Sunday, January 03, 2010

Left Wing Radical?

It really is a perfect illustration as to how far to the right America's national political dialogue has shifted in the last thirty years that anyone can say with a straight face (as Mitch McConnell did only last week) that President Obama's is the most radical, left wing administration in American history. For anyone with a clear grasp of reality (and history), this one doesn't even come close to passing the giggle test. Left wing radical? Yeah, right. And I'm Josef Stalin. Has Mitch ever heard of something called the New Deal?

Barack Obama is - at best - an ever-so-slightly, left-leaning centrist. He is not a Liberal. Neither were Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter for that matter. With Democrats like these guys, who the hell needs Republicans? The last true "Liberal" to occupy the Oval Office was Lyndon B. Johnson. Had it not been for the Vietnam war (which irreparably harmed his legacy) Johnson, I believe, would today be remembered as one of the greatest presidents of the twentieth century - second only to the heavyweight champion of American Liberalism, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


The New Deal was packed-to-the-rafters with Left Wing Radicals. These were men (and one woman - Francis Perkins) with a serious agenda. Their main concern was for the welfare of the common man and woman. Not until (and not since) Johnson's Great Society a generation later would the betterment of the American people be the chief focus of the executive branch of our government.

There aren't many people left who even remember the Great Depression. All but a few of them have since passed on. A child born on the day the stock market crashed in 1929 would have turned eighty this past October 29. The problem is that hardy anyone alive today has a first-hand appreciation of what true progressive policies might mean for this doomed country - if only they were allowed to be put into practice in 2010. Liberalism saved America once. It could do it again. If only....

If only we who are blinded by the extremes which now run rampant through our national political discourse could wake up to the possibilities of real government "of the people, by the people, for the people", we might actually see the day where we become that mythical shining city on a hill. At the moment I'm not too optimistic. It's going to take a catastrophic shit storm to wake this silly country from the coma it's been snoozing under for the last three decades.

If only the electorate would come to appreciate the fact that they have been played for suckers by both parties for too many years to even count. The politicians don't even try to hide this fact anymore. They know only too well that the "informed citizenry" envisioned by the likes of Jefferson, Franklin and Adams are too obsessed with their ipods and reality TV shows to give a hoot-in-hell about the workings of their representatives.

If only the silly American people would stand up and heed the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence:

"Governments are instituted among men [and women!], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it...."

If only we could have kept our government out of the hands of blind reactionaries, hellbent on the accumulation of financial profit for the very few at the expense of the needs of the many.

If only assholes like Mitch McConnell would just go away.

A year ago tonight I was looking forward with great anticipation to the presidency of Barack Obama. I thought that this may very well be the "new age" that I have been looking forward to for most of my life. What a difference a year makes. Thus far, as you might imagine, I have felt let down by this president. That is why it is so funny to see him labeled by the Right a "radical socialist". If Obama were half as radical as the Conservative media is trying to portray him, people like me wouldn't be one tenth as disappointed in him as we are.

Don't misunderstand, I am still grateful that he was elected last year. I thank God every day that John McCain will not be sleeping in the Executive Mansion tonight and that Fascist Barbi will not be a heartbeat away from the presidency. While it is true that he has not yet given us the "change we can believe in", it is still too early in his term to make any final assessment. There is some time for optimism - although that time is dwindling rapidly. Still, the alternative to Obama's election last year is just too weird to even contemplate. We should be grateful for that - I guess - and for the fact that Dick Cheney is no longer running the country. Oh, and speaking of Dick Cheney....

"As I watched the events of the last few days, it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think that if he has a low-key response to [the attempt to blow up an airliner] that we won't be at war."

Richard B. Cheney

GOOD NEWS! Someday Dick Cheney is going to go away, I promise you that. Is that the best argument du jour he can come up with regarding Obama - that he does not express sufficient emotion or anger? That he is too cerebral? Isn't that what we want in a president? In this way he is much like Jack Kennedy. The angriest statement JFK ever made while president was when he lashed out at "the utter contempt" of the executives at U.S. Steel toward the American people. But even in this instance, Kennedy's tone was measured and restrained. He was not a man given to freaking out. Seriously, would we like a repeat of the shoot-from-the-hip, cowboy idiocy of the Bush/Cheney years? Look at all the good that did us. Obama's seeming, contemplative demeanor is one of the things about the man that reassures me. Call it a silly quirk in my psychological make up, but I like my presidents to think things through. What can I tell you, I'm kind of funny that way.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said of the American Plutocracy, "They hate me and I welcome their hatred." Obama needs to take a cue from FDR. Instead of trying to "reach out" to the right wing, he needs to understand that they are not his friends; that their political fortunes rest on a single strategy: that his administration is a complete failure. They don't care a thing for the welfare of the people they are supposed to represent. The only thing that concerns them is the corporate constituency they act as handmaidens for. You would think that after almost a year in office the president would have learned this lesson, wouldn't you? Perhaps he has. We shall see.

