whole idea of an opinion editorial, or op-ed, is to give an opinion.
And, as wags like to say with wearisome frequency, opinions are like
assholes- Everyone's got one. My style of journalism is akin to that of
the late, great Hunter S. Thompson: Rather than be a source of news, I
offer commentary and views that aren't shared by the virtually
worthless, corporately-owned mainstream media that's always fearful of
alienating shareholders and corporate ownership and falling stock
prices, viewership shares and circulations.
But an opinion
piece, while it conveniently uses (especially in right wing circles) the
fig leaf of commentary, needs to be rooted in facts. Without facts,
opinion pieces are merely propaganda.
This has apparently
been lost on Peter Wehner, former speechwriter (aka propagandist) for
George W. Bush who a few days ago wrote an op-ed in the NY Times
that has to be read to be believed. One need only read the title to see his intended point: Have Liberals Pulled Too Far Left?
The first problem, of course, is the overarching assumption there are
enough liberals currently in the government to wrench the Democratic
Party even one millimeter to the left. The usual suspects on the left
side of today's political spectrum, Bernie Sanders and my senior senator
Elizabeth Warren, certainly take admirable positions. But when one
gives just a cursory glance at the positions taken by Democrats in years
past, it becomes increasingly clear that Sanders, Warren and a very few
others are merely trying to get us back to where America was before
Milton Friedman's and Ronald Reagan's neoliberalism began rearing its
In short, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and
very few others (including a much subdued born-again Democrat Alan
Grayson) are merely trying regain ground taken by the radical right wing
these past 35 years. In a bygone age, they would've been lost in the
crowd. Nowadays? So-called liberals such as Al Franken sneer at anyone
who even whispers criticism at Obama's domestic spying program.
And that's the premise for Wehner's extremely irresponsible and
selective achievement of mnemonics- That the Republicans have shifted
more to the right (Duh) but the Democrats, he whines, have shifted even
more to the left. To make his point, he keeps bringing up the specter of
progressive voters' enduring superhero, Slick Willie Clinton.
Comparing President Barack Obama to Bill Clinton is like comparing a
Granny Smith apple to a Delicious apple. The two look different, they
taste different but otherwise inside they're virtually
indistinguishable. Saying Mr. Obama is more to the left of Mr. Clinton
accurate but it's a straw man argument if ever there was one. It also doesn't say much.
Wehner is correct when he says Bill Clinton ran as a centrist Democrat.
But by the time Bill Clinton ran for the presidency in 1992 (and won,
thanks in large part to the Bilderburg Group), Americans were so sick of
a dozen years of Reagan's and Bush I's right wing neoliberal policies
that openly declared war on the poor and middle class, we would've
elected a potato with FDR's or JFK's pictures thumbtacked to them.
But Clinton, like it or not, was merely Bush-lite. Many of the most
ruinous policies in American history, both socially and economically,
originated with the Clinton administration. The repeal of the last of
Glass Steagall with the 1999 signing of the Financial Modernization Act
(which, ironically, did not modernize our financial system as much as it
catapulted us back to the turn of the century heyday of the robber
barons that are still running over hill and dale like a wild stampede);
NAFTA, which was supported by every living Republican ex president and
in which Mexican laborers are making 20% less than they were before
NAFTA and created "the giant sucking sound" of disappearing US jobs
predicted by Ross Perot; Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which pushed LGBT
service members into the closet; The Defense of Marriage Act. The list
goes on and on. In fact, Bill Clinton has spent much of his retirement
from public service apologizing for these policies and laws. The rest
has been anathematized by his wife Hillary (especially NAFTA).
So saying that Bill Clinton was admirably center-right isn't exactly a
very courageous or brilliantly insightful position to take. But it's all
too facile, not to mention intellectually lazy, to scratch Obama
against Clinton and concentrate on the flecks of bright blue beneath the
red paint while ignoring that times and society changes.
