Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lesser and Greater Evilism

News of appointments dribbles in:

Janet Napolitano, it seems, will head “Homeland Security.” [Remember when those words conjured up images of Nazi Germany; remember when Germany, not the Bush boy’s America, was the archetypal authoritarian state!] Napolitano will be a major improvement over Michael Chertoff and, needless to say, over John McCain’s color-coded buddy, Tom Ridge. For an Obama appointee, Napolitano is comparatively free of Clinton associations; and she won’t cower before Joe Lieberman, who, thanks to the Forgiver-In-Chief, will head the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee.

Should Penny Pritzker become Obama’s Secretary of Commerce, as press reports this morning indicate she will, Obama will have appointed at least one devil official Washington doesn’t know well. [Most of the others are Clintonite devils known all to well.] No doubt, there is sleaze awaiting exposure in the family businesses; apparently, she and other Pritzkers have been known to pal around with predatory lenders (and even to join in from time to time). One thing is clear, though – as a Chicago plutocrat, she, like other Pritzkers, knows commerce well.

For Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle, already yesterday’s news, isn’t a bad choice either. He was pretty much his own man back in his Senate days, and he knows how to get bills through Congress. The appointment signals that Obama is serious about reforming health care. We won’t be getting single-payer (aka what we obviously need) and we won’t even get universal coverage. But we could well end up with a lesser evil than the status quo. On the Clintonite scale, from one to ten (where ten indicates absolute servility to corporate power and subservience to the Democratic Party’s paymasters), Daschle is maybe a five. In contrast, Donna Shalala, Bill Clinton’s HHS Secretary, a Clintonite avant la lettre, was easily a 9.5.

Thus, in the past few days, Obama has done OK. But, of course, he hasn’t provided anything resembling the “change we can believe in” that Obamamaniacs thought – and still think -- they were voting for.

We should therefore savor the moment as Obama and the Clintons move closer to closing the Secretary of State deal, and before other clear signs of a Clinton Restoration emerge. And, of course, we should keep in mind how much better even a Clinton Restoration will be compared to what we now have, notwithstanding the Iraq sanctions, the Yugoslav wars, the “humanitarian interventions” and so much else (including Clinton’s Reaganite assault on the welfare state and his zeal in deregulating financial markets).

In that regard, it is worth noting that Cheney and Bush and their Palinite co-thinkers in the Republican Party seem determined to foul the nest as much as they can before they finally go away (unfortunately, not to the prison terms they richly deserve). Implementing hard to reverse environmental regulations – weakening the Endangered Species Act, for instance, and opening up ever more federal land to commercial exploitation – is now their highest priority. It now seems too that the Bush crime family will do their best to implement a massive counter-stimulus package before they leave office. That’s what letting the Big Three auto companies go under, before there is any chance of doing anything for their workers and for the larger economy, is all about. Having lost the election decisively, Cheney and Bush and the other beneficiaries of our soon to be Forgiver-in-Chief are about to rule, as best they can, from the grave (well, unfortunately, not quite the grave) -- handing Obama a mess so massive that, unless he somehow finds a backbone and takes a radical turn, he’ll have to spend the next four years digging out from under.

Lesser evilism runs rampant in Obama’s appointments so far, but even so, the gap between “lesser” and “greater” is large indeed.

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