Welcome Paul Street, and Host Anthony DiMaggio.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread.  - bev]

The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics

Paul Street’s new book, The Empire’s New Clothes, closely examines the first year of the Obama administration, critically evaluating it within a context of strong liberal-Democratic support and fierce – even hysterical right-wing opposition. Barack Obama is seen very differently by Americans. Many see him as a symbol of how far America has come since the days of openly-supported racial segregation and the terroristic violence directed against the black community. Others see Obama as a dangerous “socialist/Marxist” who is threatening the American middle class and crippling future generations with “big government” and “unsustainable” debt.

Street rejects the latter portrayal outright, focusing on the corporatist agenda promoted by the increasingly neoliberal Democratic Party. While conceding that Obama’s election represents a major historic victory in the fight for racial equality, Street cautions against a personality politics approach that frames politics as divorced from institutional factors such as the rise of corporate power among both parties today.

The Empire’s New Clothes is quite eclectic in its focus on a variety of issues, across both domestic and foreign policy issues. The first half of Street’s book provides a general overview of the Obama administration as it fits within the larger political economic system, directing specific attention to the economic crisis and Obama-supported bank bailout. Street also analyzes Obama’s role in streamlining American imperialism throughout the globe, “reluctantly” continuing the war in Iraq and pressuring against withdrawal, while supporting a dictatorial military coup in Honduras and masking occupation in Haiti under the banner of “humanitarian relief.” Another early focus is a critical examination of the 2009-2010 health care reform controversy, which Street frames as largely “corporate managed,” although containing some modest benefits for the poor and disadvantaged.

Latter parts of the book address the myth of “post-racial” America in light of Obama’s election. This topic has long been a focus in Street’s work, which emphasizes the continued structural segregation and racism that continue to define American society. Street finishes his book by emphasizing Obama’s continuation of the interrogation, incarceration, and torture tactics of the Bush administration. These same policies have been pursued by an Obama administration that is in many ways just as hawkish as its predecessor.

The Empire’s New Clothes is bound to incite controversy among those who unfairly demonize Obama as “too far to the left,” as well as among those who are staunch supporters of the Democratic Party brand. In a political era when most Americans strongly distrust government as well as the two major political parties, however, Street’s analysis will be well received by many critical thinkers.

185 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Paul Street, The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power”

egregious September 4th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Welcome to Firedoglake – so glad you could join us today!

BevW September 4th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Paul, Welcome back to the Lake.

Tony, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Hello, this is Anthony DiMaggio, ready to begin the moderation of Firedoglake’s book by Paul Street, The Empire’s New Clothes

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Okay I’m in — two minutes early :). Hi to Bev at FDL and Tony D. Very proud of myself for avoiding time zone confusion this time!

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

welcome to the Lake,cant wait to read your book,what a disapointment BHO has been to me….

dakine01 September 4th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Good afternoon Paul and Anthony and welcome to FDL this afternoon

Paul I have not had an opportunity to read your book but do have a question.

How do we overcome the institutional inertia that permeates the inside the beltway types who seem to delight in denigrating those pointing out the lack of clothes?

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:02 pm
In response to BevW @ 2

Thank you for having me.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Another question, Paul, just to get us started. The media has reported that Obama is now the anti-war president, in light of the big discussion of promised withdrawal from Iraq. Is it accurate to call Obama anti-war? If not, why not?

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

anti war…pardon me…ROTFLMAO……how many were killed last month in Astan?

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

BTW I decided to come down to use the Iowa City Public Library in downtown IC and I had to dodge numerous drunken football revelers, who seem absurdly proud of their team (“Go Hawks”) opening season triumph over the lowly patsy Eastern Illinois.

This town is much more excited aout the Hawkeyes than they are about Obama now…:)and this was one of his top towns in American – totally Obama mad. Not so much now. I think I saw 43 percent popularity for BO in paper today…yikes

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:08 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 10

well considering his base is the HAVES and HAVE MORES….big pharma,banksters MIC…that seems like alot of snowed regular peeps

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:09 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 10

I visited Iowa City many times, so I’m familiar with the drunken fraternizing.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

ew…forgot all the insurance kleptocrats

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

okay i better respond to some questions

Thank you sadly yes. I must tell you however, that with me its like with a few others on the radical left, well maybe more than a few…it’s like Chomsky said recently: for me/us, NO DISAPPOINTMENT. None. This is all preciseyl what we predicted. I started with the left critique of corporate-imperial centerist accommodationist Obama in 2004 and just continued. My previous book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics essentially does his whole career, connects it to U.S. political culture, and says “this will all happen….and the right will scream socialism” while he serves the unelected and interrelated dictatorships of big money and big empire. So that’s my first point: not disappointed. Had no progressive expecations. The sixth chapter of my new book is titled “We Were Warned” and it counts about 25 ways the alarms were given, mainly by Team Obama…

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:11 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 9

I think Paul would certainly agree with you. I doubt very much that Obama or his staff will take kindly to leaving at the end of 2011. It will likely be the case that there will be much pressure on the Iraqi government to allow permanent based to remain and troops to stay in an “advisory” role past 2011. U.S. generals have been talking about how they want to do this for years now, under Bush and Obama.

egregious September 4th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Thank you for this discussion. Do you think it is a common misperception that the President has more power than he really does?

RevBev September 4th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

To generalize…did the voters really badly assess what to expect from Obama? Misjudge?

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

@dakine01: I wish I knew answer to that. It is VERY DEEPLY ENTRENCHED…THAT DISDAIN. I have felt it and still feel it. But I will say that I just saw 10 copies of my book at the local bookstore in this formerly Obama mad town and I hear that the store owner now is very pissed at BO…so maybe something is up. But this is not the Betway.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:13 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 14

need to get that book too…i drank the koolaid sadly….and NOW am making provisions for leaving good old USA…cause it reminds me of NO EXIT

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:14 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 14

And at some point Paul, if you could respond to the earlier question about how we overcome institutional inertia that opposes pressuring Obama from a progressive perspective. This seems clearly related to white House spokesman Robert Gibb’s lament against “the professional left.”

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:15 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 14

Paul, you recently wrote about the “professional left” fiasco, perhaps you could bring FDL posters up to speed on how it relates to your book.

dakine01 September 4th, 2010 at 2:16 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 18

As a technical note, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the Reply will pre-fill the commenter name and comment number you are replying to (saves a few keystrokes and makes it easier for others to follow the conversation.

