Sunday, July 20, 2008

Barack Obama The New Nixon

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On July 4th the New York Times wrote an editorial criticizing Senator Obama and expressing what might be called dismay over the fact that he's reneged on every promise he's ever made and changed or reversed his position on every issue of importance to the people who supported him during the primary. The most recent betrayal was his vote on the FISA legislation which at one time he promised to filibuster, giving the telecoms immunity for breaking the law on behalf of the Bush Administration and violating their customers 4th amendment rights. And it's easy to know why. Having opted out of public campaign financing, (another broken pledge,) it was for campaign contributions from the telecoms. And he was more than willing to sell out the 4th Amendment to get it.

All this seems to have taken the New York Times completely by surprise. Which doesn't say much for the New York Times and their powers of journalistic observation given the fact that these things have been obvious to at least 18 million people for anywhere from 7 months to 5 years including the people who know him from Chicago, And it doesn't say much for the judgement of Gail Collins, the editorial page editor of the New York Times who either wrote or approved the editorial.

But what was most startling about this editorial was it's referral to Obama's lies, deceptions,pandering, and reneging on pledges as "The New Obama".

To Collins this "New Obama" was confounding. She found Obama's dishonesty and the fact that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth and reversing himself on every position he took during the primary "perplexing". And she is "distressed" to learn that Obama does not keep his word and panders to whomever he happens to be talking to at the moment to try and get what he wants.

Calling him "The New Obama" , the Times never makes the obvious connection to what 40 years ago was called "The New Nixon". This was the term Nixon used to forge his political comeback. Everyone saw through it and it was a joke because everyone knew it was the same old Nixon trying to repackage himself just as it is the same old Obama, who conned the people he needed to gain his primary advantage and is now trying to sell his snake oil to evangelicals and conservatives but telling them it contains a completely different set of ingredients than the snake oil he sold to Keith Olbermann, Arianna Huffington, Bill Richardson, Newsweek, and everyone else who bought it and drank it. And that's the difference.

While the old media never bought "the New Nixon" and saw through it, obviously this collection of journalists who seem to have the powers of observation of a drunken sailor on a Saturday night on Bali, led by Collins and the New York Times, has never been able to see through Obama. They think that what they're seeing now is something "new", instead of the same Obama so many millions saw through right from the beginning, though Bob Herbert a Times columnist and Obama supporter seems to be the first at the newspaper to actually start saying "wait a minute..".

The analogy of Obama to Nixon is valid from many different points of view since a case can be made that Obama is the most underhanded and dishonest politician since Nixon. Obama even has his own Helen Gahagan Douglas, the political opponent Nixon falsely smeared as a communist to win his first election, in Alice Palmer.Obama, using money and oppressive legal tactics challenging every name on Palmer's petition strong armed Palmer off the ballot in Chicago to win his first election. There is a similar attempt going on now in a more subtle way to try and keep Senator Clinton from putting her name in nomination at the convention which is not only her right but which democratic process demands given that as of this moment, there is in fact no official nominee of the Democratic Party since neither won enough delegates to secure the nomination. And there wont be any nominee until super delegates vote at the convention where, as the rules provide, they can cast their vote for whomever they wish for whatever reason they wish and are not bound by any previous declarations.

The comparison between "The New Obama" and "The New Nixon" were obviously lost on Gail Collins and The New York Times. She didn't even seem to know there was a comparison to make and that the term had been used 40 years ago to describe Nixon. That there is an editorial page editor writing about politics for the NY Times that is this ignorant of fairly recent political history is a reflection of what passes for journalism today and how weak it is.

Maybe turning Obama into "The New Obama" is what Collins and the NY Times need to do in order to save face rather than admit they were taken in by a snake oil salesman and fooled. This is what con artists traditionally count on -- that people who get conned are so embarrassed they were taken in, that, rather than admit it, they keep their mouths shut or pretend it didn't happen to avoid having to face that they were stupid enough to be conned in the first place. This is how con artists get away with it, when they do.

How far the press has to go before they'll admit they were conned no one knows. And what super delegates will do and whether they can admit they were conned no one knows. It will come down to whether or not they regard saving the party more important than saving their face.

According to the most recent poll, 54% of Clinton's primary voters said they will never vote for Obama if he is the nominee ( yes if), and if 54% are saying it, 75% are thinking it and possibly more will act on it. And even if it were only 50%, that still makes it impossible for Obama to win a single state and if a third stay home as they are saying they would, he will take the Democratically controlled congress down with him.So, to quote Jeremiah Wright the chickens could be coming home to roost.

With Clinton having her name placed in nomination the Democratic Party has an out. Whether super delegates will take it no one can know.But this makes it more important than ever for the Democrats to have Clinton's name placed in nomination and to have an honest roll call vote in spite of Obama's machinations to try and stop it. Because what we do know is that the New Obama, like the New Nixon will always be up to the same old tricks. And the New York Times, who closed their negative Obama editorial by actually quoting Obama's campaign slogan of "change we can believe in", cant seem to learn new ones.

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