Obama as Liberal
The stupid-ass cartoon above perfectly delineates Wehner's position
that Obama is bluer than Bill Clinton and that he's overdone it. For
seven years I've been hammering home the point that Obama is no liberal,
nothing even close, and the President would even be the first one to
admit it. And I stand on facts, not ignorant right wing whining about
the lurking monster under the bed or in the closet that is liberalism.
While Clinton may have delivered a crushing blow to the American labor force with NAFTA, Obama is arrogantly defending
the super duper Cosmic Top Secret Transpacific Partnership, which
Bernie Sanders accurately calls "NAFTA on steroids." The President is
busting a nut, even to the point of publicly insulting Elizabeth Warren,
to pass a deal that would essentially give multinational corporations
the right to trump national laws and give corporate attorneys, not
judges, corporate attorneys,
the right to take those same countries to court if their laws threatened their bottom line by so much as a penny.
Between sucking up
to the US Chamber of Commerce led by a psychopath named Tom Donohue who'd promised to spend ungodly sums of cash to topple Obama
even during a resurgent bull market on Wall Street and making robber baron Jamie Dimon his BFF, from Day One he's been reliably packing his
administration (starting with his own Chiefs of Staff), SEC and the Treasury with
Wall Street insiders. By that metric alone, it can hardly be said the
president is liberal by even the most fevered stretch of imagination.
But that doesn't matter much to Wehner.
conveniently slipped what passes for his beautiful mind that the drone
program, which was barely out of the starting blocks by the end of Bush
II, has ramped up to James Cameronesque levels starting three days after
Obama was sworn in. Afghanistan, need I remind you, was also surged just
as Bush got his Iraq surge in 2007, resulting in more rotting corpses
of US service members sent to Dover AFB while the poppy fields remain
intact and while we're paying off the Taliban to not attack us even as they
retake key cities and provinces. And Obama took 35 months after being
sworn in to get out of what is now plainly one of the most, if not the
most illegal and
wrong-headed invasions and occupations of all time. (But, according to Wehner, none
of that happened because, "Mr. Obama has often acted as if American
strength is a problem to which the solution is retrenchment, or even
War profiteers, including Blackwater's newest
incarnation, are more bloated than ever thanks to the Obama
administration's ceaseless warfare. Despite being strong-armed by
evolving public opinion into supporting gay rights and abolishing DADT
(which wouldn't have happened if VP Joe Biden hadn't beaten the
president to the punch and put the administration on the spot to support
LGBT rights), DOMA is still on the books, the USA PATRIOT Act is up
for, and will get, full renewal instead of being sunsetted as it should
The NDAA (or rather, its renewal) robs us of our first
amendment rights by criminalizing protesting near a federal building or
anyone enjoying Secret Service protection (such as Obama, for instance).
It took Edward Snowden, a renegade contractor, to clue us in as to how
all-pervasive Obama's and Bush's domestic spying programs truly are.
When he was on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama suspended his stumping
long enough to fly back to DC to give the totally legal spying program
of the telcoms retroactive immunity.
As far as Israel goes,
not a single thing has changed since the founding of that terrorist
state during the Truman years. Obama's shadow boxing with Netanyahu
notwithstanding, we still blithely turn our backs on their countless war
crimes and annexation of Palestine and continue giving them $3 billion a
year while we invade, or let Israel attack, nations that do not
Gitmo is still open and torturing innocents (If
the Obama administration wanted to find the $10,000,000 necessary to
close it, they could find it somewhere in our $1.7 trillion annual
budget). Unions are marginalized, the same liberals who helped elect and
reelect Obama now suffering from sticker shock are routinely
bitchslapped by Obama, he'd frozen pay for federal workers for two years
while doing absolutely nothing about corporate excesses except bark at
them from time to time on his short leash, he seriously and repeatedly
proposed cuts to Medicare and the taxpayer-funded Social Security on the
easily disprovable rubric it contributed to the national deficit. The
"government takeover of 1/6th of our economy", ObamaCare is nothing
more than a gateway to the free market through which all of us are
pushed as through a cattle chute.