Note: some browsers don’t like the Reply if it is pressed before the page has finished loading after a refresh.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:17 pm

@AD. Right BO never was antiwar. Even his big much-ballyhooed 2002 speech started with a statement that he was not anti-war, just thought this particular “war” (bloody colonial occupation actually, quite one-sided) was a mistake for America. My new book and my 2008 one totally take apart Obama’s claim to have been a serious opponenent of the Iraq War. Don’t have time her to give all the details here, but it is very clear. Of course he campaigned on Af-Pak expansion…Afghanistan was his good war, so liberals had ltitle basis really to be surprised and disappointed when he dramatically escalated imperial violence in South Asia. He has not in fact ended the occupation of Iraq of course; it continues.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I am trying to keep up…ha ha; will answer every question I can :) I am very happy to see this participation.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:19 pm

imo,it cant be done…The Koch brothers,Fox,teabaggers etc,have taken over the country…How can you get somebody to understand your POV,when their salary depends on them not?$$$$$$
the best democracy money HAS bought imo

BevW September 4th, 2010 at 2:19 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 24

Paul, take your time to answer the questions, we understand if there are several questions pending.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

sadlyes…contrary to Chomsky a bit, I cut people a little slack for drinking the KoolAid. I watched the campaign very closely – covered it — in Iowa in 2007 and 2008 and they were quite adept and expert big money myth creation and the selling of a faker progressive branding. They knew what they were doing and were rewarded not just with the election but the Advertiser of the Year Award from Advertisign Age. But their progressive rhetoric was always very closely cropped and full of qualifications and people who did serious due diligence research also found the campaign making all kinds of deeply conservative statemenets and doing everything it could to reasssure the powers that be of its safety to concentrated wealth and power.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:21 pm
In response to BevW @ 26

Yes, we’ve got plenty of time so we don’t have to rush through questions.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I would add that nobody makes it to the presidency wihout backing from those wealthy interests, above all Wall Street and the MIC and the corproate emdia. This is systemic and isntitutional, not just about “Obama” per se. Would be true if were in the Hillary Clinton era

RevBev September 4th, 2010 at 2:22 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 27

Did Hillary call him on much of this?

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:23 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 27

This is an important counterpoint to Chomsky, who argued in 2008 that Obama never gave any indication of being progressive. As you point out, on the ground in Iowa, that wasn’t the case. He and his supporters promised quite a bit of change.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:24 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 27

i think i heard what i wanted to hear.I felt a man with young children would care about OUR country and the future of his children etc.mistaken i guess

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Tony I would add that (as I said three days ago on ZNet) Obama’s “end of combat operations” speech was quite remarkable in the extent to which it bought completely into the notion that “we” invaded Iraq with noble, freedom-promoting intentions. Obama completely deleted the unimaginable harm was have done to Iraq and the Iraqi people…the millions killed and maimed, the infratstructre destoyed, the exodus cause etc…This is exactly as I predicted. It was all about us and our supposed noble sacrifce FOR them. Horrible. The Holocaust we imposed invisible, down the memory hole. Bush could not have delivered a worse speech. A war speech in essence.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:27 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 32

Hearing what you want to hear is common in electoral politics. It’s the end result of conscious planning by officials who promote image based candidacies, rather than issue based ones. As a result, one can implant anything they like on a candidate. That was the beauty of “hope” and “change.” Whatever change you think is coming depends on your politics, but everyone can get behind it.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:28 pm
In response to RevBev @ 30

Call him? I’m not sure what you mean. Hillary I will note opened her connections on K Street and elswhere to the Obama phenomenon in 2002. They are ideological twins in my opinion. I actually decided along with Adolph Reed Jr. that Hillary was the lesser evil compared to Obama in the spring of 2008. I can explain that and I am NOT a Hillary fan…:)

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:29 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 33

it was as bad as his oval office BP speech……ugh he is completely unempathetic to REAL peoples suffering,forget about flora and fauna

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 2:29 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 33

Let’s not forget the part where he actually endorsed the WMD lie on top of everything else.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:29 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 33

Maybe we can also get into the other limits of dissent openly imposed by the administration. The “professional left” comment seemed to openly disparage even center-left perspectives from Maddow-MSNBC types. Any insights on this?

gaylew September 4th, 2010 at 2:30 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 37

Oh yes that one really got me.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Yes, Tony, unlike Noam C. I was in Iowa following the phenomenon every day and I disticntly remember the barrage of ads about Obama the “people’s community organizer” and “the antiwar candidate.” The night ebfore the iowa caucus they put his 2002 (not so) antiwar speech in screen doors of people identified as antwar in campus towns like IC. I got a flyer telling me I could “join the antiwar movement by Caucusing for Obama.” Complete disingenuous nonsense of the highest order.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:32 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 35

agreed…siamese twins joined at the pocket

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:33 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 37

Yes Elise Hendrick — the part of his speech the other night where he said we invaded “to disarm a state” !!!! 2+2= 5 in the Age of Orwell/Obama/Bush

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:35 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 42

The WMD frame seems to keep coming back. The case with Iran is very similar, with the Obama supported notion that they are developing nuclear weapons, despite the complete lack of tangible evidence showing enriched weapons grade uranium or an actual nuclear program, as concluded by the US National Intelligence Estimate and by the IAEA.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Tony is asking me about the professional left comment by Gibbs. What a petulant little comment that was by Robert Gibbs. Here we have a real unemployment rate of what 16 percent or more, epic foreclosures and rising destitution across the land and the administration has bailed out the big parastic financial interests that have destoyed the economy, he has cut an auto bailout deal that rewards capital flight, he has done zero for the Employee Free Choice Act or for his other campaign promise to renogiate NAFTA …no real public works programs…ot effort to put skilled and runined Midwetsern auto workers to work on greeen transportation…we have all this and much more and Gibbs is mad because liberals and progressives are doing cartwheels of praise for His Hopiness the Dali Obama!!! Ughh!

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 2:37 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 42

To me, the whole thing raises the central question of “Where to go from here?” I haven’t dared look at what the centrist/liberal response to that speech was yet, but it seems to me that this might be a moment in which more people – including those who have bought everything else Obama’s put out there so far – will be receptive to the fact that Obama is NOT anything resembling an anti-war/left-progressive/etc. president and that there needs to be a renewed effort to organise and struggle. What do you think?

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Ctd… And of course the “professional left” (which means Maddow and Olbermann of MSDNC and MoveOn.org and AFL-CIO and NAACP and The Nation the rest of the totally Democratic Party- and Obama-/Emmanuel-captive liberal infrasttucture …what FDL’s Jane Hamsher calls “the veal pen” club) is totally safe anyway. Will never seriously oppose Obama or the rest of the corporate -imperial Dem establishment. I don’t believe that Gibbs really dislikes “the professional left.” He was just triangulating ala Clinton, trying to get some moderate supprot

September 4th, 2010 at 2:40 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 44

Paul – let’s assume that that the “professional left” is unsuccesful in dissuading the Catfood Commission’s end result, and Social Security cuts are passed by the Commission, the House & Senate, and Obama signs it.

What would you predict from both the “Empire” point of view, and the ordinary citizen point of view, and how that such a situation will put in high relief what’s happening these days as regards safeguarding elite interests?

