Bipartisan Scam

IF THERE IS anything more iniquitous than the heartless Clinton budget deal, it is the craven capitulation of the congressional Democrats in accepting it. Brokered in part by ruling-class political pimp Dick Morris, the budget deal reflects the priorities of corporate America: tax breaks and continued subsidies for the rich that are paid for by the poor.

Remember that this budget was cooked up by the White House in secret negotiations with the Republicans from which House and Senate Democratic leaders were deliberately excluded. Yet, after a few feeble protests from Gephardt, Bonior, Obey & Co., the Democratic leaders in what is supposed to be the people's House--the lower chamber is Constitutionally required to initiate all spending measures--have caved in before the fait accompli.

Here we have yet another proof of the moral bankruptcy of contemporary political liberalism. Take, for example, Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, one of the most intelligent and articulate people in Congress. When the budget deal was first announced, Frank cracked at a press conference that he had sent a letter of protest to the "Democratic President" at the White House but it came back "address unknown."

However, on Sunday's Meet the Press, there was ol' Barney defending Bill Clinton on the hydra-headed corruption scandals, and pooh-poohing the blatant sleaze of the way in which Clinton financed his re-election from the coffers of the multinational mandarins of monied power--as if this had nothing to do with the Clinton budget. Paul Wellstone, the Senate's most liberal member, has also called this "a budget without a soul." Yet even Wellstone refuses to break with Clinton, for he fails to offer a systemic analysis of how it came to be.

The corporate takeover of the Democratic Party, presided over by Clinton, was long in the planning. It began some 15 years ago at a meeting in Maryland of fat cats that created the Democratic Leadership Council, which came up with the idea of the "Super Tuesday" primaries to give Southern conservatives a disproportionate influence on the selection of the Democrats' presidential nominee. Having failed to take over the party in 1988 when its candidate, Al Gore, proved to be a disastrous stiff on the campaign trail, the Democratic right succeeded when it harnessed its fortunes to the slick ambitions of Bill Clinton.

He was corporate America's perfect Trojan horse: His long fealty to the rapacious Arkansas-based conglomerates--Stephens Inc., Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, and the like--was cleverly concealed in a preachy cloud of populist-sounding rhetoric to win the nomination, but once he held the reins of political power, Clinton's real loyalties became clear. And the corrupt corporate-coddling that was the hallmark of Clinton's hold on Arkansas became the modus operandi of Clinton's White House--which served as the fulcrum for the destruction of everything the Democratic Party had pretended to stand for. By refusing to articulate a specific challenge to the corporate anschluss of their own party--the historical essence of Clintonism--the Democratic liberals have reduced themselves to impotence, and failed to provide a road map out of the morass. No wonder our politics is so flat.

Unless and until progressive political leaders begin to educate the electorate on how we got to where we are, it will be impossible to mobilize for meaningful changes in a system that replicates itself with ease regardless of the label on the party in power. Single-issue whining will not work. Nor will piecemeal programs that try to blunt the corporate political agenda get far without a rounded diagnosis of the underlying problems.

Clinton's co-optation of the Democratic liberals means that it will probably take another Great Depression before we see the rebirth of a genuine left in this country. And the bipartisan scam, of which the budget deal is a reflection, will continue well into the 21st century.

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