Obama Lacks Populist Policies

Obama Lacks Populist Policies


PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network.
I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. For another take on last night’s debate between
President Obama and candidate Romney, we’re now joined by Jeff Cohen. Jeff is the author
of Cable News Confidential. He cofounded the online activism group RootsAction.org, and
he previously founded FAIR, which most people know. Thanks for joining us, Jeff. JEFF COHEN: Great to be with you. JAY: So how did you react to the debate? COHEN: Well, I was trying to watch the debate
as if I were a swing voter. Paul, you and I have talked about swing voters in past interviews.
You know, swing voters are not ideological. Some of them are not that well informed, they
pay attention near the end, and they go back and forth. That’s by the nature–that’s by
definition why they’re swingers. And if I was a swing voter, I would have seen
one candidate holding himself out as an agent of change, a compassionate conservative. That’s
how Romney presented himself, that we’re on the wrong path, the current path isn’t working,
we need a new path. And against Romney was sort of a bewildered incumbent that was stammering
for words, wasn’t very clear, seemed to be responding to Romney from the right and from
the left. And if I was a swing voter, I would have been pretty–I would have been attracted
to Romney as the agent of change, whereas Obama seemed to be the agent of the status
quo. And for swing voters, the status quo has not
been working–you know, for decades, real wages down, insurance, homes under jeopardy.
So I really feel that Romney is able, in trying to go after those swing voters, at making
that point that he’s the agent of change. And, frankly, the status quo isn’t very good
for working-class and middle-class Americans. JAY: I was kind of surprised that President
Obama wasn’t able to, you can say, think on his feet. His game plan clearly was to try
to fight the Romney who had campaigned in the primaries, the Romney that picks Paul
Ryan as the vice president. In other words, the Romney who doesn’t have any interest in
compassionate conservatism is–you know, comes on as an unabashed hard-right conservative.
And then Romney shows up, as you say, as President Bush ran in 2000. And Obama couldn’t adjust
to that, and he just seems completely befuddled. COHEN: Yeah. I–well, it’s–I agree with that
100 percent. He couldn’t adjust. He didn’t know how to respond. And what you need to defeat Romney in a debate
is you need to have at least one populist bone in your body. But Obama, who’s spouting,
you know, truisms or cliches that aren’t so true, like the genius of America is the free
enterprise system, you know, an Obama who’s spouting that kind of rhetoric and really
can’t do populism has lost your main weapon against a guy like Romney. And Obama, you
know, to the degree that he tried a populist instinct that was sort of making fun of Donald
Trump and talking about tax breaks for corporate jets and the oil and gas–you know, the oil
subsidies, these are all peripheral issues, and they came across as peripheral, and Obama
came across as halfhearted. The way to defeat Romney is to say he’s an
agent of the 1 percent. The problem is that Obama’s policies for years have really helped
the top 1 percent and have not been that great for middle-class Americans. So he’s in a bind.
He doesn’t have a record he can point to. And when he did point to health care–you
know, among the reasons Obama was defending his health-care reform is that it had been
originally a Republican idea and private insurance companies got more customers. I mean, he just
didn’t make the sale. The status quo is bad. Romney seemed to acknowledge that. Obama didn’t
seem to acknowledge it. JAY: I was talking earlier to Vijay Prashad,
and he made a good point that there was this moment that if Obama was kind of real and
genuine in that space and not so scripted, he clearly would have said, I want an America
where there is a place for Big Bird. I mean, he had such a moment there. But he’s–all
he went in was, I can’t make any mistakes, I have to stick to the script. And even though
the thing was unravelling in front of him, he’s–I guess he’s such a pragmatist that
he thinks this script works and he couldn’t relate to the moment. COHEN: I think you’re right. There were many
openings. He could have brought up the 48 percent comment. He could have brought up
the offshoring of taxes. You know, that was so obvious. And there were just a lot of options
he had, as I say, if he has a populist bone in his body. But Obama is very comfortable [crosstalk]
the center. He’s very comfortable with Wall Streeters. That’s why he filled up his economic
team with Wall Streeters. He’s not that comfortable. We’ve been hearing for months, oh, Romney
can’t appeal or reach out to the middle-class person. I’m not sure Obama’s ever been good
at it. And, frankly, when you’ve been the president for almost four years, you have
to have policies that help the middle class, and he really can’t point to much. JAY: Okay. So let’s assume that Mitt Romney
is the leader of one section of the elite and President Obama represents another section
of the elite. Then if you live in a swing state, do you make a choice between them or
not? COHEN: It’s my belief–my view is you don’t
throw away your presidential vote. And if you’re in one of these twelve swing states,
these battleground states, these close states–everyone knows what they are; it’s Florida, North Carolina,
Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Colorado, Iowa; there’s twelve of them–if
you live in those states while Obama’s policies on bloated military and endless war and abridging
civil liberties, he basically doesn’t have much of an environmental policy, if you’re
upset with Obama, you have to understand that Romney on every one of those issues–war,
civil liberties, environment, taxes–is even worse. So I would say, don’t throw your vote
away in the swing states. It’s only a dozen of them. Vote against the right wing and what
a right-wing regime would be by voting for Obama-Biden. But if you live in the 38 safe states where
the difference is going to be 15 points or more and where one or the other party doesn’t
even go into the state and campaign or buy commercials on TV, if you live in one of those
38 states, I would say don’t throw your vote away by voting for Obama-Biden when, if you–and
as progressives, most progressives disagree with Obama-Biden on war, on the civil liberties,
on environment, on the fact that, you know, Wall Street got bailed out but the middle
class didn’t and they’re losing their homes. I think that in both safe states and battleground
states, don’t throw your vote away. If you live in one of the 38 states [crosstalk] JAY: What do you make of the argument that,
first of all, there really isn’t that much difference in policy between the two? And
there was some of that in the debate last night. In fact, the moderator had to [incompr.]
kind of finding, well, so you guys do disagree on this, don’t you? And the number of times
Obama said, well, Mitt Romney and I agree on this, but–the argument goes that there
really isn’t that substantive a difference between them, and that by having Obama as
president, some people argue, it kind of disarms a lot of the opposition to these policies,
because–amongst the African-American community and other elements, that they don’t want to
take on Obama the same way they would a Romney. COHEN: There’s no doubt that there’s often
more activism when a Republican is in power, as opposed to a Democrat who’s governing with
Republican policies. The reality is that if the Romney regime gets in, Iran will be immediately
more dangerous than it is now–and it’s already dangerous. Our biggest military budget in
world history that Obama gave us is going to grow by $2 trillion. You know, we know
that as bad as Obama’s policies are, they will be worse under a Romney regime. That’s
why in those twelve states I think you have to vote against a Romney right-wing regime. But in those 38 states, which includes New
York, California, most of New England, the northwest, the Deep South, Texas, those states
are completely safe. We know who’s going to win them. So that’s where you register your
protest that you do not support the status quo, you do not support the Obama status quo.
In those states, you shouldn’t throw your vote away by voting for a Democratic Party
that you disagree with. So, I mean, it’s just called strategic voting:
vote differently depending on what state you’re in. JAY: Alright. Thanks very much for joining
us, Jeff. COHEN: Thank you. JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real
News Network.