AdamPDX September 4th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Naomi Wolf’s The End of America noted 10 classic pressures to close down pluralistic societies that were set in motion by the Bush/Cheney Adminisration to close down our open society.

I don’t believe anything has changed at all since Obama has become President in respect to continued attacks by the Federal Government on the rights and freedoms guaranteed American citizens in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Barack Obama has said a whole lot. Obama has done very little of what he said. The Obama saying/doing gap is canyon-like. Has Barack Obama done anything to stop the assault on the rights and freedoms of American citizens.

Starbuck September 4th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Hello, Paul, and welcome.

I love Iowa City. I spent a couple of days there a number of years ago photographing a Day Lilly garden for a national magazine. I believe the gardener was either retired or nearly so from the University.

Delightful town!

Other than that, my comments on BO (great acronym!) would simply be mostly “me too” here, so I’ll refrain and just read.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

ctd. Gibbs said those of who see parallels between Bush II and Obama should be DRUG TESTED! Well, I guess I better go in for the rest. my new book The Empire’s New Clothese finds numerous core and key policy parallels and simialrities….the book’s orginal title was going to be “The Re-Branding.” But if I take a test I want the stubborn Obama-worshipping liberals to get tested for the ObamaLaid drug, which makes it possible for people to oppose corrupt bailout and illegal wars when they were being conducted by a white Republican moron from Texas but unable to register much less oppose such bad policies when the standard bearer is an eloquent black Democrat from chicago. A progressive mind is a terrible thing to waste on identity and partisan politics!

radicalee September 4th, 2010 at 2:43 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 25

In my opinion, using a broken and corrupt political process to attempt to fix a broken and corrupt political process is a snake eating it’s own tail.
We can, we must, address the issue of the Ruling Elite in their own backyard, the market place, by boycotting and striking. Attacking the bought and sold representatives of Corporate America is like hanging the puppet while the ventriloquist hands you the rope.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:44 pm
In response to Adam503 @ 48

Paul’s book actually goes into quite a bit of detail about how Obama has perpetuated Bush era assaults on civil liberties. We could include the continuation of Guantanamo, the continuation of rendition, among other practices.

Terri September 4th, 2010 at 2:45 pm
In response to Adam503 @ 48

Adam — yes, Candidate Obama and President Obama appear to be different. One of the things I really like about Paul’s position and analysis is that he hold up Obama — not to the left/progressive expectation — but to Obama’s own words and promises. To me, this approach strengthens the case against Obama.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:45 pm
In response to radicalee @ 51

i have wracked my brain,and just cant fathom how it could be done

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 2:47 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 29

I would add that nobody makes it to the presidency wihout backing from those wealthy interests, above all Wall Street and the MIC and the corproate emdia. This is systemic and intitutional, not just about “Obama” per se. Would be true if were in the Hillary Clinton era

I’m glad you made this distinction Paul, TY.

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 2:47 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 50

Could it be that Gibbs was just so accustomed to getting a total free ride from anyone even slightly to what passes for the “left” in official discourse (basically “to the left of Augusto Pinochet”) that he just threw a spontaneous tantrum?

AdamPDX September 4th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Thank you, Anthony :)

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Soembody asked if people tend to think the president has more power than he really does. Yes, sure. It is exaggerated. There’s no way a left president could get in do much under the existing configuration of corporate and empire-captive politics. And to me that says “maybe its not about running for president…maybe its really about rebuilding and expanding popular and radical social movements that aim among other things at creating a more genuinely responsive and democratic political culture.” The politics of changing politics. Right now the republic is frozen, gridlocked, on lock down. The spectrum os acceptable debate and policy is absurdly narrow. It is a corporate-managed fake democracy, Democracy Incorproated. There are frw progressive options under the current regime.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:47 pm
In response to radicalee @ 51

Of course, this is something Paul may want to comment more on, the prospects of using the electoral system to push for reforms that benefit the masses. Is this possible? I know figures like Political Scientist Larry Bartels would argue that elections, and Democratic control of government is comparatively much (and noticeably) better for the masses than Republican control? HOw do you answer this Paul?

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:48 pm
In response to radicalee @ 51

Also a relevant question, is the Democratic party of today substantively different (at least one domestic politics) of the Democratic party of decades ago?

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 2:48 pm
In response to terridi @ 53

Terri – exactly. One of the great things about reading Paul’s last book on Obama right now is that it becomes very clear that it’s not so much that Obama made some kind of political U-turn after the inauguration, but that his supporters didn’t really listen to him when he said what he wanted to do.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:50 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 58

well said.frogs have been placed in luke warm water

Hugh September 4th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I am glad to see that the corporatism of Obama and the Democrats is receiving more play. People think they are being terribly inconsistent because they compare their rhetoric to their actions, but if you just look at the actions they have been extremely consistent.

I think it is important too to dispense with the idea that Obama is centrist or center-right. He has continued and/or expanded all of Bush’s worse policies and programs. Bush was hard right. So is Obama.

Finally, on a personal note, I would observe that those of us who broke with Obama before the election and then critqued his choice of nominees and his initial policy positions got beaten up quite a lot, then not so much, then there were many voices even more strident than ours in condemning Obama. Now those in the wilderness, at least at this site, are the last of the Obama apologists. Still I have to remark even here there is a kneejerk support of Democrats in posts on races between Democrats and Republicans. The current meme I am trying to push now is that a vote for any Democrat or any Republican is a vote for more of what we see, kleptocracy of the elites.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:52 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 45

Elise raised gthe questions of where to go from here. Cannot do What is to Be Done for 2010 here but will say along with Alan Maas of ISO and Fredrick Douglass that there is no progress without struggle. And that a key part of my approach and last two books is to move people off the dominant definition of meaningful politics as being all about the quadrennial corproate crafted big money bigmedia electoral extravaganzas (Chomsky) the power elite stages for us every 2 and 4 years. Movemenet building and struggle ala CIO (1930s) and Civil rights Movement (50s and 60s) and anti-Vietnam and many issues today (immigrant rights, the defense of public education etc.) is about hard painstaking work on a day to day basis. And organization, the sheer fact and presence of organizations ready willing and able to struggle, is huge, a difference maker. I am not much on spontanaeitism! The Republic Door and Window occupation happened because of dedicatede and smart organization already on the ground. Many examples of this.

spiny September 4th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

One of the things that seems very peculiar to me is that during his campaign for president, Obama was extremely effective at hitting back against the Republicans. Once he became president, it was exactly the opposite- not only did he not hit back, but he’s gone out of his way to be respectful to even the most crazy of the Republicans. However, instead of improving his position, I think it has just made him look weak and unprincipled. Why do you think Obama has been so silent in the face of all the attacks by the radical Republicans? Do you think he’s positioning himself to cut a deal with them to gut Social Security?

