Now that the election has concluded, we must critically analyze what to expect from Barack Obama. There are two approaches. As Noam Chomsky recently said, we can investigate Obama’s rhetoric like “hope” and “change,” or we can study political action.
His recent actions are more powerful predictors of what to expect, and they are raising serious questions from progressive supporters. Obama’s choices for his Cabinet and advisement are beginning to break his promise to bring “Change We Can Believe In.”
Obviously, we must discuss Obama’s pro-war foreign policy appointments. First, his choice of Joe Biden as a running mate was backstabbing for supporters opposed to Bush’s Iraq War. Biden was a crucial Democratic facilitator for this multitrillion dollar economic disaster.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden refused to call on expert witnesses that could challenge Bush’s war justification, effectually silencing informed debate. Moreover, before voting for war, Biden “corroborated” Bush’s lies by stating in the Senate, “[Saddam] possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons.”
Appointing Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff was another affront to Obama’s peace supporters. Emanuel was a leading House war supporter. Additionally, when serving as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, Emanuel supported 22 candidates and only one supported Iraq withdrawal.
Appointing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state is another disappointment. Clinton voted for war and regurgitated Bush’s war mantra in the Senate: “[Saddam] has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock . [and] nuclear program . [and] given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists. I want to ensure [Saddam] makes no mistake about . our support for the president’s efforts to wage America’s war against terrorists and [WMD].”
Obama’s utilization of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also is troubling. When confronted by Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” about Clinton’s economic sanctions in Iraq that killed “a half-million children,” Albright notoriously replied, “We think the price is worth it.”
Obama’s decision to retain Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is another blow. Gates recently said America needs to test nuclear bombs or build new ones.
The most troubling advisers are Michele Flournoy, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Ivo Daalder. They are all associated with the Project for the New American Century, which was the neoconservative institution calling for highly aggressive foreign policy and vaster military spending.
Importantly, 23 senators and 133 House members intelligently and courageously voted against the Iraq War, and a litany of experienced experts advocated against war; however, none appear to be considered for key positions.
Obama’s economic advisers and appointments are most troubling. For example, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, secretaries of Treasury under Clinton, were champions of deregulation that contributed to the banking meltdown.
Rubin was former senior adviser to the failed bank Citigroup, and The New York Times reported that “Rubin played [a pivotal role] in the bank’s current woes.” While working under Clinton, “Rubin helped loosen Depression-era banking regulations,” which contributed to banking activity that is wrecking our economy.
Obama’s advisers recently had their records examined by Bloomberg News, and they concluded these people should not be giving economic advice, but instead be given subpoenas. Economist Dean Baker also pointed out that these picks are like appointing Osama bin Laden to lead the War on Terror.
Some argue Obama is making these poor choices for “experience,” but toxic experience is dangerous. Cheney and Rumsfeld had decades of “experience,” and look where we are. Judgment is far superior to experience, which is why I supported Obama over Clinton, but his inferior appointments are quickly bringing his judgment into question.
Ultimately, I recommend tempered hope. Give Obama a chance despite his nutrient-deficient white bread selections. He lacks credibility on health care, military and economic issues, but he may promote quasi-progressive policies.
He is certainly better than Bush or McBush.
The smartest money for genuine progressive change was always on Dennis Kucinich. Unfortunately, we cannot “elect” such courageous leadership until we eliminate the corrupting influence of money from elections.
Thus, Full Public Campaign Financing and Kucinich 2012!