Saturday, August 22, 2009

Obama's Trust problem

Perhaps it is my natural suspicion of politicians who rely heavily on charisma and rhetoric but I was never enamored of Barrack Obama. He always seemed an opportunistic politician. He outmaneuvered Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination by campaigning from the centre left to tap strong disillusionment with mainstream political parties. Once he won the Democratic nomination he campaigned on changing the way politics was done but moved back to the mainstream of politics to win the election.

In a piece in June I noted the growing disillusionment with Obama and his administration among many progressive commentators. In recent times the disillusionment with Obama has only grown. In the New York Times Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton has written that Obama has lost the trust of many of those who put him in power.

Krugman points to Obama's steadfast continuation of failed Bush policies on overseas wars and terror, coziness with and support of the banks and financial executives and endless retreats on health care to sooth corporate interests as causing a growing revolt among progressives who voted him to power. Krugman writes that:
"A backlash in the progressive base — which pushed President Obama over the top in the Democratic primary and played a major role in his general election victory — has been building for months"

" on such fraught questions as torture and indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge or change Bush administration policy. And then there’s the matter of the banks. I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions paying giant bonuses is playing"

Glenn Greenwald notes that Obama campaigned on changing the way politics works- liberating political outcomes from the dictates of corporate interests and money; ensuring new levels of government transparency: breaking the hold of national security and terror approaches over politics and revising Bush policies on overseas wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Greenwald concludes that these have been repeatedly violated and Obama has in fact bolstered the corporate power dynamic he vowed to end.

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