There has predictably been a lot of discussion about Matt Taiibi's piece on Obama's recycling of Bill Clinton's centrist economic advisors. I'll address that issue below, after I discuss the latest effort to rewrite history and re-ignite the "Primary Wars".
Firstly, let me openly and candidly admit that as someone who put in huge amounts of time and effort for Obama as a neighborhood team leader, Obama has been a disappointment. I don't dispute that. On the other hand, he's not as much of a disappointment to me as he is to some, since I always saw him as a moderate, albeit one who was opening up progressive possibilities.
Secondly, for the record, I agree that we need left critiques of Obama.
But now let's get down to business:
Leaving aside The exaggerations of Taiibi's piece, he does raise some valid points.
Obama's economic policies are in actuality being shaped primarily by the center right ecnomists of the Clinton era .
OK-so expain this to me: We are mad at Obama for in essence being a G rated version Clintonian triangulation-and so the solution to that is to wistfully or vindictively re-create the Primary Wars to pit Clinton against Obama again.
This strategy misses another point: Hillary Clinton did a lot during the primary to push and press Obama rightward. She legitimized the trash talking strategy of Fox News, the McCarthyism, renewed red baiting and exccessive focus on non issues (Obama's pastor, Bill Ayers, the flag lapel pin) while thoroughly deligitimizing any discussion or critiques of American Exceptionalism. Nor for that matter, and this might interest talk left, did Hillary ever challenge her husband's focus on beefed up federal law enforcement and support for minimum sentences in the drug wars.
Thus, Hillary pushes Obama to the right during the Primary. She pulls his foreign policy the right. Her husband's economic advisors help to pull Obama to the right on economic policy.
The Primary Wars came very close to dividing the Democratic Party, primarily around personality, rather than ideology. If I could wave a wand, I would love to have a President with Hillary "White people will vote for me-Bobby Kenneddy got shot in June" Clinton's toughness-provided it was directed at the right targets. I'm not bothered by people "going negative". What bothers me is what they "go negative" about.
It's sad: I actually like reading talk trash because of its very compelling legal analysis.