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Robert Scheer: An Obit on Our Hopes

Posted on Nov 1, 2010

Truthdig’s own Robert Scheer made a recent appearance on “GRITtv with Laura Flanders” and went straight for the jugular with his pronouncement, now two years since the presidential election and on the brink of the midterms, that it’s time for “an obit on our hopes.” Watch as he backs up that claim in the clip below.  —KA

GRITtv with Laura Flanders:

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By ocjim, November 7, 2010 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment

The last two Democratic presidents have defined their administrations by progressively selling out to conservative interests, so that the party of the Democrats is becoming the old Republicans and the Republican party is plutocratic, if not proto-fascist.

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By ardee, November 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

the worm, November 6 at 6:25 pm

If by “Obama fooling the democrats” you mean the voters I have no objection. If you mean the Party then I think you fool yourself. Democrats as much as Republicans abase themselves for corporate money and ignore the needs of the people.

I do believe Obama to be a one term President, a man whose good intentions, if he indeed has them, are hidden behind a complete inability to take charge and lead. The only thing that may save the Democratic Party as a whole would be if, as the GOP smells blood and continues its tactics of shutting down govt.,the public gets fed up with the both of them.

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By the worm, November 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

A number of comments confirm Obama has not ‘defined himself’.

But here’s Obama’s problem with ‘defining himself’: Obama is a Republican.

If Obama fooled the Democrats in 2008. If he tips his hand now by ‘defining
himself’, he will surely be challenged in the Democratic primaries.

Unfortunately, this has left Obama with no choice but to sit silently and ‘be
defined’ by the opposition.

Why would the opposition settle for a Bob Dole Republican of the other party,
when they can just have a ball destroying Obama, pulling him apart piece by
piece and knowing that he cant fight back without further diminishing his base.

Talk about a Republican Win-Win.

And the cleaver Obama has tied himself into a knot.

I know now that other Democrats say they wont challenge Obama in 2012
primaries, but we have a lot to see between now and the primaries. My bet: By
the primaries, Obama will have completed his self-destruction.

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By the worm, November 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

A number of comments confirm Obama has not ‘defined himself’.

But here’s Obama’s problem with ‘defining himself’: Obama is a Republican.

If Obama fooled the Democrats in 2008. If he tips his hand now by ‘defining
himself’, he will surely be challenged in the Democratic primaries.

Unfortunately, this has left Obama with no choice but to sit silently and ‘be
defined’ by the opposition.

Why would the opposition settle for a Bob Dole Republican of the other party,
when they can just have a ball destroying Obama, pulling him apart piece by
piece and knowing that he cant fight back without further diminishing his base.

Talk about a Republican Win-Win.

And the cleaver Obama has tied himself into a knot.

I know now that other Democrats say they wont challenge Obama in 2012
primaries, but we have a lot to see between now and the primaries. My bet: By
the primaries, Obama will have completed his self-destruction.

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By Carl, November 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

I agree with the Republicans, Obama must move toward the center. He is ultra-right wing. To finish pissing on the left, Obama announced today that he may have to “compromise” and extend Bush tax cuts to the rich.

What a con man! Everyone knew the Republicans would win the House. So why did he wait until after the elections to attempt to extend middle class tax cuts? Even now, he does need to do anything to end the Bush tax cuts, they expire Jan. 1.

I say let them all expire and use the taxes collected from the “middle class” of $100-$250,000 a year to help the poor or create make-work jobs.

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By basho, November 6, 2010 at 4:20 am Link to this comment

HOPE, n. Desire and expectation rolled into one. -a. bierce

hope is the refuge of the ignorant and faint of heart. it has nothing to do with reality. your masters know it and play it as such.

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By skylark, November 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

I came to this site a few days ago after listening to an interview on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) by Chris Hedges.

I am a Canadian “leftie” and felt Obama was perfect to clean up the awful messes left by Bush. Did he not campaign to at least clean up the mess in Washington.

My enthusiam for him started waning as soon as he appointed Summers & Geithner. Next giving up on the public option in the Health care debate.

Now to my point: I agree entirely with “mdgr” in his very thoughtful post.

I would go further and try to find another nominee to challenge Obama for the “DEM” nominee for President.

