Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Worse than Clinton!

It had to happen sooner or later. It happened sooner – Barack Obama has now moved to the right of Hillary Clinton! It had to happen because, unlike in most other “capitalist democracies” (if I may be permitted that oxymoron), it’s the American way for candidates to betray their base before they are elected. For this, we have our unusually undemocratic electoral institutions to thank. With two semi-institutionalized Business parties competing with each other, the wisest electoral course is to go for the middle; or so our candidates believe. [This is not a strategy that has worked out particularly well for Democrats in recent decades, but Democrats, including Obama, evidently believe in it nevertheless.] Needless to say, the middle has been moving ever more rightward at least since the waning days of the Carter administration; a trajectory our electoral institutions has encouraged. Thanks to the incompetence of Cheney and Bush and the majority (Republican) party, there was an opportunity to change course this electoral season. But the paymasters and functionaries of the Democratic Party, and the media hacks who legitimate their doings, held their ground. The rightward drift is therefore still alive and well.

Thus Obama voted for the new FISA bill (and, in the end, for giving telecom companies retroactive immunity for having clearly violated U.S. laws). In other words, he voted against freedom (ostensibly for the sake of “security”). He voted with each and every Republican. Among Democrats, he was not alone. Only 26 of them voted against cloture and only 28 voted against the final FISA bill. Hillary Clinton voted on the right side both times.

These Democrats did the right thing for once: Akaka, Biden (yes, Biden!), Bingaman, Boxer, Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Hillary Clinton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Kerry, Leahy, Levin, Lautenberg, Murray, Reed, Reid, Sanders, Schumer, Stabenow, Tester and Wyden.

These Democrats voted like the pusillanimous enemies of liberty they are: Bayh, Carper, Casey, Conrad, Dorgan, Feinstein, Innuoye, Kohl, Landrieu, Lincoln, McCaskill, Mukulski, Nelson (Neb.), Nelson (Fla.), Barack Obama, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Webb, and Whitehouse.

I must therefore correct what I have been saying. In earlier postings, I several times ranked Obama better (less right-wing) than Joe Biden or Clinton and, of course, worse than John Edwards, Bill Richardson, and Chris Dodd. [Needless to say, he was and is also much worse than the “unelectables” – Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel.] After today’s vote, that assessment cannot stand. Whether thanks to circumstances or character defects or both, Barack Obama is now the worst of the lot. Of course, he’s still better than John McCain -- though McCain at least had the decency to be out of town for the vote! But increasingly the race between those two is boiling down to a contest to see which one will be the less dangerous Bush Three.

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