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I now have to log back on – ha ha.. Used up most of my first hour…

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 2:53 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 27

But their progressive rhetoric was always very closely cropped and full of qualifications and people who did serious due diligence research also found the campaign making all kinds of deeply conservative statemenets and doing everything it could to reasssure the powers that be of its safety to concentrated wealth and power.

I’d like to consider that I made more of an intellectual choice than a “koolaid” one when I first took a look at Obama ;), but it’s fascinating that I did miss these Conservative cues. I have to ask myself if I just didn’t want to hear it or whether his seeming balancing act simply assuaged any fears I had about him. I never considered myself a follower. TY

Terri September 4th, 2010 at 2:54 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 61

Elise — that’s right.

The public was so hungry to elect someone who was “not [like] Bush” — and, still, to this day, Obama & Team are careful to appear as “not Bush” — but it is only in style and tone (‘branding’) while the Bush policies and agenda continue, extend, and in some instances — worsen– under Obama

lsls September 4th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

My husband and I first became suspicious of Obama when he was anointed “rock star” by the MSM, who at the time were protecting “W”. Then came his Fisa vote…ruh roh… Then his choice of Rahm Emanuel. Then keeping Bob Gates on. Hmmmmmm Then his clear support of corporate interests, etc.

I’m afraid he might have been “installed” by the powers that be to take the fall for Bush and keep that agenda alive…basically, keeping the seat warm for Jeb.

Just my humble opinion.

LS

Hugh September 4th, 2010 at 2:55 pm
In response to valadon @ 55

I like to quote this exchange between Bill Moyer’s and Andrew Bacevich back before the 2008 election.

BILL MOYERS: Do you expect either John McCain or Barack Obama to rein in the “imperial presidency?”

ANDREW BACEVICH: No. I mean, people run for the presidency in order to become imperial presidents. The people who are advising these candidates, the people who aspire to be the next national security advisor, the next secretary of defense, these are people who yearn to exercise those kind of great powers.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/08152008/transcript1.html

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:55 pm
In response to spiny @ 65

In Obama’s defense (I can’t believe I’m saying that) it’s usually best to try and ignore the crazy birther “Obama is a Muslim” stuff coming from the right. The problem is that the right has a megaphone today, so we can’t ignore them when Fox and right wing radio are selling these crack pot conspiracies. Now 60% of Americans either think Obama is a muslim or they aren’t sure what his religion is. This is the danger of “agenda setting.” Simply by covering this stuff in the media as much as has been done (a la the “Muslim Ground zero” controversy) the discussion becomes about inherently racist issues, rather than about progressive change.

Jane Hamsher September 4th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Hey Paul, good to have you here. And thank you Anthony for hosting.

I don’t remember who it was, but one of the commenters here left a link to you “Obama, As Predicted” post, Paul. It really influenced my thinking a lot:

http://www.zcommunications.org/obama-as-predicted-by-paul-street

I’ve spoken to quite a few people lately who say they are getting pressure for being critics on the left. Has that happened to you?

TomR September 4th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Mr. Street, is there anyway we can find out all the corporations that the DLC is currently in bed with? They don’t seem to advertise that at DLC.org.

Koch Industries gave funding to the DLC and served on its Executive Council

- Tom

Terri September 4th, 2010 at 2:56 pm
In response to Hugh @ 70

Hugh — great quote/addition to this discussion! Perfect.

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 2:56 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 64

What I was really trying to ask was whether you see an opening here – whether this might be a moment where people who had previously participated in anti-war and other organising, but who have been sedated by the Obama phenomenon, might actually be ready to comprehend that there’s (at least) just as much need for popular mobilisation now as under Bush? Whether this might be something of a “teachable moment”?

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 2:57 pm
In response to lsls @ 69

sounds about right

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 2:57 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 23

Paul, In terms of Obama not being “anti-war”, what did you make of his statement: “I want to change the mentality that takes us to war in the first place.” That was something I appreciated hearing, but…

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 2:58 pm
In response to TomR @ 73

Tom, A good place to start, if you haven’t already, is Center for REsponsive Politics (opensecrets.org). It charts the major sectors to give to each party and each candidate, and looks at top donors too. It’s a must use resource for critics of the status quo of elections.

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 2:59 pm
In response to Hugh @ 70

TY Hugh, very enlightening!

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I agree Anthony it’s just a distraction.

doe53 September 4th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Paul, do you think Obama is cutting his own throat politically for 2012 by creating the Catfood Commission and with co-operation from the House almost ensuring that Social Security reductions are a done deal?

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Ok back, someone asked if voters assessed badly. Oh, yes of course. But that’s what mdoern advertising is all about: to elicit irrational choices, poorly informed decisions. (So Ralph Nader invented Consumer Reports!). And modern U.S. campaign politics is basically advertising….we sell candidates like we sell toothpaste and cars. Brand trumps image. Feelign trump reflection. Brand Obama is supposed to make us feel good about our government and country while the corporate overlords loot the Treasury and the polce state deepens its grip and more workers’ lives are ruined and the we set new Predtator drone attack records that blow children away in Yemen and Af-Pak and as private contractors stealthily play a greater role in the occupation of Iraq etc….Wow, sorry to be so depressing!! :)

moody00au September 4th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Paul, I’m from Lebanon and lived in Kuwait. My family has borne the brunt of many imperialist American foreign policies for decades. Leaders of the cultures of resistance here and other parts of the world weren’t at all disappointed by any of Obama’s ‘change.’ I was responsible for promoting Obama’s choice of Al Arabia to give his first presidential TV interview, but that was just work…

Still we have hope! What is the hope you share with the rest of the world regarding a ‘new direction’ for American foreign policy? Especially considering that the terms ‘foreign’ and ‘domestic’ are no longer quite accurate in this increasingly global world?

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:05 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 47

If Social Security cuts go through under Obama (as seems distinctly possible, even likely..the retirement age should go up for example), that should be a good test of whether there’s any kind of left left in this contry at all.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:05 pm
In response to doe53 @ 81

Since Paul’s being inundated, I might be able to help with some of these, since Paul and I correspond closely on politics. The efforts to cut social security may finally galvanize many to publicly rebel, as was the case when bush pushed privatization of social security. the elderly are a very well organized, attentive, and vote-heavy demographic, and they won’t take cuts lying down, especially in light of the dramatic decline of 401 K value. This will be a very detrimental thing for Obama, should he stubbornly push the cuts.

RevBev September 4th, 2010 at 3:06 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 82

It is that depressing and makes my head spin. Are any of the political “fact checking” stuff and other reports doing anything to promote accuracy? I guess that was Moyers’ job. ;)

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:07 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 82

my comment is
what choices did we have in 2008
it was Hilary,or Hilary lite,the advisors,Rham,summers ,Rubin etc,would all be in play…so

Terri September 4th, 2010 at 3:07 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 72

Hi Jane — I will look forward to Paul’s reply to your question; but it is apparent to me that the Obama administration has clearly SILENCED and IGNORED what I would all the ‘hard left’ or the ‘real left’. There is no voice for people on this end of the political spectrum.