Posts created 22783

50 thoughts on “Obama Lacks Populist Policies

  1. Mike Hudson was so right when he said Obama is a brand that the progressives were sold on although his policies are right wing. He's there to reduce the opposition/democrats disgust to the right wings neoliberal economic plan while delivering the same plan but with a happy face on it. We are being dismantled by the money interests by either party just more slowly by the democrats. Hudson is so right we are bailing out the 1% and will be left with austerity once they get their money back.

  2. I'm pretty sure i know what's going on and i refuse to believe I'm a genius. Now why is it that Paul and that other guy doesn't get it? …or are they pretending?

  3. Real News keeps ignoring the obvious alternative to either Obama or Romney: Gary Johnson. You folks seem to be deaf & dumb to both our civil liberties & fiscal crisis. Wake Up!

  4. I agree with your take on the debate but the fact remains neither candidate has any interest in the working class, plain and simple.

  5. This is what happens when you try to serve two masters. Jill Stein is the obvious alternative. There is no fiscal crisis as long as your central bank holds all of your public debt. There is a PRIVATE DEBT crisis from decades of false demand from private commercial bank credit/debt $ registering fake demand in the economy. Government spending adds to private savings. The national debt is basically a hoax/see modern monetary theory (MMT) or look at Japan-world's #1 creditor with 200+%dbt/GDP.

  6. Obama Lacks Populist Policies!?! When was the last president that actually had genuine populist policies??? Anyone have an idea and an example?

  7. This is what happens when you drink the 2 party kool-aid. If liberals held true to their principles and criticized Obama over the past 3 years, then maybe Obama would have had to respond positively to them. If Romney wins, conservatives will be similarly disappointed in him.

    VOTE 3RD PARTY — not the lesser of two evils. Make the politicians come to us, not the other way.

  8. "I guess he's such a pragmatist, that he thinks the script works, and he couldn't relate to the moment." 4:36

    Sure. Why should he doubt the script now? He's scripted his entire adult life to become President. Living a script works, provided you're the type of sociopath that can pull it off.

  9. Democratic parties manifesto: "Your gonna get fucked either way might as well vote for the guy who's gonna let you buy plan b in the morning. "

  10. On the contrary, they've both been quite successful. If you believe the gov't is made to serve your interests, then the failure is all yours.

  11. Thanks for the half-truths. Better luck next time.

    Gary Johnson is merely another 'lesser evil'.

    There is a sane alternative, but it's not obvious to you.

    Cheers.

  12. Do you believe corporate taxes are too low? More importantly, why did you wait so long to give up on this election? Where have you been this century?

