Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Community Organizer Charade

One of the supreme ironies that emerged during the last presidential campaign was the conservative onslaught against BHO for his community organizing/Saul Alinsky background. The irony lies in the way in which this background was manipulated by the Obama forces to create the impression of the candidate's populist bona fides. In a word, street cred pure and simple.

But the entire narrative was to us-and remains-entirely one of artifice. Obama has little of the Alinsky worldview-except perhaps a bit of the old organizer's flair for grandiosity and manipulation. Which is why, at least to us, the news that the president has invited Mike Bloomberg to tonight's state dinner was certainly no shock-nor was Obama's petty ante treatment of Bill Thompson in the mayoral campaign.

At his core, Obama is a pure elitist-and one who has embraced the new Democratic party's conjugal relationship with the fat cats on Wall Street. Mike Bloomberg is, therefore, a soul mate-or at least one of a cohort of Illuminati that the Obami are joined with at the hip-to wit, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.

This is all brilliantly captured by Michael Lind at Salon. Here's the devastating money quote:

"The financial industry is now to the Obama Democrats what the AFL-CIO was to the Roosevelt-to-Johnson Democrats. It is touching to watch progressives lament that "their" president has the wrong advisors. "We trust the czar, we simply dislike his ministers." Obama owed his meteoric rise from obscurity to the presidency not to any bold progressive ideas -- he didn't have any -- but rather to a combination of his appealing life story with the big money that allowed him to abandon campaign finance limits. According to one Obama supporter I know, the Obama campaign pressured its Wall Street donors to make their contributions in the form of many small checks, in order to create the illusion that the campaign was more dependent on small contributors than it was in fact. Even now President Obama continues to raise money on Wall Street, while his administration says no to every progressive proposal for significant structural reform of the financial industry."

So, as the ironies continue to unfold, it is left to the Tea Party movement and the enthusiasm behind the Palin phenomenon, to represent true working and lower middle class populism-while looking, at the same time, as if they are the true heirs of the Alinsky playbook. And, in our view, the current healthcare mania, pursued while real unemployment has been gauged at close to 17%, indicates just how elitist and out of touch the Dems are today.

Lind underscores this observations about how the health care obsession has led the party astray:

"It is only in the post-New Deal era that universal healthcare has become the Holy Grail of the American center-left, rather than, say, full employment or a living wage. Sure, Democrats from Truman to Johnson sought universal healthcare, and Medicare for the elderly was a down payment for that goal. But the main concern of the New Dealers was providing economic growth with full employment, on the theory that if the economy is growing and workers have the bargaining power to obtain their fair share of the new wealth in the form of wages, you don't need a vastly bigger welfare state. Having forgotten the New Deal's emphasis on high-wage work, all too many of today's progressives seem to have internalized the right's caricature of FDR-to-LBJ liberalism as being primarily about redistribution from the rich to the poor."

So, it seems to us as it does to Lind, that the Democrats are dangerously out of touch-and clueless when it comes to the burgeoning anger in the heartland-and its base is being driven by an almost John Lindsay like tone deafness: "This shift in emphasis is connected with the shift in the social base of the Democratic Party from the working class to an alliance of the wealthy, parts of the professional class and the poor. And progressive redistributionism also reflects the plutocratic social structure of the big cities that are now the Democratic base. Unlike the egalitarian farmer-labor liberalism that drew on the populist values of the small town and the immigrant neighborhood, metropolitan liberalism tends to define center-left politics not as self-help on the part of citizens but rather as charity for the disadvantaged carried out by affluent altruists. Tonight the fundraiser for endangered species; tomorrow the gala charity auction for poor children."

There it is, in a nutshell-and why the coupling of Barack Hussein Obama and Mike Bloomberg is a definite MasterCard moment. It is an elitist and condescending form of liberalism that reminds us of the passage in the great book by Joe Flaherty, Managing Mailer. When the late Norman Mailer was running for mayor of New York in 1969, he went to an East Side reform club made up of rich liberal women. When he began to advocate for community control and other empowering ideas for the poor, he was sharply interrupted and reminded: "Mr. Mailer, its about what we can do for them."

All of this is embodied in the hauteur of Obama-more Harvard Yard than South Side of Chicago. And our feeling is that the president was barely listening the Rev. Wright all those years as he carefully went about constructing this persona that elevated pretense into the highest kind of art form. So, as the president and NYC's richest man dig in to the haute cusine tonight, you will be able to get a glimpse of the authentic Obama. He is finally in the community where he is most comfortable.