Each week The McLaughlin Group sits around in a TV studio on PBS giving us a clinic on the mindset and "conventional wisdom" of millionaire Washington elites. And they're already constructing the template for the dominant narrative following the elections. While setting up a discussion, John McLaughlin quoted Naomi Klein's "squib" on a new Obama book titled The Mendacity of Hope, by Roger D. Hodge, the former editor-in-chief of Harper's magazine:
"Ready to wake up from the Obama dream yet? If so, this thrillingly scathing and relentlessly truthful crid de coeur is your strong cup of coffee. Hodge skewers the sloppy intellectual culture that willed this political chimera into being, while expertly unmasking the corporate machine that is the real Brand Obama. Drink up."
McLaughlin then tossed the topic to his panel to chew on:
MR. [Pat] BUCHANAN: This is what Robert Gibbs said. The professional left wouldn't be happy if they put in Dennis Kucinich as president, John.
MS. [Michelle] BERNARD: From the day President Obama was elected, I always predicted that it would be the people on the far left that would be his undoing, from day one. If you go and look through excerpts of the book, they were upset by Clinton. And it's actually interesting that they say that every single time a Democratic president gets elected that they take on philosophies and policies of the Republican Party, that Clinton was too much of a centrist; Obama is too much of a centrist.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think --
MS. BERNARD: It's ridiculous. The far left will be this president's undoing.
MR. [Rich] LOWRY: Yeah. And this is why, John --
MS. [Eleanor] CLIFT: Well, the economy -- the economy is this president's undoing in this midterm, but I wouldn't count him out --
MS. BERNARD: Well, in 2012 --
MS. CLIFT: -- for re-election. And the thing is that liberals are disappointed. I'm glad there are people at the barricades. But this is, I think, a fanciful criticism, and maybe --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you read Noam Chomsky? Do you read Klein?
MS. CLIFT: I love Noam Chomsky. But this is not a reality-based criticism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the intellectual powerhouse of the Democratic Party. They are turning the wheels.
MS. CLIFT: How would they have suggested President Obama get the 60 votes he needed to get the public option? . . .
"The far left will be this president's undoing," Michelle Bernard proclaims. This elite exchange about Naomi Klein's book blurb is another illustration of how stupid Robert Gibbs was when he made his "professional Left" remark. By releasing that line into the media ether Gibbs sought to distance his boss from his base. All he did was hand people like Pat Buchanan another cudgel with which to bash Obama's supporters. Not only are the scales of the corporate media weighted heavily toward serving the ideological interests of ruling elites, but some of President Obama's closest advisers appear to have internalized the bogus "conventional wisdom" of the Beltway. We're all in this together, right?
Even the purported "liberal" on the show, Eleanor Clift, cannot fathom any alternative to the weak-kneed compromises Obama cut with the Republican minority during his first two years. The November 2 elections, they all agree, will be a "rebuke" to Obama for "going too far in the progressive direction."
There's no way this same reasoning would ever be applied to the "professional Right" (which has far greater influence in Washington). The country elected a Democratic President who ran on a platform of "Change" with the slogan "Yes We Can!" His party won majorities in both houses of Congress. Yet the Democrats still had to settle for a quarter of a loaf. It's not surprising then that Obama's base voters, after eight miserable years of George W. Bush, might be somewhat disappointed that winning the House and the Senate and a decisive presidential election failed to deliver on key aspects of the Democratic agenda.
Now I ask you to consider: If the country elected a Republican president and gave the Republicans control of both houses of Congress would they settle for a quarter loaf? Of course not. In 2000, after Bush "won" by the slimmest of margins, these same Washington pundits told us that he'd have to appoint "moderates" to his cabinet and govern "from the center." Instead, he appointed people like John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton, and he still bowled over his opponents in the other party. The McLaughlin Group and the rest of the media mob then proceeded to cheer on Bush as he ballooned the deficit, lied us into war, and set up a deregulatory framework that facilitated the collapse of the economy.
In contrast, President Obama often began his negotiations by asking for a half a loaf; and when he was told "No!" he quickly settled for a quarter loaf, or even an eighth. He became risk averse, pandered to Big Pharma and Big Oil. He sucked up to the big Wall Street banks and now they give all their campaign money to the GOP so a lot of good that did. After years of blatant mortgage fraud Attorney General Eric Holder can't find anyone to indict? I guess he's too busy sending the FBI to ransack the homes and offices of peace and human rights activists. Obama's State Department continues to ink contracts with Blackwater USA (Xe Services) and other war profiteers that had successfully wedged themselves into the middle of both wars. His tolerance of these mercenary corporations will make it harder to dislodge them later on. Their influence will only grow under the next Republican administration. Escalating the war in Afghanistan cost tens of billions of dollars a year that might have gone to helping those in need in the United States. It also erased any financial benefit of reducing the number of combat soldiers in Iraq.
To add insult to injury, the "professional Left" has a long historical record of being correct. Such as when it argued that NAFTA and the WTO would suck jobs out of the United States and lead to environmental lapses. It was also correct that de-regulating the Telecommunications Industry would lead to monopolistic control and strengthen the hand of Rupert Murdoch. It was correct that de-regulating the financial services industry and repealing Glass-Steagall would create banks that were too big to fail. It was correct that George W. Bush was going to be a disaster for the country, (recall the cover of The Nation magazine during the 2000 campaign that characterized Bush as Alfred E. Newman with a button reading: "Worry"). It was correct that Bush's Greenspan-endorsed tax cut for the rich would balloon the deficit. It was correct that the Republican Medicare bill in 2003 was a giveaway to Big Pharma. It was correct in arguing that Iraq was not a "threat" and that the Bush Administration had failed to make the case for war. It was correct that invading Iraq, toppling the government, and occupying the country was going to cost tens of thousand of innocent lives, hundreds of billions of dollars, and become the greatest terrorist recruitment tool ever; et cetera, et cetera.
When Obama's agenda began to peter out under the weight of Republican obstructionism and his own tendency to play it safe, it was the Democratic base that worked the hardest trying to prevent him from succumbing to Washington's money-soaked ways. Now Beltway commentators like those on The McLaughlin Group blame "the professional Left" for the Democrats' woes in 2010. They find fault with the very people who tried their best to persuade Obama to challenge the culture of corruption, a culture these pundits are clearly part of. Priceless.
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