Lots of people are talking about Cornel West's interview in Salon
. The subject, of course, is Obama:
No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair.
My question is: Why were people like Cornel West unable to recognize Obama's counterfeit nature back in 2008? I could see it. It was as plain as a dog turd on a frozen lake. He was so obviously
counterfeit that I don't even feel comfortable calling him a counterfeit.
Let me list just a few of the clues...
1. Obama's big lie about NAFTA and free trade agreements.
In campaign literature, he claimed to be a NAFTA opponent -- but before running for the presidency, he had supported
NAFTA. The record was clear to those who (like myself) had bothered to look it up. When he was caught sending a backchannel message to the Canadians ("Relax, guys: This anti-NAFTA stuff is all a ruse for the rubes!"
), his followers invented a fake story claiming that it was Hillary
who had sent the message. The Canadians investigated and proved that Obama, not Hillary, was the guilty party -- a fact which most of the American media, for some strange reason, refused to discuss.
Why didn't Cornel West notice any of this?
2. Obama's likely CIA background.
Okay, I don't blame West for not talking about this angle. Respectable people don't like CIA stories. Such allegations are too weird, too paranoid, too Alex Jones-ish. But I believe that this one has substance.
Every time Rod Blagojevich got a payoff, Obama got a smaller payoff. The amounts were never large, but the pattern was clear. The documentation (as laid out in Evelyn Pringle's stories) was substantial.
There was also the strange case of Tony Rezko, whom Obama said he "barely knew," even though evidence later emerged proving that the two men were in constant contact. That lie would have destroyed the chances of any other candidate.
Yes, Obama gave a speech against intervention in 2002, at a time when he was an unknown. That speech, which was not recorded, was delivered before a left-leaning audience that never would have tolerated any other stance. He was, in fact, the most conservative speaker on the rostrum that day.
Even though Obama's 2008 statements and campaign literature conveyed the impression that he remained a staunch and strident opponent of the war, the hard truth is that he had never voiced opposition to the invasion throughout the rest of 2002. Displaying a prudence that some would consider indistinguishable from cowardice, he made every attempt to keep silent on the subject throughout 2003 and most of 2004. When he gave that over-praised speech at the Democratic National Convention, he did not condemn the invasion -- even though John Kerry and Bill Clinton, in their own speeches, did
decry Bush's great error. (A lot of people thought
they heard Obama speak out against the invasion on that occasion, but the evidence of what he actually said is right there on YouTube.) In the Senate, his Iraq war funding votes were (somewhat) to the right of Hillary's, and he opposed all efforts to defund operations in Iraq.
Why didn't West notice any of this?
Seriously: Why the blinders?
Is race the primary factor here?
Sure, most Dems loved the idea of voting for a black president -- and for understandable reasons. But liberals were not going to support just any
black man who vied for the job. Suppose Alan Keyes had run in 2008. Would liberals have said: "Well, he's black, so we have to vote for him even though we hate his politics"?
Of course not. So why were most people unable to see Obama for what he obviously was?