American life – completely and soon" (Tom Levinson, "For Some, Obama’s Mission is a Movement for the Ages," Chicago Tribune, March 9, 2008). More than a year before, Obama had educed such passionate support from voters that Slate.com’s Timothy Noah set up "The Obama Messiah Watch," a regular link quoting from a flood of "gratuitously adoring" articles on the candidate. The corporate media (the wacky right was largely correct to accuse the "mainstream media" of having a "slobbering love affair" with candidate Obama) and the power of "new media" have a lot to do with this, along with the simple Obama’s real telegenic charisma and related oratorical athleticism. 

 

The more-than-occasionally cultish aspect of the Obama phenomenon was naturally bound to spark fears of undue centralized stated power and Dear Leader adoration, hallmark characteristics of what has been portrayed in the U.S. as "socialism" in the 20th and early 21st century.

 

De-legitimization of Neoliberal Ideology and Increased Support for (Actually) "Socialism"

 

Fourth, Obama’s ascendancy has coincided with a financial crisis and related Great Recession that has in fact involved significant new government intervention in the economy.  That meltdown has also produced an escalated and widespread popular rejection of "free market" economics.  Forget for a moment that most of the government intervention occurring is about good old-fashioned state capitalism – socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest – and the reigning profits system has never really been about a "free market." The fact remains that "neoliberal" market ideology has been dealt a significant blow.  The common sense of the nation has shifted away from "unregulated" capitalism and against the Reagan-Thatcher notion that any sort of significant government involvement in the nation’s economic life is an inherent assault on "freedom" and "democracy."

 

As an honestly calculated U.S. unemployment rate moves well into the teens (even the milquetoast official rate is pushing 10 percent), moreover, "socialism" seems to have found a certain newfound popularity in the U.S  An issue of the leading corporate weekly U.S. public affairs magazine Newsweek last February  bore a provocative cover proclaiming that "We Are All Socialists Now." U.S. voters elected as president a man widely accused (quite absurdly) of being "a socialist." While Newsweek’s overblown headline strained credulity, a recent poll by the reputable polling firm Rasmussen Reports found that 20 percent of Americans now "prefer socialism to capitalism." Just more than half (53 percent) of American adults now "believe capitalism is better than socialism. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better." Most hopeful of all for lefties, "adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided" on capitalism v. socialism, Rasmussen Reports learned: "37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided." 

 

True, Rasmussen Reports never precisely defined the meaning of these terms. This left its survey-takers free to follow Newsweek in incorrectly understanding "socialism" (which for actual radicals like myself signifies workers’ control and the democratic planning of economic life to meet human needs, not private profit) to mean just about any significant degree of government intervention in the economy. Still, those are remarkable opinion findings, intimately related to the transparent failure of American capitalism and the "Wall Street crap-shoot" (Kurt Vonnegut’s term) at the end of the Bush II era and the beginning of the Obama administration. 

 

Obama has come to power in a situation that has seemed potentially akin to the 1930s, when the mother of modern capitalist crises (the Great Depression) led to widespread popular questioning of the capitalist system and to a significant new level of government intervention (including some genuinely progressive policies like the Social Security, National Labor Relations, and Fair Labor Standards Acts) in U.S. economic and social life.  This is very different from the Clinton era, which coincided with a prolonged economic expansion that picked up even unskilled wages at the end

 

So maybe some of the ridiculous red-baiting of Obama is about socialism to some degree. And (more certainly) capitalism and economics. Along with partisan party balances

 

[Section originally missing start here....]

 

RACE WORKING FOR THE RULING CLASS
 
The red-baiting of Obama has a strong racial dimension. How could it not? We’re talking about the United States, where white supremacy has been a ubiquitous and powerful aspect of national life from the creation. But to say that the right’s ridiculous use of the word "socialist" to describe Obama is nothing other than a symbolic substitute for racism, and that racism provides the "entire" explanation for that red-baiting, is in my opinion (and I am someone who has dined at the table of critical race theory more than once)too much.
 
Empirical and explanatory questions aside, I worry also that Wise’s race-reductionist argument serves two functions for the "business-friendly" [10] Obamaist cause.  First, it helps keeps progressives overly focused on the (very real) evil of the other dominant business party, diverting attention from the corporate-imperial perfidy of the in-power Blue Cross Blue Shield Democrats, those great co-optive shock-absorbers and diverters of the left. [11]
 