The pressure (and contempt) seems to be coming from the dem/progressive/mainstream-type “left” who are full of fear and trembling at the the thought of a GOP return to power…

Obama and team simply ignore, silence, and refer to the MSNBC/The Nation variety as “the left” and will engage/dialogue with them.

What do others think?

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 3:08 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 61

I have a different take because I listened intently to Obama’s speeches and I do think he promised things that he didn’t deliver…a U-turn, as you put it. That doesn’t have to change the fact that he had no intention of delivering and that he’s the greatest bamboozler there is! ;) at least in recent history!

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:08 pm
In response to RevBev @ 86

Reading many alternative media is the only way to stay informed. FDL is important. I also recommend Truthout, Counterpunch, Z, and particularly Al Jazeera English, which can be watched or read online. There are many others of course. The economic policy institute and center on budget and policy priorities do a good job of cutting through a lot of the economic misinformation coming from the right.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:08 pm
In response to valadon @ 77

On “change the mentality that creates war in the first place”…well, that’s a nice sentiment, but it doesn’t mean much from Obama. Read his Nobel Prize acceptance speech; its a war speech. He continues (as he has throughout his political career) to advance an image of American benevolence and goodness that is a complete whitewash of our actually atrocity-filled imperial history (read Zinn, Chomsky, Bill Blum, chalmers Johnson etc) and that bodes very poorly for his capacity to move beyond. Those who deny the imeprial crimes of the past are likely to commit new ones if given the seat of imperial power…and look at his record, quite bloody! I’m not sure McCain would have killed more South Asians than Obama has..

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I’d add Doug Henwood’s excellent Left Business Observer to that list, as well as media-ocracy.

gaylew September 4th, 2010 at 3:10 pm
In response to terridi @ 88

I agree It’s so frustrating to see people who are supposed to be progressives try and silence any criticism by using the same tactic the right has used for years. I’ve even seen the suggestion that any criticism of Obama is racist. Same thing I saw when talking about Powell or Rice.

Terri September 4th, 2010 at 3:10 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 92

Right on, Elise!

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

FDR was the most popular president in history…BHO has delibertly not followed any of his policies,why?

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:11 pm
In response to terridi @ 88

Obama’s silencing of the left was also discussed on my website this weekend: see http://www.media-ocracy.com and the article “The Participation Crisis.” Many thought (even on the left, yes) that once they elected Obama he was going to take care of things. what people shoudl have been doing in one of the worst economies ever was organizing social movements to demand he make change. FDR made the same point to unionists in the 30s, don’t complain that I don’t do progressive things, make me do them. Seems to be a relevant point.

eCAHNomics September 4th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Paul, I’m one who took an instant dislike to O, long before I knew anything about him & of course could not articulate why. No need to articulate why anymore, though your first book on him (which I constantly refer to in comments) provided essential details. (Am particularly ‘fond’ of the $9 billion tax break O squandered on Exelon.)

Bringing us up to now, it appears to me that O does not like his job. His affect is flat, he rarely appears in public, few news conferences, many unfilled appointments, etc. My guess is the only thing he enjoys is watching the drone snuff films on his computer (that was only half snark).

What say you? Is O disenchanted with his job, or did he just retreat from view so he could f’k all us retards?

doe53 September 4th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

What kind of realistic options do you think Obama has to both bring down the unemployment numbers and spur lending by commercial banks?

RevBev September 4th, 2010 at 3:13 pm
In response to terridi @ 94

I wonder if the Lake can add some links…sounds important.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:13 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 91

he doesnt seem to have the empathy gene,wasnt his mother a social worker?

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 3:13 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 95

Anthony DiMaggio’s indirectly answered that question. FDR’s policies were the result of mass popular organisation and pressure. Obama’s subject to nothing remotely like that kind of pressure, so he tilts to where his money comes from (often to the point of falling over).

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:13 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 72

Hi Jane….not so much pressure as just ignored. But I’m no longer in a high position of any sort. When I was VP for Research at The Chicago Urban League 2000-2005 , I regularly felt heat for my position to the left of the corpoate Democrats/Daley/Obama/Clinton. I was often quite ugly. I have stories I can’t tell here. In Iowa City in 2007 and 2008 the progressive and academic establishemnt was qite displeased with the presence of a left author who dared to question the progressive bon fides of The One!.I’m not overly narcissttic (!) about my books but the last one certainly merited a review in The Nation and/or The Progressives…it was qutie strange to have to fight uphill so much to get ELEMENTARY information about Obama, who I knew fairly closely from Chicago

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 3:14 pm
In response to terridi @ 88

totally agree! and the strange part was that we were supposed to “make him do it.” But when we pushed on healthcare, for example, he actively worked against us. It was a charade. Now, we have a split between more moderate follow-the-leader Dems, and the rest of us Liberals or Progressives.

moody00au September 4th, 2010 at 3:14 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 91

agreed, but what will it take for America to change that mentality. It’s getting worse every day, the hate, the wool pulled over people’s eyes!

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:15 pm
In response to doe53 @ 98

To answer that, government lowering of interest rates for banks to lend to business can be tied to requirements that banks loan to ordinary Americans. Part of the problem with the Fed (which sets interest rates) is that it’s not directly accountable to the public or government.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
In response to spiny @ 65

Spiny, Obama cultivated Republicans during the primary and general election with (among other things) dalliance with the religious right, with often extreme miltiarism in positions and speeches his deluded progressive fans egregiously ignored (or explained away) and with repeated praise for RONALD REAGAN, a racist president and arch-plutocrat.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
In response to doe53 @ 98

Another solution is another stimulus, which would put people back to work. that’s been discounted by the Dems, who are basically adopting republican mantras about unsustainable taxation and debt.

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 91

Great answer Paul TY. It’s easier for me to acknowledge this in retrospect, but at the time it gave some of us the impression that things might be different. I agree with your take on it, but we won’t convince any of his followers!

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 101

i dont think that was entirely the reason…having polio FDR was among common people in rural Ga,and Tn…he LIKED the common folk ,and spent his own money on them,not to mention TVA etc…BHO is A DIFFERENT animal

Hugh September 4th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
In response to doe53 @ 81

Obama announced he was forming his Cat Food commission on the very day Coakley was losing Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts. That’s politically tone deaf but it underlines how serious Obama is in pursuing his corporatist agenda.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:19 pm
In response to TomR @ 73

Tom R sorry to short but I’d suggest Center for Responsibe Politics and also I think its called Cwenter for Public Integrity…Charles Lewis…they do remarkable work on these issues. A lot of this stuff is like CRP says an Open Secret. It’s all there but they are counting on most people not having the time and energy to track it down and process it.

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 3:19 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 109

Look at FDR’s policy record. He started out with very mild, reformist measures, and it caused massive outrage amongst organised labour (remember back when we actually HAD organised labour?), to the point where there was some serious concern about a popular uprising if he didn’t change his tone. The New Deal came in response to that.

