by Danny Schechter
January 22, 2009
News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs
“PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity” and directed BARACK
OBAMA PEOPLE’s PRESIDENT, a new film on the grass roots campaign
that put him in power. Comments to
Danny Schechter is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Every President has a honeymoon but Barack
Obama’s won’t last long, probably because the real world won’t give him
a pass. The markets showed their lack of sentimentality by dropping sharply
on inauguration day. The Repugs are looking to knock off a Cabinet
nominee, and do anything they can to show they are still a force to be dealt
In truth, indeed they are. 48% of the country did not support Obama. He
knows that and hence his symbolic attempts to neutralize his opponents with
smiles and civility, a preacher at the ceremony, and a few Cabinet
Will that assuage the hard right “movement
activists,” the Limbaugh ditto heads or the Hannity hard heads?
I doubt it, but for now, they are on the defensive. Bill Clinton says
he thinks the days of ideology are waning, that the polarization of the past
will go away because the right has to become more pragmatic to return to
I don’t buy his consensus of the center viewpoint for several reasons.
The right radio heads and Foxoids don’t go venomous because they
believe their rants. They do it to build audience among disaffected wingers
and whiners. It’s a marketing tactic, not necessary an act of conviction.
Posturing fuels controversy; controversy builds anger and audience. They
need this strategy to stay in business, just as tabloid journalism needs
sensation and trivia to sell newspapers or build ratings.
So, don’t bank on an abandonment of “childish things,” as Barack Obama
characterized the political wars in his inaugural speech. The haters don’t
hate losing as much as they hate declines in revenues. It is a business, an
industry that needs to sell as much as tell. That’s why Ann Coulter
is always taking provocative and outrageous stances. That gets her on the
air and sells books. She tries to look hot, but its hot buttons she
If ideology on the right is not going anywhere, ideology on the left is also
here to stay—and sometimes pay.
The fact of the matter is that our system is collapsing. The bank bailouts
and interest rate cuts didn’t work. Unemployment will rise and companies
will fall. As that happens, dissatisfaction, anger and outrage will build.
The Pentagon’s plans to contain civil unrest is based, in part, on that
Obama may be pushing the envelope in the center but he is, as I quote him in
my book Plunder, “a free market guy.” Yet he knows or should know
that a couple of after the fact regulations and quickie stimulus plans are
unlikely to arrest the structural decline.
Bear in mind that what we are up against is not just a credit crisis but a
crisis of capitalism itself. There I said it! That means we have to look
behind the daily machinations of the markets.
What bubble will go next? Credit cards? Pension funds? Credit debt swaps?
Already the government is $11 trillion in debt. There have been $3.6
trillion in credit losses Add in $3 trillion in war costs tend and soon your
are talking about real money and real pain.
The government must act and will act but the conservatives who point out
that it took the New Deal YEARS to work, and then took a world war to
save the system are not totally wrong. Simply trying to revive or reform a
corrupt system does not make for change, nor does it promise the kind of
economic transformation we need.
The Obama speech said the right things about Greed but then puttered
off into a vaguer indictment of all of us. He may be right but if everyone
is to blame, no one is to blame and then what?
Our media goes on with daily reportage but the breaking news is not breaking
any new ground in helping us understand the depth of the problems we are up
The members of Congress up on the hill live in a bubble of deference and
denial. They were shocked when two million people booed Bush, a
violation of their sense of good manners but also gesture of a deep disgust
- and not just with the Busheviks. The politicians who have been
complicit as well as the media that does not ask deeper questions are also
on the shit list.
Already around the world, there’s more skepticism. There was a wave of
disappointment across the Arab world at Obama’s silence on Gaza. And
not just from Arabs.
Oisha Neuman, an Israeli, writes with a
fusion of understanding, admiration and disgust:
“Obama is a complex man, capable of holding
ambiguities and contradictions, aware of the vast abundant varieties of
experience, knowing otherness, knowing the pain and anger of outsiders,
knowing what happens when dreams are shattered… I want to love him. But
I fear that he has signed a terrible bargain with his silence, a
pact with the devil of power and empire…”
One Washington DC newspaper I read when I was
covering the inauguration spoke to that thin line between love and hate, and
the ways in our speeded up world that admiration can soon sour. One writer
even wondered how long it would take for groups to demand his impeachment.
I am not ready to man those ramparts. Not yet.
On day one, he did freeze Bush changes, move to end the war, close Gitmo,
freeze wages, enact transparency rules—all overdue changes. My sense is
those millions on the mall know his burden are not light ones, and will give
him a chance and keep hopes alive.
At the same time, we journalists need to keep asking tough questions, point
to problems, offer solutions, and avoid a rush to judgment. We are
descending into tougher times when we need to know what we are for as well
as what we are against.
We don’t have Bush to kick around anymore. Thank