President-elect drops hints of austerity measures, foreign adventures ahead
On retreat in the wild woods surrounding the populated areas of Humboldt County this Election Day, my enjoyment of four days straight of torrential rain was mitigated with the soothing knowledge that I had at least taken the time to cast my absentee ballot weeks ago in a ritual taking all of two minutes. (A few seconds of scribbling were saved this time around as I didn’t have to cast a write-in vote in this presidential election, unlike in 2004 where David Cobb engaged in an anti-democratic conspiracy to exclude the rightful nominee, Ralph Nader, from the California ballot.) I spun a laptop amongst the stats with one hand and cycled through the television channels with the other to bear witness to history. And yes, I am not such a rank partisan so as to not admit the historic landslide the evening resulted in for Barack Obama, who can fairly be called President-Elect, no matter how this might upset Dave Berman and other hardcore election reformers who think we need to wait for a month after the election to consider who might have won.
On the big night, BBC America had the most well-rounded coverage, with analysts (including Christopher Hitchens, appearing less bloated than usual) who packed more venomous wit into a few minutes than anything managed by the plodding Dems on MSNBC. It was pained grins all around on Fox News, where that irracible racist Karl Rove held court, mooing over the post-racial age we have all been living in, evidently, since the Cosby Show aired in the 1980s.
Gore Vidal had great fun taunting the prim and proper BBC host and excoriating the defeated Republicans: “They love war, they love money. They want to hang on to power however they can.” The old man seemed almost disappointed that more dirty tricks weren’t employed -- although Mark Crispin Miller was already on Democracy Now! arguing that West Virginia might have been stolen for McCain due to touch-screen voting machines flipping votes. Incidentally, Miller mentioned to Amy Goodman the other day a report that some machines down South during early voting had been flipping Obama choices to fringe candidate Cynthia McKinney, which would surely skew her results several orders of magnitude beyond their true insignificance.
BBC also gets props for actually interviewing a pre-selected voter in New York’s Times Square who somehow broke conditioning and declared Obama’s win as revenge for the stolen 2000 election in Florida -- a nakedly partisan sentiment eviscerating the conciliatory happy-talk with what is probably the real reason for the raucous celebrations taking place at various televised locales. Well, at least he didn’t behave like an idiot and blame third party candidates for Gore’s inept defense of his own ballot box victory.
As usual, Mark Shields over on PBS gushed about a return of optimism, apparently unaware that the worst of our blossoming economic depression is yet to come. Once more we can count on the leading channel for gimmickry, as CNN took the prize for most distracting and utterly useless graphical devices, with Obi-Wan-style holograms of various, mostly irrelevant guests who had little to say -- but who cares, they’re so shiny and neat-o!
An honorable mention should go to CSPAN-2 for piping in coverage from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., who actually read viewer comments on air -- imagine that, getting random people’s opinions about an election! CBC flashed a few shots of Rev. Jesse Jackson in tears -- whether in wont of what he might have had if the Democratic Party hadn’t have been so hostile to his more progressive challenge in ’84 and ’88 or not, it’s difficult to say. His wistfulness is probably mitigated by the fact that his son will in all probability be appointed to Obama’s seat in the Senate.
McCain is going to be in the Senate as long as his health allows (see Counterpunch for the controversy concerning that subject), despite his somewhat shaky showing tonight in his home state. Thus it was little wonder that he attempted to strike a subdued tone, although it must be admitted that he looked a bit shaky himself, clutching the podium and fighting back coughs and tears. Oddly enough, one hardly knew Sarah Palin was on stage until McCain threw in a last minute thanks, praising her as a “new voice” in his now-withered party. She said nothing, as was probably appropriate considering what impact she actually had on the Republican ticket.
I actually found Obama’s speech to be pretty flat, well-rehearsed to the extent of draining any of the passion evident in his speechifying during the campaign. Above all, it indicated his hastening momentum towards the center-right, established as he adjusted from his anti-war, anti-illegal surveillance positions during the primary to his pro-war, pro-spying positions taken during the summer and fall. The entire tone of it spoke of incrementalism, how he would accomplish less than expected during his first year, and, in a presumptuous stroke, during his first term. Even Chris Matthews was already talking about a “bipartisan cabinet” being rounded up by Clintion’s henchman, John Podesta, leading the transition team -- the same Podesta who had his faux-progressive think tank publish a study calling for the expansion of the U.S. Army by another 100,000 troops, identical to the position taken by the neocon Project for a New American Century.
As others have explained in greater detail, an Obama administration is set to result in a change in public relations more than in policy, the military budget set to engulf even more of our debt-ridden government’s declining resources. The comparison with Dr. Martin Luther King, heard almost right away from the president of his alma mater, seemed out of place, as King’s call for uncompromising justice and lasting peace hardly matches Obama’s hints at austerity measures to come. Even Keith Olbermann said the Obama speech “bookended McCain’s speech” before making dire warnings of anger “or worse” from disaffected McCain boosters, in a seemingly reverse fear-mongering of the kind Keith used to critique the crestfallen Bush bunch for.
I can give Obama enough credit to say: “This victory alone is not the change we speak.” No kidding. The defeat of the Bush legacy does not erase the decline in living standards, the dismantling of financial regulations and the embracing of megacorp-friendly systems of trade designed to undermine local and state laws protecting workers, consumers, unions and the ecosystem, all of which were Bill Clinton’s true legacy and Hillary Clinton’s true agenda.
Real wages have been declining since before Carter, before Ford. In terms of the electoral mandate provided with a similar landslide for the Democrats in Congress, parallels have already been drawn between Obama’s win and the 1964 election of LBJ over Goldwater (the only other Arizona Republican to go anywhere). But his Great Society agenda stalled short of plans for full employment, which has always been the concept most hated by exploitive industries who depend on destitution to squeeze employees without mercy. This agenda was sacrificed, along with President Johnson's second full term, on the altar of bloodshed in Vietnam.
Even with a lapdog establishment media in his corner, will war in Central Asia swallow up any chances for Obama to finish what LBJ started?
Labels: bbc, cynthia mckinney, david cobb, democracy now, economy, fox, gore vidal, john podesta, media, msnbc, pbs, pnac, politics, president johnson, president obama, ralph nader, senator mccain, war