Bill Clinton, Obama and the Extremist Middle

The increasing tendency of liberals and their media harvesters to define the cause by faults of the likes of Fox News and Karl Rove is a bit like a Christian church condemning Satanism but forgetting to  mention Jesus or salvation.
The idea that not being Karl Rove might be sufficient argument to support one’s cause is bizarre. Which is, come to think of it, not all that surprising since the entire political debate these days is driven by lies, pretensions, provocations, propaganda and positions that may change at any given moment without conscience or logic.
If you check out the 14 candidates most frequently mentioned for president, for example, only three of them pursue causes that are consistent and based on honest beliefs even if, as in the case of Rand Paul, badly mistaken. The other two, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are like resurrected creatures from a prehistoric era before television, pursuing truth, justice, honesty and other goals now considered by many of those who really matter to be antiquated values of a time well forgotten.
And who are those who really matter? Sure, add Fox News and Karl Rove to the list but way below mass media, acceptable academics from the extremist middle, establishment politicians, CEOs and other corporate political contributors.
If Fox News rants one night about something, only about two million people will know it. If, however, well vetted elite sources propose extremist moderation on the PBS New Hour, NBC, NPR and in most daily papers, that’s real power.
Liberals also seem to have little idea of how much the politics of the Democratic Party has changed over time.
It is fair to say, for example, that the two most conservative Democratic presidents since Grover Cleveland have been Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They were the first Democratic presidents in over a century who actually reversed previous Democratic positions such as Clinton’s attack on social welfare and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial and investment banking which greatly helped lead to the recent financial crisis. Obama, for his part, has taken a score of traditionally anti-liberal positions ranging from supporting torture and massive illegal wiretapping to favoring the bailout of banks over the bailout of ordinary Americans.
One major reason this is not generally known is because the American middle has moved dramatically to the right over the past few decades. With the help of mass media, political normalcy has been redefined. If you are a progressive journalist such as myself, this is quite obvious to you but not to others because you have been quietly moved to the category of the politically abnormal.
In my case, I can even put something of a date on it. In the mid 1990s, at the height of the Clinton administration whose leader’s corrupt past I had covered extensively, I was banned as a guest from Washington’s NPR station, two invitations by hosts to appear on CSPAN were revoked by higher ups,
and the number of times I was quoted in the Washington Post dropped. Fortunately, the internet had just come along.
Having had a father in the New Deal, been an activist beginning in the 1960s and covered Washington over five decades, I had some historical consciousness of what was happening that wasn’t easily apparent. After all, Frances Perkins told FDR in 1930s she wouldn’t become his secretary of labor if he didn’t support a minimum wage, a 40 hour work week, pensions, and single payer healthcare.  How many Democrats can you name who would say that today if offered a job by Barack Obama?
In fact, senatorial “moderate” Susan Collins and “independent” Angus King can’t even bring themselves to support a raise in a minimum wage now equal, after inflation, to where we were decades ago.
And here’s what Rutgers professor Daniel Greenberg has written about a generally perceived conservative Democrat, Woodrow Wilson:
As president, Wilson earned his place in history by enacting, within his first two years, a flurry of bills from the New Freedom playbook: the lowering of tariffs, to help consumers and weaken monopolistic corporations;  (the creation of the Federal Reserve, answerable to a government board and not just private bankers (as many had wanted); and a new, tougher antitrust law, alongside the creation of the Federal Trade Commission. These laws achieved a greater measure of economic fairness and empowered the government to intervene against corporate predation. Few people have doubted their wisdom since.
Wilson saw corporate bigness in and of itself as more of a threat than did [Theodore] Roosevelt…He believed that trusts had grown so big as to thwart the competition on which economic development depended. He feared that Roosevelt’s plan would devolve into what today might be called corporatism—an alliance between big government and big business. “There is a point of bigness—as every businessman in this country knows, though some will not admit it,” Wilson said, “where you pass the point of efficiency and get to the point of clumsiness and unwieldiness.” Instead, Wilson wanted to have the government set forth which practices constituted antitrust violations and spell out how those violations should be addressed—including, if necessary, by prosecution and dissolution.”
It’s stunning to compare that with what we have gone through with Clinton and Obama and what has become to be accepted normal behavior for liberals and Democrats. In such a climate, Fox and Rove are just icing on the cake and whose real sin may be that they distracted us from the disaster in our own back yard.
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