Outside the Glare of the Most Recent Dust-up Between Obama and Hillary, A Far Stranger Case Against Obama Is Made
Yes, the Obama/Hillary spat this week has been fascinating to watch. And yes, it merits a long post. But no, we will not be writing that post.
Why? Because it boils down to this: the Clinton camp’s central argument is that Obama is inexperienced, and they have been waiting to make it explicitly. Obama’s people have been waiting to call Hillary on her version of Clintonian triangulation, her tendency to move Right of center on key issues, especially military matters.
Both saw their openings; both took them. Hillary dubbed Obama “naive and inexperienced,” and Obama summed up Hillary’s views on diplomacy as “Bush-Cheney Lite.”
Who came off better? Only time will tell.
But let’s take today to talk about another commentary on Obama, one that made far less sense to us, and one we’re far less inclined to let pass.
The Obama campaign has been consistent in its attempts to swat away this or that racist remark, and they’ve been smart to do so: those making the racist comments seek to limit Obama’s candidacy to issues of race, thereby stunting his appeal to the broader electorate.
And we haven’t had much to say about it here in the pages of VDB either, for much the same reason.
But an article by Scott Thill from AlterNet caught our eye yesterday, after a tip from a long-time reader. Now, AlterNet is not some kool-aid-dispensing Conservative outlet; Amy Goodman writes there, among others.
The piece itself is titled, “The Crash of 1929: Are We On the Verge of a Repeat?” And for the first three and a half pages, it makes the argument that hedge funds and the sub-prime implosion stand poised to do catastrophic damage to the American economy. Not the world’s most original argument, but interesting reading.
And then, on the last of four pages, Thill veers suddenly into a strange attack on Barack Obama. He points out that Obama’s campaign has received a good deal of money that originated in these investment pools:
“Barack Obama received more donations from employees of investment banks and hedge funds than from any other sector, with Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase among his biggest sources of support.”
And Thill is right about that.
But he doesn’t mention that both Edwards and Hillary Clinton are at least equally beholden to hedge funds and investment bankers. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton have had and continue to have very strong ties to Goldman Sachs and other investment firms; in fact Robert Rubin left GS to become Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury.
And Edwards received very strong scrutiny a few months back not simply for accepting campaign donations from hedge funds, but for acting as a high-paid consultant at a hedge fund between campaigns, which critics thought tarnished his “Two Americas” message.
Given those facts, it’s odd that Thill would concentrate exclusively on Obama. But that’s when the article gets odder still:
“While Obama has already promised to increase regulation on hedge funds and the tax burden on private equity groups (or today’s “pools,” as Byrne explained them), if he becomes president, one can imagine he’ll be singing quite a different tune if he becomes the first black man in history to run the White House.”
Now, maybe it’s VDB, but that is an astonishing sentence. You don’t have to, but we suggest reading it again.
It begins by admitting that Obama has publicly promised to increase regulation — the very thing that Thill has called for throughout his lengthy piece — but then casually assumes that Obama will “be singing quite a different tune if he becomes the first black man in history to run the White House.”
If Thill’s point is that any candidate who’s taken large sums of money from the industry cannot regulate it, whether that candidate is Edwards or Hillary or Obama, that any President will be by definition unable to pull the switch on new restrictions, he might have said so.
As it is, he ties this sense of inevitable collusion to Obama’s blackness in a way that borders on the offensive.
Now, if you’re thinking that we’re making too much of the sentence, twisting it somehow, look at it again because there’s an odd, built-in redundancy: Thill first says, “if he becomes President,” but then circles back to say more or less the same thing, phrased this time as “if he becomes the first black man in history to run the White House.”
For whatever reason, Thill seems to have wanted to stress race at that final juncture, as well as the fact that the position of President involves actual management of the White House. That’s why the sentence has a sort of linguistic stutter, a redundancy that Thill did not and could not recognize as a redundancy.
Because for him, it wasn’t. The final clause about race was part of what he was trying to say, for reasons only Thill knows. It’s a very bizarre bit of unwitting revelation.
And that’s without even getting into the whole “singing quite a different tune” nonsense. Let’s not even go there.
Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice put it. And we’re not even close to the first primary. Tighten your belts, folks.