Tom Degan
Goshen NY


Obama's Challenge
by Robert Kuttner


At 6:00 PM, Blogger SJ said...

Thank you.
It's just McConnell's way of trying to call Obama a Pinko without looking like an out of touch dinosaur. It's just another distraction ploy for the people. Trouble is, it always works with some of the American population.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Lesley said...

Well said. Most of my friends are conservative christian tea-bagger types who keep insisting that the radical Obama administration is leading us down the road to (gasp) Socialism. I just roll my eyes and groan.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Not meaning to be rude, but I've found all too common the incorrect and wholly inappropriate interchangeability of the terms 'Socialism', 'Communism' & 'Marxism' in the US - indeed, they are used as synonyms; usually through general ignorance or (if you're Fox) entirely perniciously.

This has helped explain to me the worrying-if-they-weren't-so-comical events of the Teabaggers' collective. Alas, the residual Cold War paranoia on the Right in the US is palpable.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Chris said...

It's because the right doesn't know what these words mean!! It's hilarious!
I sooooooo agree with this post, but it is only the first year of Obama's presidency, and I am trying to think positively!!!! Lesley, we may not be able to give up eye rolling and groaning for a while though!!!
Keep up the great writing, Tom!!!

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Lydia said...

. . .Obama's seeming, contemplative demeanor is one of the things about the man that reassures me. Call it a silly quirk in my psychological make up, but I like my presidents to think things through. What can I tell you, I'm kind of funny that way.

So much of everything hinges on his "contemplative demeanor."

Brilliant commentary. Have you been contacted by any major newspapers yet to syndicate your blog onto their websites?

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Obama the center-right corporatist will always reach out for unity with his Republican radical-right corporatist colleagues. They are fundamentally working for the same Big Money elites.

He has had plenty of time to show his true colors. I would be happy to be proven wrong, but I won't hold my breath waiting.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Dear Lidia,

Alas, no newspapers or magazines have contacted me. I suppose that my destiny is to languish forever in the blogosphere.



Tom Degan

At 6:47 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Tom, on some levels Obama was bound to disappoint a lot of people because he came into office with more expected from him than any other president in my memory. Given the criminal excess of the Bush administration, everyone who voted for Obama had their own agenda that they expected him to tackle first and were looking for immediate sweeping change which is simply not going to happen, not even if Jesus came down to run the country.

However, looking back over his first year he has accomplished a hell of a lot; certainly more than Bush and Co and others accomplished their first year and this in spite of the fact that although he attempted to reach out to the GOP, they rejected every god damned overture he made to him. And they have become irrational and contradictory in what they claim to believe and stand for. They have an obsessive hated for this man and will do everything they can to fan the flames of discontent. The GOP would rather see a complete collapse of this country before they would do anything to be a part of the solution.

The best thing that we as concerned people can do is write: write constantly to these elected assholes of both parties and tell them how we feel. Addresses for everone in Congress is only a Google away.

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I think that President Obama's contemplative nature is exactly what is needed. He must be doing something right (no pun intended) based on both the far left and the right wing are disappointed so far.

At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to say this, but I hope you'll stay away from newspapers and magazines! They'll sensor your radical transparency into a coffin within a month.

I've almost stopped reading about american politics in newspapers since discovering your blog; here I get more honest food for thought than most places... Plus, it is a far more witty read than anywhere else.

Thank you.

At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom wonderful post not that I would expect anything less. I'll be browsing your blog with great anticipation. desidid

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Frank Fisher said...

Tom, did you get your pamphlet from Mayor Bloomberg before writing this? I'm not saying that I think you're high, but....

Come on Tom, Obama has surrounded himself with whackos for years, i.e. Ayers, Van Jones, Kevin Jennings, Rev. Wright, Michelle..oops shouldn't have typed that last one, but you understand what I'm saying, don't you? If you are surrounded by radicals then you get labeled as one too. But you gotta admit the guy does more than just lean left. Just be thankful that Joe Biden hasn't started to rub off on him yet so people could be refering to him as a dim bulb.

I don't doubt FDR's sincerity about taking care of the folks, just like I don't doubt Obama's, but it certainly didn't get us out of the depression and the ideas being thrown about now are suspect at best.

Your comments about the government of, by and for the people can be realized. That can happen when those of us on both sides of the aisle finally decide to take back our government by limiting the number of terms these folks get. Then once the political power players are gone we can sit down and work out what needs to be done for this country.


At 7:25 PM, Blogger Oso said...

I continually have this discussion with teabagger coworkers, pointing to Obama's corporate friendly policy and claiming it's Wall St calling the shots-how can they possibly call this socialism ?

Excellent column.

BTW, I'm the guy who invented dipping french fries into catsup. Never got the recognition I deserved.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

I have hope that Obama will get tough. I find his penchant for reaching out to his enemies (read Republicans) admirable in an individual, but disastrous in a president. You are so right; they are out to destroy the man and if he handed them all the gold in Ft. Knox (Is there any gold still there?) they would still sabotage all of his efforts and call him a fool.

