In the United States, the Obama administration has bailed out the banks, carried out a relentless attack on the working class and led the calls for cutting social programs. To the extent that differences exist between the two parties, they are of a tactical character—over how best to defend profits and prevent the development of an independent opposition in the working class.That's coming from a different frame of reference than the Tea Party's complaint about the bank bailouts or the Romney-Ryan campaign allegations of a $716bn theft from Medicare. What's different is the analysis of boutique multiculturalism.
The rightward movement of the Democratic Party has been accompanied by attempts on the part of its middle-class supporters to promote all manner of lifestyle issues and identity politics as a means of obscuring the question of class and social equality.That's not quite Ann Coulter talking about mascots and pets. It is suggesting that the Democratic Party uses protected-status minorities for show, rather than for substance.
Bob Herbert, who may or may not be a court intellectual for Democrats, also disagrees from the President's left.
Despite the rampant increase in poverty in the worst downturn since the Depression, Obama supporters whispered that he couldn't do more for the poor and couldn't speak out more forcefully on their behalf because that would not be politically advantageous. So nearly all of his economic initiatives had to be couched in language that referred to the middle class, even though the poor were being hurt far worse. LBJ could launch a war on poverty but not Barack Obama.I could be flip and suggest that those "prejudiced white voters" had already bought into Ann Coulter's mascot argument, or were unlikely to vote Democratic in the first place.
Black Americans have been disproportionately clobbered by the Great Recession and its aftermath, losing both income and wealth at staggering rates. Much of the black community is enduring a full-blown economic depression. But Obama and his advisers have been unwilling to address this catastrophe openly and forcefully out of fear that the president would be perceived as too black by prejudiced white voters, thus losing their support.
Another possibility might be that tensions in the Democratic coalition prevented the President, particularly in the first two years of his term, from addressing the catastrophe. The point of limiting infrastructure projects to those projects already environmentally vetted was to keep both the jobs advocates and the environmental advocates in the coalition. Pursue two goals, achieve neither.
But then, you really have to knuckle down and work, something that Mr Herbert suggested Our President has been failing to do.
President Obama seemed unprepared for the debate. He came off as a man who didn't really want to be there, who wondered why he should have to be bothered fending off the impertinent attacks and serial untruths being flung at him by his opponent. The millions of Obama supporters who wanted to see flashes of passion and fire from their guy -- from a president fighting effectively on their behalf -- were left with nothing but the bitter taste of disappointment.We expect that sort of snarking from the right. From the left, it's instructive.
The president let his people down. And if he's capable of doing that in an election that is clearly so important, it means he's capable of doing it again if he wins a second term.Second-term presidents often compromise more with the opposition party, something that neither Mr "I won" Obama nor the Republican leadership has been willing to do. Should Mr Obama be re-elected, the ankle-biting from the likes of Mr Herbert and the president's fanboys at MSNBC well might intensify.