Friday, August 09, 2019

Salute, Democrats!

The socialist magazine Jacobin noted a few months ago that

it was (Rahm) Emanuel who, while serving in the Clinton administration, helped write NAFTA, the trade agreement which fueled offshoring of jobs, wage stagnation, upward redistribution of income and the collapse of the US manufacturing sector. He similarly helped push through welfare reform, legislation that spiked extreme poverty and cut off a lifeline for millions of working-class Americans, as well as the 1994 crime bill which incited the mass incarceration crisis.

After leaving the White House in 1998, Emanuel entered the world of investment banking where, over the course of four years, he made a staggering $16 million — more than ten times what an average American will earn over their entire lifetime.

During his time as head of the DCCC in the late 2000s, Emanuel focused on pushing the Democratic Party further to the right, recruiting conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats who worked to implement austerity, deregulate Wall Street and oppose healthcare expansion. Later, while serving as President Obama’s chief of staff, Emanuel took a hard line against union workers during the auto bailout and worked diligently to convince Obama not to pursue Obamacare — a plan that, while far from perfect, did ultimately provide healthcare coverage to millions of Americans.

And as mayor of Chicago, Emanuel has continued his lifelong political project of advancing corporate-friendly policies while ignoring the needs and demands of the poor and politically unconnected. He closed down public schools and mental health clinics, oversaw a police department rife with abuse, fought public-sector unions, lavished corporate giants with tax breaks while raising regressive fines and fees, privatized public services, presided over horrific levels of gun violence, and locked community groups and neighborhood leaders out of democratic decision-making in favor of his friends in high finance and corporate America.

So it shouldn't be surprising that Emanuel, who made $16 million dollars as an investment banker in the 2+ years after he left the Clinton White House and is currently working in private equity while a contributing editor at The Atlantic, would complain in an article written for Politico magazine

I don’t know what prompted so many Democratic candidates to throw Obama under the bus at the debates—but it was something to behold. If you’d predicted a week out that several wannabe Democratic standard-bearers would attack the first African-American president while the Republican incumbent was spewing racism right from the Oval Office.

Rhetorically asking "why would you think attacking the first African-American president was going to inspire more people of color to cast ballots," Emanuel claims "Donald Trump’s populism were born in reaction to Obama’s legislative triumphs—and also as a response to the president’s race (read: birtherism)."

No one decided to "throw Obama under the bus" (such an imaginative phrase!). The sharpest criticism of the ex-President came from Bill de Blasio, who had the temerity to ask Joe Biden about "all those deportations" which occurred while the latter was vice-president, doing so without mentioning "Obama" or "the former President."

Emanuel is right about birtherism. However, given his stint at the White House, it constitutes humblebrag to contend that Trump's populism was a response to President Obama's "triumphs." Bailing out banks at the expense of providing mortgage relief, holding virtually no one in the real estate or financial industry accountable for the Great Recession, and implementing a health care plan which has left tens of millions of Americans insured or under-insured in a welter of bureaucratic regulations while income and wealth were further pushed upward were not triumphs.

Several of Obama's policies did not endear Rust Belt voters to the President's chosen successor, and Hillary Clinton's dream of a third Obama term was thwarted.

Noting  "Clinton and Obama were the first Democrats to win reelection since FDR (emphasis his), Emanuel argues "it’s not just that repudiating the most important parts of the progressive legacy is a fool’s errand—it’s a lousy electoral strategy as well. " He must inform presidents Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton, all of whom predicated their general election campaign on being moderate, technocratic, or repudiating their liberal/left record.

Though everyone is entitled to promote policy and strategy which coincides closely with his own economic interests

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