September 4th, 2010 at 3:20 pm
In response to valadon @ 108

It’s weird, but true, that correctly viewing/predicting things is not enough. I took a lot of crap for writing this blog post back in June ’08.

It’s not enough to be right. Somehow, we have to figure out a way to make the shizz actually happen, and I am frikking stumped.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:21 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 112

That’s exactly right, Elise. Good point. Politicians are inherently cautious and reluctant when it comes to reluctant change. The only other major expansion of the social welfare state after FDR came during LBJ’s tenure, and it was in many ways an attempt to buy off a disenchanted public that was growing increasingly disillusioned with the poor persons’ war being fought in Vietnam and in relation to social/race related unrest at home.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:22 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 112

as i remember the 1st 100 days he threw a lot of new policy at the great depression,what has BHO thrown,not much imo

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Sorry, elise, I meant when it comes to “progressive change” dems are reluctant.

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I think it was Adolph Reed Jr. who pointed out that we should never expect politicians to be anything more than a vector of the political forces acting on them. That’s why the focus on personalities is such a distraction – given the current array of forces (powerful right wing and corporate sector, diffuse, disorganised left and labour), we could have Salvador Allende (though Obama is a bloody far cry from Allende) in the White House, and he would probably end up following the same basic policy lines that we’re seeing now. The state is an echo chamber.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Larry Bartels does show that historically modern Democratic adminsitrations do tend to put a bit more income and job growth in working people’s pockets. The downside is that the Democrats tend to be far better at shutting down progressive popular and social movements than are the Republicans. I think the rulign class or economic aristocract or whatever we want to call them would like to have the GOP in charge all things equal but the problem is the GOP has this way of Effing Up big time: Nixon/Watergae; Bush-cheney-Iraq. And so then you have to pull the Republican brand for a while and “history’s second most enthusiastic capitalist party” (Kevin Phillips on the Dems) our front for a a while…to among other things manage/tamp down popular expectations. But when the Dems get in and save the rulers’/wealthy’s bacon they get all these lectures about big government and deficits and the dangers of “ideology” from the media and business and the right – lectures that are not given to Republican presidents (ironically enough). and right now, Wall Street has turned on Obama after he basically saved their ass…quite standard.

doe53 September 4th, 2010 at 3:25 pm

@Hugh108 – What I’m really asking is doesn’t following the corporatist agenda constitute a real threat to O’s re-election; his numbers are down,and attempting to cut entitlements with no job growth will KILL his chances, IMO.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Roosevelt’s legendary “First 100 Days” concentrated on the first part of his strategy: immediate relief. From March 9 to June 16, 1933, FDR sent Congress a record number of bills, all of which passed easily. These included the creation of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Congress also gave the Federal Trade Commission broad new regulatory powers, and provided mortgage relief to millions of farmers and homeowners.

The success of the First 100 Days was important, because it got the New Deal off to a strong and early start. Later, the conservative Supreme Court would declare much of the New Deal unconstitutional, and Roosevelt’s political prestige would decline as his policies failed to resolve the Depression. If Roosevelt had not passed his agenda early, we would probably be without many New Deal programs we take for granted today.

phred September 4th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Paul, I’m late here and it may be too late, but if you’re still around…

Do you have any idea why so many Congressional Dems are willing to follow Obama to electoral slaughter? I get that he is and always has been neoliberal, but why on earth do the euphemistically named “progressive” Dems, fail to defy the party leadership? They can’t be blind to what is going on here. And they cannot serve two masters: Obama and their constituents simultaneously.

eCAHNomics September 4th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Paul,

Appreciate it if you’d give some consideration to mine at 97 when you get to it. Thanks. I’ll be back to check. Love your work.

Hugh September 4th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

FDR made the same point to unionists in the 30s, don’t complain that I don’t do progressive things, make me do them

I think that is overblown. We don’t elect representatives not to represent us. We elect them to do what they say they will do and what we agree with. Obama ran on change we can believe in and yes, we can. He promised a break with Bush. He has been acting like Bush’s clone. I would not expect to be able to pressure Bush into anything. I have the same lack of expectations about Obama.

valadon September 4th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

It’s just too bad that Obama thinks that the solutions FDR applied are just too “old-fashioned” (I wish I had a link to substantiate this) or so I’ve read. When it is quite apparent that had we a massive public works program and similar projects to deal with our infrastructure etc., we might just pull ourselves out of this..one can only think that either the economy is worse than any of us realize or that it’s simply not profitable to some to do that.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
In response to phred @ 121

The Democratic Party is increasingly moving to the right because it’s been forced to be a catch all now that the Republican party’s gone over the deep end with the birther nonsense and all the other conspiracies. These conspiracies have been around for decades, as has the Democratic move to the right, but they’ve intensified in recent years.

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
In response to Hugh @ 123

As you point out, he ran on fairly empty slogans that have been a mainstay of non-incumbent campaigns for decades. He invited people to imagine him as offering a true break with Bush, but for the most part all he really projected was a big national Rohrschach test.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
In response to sadlyyes @ 95

Sadly yes on Obama v. FDR. this is not the 1930s. We are in a global era. The big capital intensiive mass production industry that created the giant and powerful Fordist working class that rose up in the mid 1930s (with left cadre int he lead) to push FDR and the Democrats and the government to the left (see Lizabeth Cohen’s wonderful book Making a New Deal) is no more. Those jobs and the cultures of solidarity they engendered (with help from an actual Left) have been shut down and moved abroad. now you stimulate the economy in Keynesian sorts of ways and you are in part helping the economy of China, which actually makes materal commodities (imagine). Corporate globalization takes the floor out of national New Deal-Keynesian strategies….its a new world and the struggle are international, which is difficult but harh reality we have to deal with.

GlenJo September 4th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Paul, thanks for being here:

Given that with Obama, we are where we are. What are the best levers for moving them? How do we, in FDR’s words, make them do it?

gaylew September 4th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
In response to doe53 @ 119

I think we will invade iran around election time. I hope I’m wrong but I can see it coming down the road

gesneri September 4th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
In response to doe53 @ 119

But he WILL have cut entitlements, and maybe he’s willing to be a one-term wonder in pursuit of that end. I hate myself when I start to sound paranoid, but what’s going on in our government seems so loopy that it seems there can’t be another explanation but some kind of wacky conspiracy. I’ve never been quite so disgusted and despairing.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:30 pm
In response to phred @ 121

by catch all I mean that it is supposed to “represent” the workign class and middle class, and yet is also largely doing the bidding of corporate interests. the result is predictable: primarily servicing financial and other business elites, while throwing a bone to everyone else after corporate interests are serviced.

Oilfieldguy September 4th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I take it this book is not a “beat sweetener.”

