A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Remember 2004, when the cash-poor Democratic candidates were evicted from the campaign like vagabonds by ABC News? One measure of the impact of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that candidates will be compelled to explain to voters why they are so popular with Wall Street. This poses a special quandary for President Obama, who got the lion's share of finance industry dollars in 2008 and is determined to raise $1 billion for next year's campaign. “How can Obama claim to be ready to stand up to the 1 percent, when he's weighted down with a billion dollars of their money?”
Barack “Money Bags” Obama Can’t Run on the 99 Percent Ticket
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The trick that President Obama must pull off this election year is to raise a cool one billion dollars, while pretending to run as a man of the people – of the 99 percent.”
President Obama has been doing his charming best to play off the huge dilemma that the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement represents for his brand of corporate Democratic politics. Obama, the phony populist who is actually far better suited to corporate boardrooms, tried to mollify demonstrators at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, this week. Obama told a high school crowd: “In the Occupy movement there is a profound sense of frustration. The American dream – seems like that’s slipping away.” But, such presidential vagaries do not begin to describe the major thrust of the Occupation movement, whose overwhelming focus is “to get money out of politics,” as progressive reporter Arun Gupta recently told Black Agenda Radio. If there is anything that unites the supposedly leaderless Occupation movement, says Gupta, it is “a message about extreme concentration of wealth and power, and that wealth is used to dominate the political system.”
The trick that President Obama must pull off this election year is to raise a cool one billion dollars, while pretending to run as a man of the people – of the 99 percent. That kind of money can only come from the same Wall Street mafias that bankrolled Obama from the very start of his 2008 race for the White House. By any objective standard, the First Black President is really Mr. Moneybags, a corporate politician who has repaid Wall Street’s investment in him with $16 trillion of the people’s money. And, there is no doubt, Wall Street wants him back for a second term. To paraphrase Othello, Obama has done the plutocrats some service, and they know it. That’s why he is far ahead in the electoral race that really counts in America, the quest for campaign contributions, having already raised $155 million for himself and the Democratic Party – far ahead of any combination of Republicans.
“The First Black President is really Mr. Moneybags, a corporate politician who has repaid Wall Street’s investment in him with $16 trillion of the people’s money.”
However, after two months of Occupy Wall Street fever, Obama’s intimate relationship with rich men’s wallets may prove prejudicial to his reelection prospects. How can Obama claim to be ready to stand up to the 1 percent, when he's weighted down with a billion dollars of their money?
The very idea that taking bundles of Wall Street checks hand over fist could be a negative for an American presidential campaigner, is testimony to the strength of the movement that has emerged over the past several months. I remember well how, back in the 2004 campaign, ABC's Ted Koppel decided it was his civic and journalistic duty to evict the three poorest candidates from the Democratic primary race. Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carolyn Moseley Braun, said Koppel, should get out of the running, to give more breathing space to the richer candidates. Koppel spoke to the non-corporate candidates like raggedy ass interlopers at a rich man's ball. “You don't have any money, at least not much,” Congressman Kucinich, said Kopple. “Rev. Sharpton has almost none.” And Ambassador Moseley Braun, “You don't have very much.” Then Koppel accused them of being “vanity candidates” who ought to drop out. Immediately afterwards, ABC News cut off coverage of their campaigns.
What a difference even a whiff of a social movement makes. Now, the corporate candidates will have to explain why they've got so much money, and what they promised to do to get it. Especially, the richest one of all, Barack Obama.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.