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Hullabaloo


Saturday, August 29, 2009

 
And That's The Way It Is

by digby

Bill Moyers is a DFH. I'll let Howie tell you about it:

Last night Bill Maher welcomed Bill Moyers to his show by calling him "the Conscience Of American Journalism." Moyers explained the narrowly focused Republican strategy of obstructionism-- defeating anything and everything that Obama tries to do so that they can defeat him electorally in 2012. The problems of American families are not a priority to the GOP; defeating Obama is their only goal. His regard for the Democrats isn't much higher.

The first time I ever mentioned that Rahm Emanuel-- then a sleazy rep from Chicago relatively new to Congress but already heading the DCCC/now Obama's all-powerful chief of staff-- was the Tom DeLay of the Democratic Party, a ton of Democratic bricks landed, metaphorically, on my head. I wasn't the only one who had looked into this particular heart of darkness but there weren't many who realized that Emanuel represented not Democrats, but the historically always-present forces that seek to maintain the status quo on behalf of wealthy elites. Normally this is accomplished on a bipartisan basis. Inside the Democratic Party, Emanuel is the tool, or, rather, one of the tools. Last night Maher called him out as the bane of progressive health care reform. No more White House Christmas cards for him.

Moyers pointed directly to Emanuel targeting the same progressives Blue America and a wide coalition of netroots activists are thanking for standing up for the public option with a very different message: "sit down and shut up."

The Democratic Party has become like the Republican Party-- deeply influenced by corporate money. I think Rahm Emanuel, who's a clever politician, understands that the money for Obama's re-election will come primarily from the health industry, the drug industry and Wall Street. He is a corporate Democrat who is determined that there won't be something in this legislation-- if we get it-- that will turn off those powerful interests.

[...]

There’s this fear that Barack Obama will become the Grover Cleveland of this era – Grover Cleveland was a good man, but he became a conservative Democratic President because he didn’t fight the powerful interests – people say Obama should be FDR – I’d much rather see him be Theodore Roosevelt --– Teddy Roosevelt loved to fight – … I think if Obama fought instead of really finessed it so much . . . I think it would change the atmosphere.


I second that emotion.

And coming from a man who worked for LBJ during Vietnam, this is even more meaningful:

MAHER: What do you think of Obama's policy in Afghanistan – you were around for the Vietnam debate and the escalation -- it may have been why you left the White House?

MOYERS: I’d think it would be a tragedy beyond description for this young, bright, exciting President to be drawn into an endless war in the same way that the last young, bright, exciting President was drawn into – intervened in Vietnam. I was there when Kennedy chose to send advisers to Vietnam – and was there when LBJ escalated – they both acted from noble intentions – actually they did – they wanted to stop Communism in Asia and spread democracy – but the advisers soon became bombers and the bombers became grounds troops and pretty soon, it became a regional crusade – and 12 years later, billions of dollars, and millions of lives later, including 60,000 American troops – we lost – because the U.S. is not good at that sort of thing.

Here Obama has 68,000 troops over there and the Generals are asking for another 20,000 -- maybe 30,000 more troops -- saying it’s not enough. The military and the hawks will always say "not enough." Obama has to say "enough" -- or he’s going to be drawn into it.


(That's not looking so promising at the moment.)

These comments left Maher uncharacteristically quiet. (I suspect he didn't expect Moyers to be so candid.) And I have received a bunch of emails from people celebrating Moyers' comments. They are worth celebrating:





It's one thing for shrill bloggers like us to point out that DLC corporate politics are poisoning the Democratic agenda and that the national security hawks are once again taking a promising Democratic president down the garden path. It's quite another for a mainstream liberal of impeccable credentials and strong moral authority like Bill Moyers to say it so plainly on national TV.

It's the political equivalent of Walter Cronkite speaking out against Vietnam. If Obama doesn't think his base is seriously unhappy, he'd better think again.



Update: Moyers' own show last night was also great, concentrating on the problem with health care. At the end, he said this:

BILL MOYERS: MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE, a film produced by Alex Gibney, Peter Bull and Chris Matonti; directed by Andy Fredericks; and based on Maggie Mahar's book of the same name.

Log on to pbs.org and click on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL - Maggie Mahar will be there to answer your questions online. We'll link you to the Money-Driven Medicine website where there's more info about the book and the film. We'll also link you to some analysis of what advocates of reform are up against in taking on the health insurance industry, the drug lobby, and the Wall Street equity firms.

Take a look at this recent cover of BUSINESS WEEK. Reporters Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein write that the CEO's of the giant insurance companies should be smiling - their lobbyists have already won. Quote: "no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable."

And remember that television ad Barack Obama made as a candidate for president?

BARACK OBAMA: The pharmaceutical industry wrote into the prescription drug plan that Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies. And you know what, the chairman of the committee who pushed the law through went to work for the pharmaceutical industry making $2 million a year. Imagine that. That's an example of the same old game-playing in Washington. I don't want to learn how to play the game better. I want to put an end to the game-playing.

BILL MOYERS: Now look at this recent story in the LOS ANGELES TIMES. Lo and behold, since the election, the pharmaceutical industry's $2 million dollars a year superstar lobbyist Billy Tauzin has morphed into President Obama's pal. Tauzin says the President has promised not to pressure the drug companies to negotiate with the government for lower drug prices and has agreed not to allow cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada or Europe - contrary to the position taken by candidate Obama…

Each of these stories illuminates the scarlet thread that runs through Maggie Mahar's book - the story of how today's market-driven medical system gives Wall Street investors life and death control over our health care, turning medicine into a profit machine instead of a social service to meet human need. That's the conflict at the heart of next month's showdown in Washington.



h/t to TomJoad

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