Second, it tends to reduces criticism of the Obama administration to regressive racial identity politics (white backlash) in ways that can be used to keep Obama’s serious and not-at-all racist left-progressive critics muted even as it shames the president’s vicious right-wing enemies. The "deeply conservative" Obama was hired by the power elite in part to pacify, confuse, and divide progressive social justice and antiwar/anti-empire forces and to re-brand American Empire and Inequality, Incorporated (and "corporate-managed democracy) at home and abroad. Once he was properly vetted [12] and found safe for dominant domestic and global oppression structures and doctrines (including largely unstated white supremacy), his race (along with his technically Muslim name and his deceptive image as an "antiwar" candidate) was one of the special attributes that helped make him distinctively qualified for that job. [13]
 
In my admittedly harsh judgment (which goes back to 2004, when I worked for the racial justice cause on the South Side of Chicago in and around Obama’s state-legislative district),Obama is a conscious and highly indoctrinated agent of the reigning authoritarian state-capitalist and imperial structures and ideologies of our time. We must take care not to automatically reduce any and all citizen anger against him, his administration, and the corporate-neoliberal Democrats (conservative partners with the G.O.P. Republicans in the narrow-spectrum, corporate-crafted U.S. "one-and-a-half-party system" [14]) to racism.
 
There’s a deeper and (no racial meaning intended) darker problem here. The corporate ruling class Obama represents and to which he (as he knows very well) owes his position is of in all likelihood pleased to see the president’s color help the Obama phenomeon and presidency seem  progressive . As John Pilger noted last July 4th in San Francisco:
 
 "The clever young man who recently made it to the White House is a very fine hypnotist, partly because it is indeed exciting to see an African American at the pinnacle of power in the land of slavery.  However, this is the 21st century, and race together with gender and even class can be very seductive tools of propaganda.  For what is so often overlooked and what matters, I believe, above all, is the class one serves. George W. Bush’s inner circle from the State Department to the Supreme Court was perhaps the most multiracial in presidential history.  It was PC par excellence. Think Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell.  It was also the most reactionary." [15]
 
Obama is what Pilger calls "a marketing dream" for the U.S. corporate-imperial establishment.  He is an agent of domestic and global hierarchy masquerading in rebel’s clothes provided in no small part by his racial identity.
 
We can be sure that that the class Obama serves (the same class all U.S. presidents serve) is pleased to see the right and what passes for a left (Obama and his "progressive" supporters) in the U.S. embroiled in racial identity conflict, however cloaked and indirect.  Wealth and power get concentrated yet further upward and empire is re-legitimized and redeployed in South Asia and around the world while Wise and others on the left uncover – with no small justice, to be sure – vicious racial sentiments beneath the red-baiting of the first black president.  Meanwhile, do we dare consider the possibility that that the corporate-sponsored Obama (who set new Wall Street campaign fundraising records and garnered unprecedented levels of favor from the nation’s dominant corporate media) was attractive to the ruling class partly because his election was certain to elicit such paralyzing, populace-dividing conflict and because elites sense that all-too widespread white American fears of the "angry black man" would make it close to impossible for a black president to conduct the "epic fight" with concentrated power that John Edwards accurately said would be required to attain any meaningful progressive reform in the wake of the Bush-Cheney nightmare?[16] 
 
It is somewhat entertaining to see Wise – a brilliant critic of "post-racial America" myths – use the race-reductionist argument to smack down the right.  The predominantly Caucasian American right deserves as many beatings as it can get. But left progressives should be warned that such argumentation can be a double-edged sword [17] with potential to harm their own efforts to understand, expose, and resist confront Superpower’s deeply entrenched and interrelated oppression structures and current hired ruling-class "hypnotist"-in-chief Barack Obama.  
 
Paul Street ([email protected])is the author of many articles, chapters, speeches, and books, including Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004), Segregated School: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Routledge, 2005); and Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008).
 
 
 
