Barack Obama will be paid $400,000 to speak to a group of finance capitalists. The only thing shocking about the announcement was the reaction from his horrified worshippers. The Obama campaign marketing team should be proud that their salesmanship is so long-lived.
There were millions of people under the illusion that Obama would represent their interests. He didn’t, of course, and for one very simple reason: he wasn’t hired to work for them.
The ruling classes, the One Percenters, the Lords of Capital – call them what you will – make the hiring decisions and keep giving out bonuses to the men who do their dirty work.
It makes sense
Of course Obama is getting paid. Wall Street and the banks got their bailouts, and then some. They weren’t prosecuted for their crimes which led to loss of jobs and homes. Obama kept giving and they kept taking, and now it is payback time.
Obama is just the latest president to get his unjust reward. The speech at a Cantor Fitzgerald event typifies what former presidents do. So do former prime ministers and presidents of other countries. The capitalists move their capital around the world driving cities into bankruptcy (Detroit) or even nations (Greece) without fear of any hindrance. In return, the compliant politicians are well cared for.
Cantor Fitzgerald describes itself as a “capital markets investment bank.” Its chairman and chief executive supported Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican campaign and John McCain in 2008. The payout to Obama proves that the big-money people ultimately can live with Republicans or Democrats. Why shouldn’t they? They get what they want, no matter who is in power.
Barack and Michelle Obama recently signed a $65 million book deal; some people are asking why that isn’t enough. That is a good and legitimate question, but as is always the case with Obama, the naysayers are shouted down as haters or racists.
“White presidents get paid; the first Black president should get paid, too.” So goes the shallow and pathetic defense.
“Grow up. Be realistic. Don’t be naïve.” If those words were a call for true understanding of how the world works, they might be worthwhile. Instead they are used to defend the indefensible – the fact that the people have no say in their sham political system.
An ‘errand boy’
The critics who clutch their pearls need to wake up. Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was a thing of marketing beauty – that is to say, it was full of lies. All the talk of “movement politics” was a joke. Obama was and is the latest errand boy for big money, but he was hyped as a change agent working for our benefit.
The paychecks from book deals and speeches aren’t the only ways that ex-presidents make a fast buck. Bill Clinton’s “foundation” was an influence-peddling slush fund which made him very wealthy. Obama is subtler and probably won’t do anything so obvious. He’ll get big money for his presidential libraries and anything else he desires.
But he’ll also be very serious about helping the Lords of Capital. That is why he has returned to public life as propagandist in chief, lecturing us about the evils of fake news. He must keep rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic that is capitalism and tell us to believe him and not our lying eyes.
This pattern exists all over the world. Former United Kingdom prime minister Tony Blair has also enriched himself after leaving office. His current task is trying to undo Brexit and the inconvenience it is causing the One Percenters.
Something to discuss
It is good thing IS that Obama was so obvious in genuflecting to the people who make everyone else’s life miserable. He may have provided an opportunity to change the level of discourse.
The fact that his defenders so casually shrug their shoulders and defend kleptocracy ought to be debated. The notion that elected leaders of a supposed democracy should so openly be on the take must be strongly disputed.
The question should not be whether Obama ought to take money from his bosses. The question is why they are his bosses at all.
Not the last
Obama will not be the last commodified candidate used to get popular support for a rotten system.
There are more Obamas in our future. They will help the rich get richer, while sleight of hand gives the appearance of working for the needs of the people.
That wouldn’t happen if those claiming to be in a state of resistance really meant it. But bringing down the house of finance capital is not a task for the faint of heart, or for those confused about how their country and the world really work.
Margaret Kimberley’s column appears weekly in BlackAgendaReport.com. Contact her at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.com.