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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Obama Elite

At the Daily Beast, Joel Kotkin identifies Obama's power base:
Every president and political movement, of course, brings to power an often-hoary group of grasping interest groups. Under the conservatives and George W. Bush, the favored classes included standbys like the fossil-fuel energy companies, Big Agriculture, suburban homebuilders, and the defense industry. Rather than the “good old boys,” Obama’s core group hails from what may be best described as the “creative class”—the cognitive elite, or, to borrow from the Daniel Bell’s The Coming of Postindustrial Society, the “the hierophants of the new society.” They come not from traditional productive industry, but the self-conscious “knowledge” sectors—such as financial services, the software industry, and academia. From early on, Barack Obama attracted big-money people like George Soros, Warren Buffett, and JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon far more effectively than his opponents in either party. As The New York Times' Andrew Sorkin put it back in April, "Mr. Obama might be struggling with the blue-collar vote in Pennsylvania, but he has nailed the hedge-fund vote.”
 In Epic Journey, we touch on this phenomenon, citing the Sorkin article on p. 106.

At the Huffington Post, Mile Mogulesu amplifies this theme by noting the liberal corporatism at the heart of health legislation:
For the first time in American history, Democrats are about to pass a bill that uses the coercive power of the federal government to force every American -- simply by virtue of being an American -- to purchase the products of a private company. At heart, the Democrats' solution to 48 million uninsured is to force the them to buy inadequate private insurance -- with potentially high deductibles and co-pays and no price controls -- or be fined by the federal government.
[Obama] promised transformative "Change" (although, as some critics pointed out at the time, he left the direction of "Change" so vague that voters of various stripes could read what they wanted into it). That's why a majority of progressive Democrats supported Obama over Hillary Clinton in the primaries, particularly after the more populist John Edwards withdrew. They didn't want to see a return to the centrism, corporatism, and triangulation of Clintonism.
But from the moment he was elected, Obama has governed not as a progressive liberal but as a corporatist liberal. Progressive liberals hoped Obama would be like FDR. Instead, he's been like Bill Clinton on steroids.