NOTES
   
1 For my own efforts along these lines, see Paul Street, Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History (New York, NY: Rowman-Littlefield, 2007); Still Separate, Unequal: Race, Place, Policy and the State of Black Chicago (Chicago, IL: Chicago Urban League, 2005); The Color of Opportunity: Race, Place, Policy and Labor Market Inequality in the Chicago Metropolitan Area (Chicago, IL: Chicago Urban League, 2003); (with Lee Ann Lodder, Scott McFarland, Diana White and Dennis Anthony Kass, Racial Preferences and Suburban Employment Opportunities (Chicago: Chicago Urban League, 2003); The Vicious Circle: Race, Prison, Jobs, and Community in Chicago, Illinois, and the Nation (Chicago, IL: Chicago Urban League, 2002); (with Dennis Anthony Kass_ The Color of Job and Prison Growth: Race, Geography, Labor Market Opportunity, Unattached Youth, and Mass Incarceration  in Illinois. Chicago, IL: Chicago Urban League (Summer 2001); The Color of Power: African-American Representation in Decision-Making Positions in Chicago (Chicago: Chicago Urban League, March 2002); "Skipping Past Structural Racism: Center Trumps Left in Recent PBS Series in Race in America," Black Commentator (April 8, 2004), available online at http://www.blackcommentator.com/85/85_think_street.html; "The Full Blown Oprah Effect: Reflections on Color, Class, and New Age Racism," Black Commentator (February 27, 2005), available online at http://www.blackcommentator.com/127/127_oprah.html; "Daley’s Big Box Veto and Urban Neoliberal Racism," Z Magazine (November 2006); "Class, Race, and the Lessons of Katrina," Dollars and Sense (November 2005); "Race, Place, and the Perils of Prisonomics" (Featured Article), Z Magazine, volume 18 (July/August, 2005).Many of the Urban League studies can be read at http://www.thechicagourbanleague.org/72321010520548890/site/default.asp ; "‘Class, Color, and The Hidden Injuries of Race" (Featured Article), Z Magazine (June 2002): 39-42; "Promoting Marriage Would Not Reduce Poverty: The Real White House Agenda," in Mary E. Williams, ed., Poverty and the Homeless (San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 2004), pp. 144-152; "Color Bind: Prisons and the New American Racism," in Tera Herivel and Paul Wright eds., Prison Nation: the Warehousing of America’s Poor (London: Routledge, 2002), 30-40. 
 
2 Posted http://progressivesforobama.blogspot.com/ (August 12, 2009)
   
3. See John R. MacArthur, "Obama is Far From a Radical Reformer." The Providence Journal, March 19, 2009, read at www.projo.com/opinion/contributors/content/CT_rick18_03-18-09_1SDM2BF_v26.3e689c2.html.  See also Kevin Baker, "Barack Hoover Obama: The Best and the Brightest Blow it Again," Harper’s Magazine (July 2009). For an especially elaborate version of the prediction, see my book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder , CO : Paradigm, 2008).
 
4. Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (New York: Metropolitan, 2004)
 
5. For an early discussion of Frank’s failure to note anything like the full relevance of race to the subject matter (Republican voting behavior on the part of rural, working-, lower- and lower middle-class whites) of his famous Kansas book, see Paul Street, "Frank Discussion: Moral-Economic Abandonment, Race, Security, and Psychological Wages," ZNet Magazine (November 6, 2004), available online at http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/7507. The other major thing missing from Frank’s analysis (my essay pointed out right after 9/11 "war president" George W. Bush’s electoral re-coronation) was the Republicans’ classically Orwellian uses of national security fears to whip people into line, encouraging citizens to cower under the umbrella of the incumbent war state.
 
6 Please see Paul Street, "Leading Democrats: ‘Expropriate the Expropriators’ (A Satire)," ZNet Magazine (November 10, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=14243
 
7  Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "Riding the ‘Green Wave’ at the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and Beyond," Electric Politics, July 22, 2009; Paul Krugman, "Obama’s Trust Problem," New York Times, August 21, 2009.
 
8  Larissa MacFarquhar, "The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?" The New Yorker (May 7, 2007).
 
9  Adolph Reed, Jr., "The Curse of Community," Village Voice (January 16, 1996), reproduced in Reed, Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (New York 2000).
 
10  As Wise notes in the case of health-care. The point could be broadened a great deal and of course it has been. For three among many analyses of Obama’s state-capitalist corporatism, see MacArthur, "Obama is Far From a Radical Reformer;" Kevin Baker, "Barack Hoover Obama: The Best and the Brightest Blow it Again," Harper’s Magazine (July 2009); Paul Street, "Frank Rich, Barack Obama, and the Corporatist ‘Punking’ of America," ZNet (August 15, 2009), read at http://www.zcomm.org/znet/viewArticle/22319.  
 
11  An excellent and concise account is Lance Selfa, The Democrats: A Critical History (Chicago, IL: Haymarket, 2008).
 
12  Ken Silverstein, "Barack Obama, Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine," Harper’s (November 2006); David Mendell, Obama: From Promise to Power (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), pp. 248-49.
 
13 See Street, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics, pp. 173-176 and passim.
 
14  That term belongs to Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008).
 
15  John Pilger, "Obama an Empire," speech to International Socialist Organization, San Francisco, CA (July 4, 2009) view and hear an especially relevant segment at http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/john-pilger-obama-is-a-corporate-marketing-creation/  
 
16  Paul Krugman, "Big Table Fantasies," New York Times, December 17, 2007; Paul Street, "’Angry John’ Edwards v. KumbayObama," SleptOn Magazine (December 28, 2007), read at http://www.slepton.com/slepton/viewcontent.pl?id=1234; Mike Davis, "Obama at Manassas," New Left Review (March-April 2009).
 
17  I myself have been quite absurdly (see note 1), race-baited more than once by white Democratic "progressives" for daring to note Obama’s service to the American ruling class.

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