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By jonathonk99, November 5, 2010 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

Obama didn’t do anything to stop the foreclosures but he did bail out the
mortgage companies.  Obama’s health care reform does nothing to lower costs
but it does guarantee more unregulated bureaucracy.  Obama’s answer to
unemployment again and again has been bank stimulus - quantitative easing? 
This is some neo liberal jargon for loaning banks hundreds of billions of dollars. 
The theory goes that the money will trickle down or something. Even though it
didn’t work the first time Ben Bernanke thinks this time the margins are better. 
And yet I have no understanding of how this connects with unemployment?  How
does loaning banks one trillion dollars help bring the manufacturing sector back? 
Good question.  It doesn’t.

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By Marshall, November 4, 2010 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

By mdgr, November 2 at 12:02 am Link to this comment

If you’ve listened to Sheer’s discussions on Left Right and Center, then you’ll well
know that he lacks no passion in discussing his beliefs.  I think you see a false
equivalency between Hedges and Scheer which doesn’t exist. Perhaps you see a
more genuine voice in Hedges.  But Hedges is an admitted anti-capitalist, closer to
Michael Moore than to Robert Scheer.  He’s passionate as well, but connecting an
entirely different set of dots to Scheer’s.  You can try and place them in the same
camp if you want, but Scheer is more direct, coherent, aware of his failings, and
not lost in some ideological haze whose vocabulary can only be understood by
those stuck in the same fog bank.

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By mdgr, November 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm Link to this comment

A Meme for its Time:

Obama’s entire tenure has been predicated on some very venal and self-serving assumptions, but in having been the chief apologist for the Dems—whom I succinctly denote by the term Vichy, or party of collaborators—this was almost inevitable.

His is the endpoint of a typically “liberal” view, by which I mean to point to the very worst associations with that term as used by people like Chris Hedges.

As the link above shows, however, the bottom line is that much of the dead weight—for which Rahm Emanuel sold his soul—is essentially gone and the progressive caucus is virtually undiminished.

Now, I have a little proposal. It’s strategic, however, and as finely honed as a surgical scalpel.

As a hypothetical, what would it net the progressive cause if many of that same caucus publicly resigned their Democratic-Vichy-linked affiliation, especially now that President Obama has vowed to make nice with the Republican Party even more than her already has?

They have just been re-elected, so their election isn’t immediately at stake. If they resigned from the Democratic Party in the next few months and endorsed the creation of an emergent third party made up of lefties and indies, wouldn’t that suddenly give the new party a HUGE amount of gravitas and influence?

Not unlike the Tea Party, except for the money.

To coin a phrase, these defectors could assume the mantle of “thought leaders” over their Congressional delegation, unhampered by the Obama and the Dems.

They could also help articulate and channel the rage of the left, as well as the indies who simply didn’t vote or who voted Dem but felt slightly nauseous doing so.

It would be good for their egos, good for that third party (no longer marginal with many of the Progressive Caucus behind it) and good for the country.

It would be very, very bad for the remaining Democrats, but they’re known to be impotent anyway. I see a real possibility of that third party’s influence ascending in direct proportion to Vichy’s precipitous decline.

At this point, big money would begin to follow. The reason why is because of the threat of the Tea Party in 2012. That may please business in the short term—they’re generally greedy, true—but not every captain of industry is stupid.

Remember, it is to no one’s advantage (with the exception of Murdoch and the Koch Brothers) to give Palin or Secretary of Defense Limbaud the nuclear codes, and people like Bill Gates, Buffett and Soros know that all too well.

Strategically speaking, I believe that this can provide an “engine” through which we may be able to do what is necessary between now and 2012.

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By Andy, November 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We saw Kennedy go down in a hail of lead; we saw friends come back from Nam either dead of maimed or psychological scared; we saw kids shot dead in Ohio, heads beaten in Chicago; now forty years later what do we have to show for it…nothing

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By Winston, November 3, 2010 at 11:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Over the past two years and, actually, for many years prior, the Dem party proved through both their actions and inaction that they are no less a corporate-owned, war mongering party than the Reps.  The “Party of the People” is no more that than “The Big Business Party.”  They are both the “Party of Deep Pocket Special Interests.”

My choice is to not vote for either party and stop providing them with false legitimacy.  Neither of them truly represent me in any way except lip service.

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By Lafayette, November 3, 2010 at 4:56 am Link to this comment


I don’t know what people are here at truthdig- not really Left in my mind because not really caring about the environment, education or social justice issues important to me.

It’s a mixed bag.

But your remark above is singular in that you react to the words “social justice”. I suspect, from various blogs, that American haven’t the foggiest notion of what the words mean.

Why? Because “justice” in the US has only a criminal denotation. And the word “social” has been corrupted by its confusion with the word “communism” and its totalitarian connotation.

