“Obama is a master of gesture politics, but he tends to flinch in nearly every pitched battle, even when the odds and the public are behind him. His political instincts drive him to seek cover in the middle ground. He is a reflexive compromiser, more Rodney “Can’t We All Just Get Along” King than Reverend King. Even when confronted by bumbling hacks like John Boehner and Eric Cantor, Obama tends to wilt.
Perhaps Obama had never before been confronted with quite this level of toxic hostility. After all, he’d lived something of a charmed life, the life of a star-child, coddled and pampered, encouraged and adulated, from Indonesia to Harvard. Obama was the physical and psychic embodiment of the new multiculturalism: lean, affable, assured, non-threatening. His vaguely liberal political ideology remained opaque at the core. Instead of an over-arching agenda, Obama delivered facile jingoisms proclaiming a post-racial and post-partisan America. Instead of radical change, Obama offered simply managerial competence. This, naturally, the Berserkers of the Right interpreted as hubris and arrogance and such hollow homilies served only to exacerbate their rage. The virulent right had profiled Obama and found him to be the perfect target for their accreted animus. And, even better, they had zeroed-in on an enemy so innately conflict-averse that even when pummeled with racist slurs he wouldn’t punch back.
Of course, Obama’s most grievous political wounds were self-inflicted, starting even before his election when he rushed back to Washington to help rescue Bush’s Wall Street bailout. This was perhaps the first real indication that the luminous campaign speeches about generational and systemic change masked the servile psyche of a man who was desperately yearning to be embraced by the nation’s political and financial elites. Instead of meeting with the victims of Wall Street predators or their advocates, like Elizabeth Warren and Ralph Nader, Obama fist-bumped with the brain trust of Goldman Sachs and schmoozed with the creme de la creme of K Street corporate lobbyists. In the end, Obama helped salvage some of the most venal and corrupt enterprises on Wall Street, agreed to shield their executives from prosecution for their financial crimes and, predictably, later got repaid with their scorn.”
Jeffrey St. Clair, Counterpunch
Read the article The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence.