Barack Obama is under fire by some (but not nearly enough) Americans for accepting $400,000 as a speaking fee from an investment bank called Cantor Fitzgerald. Many self-described “progressives” are feebly suggesting that Obama’s decision to take the money is “troubling” and “distasteful.”
Obama doesn’t give a damn what any of us think, because he quickly accepted an additional $400,000 for yet another speech to an advertising group.
Of course, Obama’s horde of liberal apologists have rushed to the defense of their Glorious Leader. Around my office, people are complaining that people are complaining about Obama. Go to the comments of HuffPost’s article about this, and you’ll hear the same arguments as my coworkers are making: Obama can make his money however he wants. He is a private citizen now. It’s none of our business. He needs to support his family.
First of all, Obama left the White House with a net worth of over $12 million. He will receive a pension of $200,000 per year for the rest of his life for being president, and before the speaking fees came to light, he and Michelle signed a book deal with Penguin worth around $60 million.
Stop saying that he “needs the money.” You sound absolutely f***ing ridiculous.
More importantly, however, the issue with Obama taking $400,000 in speaking fees from Wall Street has almost nothing to do with optics. Yes, Obama has left the White House and no longer affects policy.
Don’t you understand that that is entirely the point?
Flash back to 2008. Wall Street had just played a major role in crashing the world economy with their illegal and immoral behavior. No Republican had a chance in hell of being elected that year, but during a heated Democratic primary, the “populist” candidate Barack Obama defeated the “establishment favorite” Hillary Clinton with a platform that was further to the left.
What the country wanted was clear. Major Wall Street reform, prosecution of the bankers, strong economic regulations, and worker-friendly policies were on the menu, and Obama was chosen because the country thought he was the man for the job.
Don’t we all feel stupid, now? We should.
Of course, some people picked up on this right away. But liberal America as a whole was too swept up in the euphoria of electing the first black president, of the end of the Bush years, and of the promise of a new future to pay close enough attention to what our hero was doing.
Obama failed to break up the big banks (they’re bigger today). He bailed them out and neglected to prosecute a single white collar criminal. He tapped corporatists Dodd and Frank to craft the new regulations, which ended up hurting the country’s poorest, especially African-Americans. He expanded our imperialist activities to a whopping seven countries. He became the first Nobel Peace Prize recipient to bomb another Peace Prize recipient.He became the first president to prosecute journalists under the Espionage Act. He oversaw the legal suspension of habeas corpus. He tortured Chelsea Manning, and executed American citizens without due process. He didn’t even try to pass single-payer universal healthcare.
Here, I’ll let Jimmy “Arm the Poor” Dore lay it out:
Obama was a failure. He is a war criminal and deserves to be locked up alongside George W. Bush and all the rest of them for the rest of his life. In a sane world, nobody would celebrate a murderous sociopath like Obama simply because he’s “graceful” and “classy” and “friendly.”
But that’s the problem. Every president is guilty of some war crimes. Every president is a friend to Wall Street, because if they weren’t, Wall Street would not exist.
Somebody named Daniel Gross offered up a defense of Obama that is absolutely ludicrous on its face:
“…it should be obvious that Obama isn’t getting this absurd-sounding amount for reasons of crony capitalism: He was no friend to Cantor Fitzgerald while he was in office. And Cantor Fitzgerald isn’t a particular friend to Obama. (In the 2016 campaign cycle, Chairman Howard Lutnick gave $25,000 to Jeb Bush’s PAC and a mere $2,700 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.)”
First, Cantor Fitzgerald is worth billions of dollars. They’re doing fine.
Secondly, what does it tell us that their CEO gave money both to Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton? Sure, he gave Bush more, but he still gave Clinton’s campaign directly the maximum amount possible. One doesn’t give money to a political party that will not be friendly to them; this supposition simply boggles the mind. (And before you go accusing me of conflating Obama and Clinton, keep in mind that it was Gross that did that and I’m only using his logic.)
Last year, I wrote an article in the Huffington Post criticizing Obama for his handling of the Scalia vacancy, where I stated that it was emblematic of his failures as a progressive (this was when I still identified as a progressive). He has always been a centrist, friendly to capital and big business, with policies clearly opposed to the benefit of working people and the poor.
I was pounced upon and insulted with such vitriol that even I was surprised. I was accused many times of being unintelligent, and assured that Obama was a “chessmaster” who was playing a long con that I was too simple to understand in order to squeeze progressive gains from a hostile Republican party. Obama only seemed like a centrist corporate stooge, you see, because he was playing the part of a centrist corporate stooge.
This $400,000 vindicates me, and all the rest of us who called out Obama’s sham progressiveness. The working class is in desperate shape. People all across the Western world are revolting against neoliberal capitalism, and all the while, Obama and his millionaire and billionaire donors are getting richer and richer.
This absurd (not absurd-sounding) sum of money is nothing more than a “Job well done,” from Wall Street to Barack Obama.
So yeah, I’ll say it: I told you so.