First, Leon Panetta, and now even mild-mannered fellow Nobelist Jimmy Carter is chiming in while still constructing Habitat houses at age 90. The drone president of peace is being portrayed as a paranoid bumbler and anathema to his own party. Pretty much all he's good for these days is acting as the main bag-man for all that campaign cash. The Dems don't want to be seen with him, but they're only too happy to accept the bribery money of plutocrats and entertainers just as eager to shell it out for a quick bite and photo-op schmooze with their president and fellow performance artist.
Oh, but here comes Paul Krugman to the rescue. In a new Rolling Stone O-pologium at least partially inspired by Cornel West's recent scathing Salon piece, the erstwhile New York Times columnist takes a wee break from dissing Paul Ryan and the Republicans, and takes direct aim at the left:
They (Cornel West and unnamed "others") are outraged that Wall Street hasn't been punished, that income inequality remains so high, that ''neoliberal'' economic policies are still in place. All of this seems to rest on the belief that if only Obama had put his eloquence behind a radical economic agenda, he could somehow have gotten that agenda past all the political barriers that have con- strained (sic) even his much more modest efforts. It's hard to take such claims seriously.Criticizing the Obama administration for its failure to prosecute a single big banker in the worst financial fraud in American history is just going too far, continues Krugman, who essentially defends the Obama/Holder/Geithner Too Big to Fail/Jail policy, while carefully weasel-wording that yes, we might have another crisis, but it might not be quite as bad. He's right: it won't be at all bad, for him. The ingrained corruption of the political system and the outsized influence of the fabulously wealthy go unmentioned.
Even creepier, in my view, is that Krugman specifically singles out a piece by a black public intellectual. West discusses all the ways that people of color are actually doing worse (job loss, home loss) under a black president. He calls out the collusion of the erstwhile progressive Black Congressional Caucus with Obama's centrist, corporatist agenda as part of the "the death of the black prophetic tradition," which has historically advocated for social and economic justice.
So Krugman, like Jonathan Chait, now also falls into the cringe-worthy category of "whitesplainer." (a centrist caucasian pundit who instructs a leftist black pundit that his or her criticism of Obama is way out in left field and "hard to take seriously.") That Krugman singles out only Cornel West as a "trash-talker" from the left is actually pretty stunning. That Krugman indirectly bashes the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. is also testament to the right-wing drift of the "conscience of a liberal" in the Age of Obama.
Regarding the surveillance state, Krugman lamely blames his own lack of expertise for his refusal to give a strong opinion, except to say that Romney and McCain would probably have been a lot worse. Obama's ramping up of Perpetual War, his drone assassinations, his abysmal domestic civil liberties record, his abuses of press freedoms, record deportations, the war on whistle-blowers and his secrecy fetish (see: Trans-Pacific Partnership) go unmentioned. If you still had any doubt that the good professor is quickly achieving parity with his pseudo-nemesis David Brooks in the intellectual laziness department, read the whole article, and weep. Or yawn, or throw up, as your fancy takes you.
Meanwhile, everybody else who's a Somebody is all obsessively abuzz over Panetta, who's had the effrontery to write a book about the Obama administration while Obama is still out there collecting cash and giving jingoistic speeches about American exceptionalism. It is apparently a breach of loyalty and a violation of the unwritten rule (described by Elizabeth Warren in her book) that insiders don't criticize other insiders. I haven't read the book, but the juicy bit getting the most attention is yet another F-bomb tirade by former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel -- this one about that still-suppressed CIA torture report. Reading between the lines of the various synopses of "Worthy Fights," it appears that Barack has been striving mightily to protect his CIA careerist pal John Brennan from exposure. Brennan, Panetta's eventual replacement, remains at his post as agency director, despite calls for his ouster after he admitted spying on Senate investigators.
According to Panetta, he'd made a deal with Senator/CIA Moll Dianne Feinstein to release findings of torture abuses by the agency during the Bush administration. But then, he writes,
“I was summoned down to a meeting in the Situation Room, where I was told I would have to ‘explain’ this deal to Rahm… It did not take long to get ugly....
’The president wants to know who the f**k authorized this release to the committees,’” Rahm said, slamming his hand down on the table. ‘I have a president with his hair on fire, and I want to know what the f**k you did to f**k this up so bad!’”Then-director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair asked in vain who'd set Obama's hair on fire. Blair was later fired and replaced by admitted perjurer and now-NSA director James Clapper. Feinstein is still withholding the torture report because it's been redacted into near-meaninglessness by Obama, Brennan, and other CIA functionaries named within its pages.
Jimmy Carter, in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, again slammed Obama over his drone assassination program and other human rights violations, as well as for ignoring the rise of ISIS:
“I really object to the killing of people, particularly Americans overseas who haven’t been brought to justice and put on trial,” he said. “We’ve killed four Americans overseas with American drones. To me that violates our Constitution and human rights.”(And then he proceeded to cancel himself out by vowing to support war-hawk Hillary Clinton, should she win the Democratic nomination. Oh well.)
All this public dissing comes right on the heels of a judge ordering Obama to release video of the force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, as well as deny his anti-democratic request that the ongoing trial be closed to the public. The judge, Gladys Kessler, astutely noted (in so many words) that the administration's national security excuse is simply their fear of being exposed as barbarians on the world stage -- at the very same time they're trying to foment public outrage at the video barbarism of ISIS as the latest casus belli.
There is plenty of inhumanity to go around, even from -- and especially from -- exceptional America, homeland central of the centrist elites.