STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Remember the "Democratic Leadership Council," the DLC (officially dead, but hardly forgotten)? It was a coming together of right-wing Democrats, beginning in the 1980s, to "lead the party to victory." And under the leadership of the likes of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, they did just that. They turned their backs on that awful "McGovern liberalism" and set the party straight on the path to the White House. They also set it straight on the path, all under Clinton, to, for example, "ending the era of 'Big Government' " (as Clinton announced in his first State of the Union message), ending aid to families with dependent children, to the massive shipment of capital and jobs overseas that was begun with the North American Free Trade Organization and the creation of the World Trade Organization, to the ending of the separation of commercial from investment banking and the concomitant triumph of finance capitalism, which led directly to the Great Recession that we now currently live in, and so on and so forth.
Clinton also established the modern Democratic Party pattern of not fighting the GOP much on the political side either. Take "Whitewater," for example. There was no there there, from the very beginning, and the Clintons knew it. But they stood silent as the GOP yelled and screamed about it, supported in that one even by the New York Times which at that time had an editor who had hated Clinton ever since he was a local newspaperman in Arkansas. (No, the Times doesn't always get it right. See, e.g., Iraq, Judith Miller, and the non-existent "WMD.") The whole investigation gave us nothing except, oh yes, Ken Starr and the perjury trap he illegally set for Clinton in the Paula Jones case. But did Clinton fight back through all the years of GOP attacks? Ohhhh no! In fact Clinton let his own Attorney General approve the appointment of the well-known right-winger and Clinton opponent Ken Starr by a cabal of far right-wing Judges, after the first Whitewater Special Prosecutor, a Republican, had found nothing. After all, "we have to work with these folk to get something done for the country." And so we come to Obama. I was not the only one who identified Obama as a DLC-er fairly early on. And by golly, he has not changed his stripes in the current flaps, about which the GOP is making so much hay: no fight but much right-wing policy, either by direction or indirection.
For the record, on "Benghazi," it is indeed tragic that several US Foreign Service officers and "contactors" were murdered there. As has been pointed out by a number of observers, 13 attacks on US embassies and consulates leading to approximately 60 deaths occurred under the Bush Administration without a peep from Fox"News" or the GOP in Congress (or the Democrats for that matter). But no, Mr. President. The attacks on you and your Administration that have been going on since right after the Benghazi tragedy are not just a "political side-show." They are part of the now five-plus year constant attack by the GOP and its Propaganda arm to not only try to prevent you from getting anything on even your modest agenda done, but more fundamentally to de-legitimize you and your Presidency. But heaven help you that you might say such a thing, much less utter the words "George W. Bush," except to say nice things about him at the dedication of his library.
For the record, the "IRS scandal" is a scandal alright, but as many have pointed out, the scandal is the "Citizens United" decision and that it has spawned, among other things, right-wing political action groups trying to present themselves as social welfare agencies so as to protect themselves from having to pay income taxes, but much more importantly for them so that they can keep their donor lists secret. It is also a scandal that your "Justice Dept." and AG Holder leapt into action with a criminal investigation of IRS agents trying to do a very difficult job, which, in the end, is about protecting the US taxpayer. Criminal action here, when there was none on Bybee and Yoo, the writers of the infamous "torture memos," none on the CIA and other torturers themselves who broke US law and violated Article VI of the US Constitution, none on the banks and the banksters who are "too big to jail." From now on, do you think that any IRS agent is going to do anything more than rubber-stamp any application for 501c(4) status that comes in from any right-wing political fund-raising group? And the President thinks (ho, ho, ho) that "being tough on the IRS" will win him credits on the other side. Oh, Mr. President, do you have another think coming. Just like (Bill) Clinton, he "stays above the battle" even when he is the target. On our side, if you will pardon me, there is no dog in the fight and no fight in the dog (even if it is a Portuguese Water Dog).
At the same time we have: a "health care reform" that is primarily a major subsidy for the private for-profit insurance industry, one that will also maintain drug company profits at present levels; a much-too-small "stimulus package" that disappeared much too quickly; a disappearing infra-structure along with a disappearing water supply; banking regulators who are already giving in to the banks to weaken even further the modest gains of Dodd-Frank; a "mortgage rescue program" that did much more to rescue the mortgage/bank consultants than it did to rescue underwater/defrauded homeowners; a giving-in already on Social Security "reform" when diminishing, much less destroying it, will do nothing to alleviate the Federal deficit problem in the short term but will surely add enormous expenditures down the road when the nation faces tens of millions of elderly with no sources of financial support at all; nothing happening to deal with global warming; and, in Clinton redux, a new Asian trade agreement which would further facilitate capital export and job loss (the old Japanese Imperial "Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere," anyone), and, to boot, the President wants to fast-track" that little piece of legislation. And so-on and so-forth.
We might as well have had Hillary because all we got was the "First Black President" (Bill, as he was known in some parts of the African-American community), all over again.
(Photo: Bob McNeely, The White House)
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for BuzzFlash@Truthout he is the Editorial Director of and a Contributing Author to The Political Junkies for Progressive Democracy (http://thepoliticaljunkies.org/).