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Obama: ‘Effective Evil’ or Progressives’ Best Hope?

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Posted on Sep 8, 2012
Democracy Now!

Glen Ford.

Whether President Obama should be supported or opposed in his bid for re-election this year is a fundamental question facing left-wing Americans who have been disappointed with his performance during his first term. Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University and Glen Ford of BlackAgendaReport.com take up opposing sides of the argument.

Responding to President Obama’s address on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Dyson had this to say: “Well, it was—it was electrifying, in the sense that Obama had before him the task of repudiating all of the myths and the lies and the deceptions and the deliberate distortions generated just a week earlier in the Republican convention, but also to rally the base, so to speak. And various aspects of that base had been either disaffected because they felt that they were marginal or that his progressive agenda that he had initially articulated had not come to fruition, but many of them had been chastened by the intransigence of a Republican Congress that refused to acknowledge anything of word that the man could put forth. So he’s operating in a very difficult zone. So he’s got to organize his resistance to the Republicans, galvanize the base, give a speech flowing enough in poetry but rooted enough and public policy. Starting with Michelle Obama a couple nights before that and then Bill Clinton himself, in his vintage form, Obama, I think, took the baton and ran the last leg, and did so with aplomb, with verve and with oratorical flourish.”

In response, Ford argued that “we at Black Agenda Report have for some time been saying that Obama is not the lesser of evils, but the more effective evil. And we base that on his record and also on his rhetoric at the convention. So, we would prefer to talk about what history-making events have gone down under his presidency.

“He’s, first of all, created a model for austerity, a veritable model, with his deficit reduction commission. He’s introduced preventive detention, a law for preventive detention. He’s expanded the theaters of war in drone wars, and he’s made an unremitting assault on international law. And I think that possibly the biggest impact, his presidency—and I’m not talking about his—all this light and airy stuff from the convention, but actual deeds—I think probably what will go down as his biggest contribution to history is a kind of merging of the banks and the state, with $16 trillion being infused into these banks, into Wall Street, under his watch, and the line between Wall Street and the federal government virtually disappearing.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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