Smells Like Clinton, Waddles Like Cleveland
by Charles Lemos, Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 02:27:39 PM EST
MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews had Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary, on his show today. Here's what Matthews asked:
"It seem like this President has had to go to alot of fundraisers lately, he's played alot of golf lately, he's hung around with Geithner and Summers and the Paulson crowd, the whole New York rich guy scene.
He's beginning to look like a Clinton, he looks like a typical Democrats now, hanging out, playing golf, going to rich people's parties, bringing people into the White House to go bowling, this whole thing begins to smell like the Clinton era, what happened to the change we can believe in?"
But for the progressive left wing of the Democratic Party, our political system is effectively marked and dominated by two parties tied to corporate interests. Each party in their own way serves the interests of a narrow set of economic interests. There is little question that the interests served by the Democrats are broader than those served by the Republicans. As I've noted before, the former is the party of the top 10% and the latter the party of the top one-tenth of one percent. In numerical terms, that's a party of thirty million versus one of thirty thousand. No doubt, the differences in social issues is as deep as the Grand Canyon but on economic ones, not so much. But that's not the point really. The point is that they can be different because we are the party of people. That's what demos means. We have been this party since the Jacksonian Era.
I'm not the only one who has said this but there is a worry that Obama is just another Grover Cleveland, the lone Democrat to win election in the Gilded Age. My impression back in 2007 was that Obama was a centrist, a corporate Democrat. That hasn't changed even if I largely support the President's agenda because I hope it is but step one of a much larger re-orientation of our politics. I'm not worried about 2012; I expect President Obama to comfortably be re-elected barring an economic collapse. It's 2016 that's on my mind. This is about the long haul and need to remake the country to what it was when we shared a broad based prosperity even though it wasn't as inclusive as it should have been.
Back in late August, Bill Moyers was on Bill Maher's show. Here's some of what he said:
MOYERS: I dont think the problem is the Republicans . . . .The problem is the Democratic Party. This is a party that has told its progressives -- who are the most outspoken champions of health care reform -- to sit down and shut up. Thats what Rahm Emanuel, the Chief of Staff at the White House, in effect told progressives who stood up as a unit in Congress and said: "no public insurance option, no health care reform."
And I think the reason for that is -- in the time since I was there, 40 years ago, the Democratic Part has become like the Republican Party, deeply influenced by corporate money. I think Rahm Emanuel, who is a clever politician, understands that the money for Obamas re-election will come from the health care industry, from the drug industry, from Wall Street. And so hes a corporate Democrat who is determined that there wont be something in this legislation that will turn off these interests. . . .
Money in politics -- youve had in the last 30 years, money has flooded politics . .. the Supreme Court saying "money is free speech." It goes back to the efforts in the 19th Century to give corporations the right of personhood -- so if you as a citizen have the right to donate to campaigns, then so do corporations. Money has flowed in such a flood into both parties that the Democratic Party gets a lot of its support from the very interests that -- when the Republicans are in power -- financially support the Republicans.
You really have essentially -- except for the progressives on the left of the Democratic Party you really have two corporate parties who in their own way and their own time are serving the interests of basically a narrow set of economic interests in the country -- who, as Glenn Greenwald, who is a great analyst and journalist, wrote just this week: these narrow interests seem to win, determine the outcomes, no matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter who has their hands on the levers of powers, these narrow interests determine the outcomes in Washington, even when they have to run roughshod over the interests of ordinary Americans. Im sad to say that has happened to the Democratic Party.
Id rather see Barack Obama go down fighting for vigorous strong principled public insurance, than to lose with a [corporate-dominated] bill . . . . the insurers are winning. Everyone already knows the White House has made a deal with the drug industry -- promising not to import cheaper drugs from Canada and Europe promising not to use the government to negotiate for better prices -- that deal has been cut . . .
Theres this fear that Barack Obama will become the Grover Cleveland of this era Grover Cleveland was a good man, but he became a conservative Democratic President because he didnt fight the powerful interests people say Obama should be FDR Id much rather see him be Theodore Roosevelt -- Teddy Roosevelt loved to fight I think if Obama fought instead of really finessed it so much . . . I think it would change the atmosphere.
But question to you is Chris' question fair? Is it a reasonable worry? Is Moyers right?