Big Money’s Obama
Last week, in an utterly unsurprising story, the president of the United States appointed a crew of rich friends with Wall Street ties to key government posts, some of them major fundraisers and donors to his campaigns. They hardly made major headline news—the payback game is an old, old DC tradition—but these nominations underscore again just how empty all of Barack Obama’s lofty promises to change the political culture were.
Obama’s populist shtick was more pronounced in the 2012 election than it was back in his first presidential campaign (even if he left the most gut-wrenching indictments of Mitt Romney’s business record to his nominally independent Super PAC, Priorities USA), so the speed with which he has reverted in the early months of the second term to shamelessly currying favor with entrenched financial interests is jarring. After opportunistically latching on to the rhetoric of anticapitalist movements worldwide, Obama’s 99 percent-loving campaign has given way to an administration that revolves around an all-too-familiar brand of capitalism—and capital-obsessed neoliberalism. Once upon a time, Obama was apparently devoted to reining in the influence of money in politics, but after a couple of elections and some time inside the machine, hedoesn’t seem to care about it at all. Instead of fighting against casual corruption, he’s been implicit in it.