Please remember that. FDR
gave us Social Security. LBJ gave us Medicare. And Obama is slowly
trying to take that away as per the dictates of the Republicans. How
that qualifies as "too liberal" should be enough to make all but the
most brainwashed right wing nut job scratch their head. And just for
saying that in a nationally known newspaper, Wehner should seriously be
considered for institutionalization at St. Elizabeth's.
short, if future generations are more honest than ours, posterity should
judge the Obama presidency as one of the worst and most ruinous in
American history on any and every conceivable front (But, hey! Gay
Yeah, We've Moved a Bit to the Right. So?
Wehner actually writes with a straight face, "On most major issues the
Republican Party hasn’t moved very much from where it was during the
Gingrich era in the mid-1990s." Uh huh
. Well, 20 years ago, the
GOP wouldn't have dared go after Social Security (unlike our
unforgivably liberal President). The GOP also wouldn't have seriously
floated the idea of not letting President Clinton deliver a State of the
Union Address or prevent him from using Air Force One. Any proposal to roll back child labor laws, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would've been lucky to get in
a committee much less out of one.
And, sure, they went after and
impeached Clinton over a blow job to get back at Democrats for going
after Nixon during Watergate. But if Obama had been guilty of such a
transgression, the GOP wouldn't have been happy with mere impeachment.
The more radical elements of today's Republican party would've been at
Home Depot shopping for a rope.
And that's another thing conveniently forgotten
by Wehner while making the startlingly insightful observation that the
Republican Party has moved more to the right is the rise of various extremist
hate groups, selfish malcontents, KKK and white supremacy and separatist groups that
finally got organized and mobilized on a lush carpet of astroturf under the corporately-funded and
-driven banner of the Tea Party.
To say that
Republicans haven't moved that much to the right after the neocon
abomination of the Bush administration is ridiculous enough. It's
outright laughable to maintain that lie in the six years since the rise
of the Tea Baggers.
2009, when various and sundry malcontents and other ignoramuses
embarrassed their ancestors by adopting tea bags and tricorner hats and
conflating racism and selfishness as patriotic American virtues, they've
helped elect some of the most ignorant, Bible-thumping, hypocritical
and insane right wing lunatics in the history of Congress (which is
saying a lot). From Michele Bachmann to Scott Desjarlais to Steve
Stockman to Allen West, about the only thing the Teabaggers got right
these last six years was in releasing a collective cold shudder of
disgust at the thought of a Romney presidency.
The Republican Party has made it part of every campaign strategy to
prevent people of color from voting under the ridiculous reason of
"voter fraud". They have waged an open war on women, veterans, the poor,
the middle class, college students, the elderly and everyone who isn't in the
1%. And (albeit largely through the miracle of gerrymandering), we
rewarded these hateful, spiteful, racist psychopaths with not just the
lower chamber of Congress but also the Senate. Like Bobby Jindal
and his Common Core, they've time and again turned on their own
initiatives and agendas when our ultra left wing president adopted them
as his own.
right wing we're now seeing in the GOP, the ones best exemplified by the
odious likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, are the same exact ones Barry
Goldwater, the ultra arch conservative of his day, warned us about.
“What in God’s name has happened to the Republican Party!” exclaimed Henry Cabot Lodge
“I hardly know any of these people!” If Lodge were alive today, he
would scarcely appraise his political descendants as even human.
And just the very existence of such a whiney, ignorant article by
Wehner in the Gray Lady's pages is proof of how much further to the
right the GOP has effortlessly moved, much further than Wehner's willing
to give them credit for. Thanks to a wet-legged, craven mainstream
media that refuse to challenge right wing tropes, lies and fabrications,
one that grasps for access to bullshit because it feels it's better
than no access at all, the right wing has morphed from a mere check and
balance to the Democratic Party into one that places party primacy above
all else, no matter the cost.