Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's Time for Obama to Come Out fighting

by Norman Markowitz

There is a fine article by progressive critic Frank Rich in today's New York Times calling for Senator Obama to begin to go after John McCain.

That should be a no brainer. McCain represents an administration that even centrist analysts have put on the short list of the very worst in U.S. history. His militarism is unabashed. He hasn't a clue to the way a large majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck on the installment plan. He is still "Johnny McCain" trying to prove to everyone that he is right and they are wrong and he can beat them in any game of chicken whoever they are, the Iranians, the North Koreans, the Russians.

Obama must lead in bringing the fight to McCain and the Republican right, throwing them back on their heels by making it clear over and over again that this election is about a chasm of inequality obscured by a mountain of public and consumer debt, a government which has literally sold out the American people to transnational corporations, banks and insurance companies, and military contractors--a government that has fought wars for oil and profit and is now putting up as its presidential candidate a man who is likely to fight wars for the hell of it.

This is the best way that Obama can challenge the racism that remains the Republicans ace in the hole--by pledging to the people that he is much closer in his values and aspirations, in the struggles that he has experienced in his life, than Bush or McCain or Cheney.

The nomination of Joe Biden, a traditional liberal Democrat is a good start. But Obama cannot make the mistake that John Kerry made four years--that is, letting the convention become an infomercial, and then waiting while Bush and the Republican Right took the initiative. He should use the convention to showcase the campaign, to appeal to the "righteous anger" of the millions who supported him in the primaries, win over the Clinton supporters who share much of that anger against the Republican Right, and go on the offensive until election day, regardless of media criticisms. Rich cites a study that 72% of media coverage of Obama has been negative, only 28% of the coverage positive, continuing a very old tradition, going back to the late 19th century, where the great majority of the press at first and when it came into existence the electronic media supported Republican presidential candidates over Democratic ones (with Roosevelt it was over 80 percent) and usually the more conservative of the candidates in primaries.

This is Obama's election to win; labor's election to win; all progressive groups election to win. But militancy along with flexibility is the path to victory, not compromise and consensus with a right wing political machine that has no respect for either and which views politics as search and destroy military exercises.