Meaning what? Meaning that any change in America will require a grassroots swell to carry it. And given American mentalities, that is not going to happen anytime soon.

How does one educate an American population? It is a great effort and if the Replicants prefer to keep America ignorant of Social Justice, the Dems show no competence whatsoever in teaching Americans what the two words mean.

So, not much is going to change in America. Which is why I prefer to live in a Europe that is light-years ahead in terms of equity and fairness. Along with at least half a million other Americans who live here. I’m in contact with a sampling of only about 250 of them – but no one I know talks much about going back.

Even the older ones for whom Health Care is not such a burning issue because they are retired. The issue here is, more largely, “Quality of life”, which encompasses a great many other life-style attributes.

Amongst the younger crowd, here mostly on assignment, they are amazed at the benefits of lower-cost Health Care and much lower-cost university schooling. In fact, it is curious that many load-up on whatever minor surgery they may need before going back stateside. The fact that a National Health Care System exists for all, whether you are working or not, relieves one of an enormous burden at a time when the vicissitudes of life can bring one quickly to their knees.

So, at least, Europe has a Safety Net that works, not just one that people can dream about. And don’t ever expect the Replicants to bring you one. Their politics, as we have seen, are Darwinian. (It also helps, evidently, to believe in God who is always there supposedly to save your sorry ass. Except when he isn’t there.)

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By Byram, November 2, 2010 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Typical Scheer, since he never liked Obama and is happy about Democrats losing this election. Except it does not prove his point that his favorite Dem is in trouble too- Russ Feingold. So even the guy that did it all “right” is not making it with the electorate. Which proves Scheer is wrong about much of his analysis and certainly his “purity” standards test for Democrats.
Thanks to such puritanical and reactionary positions-I don’t know what people are here at truthdig- not really Left in my mind because not really caring about the environment, education or social justice issues important to me. Issues not moving fast enough to resolution are not legitimate reasons for throwing away support for Democrats.
Scheer will be thrilled if things go badly for Obama. Then in years to come- he will complain about all the right wing policies that will come after this election. Just like he does for Clinton, he will blame Obama for having to work with Republicans.
It is un-strategic behavior like this that has helped push our country to the Right. The Left will never be a force, thanks to purists. We will lose again and again on the Left if we do not unite and start moving the ball towards a goal. Not in one election, but many, to get to where we want this country to be.
Thank heavens for Jon Stewart! Smarter and sharper on every issue, and more entertaining too.

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By johnny, November 2, 2010 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

Or simply:
“One cannot serve God and Mammon” — Matthew 6:24

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By mdgr, November 2, 2010 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

G. Anderson:

I have a very pointed proposal as to what Mr. Scheer should now consider doing.

Rather than giving us any more confessionals, how about his rethinking the central premise of Truthdig and, bye-the-bye, also of Buzzflash (over which he exerts direct influence). How about his rethinking the liberal agenda in it’s entirety? Instead of just saying the two party system is nonsense, how about his walking his talk?

Right now, there is a whole lot of outright NOISE on Truthdig in the form of two-party apologists that like to blame the Tea Party (Stalin) or the R’s (Berlin), while simultaneously positing Vichy (the Dems) as the lesser of two evils. Here, I am thinking of Robinson, Dionne and the majority of regular Truthdig columnists.

While the “fair and balanced” approach has an appeal to many liberals, how about bringing more people on board like Chris Hedges and Mr. Fish?

How about more people who can cut to the root of an issue (radicals), as opposed to people whose articles mostly serve to distract?

That’s assuming that Mr. Scheer’s recent epiphanies are real.

And while he’s at it, how about his thinking up some sort of dedicated forum wherein we can do more than sound-off? If neither of the two parties is viable, how about at least dedicating an ongoing discussion to alternatives?

Even if it never get legs or run on its own steam—due to the rigging of the system and the corporate culture of entropy called America—how about his suggesting the possibility of a truly progressive (NOT liberal) and independent third party, the same kind of thing that Thomas Friedman fears and that Naomi Klein predicted in the wake of the 2010 election?

That election is almost behind us, Mr. Scheer. Enough with the recent epiphanies and retrospective guilt. You have a not unsubstantial bully pulpit, have you not?

How about giving us something powerful, incisive and real during the next two years, starting today??

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By G.Anderson, November 2, 2010 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

It’s good to see the truth, to feel the truth… to bask in the truth…To open all the windows of the mind and let the warmth of the sun burn it all away….

The truth can never be established by a popularity contest, that is what politicians try to do..