The fools are the ones who believe Mitch McConnell and his ilk.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this rant. Obama is definitely not a left-wing radical. It looks to me that he is more than right of center.

And mitch mcconnell is an idiot. Actually, worse, a hypocrite. When did the republicans ever reach out to democrats during the entire time they controlled the white house or congress. When I hear his bloviating on NPR, I switch stations.

You are right about the American public: brain dead. Too much electronic crap buzzing in their brains all day long and too much stupid reality TV at night.

American politics: a blood sport for as long as I can remember. It may have been more civil 40 or 50 years ago, but the gloves came off during the reagan administration and it has been a continual, slow descent into the muck of the abyss
since that time.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Saltwater said...

Good article, Tom. Wish the MSM would write clear and sensible stuff like this. But that would presuppose a non-controlled, non-propaganda press.
It's scary what the "right" is doing, criticizing Obama for not being hawkish enough, when in fact he is a whole lot more hawkish than the people who elected him wish, and is continuing the illegal wars of aggression started by Bush 2 the Idiot.
I voted for Obama, but can't watch him any more any more. And for the same reason I quit listening to either Bush: because I hate being lied to. I can't stand it when someone tries to pull the wool over my eyes. One more president who claims to love peace, while bringing death and pain to some "foreigners" somewhere. I really hoped for better from Obama. He's had a year to prove himself and has proved himself to be a con man, in my opinion, following instructions, either willingly or, perhaps, under threat. Maybe he thinks "I can get through four years and do a little good, and be set up for life, if I don't upset the bosses."
Bush started the wars easily enough. Obama could end them. He doesn't want to. Perhaps he should be considered as much a traitor as Bush, for continuing wars which are by their very nature the "supreme war crime" according to the international laws of war our country used to support.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Maggie M. Thornton said...

I agree with you about the New Deal. The difference is, we recognize it now. We know it when we see it. If the press had been talking about it, Obama would have had a much more difficult time getting to the Oval.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Oh, where to begin.....Obummer as I now call him is not a radical nor left wing. He is an establishment hack like all the others have been. Sorry if this insults " Progressives " but what you folks call " The Left " in my opinion is still quite establishment. A real " radical " is someone like Abbie Hoffman ( who I greatly admired, rest his soul ). We need a complete revision of the misguided capitalist mentality which relishes competition at the expense of humanity. Hey, when you are playing with a stacked deck it's fun to be the dealer. For the other 99% of us it's not fun constantly being shitted on. Obummer is a bullshit artist plain and simple. What Amerika really needs on election day is a voting choice as follows: This system is broken. All these candidates are terrible choices, therefore I vote for no one. Then I'd like to see what the establishment would do when " no one " gets the majority of the votes !! Now that would be true citizen participation in government !!!

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Hey, Ellis....

Steal This Blog.


Tom Degan

At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom I think you are running behind looking for a new post. Get of you Azz and get with it. Its a new year you are slacking. Let your cat feed himself, and get with the program, start blogging. You know me Elsie's.

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're the fucking man. I would've believed the cheez whiz thing if you'd just left it at that.

At 6:12 AM, Blogger Term Papers said...

I really like this blog, It's always nice when you can not only be informed, but also get knowledge, from these type of blog, nice entry. Thanks

Happy New Year, hope u had enjoy the whole occasion.

Term papers

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Jimmy Carter has become much happier now that he knows he will not be America's worst POTUS.

Chris Dodd has been thrown under the bus like a lot of the CZARS put in place to bypass congress.

Rahm is talking about leaving to be mayor of Chicago.

The Obama ship has hit an iceberg and is taking on a lot of water.

I hope you got the change you wanted Tom.

- Archie Bunker NYC

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Dear Arch....

I got plenty of change but not quite the change I wanted.

Still, it is way too early to write the final chapter on the Obama administration. We shall see.


At 11:56 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Brilliant, as always.

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt put hundreds of thousands of Japanese people in interment camps during WWII citing "National security".

A commission in the 70s revealed this not be true, that it was actually done for racist reasons.

FDR was a pig of a man.

Also, if you're still rooting for Obama........well have fun with that. It may only have been a year since he's been in office, but his actions speak pretty solidly for what kind of government he will be running. Another way to put it is "Four more years", something my friends often told me to keep me from voting for him. I did anyway and I already regret it. Obama is a corporate whore....PERIOD.

Also LOL at "tea-bagger" comments. Continue to marginalize the movement and it will cost the democrats dearly. Who thought that liberals were BIGOTS!?

At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whew...more of the same. arguing over who is a better socialist, or a better democrat, or a better republican...while we all get fucked by government. Sooner or later you'll realize the same thing I did...that freedom is the only thing that really matters. When I say "you idiots" I mean ALL you idiots...obamatrons and mccainiacs alike.


At 10:28 AM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...


Ah, the anonymous Libertarian fringe speaks!

Alas, 'Libertarians' are just confused and underdeveloped Republicans - only with fewer redeeming characteristics and a woeful lack of any social graces.



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