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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/28/08

Primary Season Over, Barack Channels Hillary

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By Dave Lindorff

Now that the primary season is over, we can see that the clear winner was Hillary Clinton.

Oh, I know. Barack Obama got the most votes and the most delegates, and he’ll be the Democratic presidential nominee this August, but increasingly, it’s becoming obvious that he’s just a pretty wrapper. Sneak a peak inside the wrapper and you’ll find Hillary Clinton inside.

Look at the facts.

No sooner did the last votes get counted in Montana, than Obama hied himself off to Washington to show his fealty to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where he promised to do whatever Israel wanted. You would have thought he was Bush or Hillary, so fulsome was his promise to unquestioningly back the worst policies and actions of Israel’s criminally insane right-wing government. Claim all of Jerusalem for the Jewish state? Fine by him. Starve and terrorize a million people in Gaza? No problemo. Attack Iran to prevent a merely suspected nuclear program from eventually producing a possible bomb? Okay. Negotiate with Hamas? Never.

Then there was the FISA and Fourth Amendment-violating campaign of spying by the National Security Agency. Some members of Congress and the courts have been trying for years to find out what Bush and Cheney have really been up to with this program, but they’ve been stymied by the administration’s insistence that the phone companies, who enabled most of the spying, are immune from prosecution and don’t have to surrender records of, or talk about what they actually did. Congress, with the help of a spineless Democratic majority in both houses, came up in June with a bill that endorses the spying and gives retroactive immunity to the phone companies. 15 Senators—all Democrats-- opposed that wretched sell-out of the Constitution and the American people. Sen. Obama supported it, just like Clinton.

When the Supreme Court, in a rare exception to a rash of reactionary rulings in the past few weeks, overturned a state law authorizing the death penalty for the rape of a child, Obama stood up for the death penalty, saying that he thought states should have the right to kill anyone who would sexually abuse a child. I guess he must think the states should be able to kill people convicted of killing someone too, since murder has to be at least as nasty as child rape. Another Clinton position. Never mind that most of the people who get the death penalty are persons of color, and that almost all the 4000 people on America’s bulging death rows are either poor, desperately poor, retarded or simply insane. Never mind that rape is one of the most likely crimes to lead to wrongful convictions.

Barack was out there dissing black dads, too, charging them, as a class, with abandonment of their children, even though studies show that black fathers are no less likely to abandon their kids than are white dads. Okay, that’s not really a Hillary position. It’s more akin to Bill Clinton’s attacks on prominent blacks like Jesse Jackson or Sister Soulja during his campaigns for higher office.

It’s getting harder and harder to see any light between Obama’s and Hillary’s positions on the Iraq War too, what with Obama backing away from his earlier campaign pledge to end the war within 16 months of taking office and saying instead that he would “listen to the generals” and that withdrawal would depend upon the situation on the ground.

Finally, Obama, after showing a remarkable ability to inspire tons of small donations and support from individuals, and to fund a huge national campaign without much in the way of corporate support, is greedily slurping from Hillary’s cesspool of corporate backers, now that she’s out of the way. Soon, he’ll be wallowing in tainted cash from Wall Street commercial and investment banks and hedge funds, telecom companies, defense contractors, Big Pharma companies, the HMO industry, and the entertainment industry. He’ll be owned like just about every other politician in Washington.

The transmogrification of an upstart people’s candidate for “change” into just another front man for the corporatocracy will be complete.

Hillary will have won, but in the corporal form of Barack Obama.

The joke, of course, is that this evocation by Obama of his inner Clinton is not going to win him many votes, and may in fact lose him far more than he gains. Being Clinton, after all, didn’t win it for Hillary Clinton. It was Obama’s differences from Clinton that won him the primary votes.

Clintonian positions didn’t really win the presidency for Bill Clinton either. It was Ross Perot who won the 1992 election for Clinton, by stealing enough votes from George Bush Sr. to let Clinton win with a mere plurality of the votes cast. There won’t be any Ross Perot this year, though, so Obama can’t hope to squeak by with a minority of the votes cast the way Bill did. In fact there will be at least two candidates—a Green Party one and Ralph Nader--who will be picking off some of the people Obama’s imitation of Clinton will turn off sufficiently for them to abandon him. There will also be a Libertarian candidate running, whose outspoken opposition to the war will attract disillusioned erstwhile Obama backers. Many more voters may just stay home in disgust. (It was also Al Gore's decision to run a Clintonesque campaign of triangulation and pursuit of those elusive "mainstream" voters that made his run against Bush in 2000 close enough for the election to be stolen.)

Meanwhile, those Hillary primary voters Obama seems intent on pursuing at the expense of the progressive vote—the pro-Israel hawks in New York and Florida, the “hard-working whites” of the West Virginia hollers, the Pennsylvania hills and the flatlands of Ohio and Indiana—aren’t going to vote for him just because he adopts Hillary’s positions. They’ll want the real deal, not just a front man posing as a front woman, so they’ll go for John McCain (just as they would have in November had Hillary won the nomination).

You gotta ask why a guy who had it all going for him is suddenly making such incredibly bad strategic decisions.

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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)

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