So, now what will you do? Hunt through all the worn out symbols of your belief system, for some shred, some piece of your broken political delusions, to start all over again…?

Bill Clinton is a liar, and a seducer..and he’s good at it…and yes he did it…

And Barak Obama, gave the men who created it jobs..

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By the worm, November 2, 2010 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

We believed we were voting for Liberals.

If this election is the obit for Liberalism - the last two years were for Liberalism
the slow death by asphyxiation.

The Democrats we campaigned for and gave money to, the ones in the
majority, gave us the following:

1   The American people wanted Health Reform.
1A. The Democrats gave us taxpayer support for private sector insurers at an
overhead rate of 20% (20% of our premium can be spent on administration, CEO
salaries, bonuses, sitting on Boards to set rates and decide who gets covered
and who doesn’t).

72% of the American people wanted a government administered plan like
Medicare - for everyone.

(Just sixteen short months ago, in June 2009, a New York Times/CBS poll
found: ” 72% of Americans ‘supported a government-administered insurance
plan—something like Medicare for those under 65—that would compete for
customers with private insurers.’ - That was before the manufactured assault
on the ‘townhalls’ and before Obama sat on his hands and gave the ‘reform job’
to Max Baucus.)

2   The American people wanted to disentangle from the Bush-declared “War
on Terror” and ‘preventive’ wars.
2B. The Democrats gave us an expansion of the war in Afghanistan.

64% of the American people opposed expanding the war in Afghanistan

3   The vast majority of Americans opposed the transfer of taxpayer wealth to
cover private company debt – a la the bailout.
3B. The Democrats kept the six too-big-to-fail banks - they’re now bigger
than the ever before; the Democrats kept a huge grey area between commercial
and investment banking; the Democrats didn’t want to ‘punish’ the financial
industry - the financial industry is now more profitable than before and
bonuses are among the biggest ever.

Some talk in the press now about Obama and “Liberal Democrats” ‘over-
reaching’, etc. - No.

There is talk about Obama and the “Liberals” ‘not listening to the American

I agree Obama and the “Liberals” didn’t listen to the American people:

—72% of the American people wanted true health care reform and were
rebuffed (72% means lots more than “Liberals”, it includes Independents and
Republicans - but Obama and the “Liberals” were too focused on moving public
dollars to the health insurers to listen to the American people).

—64% of the American people wanted to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama and the “Liberals” left 50,000 in Iraq and have 130,000 in Afghanistan.

—Sorry I dont have a number on this, but a vast majority of Americans did not
want to have their money used to cover the debts of the private sector financial
industry. Obama and the “Liberals” released the second round of TARP.

Obama kept the Bush advisors in the two areas where people most wanted
change - “War on Terror” and the economy.

And then Obama & the “Liberals” stiff-armed the American people on just about
every other issue.

For me, the media is writing an obit on “Liberalism”, while in fact, “LIberalism”
was never the policy of these Democrats - neither Obama, nor the Congress.

The policy for Obama and the Democrats in Congress was:

A Help the private sector insurance companies by giving them taxpayer
supported premiums which they do not have to use to pay for health care for
people , but can use to line their pockets, market, advertise, sit on Boards to
deny coverage and raise rates, etc.

B Help the private financial sector by transferring their debt to the public.

C Help the mercenary/military corporations maintain their funding.

These are not “Liberal policies”; but they’ve been characterized as “Liberal”.

I remain a Liberal and will support any Liberal challenger to Obama in the
Democratic primaries for the Presidential race in 2012.

By standing on Liberal principles, we’ll stand a better chance in the coming
years, than by standing by the people who sold us out—Obama and the

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By mdgr, November 2, 2010 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

This is an eloquent and persuasive refutation of the two party system (and the Democratic Party’s Pipe Dream) from someone who should know.

At an emotional level, it’s much, much worse than just an “obit for our hopes.”

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By Mike Strong, November 2, 2010 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can’t get a darn thing, either on truthdig (player window goes black) or on the GritTV link (player window disappears). I don’t know whether that is a server problem, a player problem or just traffic. In any case, I really hate having to wade through video, which is a purely sequential medium, wasting my time. Just give me plain old text (i.e. transcript) which is the oldest Non-Linear data method on the planet and very rapid.


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By Lafayette, November 2, 2010 at 8:23 am Link to this comment


We have “pretend” justices; who are in reality more criminal than any appearing before them; “exploitation” is a CRIME; yet, this is the way “democracy” WORKS?

Good point. But, in order to have the Justice to which you refer there is first required the applicable laws as well as regulatory environment.

