By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH
Dr. J.'s BF Commentary No. 131: There's a Ford in the DLC's Future
As I pointed out in my Commentary No. 128, “President Obama and the Democratic Leadership Council," although I was taken in by the rhetoric as of last spring, I was right the first time (back in late 2007) about Obama essentially being a DLCer (Democratic Leadership Council, or the Democratic Right). That became even more apparent in his State of the Union Message. Although there was an occasional jab at the Republicans in Congress, and even at the Republican Supreme Court (with New Jersey Sam Alito showing just how classless virtually all Republicans, even Supreme Court Justices, are these days), on the policy side he was very DLC, that is Republican-light. Yes, we actually do have a coalition government: Right (DLC) and Far-Right (GOP) although the latter cannot for a moment admit such a thing because they are so desperate to get the whole kettle of fish back just for themselves.
There are many reasons to hope that the current health care deform monstrosity doesn't get through Congress just so that Obama/Emmanuel can say that they have produced "something." As a health care policy analyst for over 40 years, I know most of those reasons.
But one stands out and it has nothing to do with the health care system reasons for hoping for failure, which include: no public option (since one would never get past the Senate no matter what the House does and the latter will likely drop it anyway); a massive taxpayer subsidy to the private "health" insurance companies and their profits; the creation, by so doing, of a further stranglehold on the health care delivery system making it highly unlikely that any further changes will be accomplished until at enormous further public expense down the road the insurance companies themselves crash and burn under the ever-increasing cost inflation that this legislation does nothing substantive about; the taxation of the relatively "good" policies; the lack of any planning mechanisms, something that is essential if costs are ever to be brought under control; and finally the fact that even with all the public expenditures, not everybody will be covered and it will take until 2019 until everybody for whom the legislation aims to provide coverage actually gets it. As for the political weapons that the hydra-headed monster gives the GOP, well they are already licking their chops. Don't believe me? Just listen to Sean Hannity (and I do, after taking a suitable dose of Dramamine, of course).
I was going through an old floppy disk of mine, mining some health-and-wellness columns that I wrote awhile back for text that I could use presently. I still do quite a bit of such writing and I found that some of that old text, edited and brought up-to-date, could still be quite useful to me. (If you are interested in that side of my work, you can check it out at my own Web site and on an English one on where I publish about a column a month.)
While I was browsing through that old disk, I came across a letter-essay on 9/11 and its aftermath that I had sent to a friend on February 19, 2002. How that essay came to be on that particular health-stuff disk I have no idea. But anyway, reading through it, I thought that I would share it with you here and add a few comments in re the current "Nigerian terrorist" situation.
Many of us on the Left, whether the Democratic Party Left or the Real Left, are becoming increasingly disturbed, upset, concerned, what-have-you, with the behavior of the president in office. Obama came into office promising to be a different kind of president. Although certain of our compatriots were not so easily taken in, many of us (including myself, I must admit) thought that he would be, certainly in comparison to Carter and Clinton. But there were straws in the wind that he might not be. Earlier on, I had even noted some of them myself. However, for a while during the first few months of Obama's term, I did get caught up in the rhetoric. I should have paid a lot more attention to those earlier thoughts, as it has turned out, and will briefly review of some of them here. This brings us to the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).
The DLC is the right-wing organization that has dominated Democratic Party politics and policies since it was founded in the 1980s by the likes of Bill Clinton and Richard Gephardt, joined in the 1990s by the likes of Joe Lieberman. One of its prominent political positions was that in order to win elections Democrats had to look as much like Republicans as possible. This reversed the long-held mantra of Harry Truman that if someone wants to vote for a Republican, they will indeed vote for him (or her), not for a Democrat trying to look like one. It now is becoming quite clear that the Obama Democratic Party has become quite stuck in this mode. Strong criticism for the likes of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson (much less any of the Republicans who have since the beginning of his Administration announced that they were out to "bring him to his Waterloo" [or worse])? Well, no. Personal, kill-the-messenger-type, attacks on the likes of Howard Dean? You betcha.
As I noted in my last BuzzFlash Commentary published a couple of weeks ago, the previous Sunday I had been walking on a street in New York City when two stickers on the back of an old SUV caught my eye. One said "McCain 2008." The other showed the Obama "sunrise" logo with the old Soviet hammer and sickle symbol imposed upon it. That's a clear message, no? Obama is a communist, no, rather a commie, and likely a Kenyan Muslim one to boot. Of course when folks of this car-owner's ilk, the "teabaggers" and such, aren't calling Obama a communist, they are calling him a "Nazi."
