Thursday, January 28, 2016

Now He Tells Us

What he says about the incumbent is true in two different ways.  President Obama recently was interviewed (photo, Glenn Baker/Redux) for podcast by Politico's Glenn Thrush and Charlie Pierce advises we "listen to the whole thing. It is going to be a very long time before we have as interesting a mind in that Oval Office as the one that's in there now."

"I think Hillary," the President stated disingenuously, "came in with the- both privilege and burden of being perceived as the frontrunner."    The advantage her campaign and her SuperPac have had, along with the oh, 70 to 1 advantage in endorsements (some actually valuable), speak to how much more of an advantage than a disadvantage frontrunner status is.

But then, Obama understandably prefers Clinton, who served him loyally as Secretary of State, and  "repeatedly praised Clinton without reservation while offering more tempered praise to the surging Sanders."

It is understandable, too, that Obama would state- without hint of irony-" you know, you're always looking at the bright, shiny object that people don't, haven't seen before. That's a disadvantage to her."  Peters realizes

You don't come from as far back as Sanders has—or, it must be said, from as far back as Senator Barack Obama did in 2008—merely as a bright, shiny object. And it's more than a little condescending to the people who are wandering through Ottumwa these days, knocking on the frigid panes of a thousand front doors, and trying to hold the line against a torrent of corporate money, a strange new line of attack that has taken on his record as a civil-rights worker back in the day with a kind of Rovian swift-boat focus, and the wrath of just about every member of the Democratic Party elite. People don't do that because they want to be in on the next new thing. They do it because they believe what the candidate is selling.

Lest we think Obama was acknowledging that he was an, oh, empty suit in 2008, the President put that wild notion to rest. Thrush asked "do you see any elements of what you were able to accomplish in what Sanders is doing" (on the campaign trail)?  After a clevely meandering response, Obama was asked "But it sounds like you're not buying the- you're not buying the sort of, the easy popular dicthotomy people are talking about,where he's an alog for you and she is herself?"  (That's a tough question, Glenn- "the easy popular dicthotomy.")

The response: "no. no" was followed by "you don't buy that, right" and "no, I don't think- I don't think that's true."

That Obama is not lying here only underscores how truly brilliant, as Peters recognizes, the President is.  "A political revolution is coming" does not even begin to compare with "change we can believe in." (And did you even know what Bernie Sanders' campaign slogan is?) People know what Bernie Sanders stands for.  What Senator Obama  stood for in 2008- given his actions as President- can only be speculated upon.

"Change we can believe in" may have included anything, and probably meant something a little different to each 2008 Obama supporter.  We know what Sanders means by a  political revolution- ending the corporate control of the political system.  This is no small matter.

Nor is it one issue, spanning a broad specturm of more specific policies. Yet, Obama argues "I don't think that Democrats are going to votefor Hillary just because she's a woman any more than they're going to vote for Bernie just because they agree wth him on one particular issue." 

Suggesting that control of the economy is "one particular issue" that Sanders is concentrating on, one no more important than than the inherited characteristic of gender, is either condescending or a disturbing case of misplaced priorities. There are still some of us who believe that presidential candidates, like people, should not be judged on the basis of race or gender. 

Peters is  right, also, that  we will not soon have "as interesting a mind in the White House." It is a mind possessed by someone sufficiently adept that, without directly endorsing a successor, he would say

I think that what Hillary presents is a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives. I don't want to exaggerate those differences, though, because Hillary is really idealistic and progressive. You'd have to be to be in, you know, the position she's in now, having fought all the battles she's fought and, you know, taken so many, you know, slings and arrows from the other side.

Barack Obama concedes "translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics," a recognition which came eight years too late.  He now criticizes the Sanders effort as "a bright, shiny object," a truly revelatory remark from someone whose own campaign eight years ago was identified by Paul Krugman as something which "seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality." 

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