  13. Yah that whole Nonsense "We the People" is just tomfoolery! I think government should provide Defense Courts Infrastructure And Police to administer the Law Equally To all people and businesses no trick regulation or Loophole laws to advantage one over another. Republicans & Democrats have been successful at what? Graft bribery nepotism insider trading selling out Americans for profit? When the trains of Socialism & Military Budgets finally meet in Bankrupt junction are we Saved or Screwed?

  14. Theft and murder, of course. These are the only functions not available to a free market. Gov't is a license to initiate force and take other's property w/o permission. Both Republicans and Democrats have been enormously successful at this. It's just what gov'ts do.

    So like I said, the failure is all yours.

    Your thoughts are no less tomfoolery than those of the pundits and the poiticians. Respectfully, you suffer from an advanced case of Stockholm Syndrome. The good news is that it's curable.

  15. I wouldn't say no, but that is not at the top of my list. That said, I have almost nobody who knows what love is, but that is another story. Why do you ask?

    And what do you want?

  16. Well I asked you First what you want but specifically how do you think Society should deal with Individuals and communities as they interact and come to conflict do you have a structure known as a Government or something else?

  17. According to Cohen if you live in a non-swing state, don't vote for obama & vote 3rd party. But if you live in a swing state then vote for obama.The problem with this approach is IF it catches on it would turn non-swing states into swing states! DUH!
    And then what? Wouldn't everyone who was advocating this approach have to turn around and say "nevermind. too many people agree with us, let's go back to just voting for the dems because we're a swing state now?" IT'S ABSURD.How can he not see that?

  18. Real wages have to go down. The American economy has reached an equilibrium. Our GDP is still holding at about 2. The per capita for each American is almost 49,000.00.I don't like Obama, but the economy will be fine as soon as investor confidence improves. Half the economy is run on pure emotion. People that feel good, spend money.

  19. And, labeling a potential presidential administration a, 'regime' is polarizing. So much for balanced news. Is there fair and balanced news anywhere on this planet? sigh…

  20. Cohen starts by saying that the swing voters are few in non-swing states but numerous in swing states. He wants Obama to win in swing states but he wants the margin of victory in non-swing states to be much closer (remember the "swingers" are too few to swing in non-swing).

    It sounded like Cohen wants to sound a warning to the political parties not to take voters (swing state or not swing state) for granted.

  21. I share your frustration with getting balanced news. What I tend to do is watch both ends of the spectrum and follow up with my own research. We really cannot trust everything we see on "news" or "interviews". Even the refereed journal articles can be biased. In the end, we have to think for ourselves if we do not want to be sheep.

  22. You can't answer any questions and your philosophy on your tube site is so squishy it is sad. Societies all ways have internal conflicts of ego and desires accidents and negligence. Then they have external conflicts over resources and cultural differences with other groups. How they handle all that I call Government.

  23. Actually, you can't ask a real question (and you haven't answered any, either). Which societies attack each other? Got an answer? Disagreement and friction always abound, but societies are not attacking each other with lethal force. Without government to defend organized crime, this would be even more transparent.

    So the failure is still yours.

    The government is not designed to serve your interests. The sooner you realize the truth, the sooner you'll quit playing your 'blame & complain' game.

  24. Corruption and failure are two very things, kiddo.

    Like the Drug War, the two parties has been hugey successful.

    It's all about theft and murder … a well-oiled machine.

    The government does not work for you.

    Why do you fear freedom?

  25. Your a pathetic Religion pedler I have asked real questions and you dodge them like a politician. I have asked you what would you do instead of government or what type and get nothing but bullshit.

  26. Religion? You're all over the map, aren't you? Which religion am I peddling? From where I sit, it seems that you're the religion peddler. The State is your God. Talk about pathetic! Pure Stockholm Syndrome … you can't imagine a life without your captors.

    So, if you have a clear question, then ask it. I do not wiggle. As your questions lack clarity, I must start there. If your argument is that government prevents conflict, then you don't understand how the world works.

    You have much to learn.

  27. Theodore Roosevelt and the Bull Moose Party for one.
    It hasn't always been the Democrat and Republican parties in control. Numerous parties have come and gone. Time for the Republicrats to do the same.

  28. I understand all that.
    My point still stands. IF his method catches on to any great extent it would necessitate ppl turning around mid-election and saying "nevermind now don't vote for the 3rd party because now too many ppl have listened to us and are going to vote for 3rd party in our formally non-swing state."
    It's a convoluted voting strategy that if adopted by anything but a tiny minority of ppl would result in ppl pledging to vote one way and then b/c of THEIR actions reversing themselves.

  29. Do you really think that all of our presidents have been related? I find that extremely hard to believe. And even if it was true, who cares? King John died in 1216 and at this point would have tens or hundreds of thousands of descendents. How close are you with the descendents of your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather's brother's descendents? Not close at all. Assuming a cabal of related presidents as the source of our problems is just silly.

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