In that last column, I mused about what Obama would have already done and would be doing if he were actually a (presumably secret) communist. A couple of the readers' comments on my Commentary said essentially that what I listed was a left-liberal, not a revolutionary, agenda. They were quite correct. As I was careful to point out at the beginning of that Commentary, I was using "communist" in the context of the program of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) back in its heyday, in the 1930s and the 1940s until just after the end of World War II when it was quickly deep-sixed as any kind of a political force as the U.S. moved quickly from the hot war (finally) against fascism to a resumption of what would eventually become the 75 Years War against the Soviet Union.
Last weekend, I was walking on a street in New York City when two stickers on the back of a smaller, older, before bankruptcy, Chevy SUV caught my eye. One said "McCain 2008" (just McCain, no Palin). The other was of the Obama "sunrise" logo, with the old Soviet hammer and sickle symbol imposed upon it. That's a clear message, no? Obama is a communist, no, rather a commie, and likely a Kenyan Muslim one to boot. And oh yes, just in case you might think that New Yorkers don't harbor such thoughts, the car did have a New York State license plate.
Now there is really not too much evidence to support the "commie" appellation for the President, but I got to thinking. Supposing he were a communist. What kind of politics and policies would he have as President? Of course when folks of this car-owner's ilk aren't calling Obama a communist, they are calling him a "Nazi." But it is to answering the first question that the balance of this column is devoted. But before we get onto that one, we had better have a definition of "communist" to use because historically they have come in all shapes and sizes. Since Obama is a U.S. citizen, the wonderings and meanderings of putative GOP candidate for Senate and yes, maybe even for President, Lou Dobbs, and former House GOP leader Dick Armey, and their fellow "birthers" to the contrary notwithstanding, let us use the U.S. model of "communism" as our measuring stick. That is, we will use the U.S. model for the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) back in its heyday, in the 1930s and the 1940s until just after the end of World War II.
So Going Rogue and its companion guide to the truth, Going Rouge (available right here on BuzzFlash), are both out. And so is Sarah Palin. She is like the cat that got out of the bag. Since leaving the Alaska governorship, she has been stoking the Palin Fires. In a state in severe economic and environmental difficulty, there was simply no future there, right; and especially Right: might even have to take stimulus money. Definitely no future even if you can see Russia from it, that is on a very clear day standing tippy-toes on its farthest western point, at the Bering Strait (a very long ways from either Anchorage or Wasilla). She has her book and it and she are getting a lot of attention. Palin runs on enemies, not problems or programs to solve them (especially if one problem is premarital sex and the only available solution is abstinence-only education in high school). Her two main enemies are "the media" and "big government."
Looking at the title of this missive, the careful reader might well say "Pre Mortems? Don't you mean Post Mortems?" My answer is: "no, I don't mean post; I do mean pre." For what went on, on and about Election Day 2009, meant a lot more for what is to come in the upcoming 2010 and then 2012 elections than it did for the particular small number of elections on the day itself. In sum, the country drifted evermore in the direction of fascism, to be accomplished by either by election or coup or a combination of both.
Last week, we discussed why President Obama was heaven-sent for the GOP, pre-election. In my view (disagreed with by several commentators who made their cases very well I thought), he was the only prospective Democratic candidate who could have beaten John McCain. This was especially true if the Bush Administration had somehow been able to postpone the bursting forth of the economic crisis for less than two months. As is well known to BuzzFlash readers, it had of course been building for several years under Georgite economic policies. It is likely in retrospect that the "free-market" decision to let Lehman Brothers go bankrupt was, first, in their minds, the way to put things off. For if they had known what was going to happen both to the economy and their election chances, they would have done everything in their power to prevent that occurrence.
It was likely the GOP would lose the 2008 election, although that was hardly a sure thing. If the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent chain reaction in finance capitalism had occurred on November 18 instead of September 18, McCain might have won. If Hillary Clinton had somehow been able to pull out the Democratic nomination, whether or not the financial collapse and the revelation of the new Great Recession that had actually started some months earlier came before or after November 5, 2008, McCain might well have won anyway.