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Author Topic: Obama as Clintonian as (Bill) Clinton?
Michelle
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posted 06 June 2008 10:55 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This article is a few months old but I read it on the way home for the first time last night in its hard copy format in an old New York Times Magazine that someone brought in.

The interesting part of it for me was where it discussed, near the end, how the top three candidates in the primaries (remember, it was written seven months ago) all echo the same third-way politics of Bill Clinton.

Including Mr. Change, back when he was actually saying anything of substance at all besides, "Oooh, I stand for change, believe in me, oooh."

quote:
There is, however, a rich paradox in the strategy that Obama and Edwards are employing in their quest to dislodge Clinton from her perch atop the field. The plain fact is that, for all their condemnation of Bill Clinton’s governing philosophy, both Obama and Edwards — and just about every other Democratic candidate in the field, with the possible exception of Dennis Kucinich, who seems to have been teleported straight from 1972 — spend a fair amount of time imitating him. So thorough was Clinton’s influence on Democratic politics, so transformative were his rhetoric and his theory of the electorate, that Democrats don’t even seem to realize anymore the extent to which they owe him their political identities.

Obama can rail about poll-tested positions and partisanship if he wants, but some of his most memorable speeches since being elected to the Senate have baldly echoed Clintonian themes and language. He has repeatedly called on poor African-Americans to take more responsibility for their parenting and their children’s education, and he has been skeptical of centralized federal programs for the poor, advocating a partnership between government and new kinds of community-based nonprofits. He has railed against “a mass-media culture that saturates our airwaves with a steady stream of sex, violence and materialism.” Such “values” stances were far outside the mainstream of the party before Bill Clinton expressed them.

In an impressive 2005 commencement speech at Knox College, Obama talked about economic transformation. “Instead of doing nothing or simply defending 20th-century solutions, let’s imagine together what we could do to give every American a fighting chance in the 21st century,” he said. “What if we prepared every child in America with the education and skills they need to compete in the new economy? If we made sure that college was affordable for everyone who wanted to go? If we walked up to those Maytag workers and said, Your old job is not coming back, but a new job will be there because we’re going to seriously retrain you and there’s a lifelong education waiting for you?

“Republicans will have to recognize our collective responsibilities,” he went on, “even as Democrats recognize that we have to do more than just defend old programs.” Bill Clinton could have spoken those exact words in 1991. In fact, it would be hard to find a better summation of the substance behind Clintonism.

Similarly, Edwards, doing his best William Jennings Bryan impression, lashes out at the policy priorities of the ’90s and at poverty deepened by corporate venality, but his arsenal of specific proposals includes expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and accelerating the process of moving people out of public housing and into mixed-income neighborhoods. These new ideas are actually extensions of Clinton-era programs; they may be notable for their boldness but not for their originality. And even Edwards, in criticizing the lack of aid for poor Americans, has constructed his ambitious agenda on the central premise that people should get assistance only if they’re willing to work for it. In today’s environment, this hardly qualifies as noteworthy — there’s no serious Democratic candidate who would propose anything else — but it represents a marked shift from the party’s stance on welfare programs before Clinton started talking about those who “work hard and play by the rules.”

“Despite all the protestations, Clinton’s third-way politics and governing philosophy have as much of a hold on these Democratic candidates as the New Deal mind-set did on generations before,” says Jonathan Cowan, whose think tank, Third Way, has emerged as the next iteration of the D.L.C. “Clinton’s politics have basically become the DNA of Democrats seeking the White House, and it’s almost certain that they would all govern from that Clintonian center if they actually became president.” Even the party’s leaders in Congress, newly empowered by an uprising against Republican hegemony, continue to speak in the measured tones of Clintonian centrism.

Clinton’s rhetorical influence, in fact, spans not just the Democratic Party but really the entire spectrum of American politics.


[ 06 June 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
josh
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posted 06 June 2008 11:27 AM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There are some valid points there. Certainly, Obama is not the second coming of Franklin Roosevelt.
From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 06 June 2008 12:18 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You would have to be nuts to think that the old programmes would work today.

For example, I agree with Obama that education for all is really important. It is unfortunate, but there are no life-long jobs any more, so people are best advised to get a flexible education that allows for maximum usefulness on the labour market.

When GM can just move to Mexico and takre 1000 jobs with it, devastating a whole town, unionism isn't enough.

And don't tell me the solution is to nationalize the economy; that way lies disaster, as we cannot help but noticing unless we are wilfully blind.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 06 June 2008 12:23 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Edwards, supposedly further "left" than either of them, believes in workfare, just like Clinton, and according to the author, no Democratic candidate who wants to get elected would say otherwise. Meanwhile, Obama is preaching a bootstraps ideology to impoverished African Americans, while downplaying the role of racism in their plight.