To wit:
•  America has comparatively fewer regulations that framework the work environment and worker rights.
•  The Supremes just gave corporations the very same “right of free speech” as citizens. This logic is perfectly aberrant. Money, unfortunately in American elections, not only talks but shouts.
•  Reckless Ronnie reduced drastically marginal and capital gains taxes that have fueled/motivated the crass greed on both Wall Street and Main Street.
•  Lead-head neutered the oversight agencies, meaning that any PotUS can obviate both the laws and established policy with total immunity. The PotUS simply puts a crony in charge of the Department of Justice who does his/her bidding. Which is what Lead-head did with his Justice Department.
•  There is no or very little political will for Social Justice in the US. And it can only come from the grassroots, where most people (I submit, don’t even realize what the words mean. Let alone express it as a need or desire.

But despite all that:
•  Justice has been effective in some notable BigBusiness / BigFinance cases, notably the Keating Five (of which there is a certain John McCain), ENRON, Milken, et al - which have been prosecuted and led to convictions.
•  But the monetary incentive to manipulate dangerously either corporate accounts or national markets is great – due to very light income and capital gains tax rates. Which is why economic rewards “trickle upwards”, thus defying “gravity”. This gravity can only be brought about by increasing taxation—which is anathema in the US.

And all this leads to what conclusion? In a democracy, the political class is a reflection of its constituency. Meaning, change can only come at the grassroots level.

Given the likely outcome of the midterm vote, it is evident that the grassroots has no burning need for reform and the likely hardships that real reformation would necessitate.

So, Uncle Sam will muddle through until the next calamity occurs.

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By ardee, November 2, 2010 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

mdgr, November 2 at 12:02 am

Kudos for an excellent, and perceptive, post.

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By Lafayette, November 2, 2010 at 7:22 am Link to this comment


Fast Track to Inequality

When people don’t get it ... repeat it ... and repeat it ... and repeat it.

“The truth is often not obvious to dense minds.” (Lafayette, 02 Nov. 2011)

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By gerard, November 1, 2010 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment

By the time tomorrow is over, millions of people will be more aware than ever before of the unfairness of corporate funding of elections.

Challenge:  Why not take advantage of this widespread awareness to mount a serious public effort to reform the way elections are financed and get rid of the domination of the rich by enforcing public funding, and revoking the Supreme Court ruling in favor of corporate funding.

It’s a golden opportunity.

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By mdgr, November 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

In this interview, Robert Scheer is very honest about his own history of political naiveté.  But yes, he is slowly coming around, although in a classically “liberal” and emotionally dissociated way.

I am still sensing a kind of “signature” trait in his presentation that seems to pull back at the edge. He connects the dots intellectually, and he knows where they lead. But the buck stops with Obama and the Democratic Party. At what point, I wonder, will he pull out all the stops and tell it like it is? Not just with intellect but also with commensurate feeling.

Meanwhile, we continue to have a website for progressives with the likes of Dionne, Robinson, and a majority of two party political apologists, wherein one side always demonizes the other in a spectacle of endless diversion and blame.

True, Mr. Scheer has called the two party system a sham. True, he has called Larry Summers a crook. But, still, in this interview, I sense that Scheer is worldly-tired.

Intellect always trumps emotion and for whatever reason, he is as yet unable to fully articulate the pent-up rage that, I am guessing, he simultaneously feels down-deep, in an almost inaccessible place.

Perhaps, in this respect, Chris Hedges serves as a kind of alter ego. Hedge’s power of analysis and grasp of history is no less astute than Scheer’s, but everything he says is grounded in feeling, every word he utters is grounded in heart.

Many readers of Truthdig, however, seem to clamor for diversion and solutions. Awareness is not enough for them, it seems. They insist that there be an Easter Bunny, or failing that, at least the promise of a Santa Claus.

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By fearnotruth, November 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

The heart of it: “we’ve been lied to.” and, you were both suckers for Obama while
never ever even for a second considering the overwhelming warnings, e.g. “Obama
the Postmodern Coup - The Making of a Manchurian Candidate,” Webster Griffin

You’re both too afraid of your media images, book deals and book tours.
Suggesting that our political system is in the pocket of a shadow gernment (which
you both know is true), is just too much - CHICKEN SHITS!!! the both of you!

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By bEHOLD_tHE_mATRIX, November 1, 2010 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We have an inverse progressive criminal justice system in the U.S….. the greater the crime the less the punishment.

Steal the world economy and watch your net worth skyrocket.  All made perfectly legal with a modest investment in a few pols.

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