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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/24/09

Obama's Emerging Legacy: Wars, Bankers and For-Profit Healthcare

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As of this writing, the Progressives for Obama [1] website still exists, a relic of Left delusion that should have died of embarrassment months ago. Barack Obama has, indeed, grown in the presidency – but not into the FDR-like figure of his leftish supporters' imaginations. Nor has his presence in the Oval Office served to spur Blacks and progressives to dramatic action, creating the "push" that Left Obamites had predicted would allow their champion to act on his more "liberal" instincts. Quite the contrary. The "Obama Effect" has led to the near-total collapse of the Left– both its white and Black wings – and made the nation safe for rule by finance capital and militarists.

The military, finance capital and healthcare corporations (insurers are a branch of finance capital) are winning every important battle because, on fundamental issues, President Obama is on their side. It is he who crushed the anti-war bloc [2] in the US. House; who silenced and marginalized single payer advocates, while fawning over health profiteers; who engineered the greatest transfer of wealth in human history to bankers, leaving them free to once again ruin themselves and the rest of us.
So let us give President Obama his due. He not only smashed the Left opposition, he humiliated them.

"The Congressional Black Caucus can claim only eight members worthy of the label, 'progressive.'"

There is no longer an anti-war bloc in the U.S. Congress. It began to evaporate when Obama took office. The Out of Iraq Caucus has dissolved. The Progressive Congressional Caucus cannot find a mission. And the Congressional Black Caucus can claim only eight members worthy of the label, "progressive." The list of CBC members among the 32 Democrats that voted "No" to Obama's $106 billion Iraq and Afghanistan war request [3] is so short, it can be taken in at a glance. Here are the few, the brave:

Barbara Lee (CA), Maxine Waters (CA), Diane Watson (CA), John Lewis (GA), Donna Edwards (MD), John Conyers (MI), Keith Ellison (MN), Donald Payne (NJ),

Less than seven years ago, only four members of the CBC supported George Bush's Iraq War Powers: Harold Ford, Jr. (TN), William Jefferson (LA), Albert Wynn (MD) and Sanford Bishop (GA). In the pages of The Black Commentator I called them the "Four Eunuchs of War [4]" and felt confident in writing:

"The rest of the 36 voting members of the Congressional Black Caucus defended Black America's political legacy, voting No. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) led half of her CBC colleagues in support of her 'alternative to war' resolution, demonstrating once again that African Americans are the core of the forces of peace and justice in the U.S."

It's been all down hill for the CBC since 2002, a steady slide into corporatism and irrelevance. With the Black progressive "core" definitively demobilized since January 20, the Left is largely adrift.

Obama has accomplished what George Bush could not: virtually silence progressive voices in Congress, so that he can stoke the fires of war on two fronts without significant challenge from the legislative branch. It is a great victory, so why not congratulate the president, and give him the elemental respect of recognizing that he is – or is trying his best to be – a Man of War?

A Murdered Dream

Kudos, again, to the president, for such adroitness in killing a dream whose time appeared to have come: single-payer healthcare. Obama made non-persons of healthcare reform's best friends in the Democratic Party, barring them from White House-sponsored healthcare events. The president erected a big tent that included everyone except single-payer advocates who, from Obama's perspective, are the enemy. Instead, he wheels and deals and even invents nonexistent agreements [5] with Big Pharma, Big Hospitals, and Big Insurance, all the while vowing to slice huge chunks out of Medicare and Medicaid.

Obama apologists offer their usual excuse: the president must huddle and compromise with the profiteers, if he is to get any kind of health care passed. The single-payers are well-meaning spoilers. Obama had to muzzle them, so he could get down to business on a practical plan.

"Obama made non-persons of healthcare reform's best friends in the Democratic Party."

What should be clear as day to any lucid, rational observer of the last 150-plus days, is that Obama has not compromised with anybody. Certainly, he never even thought to compromise with single-payer advocates – he simply shut them out of the discussion. And he was never in a position to effectively compromise with the healthcare profiteers and their political servants, since Obama never submitted a Plan of his own, or endorsed anyone else's. Instead, he encouraged everybody and their momma except single-payer advocates to fashion their own plans – creating a cacophony of what Rep. Conyers aptly calls "crap." In the end, he will throw his weight behind one or another pile of healthcare crap.

Is Obama incompetent? Only if you believe he sincerely wants a healthcare plan that is as close to the ideal of health-as-a-right as possible, in which case, yes, he has been amazingly incompetent. But why disrespect our president? Give the man credit for knowing what he is doing. Assess his efforts according to the clear logic of his actions, for he has worked wonders.

Obama has succeeded in shutting out of the debate proponents of an idea supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans and an even larger segment of his own party. According to a June 12-16 New York Times/CBS News poll [6]:

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Glen Ford is aveteran of Black radio, television, print and Internet news and commentary. He is executive editor of and was co-founder of

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