November 28, 2019


The Real Barack Obama Has Finally Revealed Himself (LUKE SAVAGE, 11/27/19, Jacobin)

It therefore tells us a great deal that, given the latitude, resources, and moral authority with which to influence events, Obama has spent his post-presidency cozying up to the global elite and delivering vapid speeches to corporate interests in exchange for unthinkable sums of money.

Though often remaining out of the spotlight, he has periodically appeared next to various CEOs at events whose descriptions might be read as cutting satire targeting the hollowness of business culture if they weren't all-too real. As the world teeters on the brink of ecological disaster, he recently cited an increase in America's output of oil under his administration as a laudable achievement.

When Obama has spoken about or intervened in politics, it's most often been to bolster the neoliberal center-right or attack and undermine the Left. Having emerged from seclusion to endorse the likes of Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau, Obama also rang up Britain's austerity-loving Conservative prime minister Theresa May on election night in 2017 to offer reassurance and trash the Labour Party's electoral prospects. Only last week, while denouncing the Democratic Party's "activist wing," the former president who had once introduced himself to the nation as a progressive, community-minded outsider inveighed against those pushing for a more ambitious direction -- contemptuously instructing a group of wealthy donors not to concern themselves too-much with the irrational zealotry of "certain left-leaning Twitter feeds."

Adding to this trail of words and actions since 2016, a lengthy report just published by Politico offers us further insight into both Obama's calculations since leaving office and his broader view of politics. Portraying the former president as someone drawn somewhat unwillingly back into the political fray by events, the piece is strewn with suggestive nuggets on subjects ranging from Donald Trump to his opinions about various hopefuls running for the Democratic nomination.

We learn, for example, that Obama at one time hoped to enjoy something akin to a normal relationship with his successor, and that the former president apparently thinks little of Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg but is a fan of Montana Governor Steve Bullock. We also learn that in 2015 he was troubled by the prospect of a presidential run by Elizabeth Warren on the grounds that her anti-Wall Street message would represent a repudiation of his legacy.

Which is why he so easily won two terms.

Posted by at November 28, 2019 7:15 AM