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:32 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 127

he promised to start GREEN industries,that China is whipping past us,less warriors,more construction workers to rebuild our infastructure ,that is crumbling,imo IT CAN BE DONE

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:33 pm
In response to GlenJo @ 128

Paul and I have talked quite a bit about this. I think we need more of what happened in chicago, thousands coming out in to the streets screaming in light of proposed layoffs of thousands of city school teachers. But we need much, much more. I don’t support violence and riots, but sadly, it may have to go there once enough people lose their retirement money and lose their homes and jobs before we see any progressive change.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:34 pm
In response to doe53 @ 119

Yes, Hugh….it would seem that Obama could be seen as faced with a stark choice: break with his corporatist overlords are go down as a failure. Of course no guarantee of success if he does break; funders and the dominant mass media (corporate) will be sure to punish anyone who moves in a John Edwardsy (forget just about Nader and Kucinich) direcction, which is totally contrary to Obama’s training, temperament and world view. But you know with Wall Street breakign with him anyway (after he freaking saved their bacon, gave them cover, did their bidding etc.)maybe he’s like to say “what the hell, what have I got to lose?” Not likely, but you know Iv’e always thought that Obama’s only potentially progressive salavation could be his abject narcissism (i remember the guy from Chicago…he likes himself a LOT): back him into a corner where he thinks being a little actually progressive is the onyl way he can save his legacy. Not much to hope for!

doe53 September 4th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

@gesnene128 – I SO hear you; but sacrificing your political ambitions even for the corporatist state seems like a suicide wish. Maybe O is so disconnected from reality he doesn’t get how angry and distrustful People are.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

thank you for the great book salon, sounds like a must read

RevBev September 4th, 2010 at 3:36 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 135

Makes a lot of sense; I have continued to think that he is not dumb. Do you agree?

gesneri September 4th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Much has changed since the marches and demonstrations of the 1960′s. Do you really think it could help make a difference, or would we find a sort of martial law declared and demonstrators just locked up and the key thrown away? Not much would surprise me these days.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:37 pm
In response to GlenJo @ 128

Well how do we move them. We are way short on organization and are far too captive to the election cycle and candidate-centered politics. Its like Howard Zin used to say, “it’s not about who sitting in the White House; it’s about who’s sitting in.” There is resistance going on in different places…around public education (to save it) around anti-eviction and a a lot more. But it is very under-reported of course (Zinn used to talk about “the unreported resistance”) by a corproate media that calls “The Tea Party” a popular movement and gives it all kidns of coverage and refuses to cover our stuff. We cannot give up and need to find the underreported resistance and expand it. It’s doable.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:38 pm
In response to gaylew @ 129

I do not discount the possibility of an attack on Iran. Many indications of this.

Hugh September 4th, 2010 at 3:38 pm
In response to doe53 @ 119

In probably March of 2009, I began to warn that Obama was setting himself up to be a one term President. His actions on the economy, Rubin, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke made real recovery impossible. OTOH how he punted on his stimulus (its small size and some 40% ineffective tax cuts) was a sign of how he would handle subsequent issues like healthcare and FinReg.

sadlyyes September 4th, 2010 at 3:39 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 141

when will Joe Sixpack get tired of paying taxes for ENDLESS war?

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:40 pm
In response to gesneri @ 139

I think in light of the draft the system was even more unrepresentative during the 60s. There are still an awful lot of privileged people in this country in middle america who can shut down reactionary reforms (at the very least), see specifically the bush admin’s backtracking on Social security privatization after the 2004 election.

doe53 September 4th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Paul, what kind of role do you think social media has in making broad-based, organized resistance doable? As opposed to just venting?

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:41 pm
In response to elisehendrick @ 126

Yes to elise on the Rorshack Test. Team Obama was absolutely brilliant in elciting projection: “project your identity and values on to me.” There was a Second City skit about this actually in the summer of 2008…qtie hilarious. Thay had their troupe dance around and then they’d stop and someone would leap out and say “I’m Ted and I’m gay and I am Barack Obama.” “I’m Maggie and I’m black and went to Harvard and I am Barack Obama” etc….it brought house down in IC actually.

Hugh September 4th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

The Democratic Party is increasingly moving to the right because it’s been forced

It’s not being forced, except in the sense that the sheriff was in Blazing Saddles when he held himself at gunpoint.

gaylew September 4th, 2010 at 3:42 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 141

He’s in the same place Clinton was during his first term. He can pull it out the way Clinton did or he can do Iran ala Bush. Either way I don’t see him caving to progressives.

reddflagg September 4th, 2010 at 3:43 pm
In response to Hugh @ 63

I was in your place, intending to vote third party in 2008, and was talked in to voting for Obamarahma by out of state friends at the last minute. I should know better, I used to teach this stuff, and was already dismayed by Obamarahma’s equivocation about single payer etc., but I live in Florida and the thought that after eight more years of repugs the planet would be a smoldering cinder had already crossed my mind. The question I think was this: would Al Gore have been that much better than the train wreck Bush II in 2000? After 1 1/2 years of the current train wreck I say no.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:43 pm
In response to Hugh @ 142

I can’t tell if he’ll one termer or not. In Larry Bartels’ book Unequal Democracy there’s a chart where he shows that job growth #s in the last quarter of the election year are just insanely predictive for an incumbent president’s chance of coming back. That’s a big factor: the job market in the summetr and early fall of 2012. And who on eearth can the the crazy Republicans come up with? Newt can’t do it. I don’t see Sarah pulling it off. Haley Barbor> nah. They really should draft Patraeus!

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I am sorry that I missing many comments….so many!

montanamaven September 4th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Paul, read you before the election. Read Ken Silverstein in 2007 and others you mentioned in “Obama as Predicted”. Was also reading and listening to Glen Ford at blackagendareport.com. So I was never an Obama supporter. Read your last book and will get the new one.
I was in Iowa for the primaries and I felt a rather thuggish quality in the Obama camp and especially on primary night. Some big guys were rather intimidating to some of the Hilary ladies at the precinct I was at. Did you notice any of that?
Also, could our hope be in our Latina and Latino comrades who seem far more energized and courageous than the old economic justice people?

TomR September 4th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Recently, Lawrence Lessig suggested that trans-party coalitions form to break the “Special Interest Government.” How realistic is this possibility?

Thank you to Anthony and Paul for this great discussion!

- Tom

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:45 pm
In response to Hugh @ 123

Hugh I agree with you on that “make me do it” line from FDR and Obama (he is supposed to have said it to). I hold him against his own often fairly progressive sounding rhetoric and promises …as terrid noted above I think! Hi terri!!

cbl September 4th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

woo – hoo ! (didn’t miss it)

Welcome to Firedoglake Paul Street and Anthony DiMaggio !