Do you agree with him about that, too?

[ 06 June 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
kropotkin1951
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posted 06 June 2008 12:29 PM      Profile for kropotkin1951   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:
And don't tell me the solution is to nationalize the economy; that way lies disaster, as we cannot help but noticing unless we are wilfully blind.
You are right any attempt to nationalize in North America would see the mask come down and the fascists take over direct control of the political process instead of through the facade of democracy. Truly the road to a disaster if you are on the Yellow Brick Road.

From: North of Manifest Destiny | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 06 June 2008 12:30 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:

And don't tell me the solution is to nationalize the economy; that way lies disaster, as we cannot help but noticing unless we are wilfully blind.


Yes, you're right. The U.S. needs another New Deal socialist at the helm to save the world from disaster capitalism. Laissez-faire was proven to be disasterous in 1929 after just 30 years, and without any help from the Soviets or trade embargos of any kind. And now the renewed Liberal capitalism is proving to be disasterous a second or even third time around. God help us.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 06 June 2008 12:31 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
On Obama's splash page, it says, "This is our time to turn the page on the policies of the past."

What policies, exactly, is he going to turn the page on? Please be specific.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doug
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posted 06 June 2008 12:55 PM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I expect to see in the next Congress substantial legislation on global warming/reducing demand for oil - probably not substantial enough, but I don't think it'll be ignored as in the past. There will also be some sort of national health care plan, probably based on subsidizing private insurance for the unemployed and people under a certain income level. Not the best idea, but the most politically achievable one. Something of a tax shift to the wealthy is likely as the Bush tax cuts expire and are perhaps supplemented by minor increases. Gays will be allowed to serve in the military, and it's possible there may be federal recognition of same-sex marriages from the states that allow them.

So - all in all, some change, but if anyone's expecting a revolution, they'll be disappointed.


From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
MJ
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posted 06 June 2008 02:51 PM      Profile for MJ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Edwards, supposedly further "left" than either of them, believes in workfare, just like Clinton, and according to the author, no Democratic candidate who wants to get elected would say otherwise. Meanwhile, Obama is preaching a bootstraps ideology to impoverished African Americans, while downplaying the role of racism in their plight.

Do you agree with him about that, too?


It's subjective.

The answer to this depends on your estimation of the appropriate role a presidential candidate plays, what objective you think Obama is trying to achieve with this approach, and whether that objective fits with the role of candidate.


From: Around. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 06 June 2008 03:42 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Doug, I guess what I'm looking for is what Obama has SAID he's going to do, not what we guess or wish he had in mind. Know what I mean?

I checked out his policy pages and some of them are pretty good, I admit. I like a number of his "civil rights" policies, for instance. His foreign policy? Some of it isn't too bad, but too much pandering to AIPAC for my liking.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
josh
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posted 07 June 2008 04:59 AM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

You would have to be nuts to think that the old programmes would work today.



Well, depending on what "programmes" you're referring to, call me nuts.

Are you now a newly-minted neo-liberal, in addition to your quasi-McCarthyite role on the board?

[ 07 June 2008: Message edited by: josh ]


From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Krago
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posted 07 June 2008 05:59 AM      Profile for Krago     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by josh:
Are you now a newly-minted neo-liberal, in addition to your quasi-McCarthyite role on the board?

I have read the term "neo-liberal" many times on babble, but to be honest, I don't have a clue what it means. Josh, what is your definition?


From: The Royal City | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
MCunningBC
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posted 07 June 2008 12:36 PM      Profile for MCunningBC        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by kropotkin1951:
You are right any attempt to nationalize in North America would see the mask come down and the fascists take over direct control of the political process instead of through the facade of democracy. Truly the road to a disaster if you are on the Yellow Brick Road.


I see. So that was the problem with Skeena Cellulose.


From: BC | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged
josh
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posted 07 June 2008 01:57 PM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Krago:

I have read the term "neo-liberal" many times on babble, but to be honest, I don't have a clue what it means. Josh, what is your definition?


This defines it better than I could:

http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/econ101/neoliberalDefined.html


From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
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posted 11 June 2008 04:34 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Some of it isn't too bad, but too much pandering to AIPAC for my liking.

Pandering? If only. It was out-and-out fellating. I was wondering how he would have addressed a meeting of the Dixieland Slaveholders Association and decided probably much the same. Apparently he'll be right at home as keynote speaker for the annual convention of The Knights of the Klu Klux Klan.

I guess the new "hope" is same as the old hope. In fact, I have his presidential victory speech all written for him.

"My Fellow Americans ... SUCKERS!!!"

[ 11 June 2008: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged

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