Both Barack Obama and I are Chicago boys, schooled in the tough-minded, arm-twisting don't-mess-with-me attitude of crushing rather than compromising with your unforgiving enemies. We are both products of machine politics, I from the west side's "rotten borough" 24th ward loyally turning out Democratic party majorities of almost, and sometimes exceeding, 100% ("Vote early, vote often!"), and Barack from a south side community-organising operation that got things done door-to-door, block by block.
In the 2008 election campaign President Obama's most important strategist was the Chicago fixer David Axelrod, a master of hard-knuckle progressive neighbourhood politics who had masterminded the re-election campaign of Chicago's first African American mayor Harold Washington. But after Obama's inauguration the new president appears to have muzzled Axelrod in favour of Rahm Emanuel, a ferociously combative, rightwing Democratic political assassin. The enforcer Emanuel has so far failed to enforce much of anything for Obama by way of decent legislation, and Axelrod is sidelined except as a mouthpiece.Sooner or later we on the American left will rise again and look beyond single-issue obsessions, sever our dependence on corporate charity, and – as FDR and Howard Zinn advised – relearn the lesson of how to apply pressure on a president who needs us more than we need him.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
On Obama: "The left sat back, we should have mobilized"
"We have let Obama down" (Clancy Sigal-Guardian UK):