Was introduced to Paul Street’s work via a Jane Hamsher post – a fabulous combination; firedogs discussing Paul’s work – can not wait to read this thread

hey Terri Lee, you in here ? :D

Terri September 4th, 2010 at 3:46 pm
In response to TomR @ 153

@ Tom — are “trans-party coalitions” similar to/related to “fusion voting”?

moody00au September 4th, 2010 at 3:47 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 141

on Iran: do you think it’s possible to avoid it?

Terri September 4th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Hi!

GlenJo September 4th, 2010 at 3:47 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 140

I actually viewed Gibbs blabbering on about the “professional left” as a VERY GOOD sign. We can no longer be ignored.

I hate to say it, but the best way to gain a voice in the WH right now, is to have the Dems lose in the midterms. It’s going to get very hard for Obama to maintain his “bi-partisan” act when the Repubs tee off on him in the House and Senate.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:47 pm
In response to Oilfieldguy @ 132

No beet sweetener Oilfield…none at all! Not a lot smiley faces in this particular volume! This is the straight dope from the south side of Chicago via Iowa City….

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:49 pm
In response to montanamaven @ 152

Yes, I saw some of that montanamaven. The Obama operation was somethihg to behold. I remember Caucus night at city High in IC: this Edwards lady says to me, “but Obama’s cant win ” (can’t beat the GOP candidate) I said “oh yes he can…you just watch, he’s the next president but he’s going to make you wonder if the Republicans won anyway.” she looked at me like I was insanse. Saw her the other say and she said “well , yu called that!”

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:50 pm
In response to moody00au @ 157

I’ve reported on this for counterpunch, what looks like it might be the strongest possibility (if war does happen) is an Israeli attack, in which Biden has said that the U.S. couldn’t stop. Of course, that’s nonsense, the U.S. is basically the only ally Israel has left, and it wouldn’t jeopardize the relationship for another war. The lack of pressure from Obama is what will encourage them further for war, if it happens.

cbl September 4th, 2010 at 3:50 pm
In response to terridi @ 158

fyi – it’s me, Clare Boothe Lucid from your FB page

doe53 September 4th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Wow! Great discussion, folks! I’ve gotta go, but thanks so much Paul and FDL; see you on the front lines!

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:52 pm
In response to GlenJo @ 159

Yes GlenJo…I maintain that we must not be intimated by the “spoiler” charge. When people hit me with that (I supprot the Green candidate Wendy Barth here in my congressional district against a weak corporate dem) I say ” oh please, majority opinion is to the left of both of theswe business partes…do you support electoral reform to allow more parties in the game…to permit of a spectrum of political chocies that actually reflects the real spectrum of opinion.” And you know what…they never suppport. Well, then too bad…I will not shrink from “Nadering” your party…too bad.

Terri September 4th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Hello there, Clare — nice of you to join in the book salon.

BevW September 4th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon,

Paul, Thank you for returning and for spending the afternoon with us (in the library) and discussing your new book and President Obama.

Tony, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:
Paul’s website
Tony’s website

Thanks all,
Have a great Holiday weekend.

There is NO Book Salon tomorrow, due to circumstances beyond our control. It will be re-scheduled soon.

elisehendrick September 4th, 2010 at 3:54 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 165

The underlying arrogance of the “spoiler” charge is almost inspiring. The basic assumption is that the Democrats are ENTITLED to our votes – because of all the wonderful stuff they’ve done for us lately, don’cha know?

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:54 pm
In response to BevW @ 167

Thanks for having me again, Beverly. It was very fun and educational.

TomR September 4th, 2010 at 3:55 pm
In response to terridi @ 156

It does sound similar. Although he’s suggesting forming a “Neo-Progressive Movement.” I’m not too keen on using “Neo.” Basically, it’s liberals/progressives joining with Tea Party followers where we have common ground and pushing forward across the left-right paradigm.

I just don’t know how realistic this is. Where have all the liberal republicans gone?

- Tom

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:55 pm
In response to TomR @ 153

I don’t know how realistic the transparty thing is” but I do think there is some obejctive basis for left-right commonality on constitutional reform of the electoral process…to let more partieis and ideas into play. right now the spectrum is so narrow it is of course absurd and emaningful electoral politics is rpetty muich impossible. If some folks on the right agree on that basic point, work with em.

phred September 4th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Fair enough, but that doesn’t actually answer my question. Of course, there are Blue Dogs (who represent the shift to the right you mention), but I gather that Paul’s book is essentially addressing the issue that Obama ran as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Fine. That still leaves the pseudo-left Dems in Congress who have constituents that are in fact progressive. Why do they fail to rebel, now that the wolf is loose in the fold?

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:56 pm
In response to TomR @ 170

The Tea Party stuff will be relevant for a spring book Paul and I will be releasing from Paradigm publishers in the spring of 2011.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

ok we better wrap up. Thank you FDL and Tonyt and all. Great discussion

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:58 pm
In response to phred @ 172

We seem to have tremendous apathy, much of it media-induced. I know that doesn’t explain all, but I attribute much of the current depoliticization to apathy pushed by the media and political system, in addition to the long work hours that seem to be encouraging many to not pay attention to politics.

GlenJo September 4th, 2010 at 3:58 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 165

I agree. Not to get all Machiavelli, but you cannot be a deal maker until you’re a deal breaker.

You don’t do what I want – you don’t get my vote.

Anthony DiMaggio September 4th, 2010 at 3:58 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 174

Thanks paul!

RevBev September 4th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Thanks to you all…a great discussion. Come back and give us more ideas for action. This was great. Thanks.

Paul Street September 4th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Bye all and thank you and apologies to those comments I never got to. I am now being kicked out of the library. :)

phred September 4th, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Sorry Tony, I seem to keep getting misunderstood. I’ll give it another try next time our paths cross : )

phred September 4th, 2010 at 4:09 pm
In response to Paul Street @ 179

Thanks for sticking around long enough to tick off the librarian ; ) Looking forward to your next visit!

GlenJo September 4th, 2010 at 4:12 pm
In response to RevBev @ 178

First and foremost, blogs are very effective. You are the new news media – start the narrative now. Let’s see if we can give Gibbs a purple-nurple by November.

2010 midterms – why did the Dems win big in 2006/2008 and lose in 2010?

Because they started governing like Republicans.

Obama’s future – one term failure?

Not so much a one term failure as a failed third term for W.

djfourmoney September 4th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

You forgot Truthdig and RT

neaguy2010 September 4th, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I never liked Obama. When I began reading dailykos in early 2004 all these kossaks were crowing about this guy Obama in Illinois. And I thought, wow, they are really nuts over this man. Then I saw him speak at the 2004 DNC. Almost immediately I realized this guy was a Booker T. Washington when we really needed WEB Dubois. You only had to listen to what he was saying to realize he was just another neo liberal, albeit an exceptionally eloquent one.
Two writers at Black Agenda Report as well as Paul Street have been the best analysts of the corporate generated parade (Glen Ford) that is Obama.
I have tried to point these things out at dailykos but I am now banned.

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