Steve Hammer Commentary 3/3/09

Obama’s enemies are our enemies

Why right-wingers are frightened

By Steve Hammer



Our new president is under attack. You can’t turn on the television or listen to radio without hearing some politician or conservative talk-show blowhard trashing President Obama.

Rush Limbaugh, the de facto head of the Republican Party, has expressed his hope that Obama fails. Former Vice President Cheney has severely criticized the Obama foreign policy. And Indiana’s own mini-Limbaugh Congressman Mike Pence has also emerged as an opposition leader.

For a few moments I was disturbed by the fact that so many people seem to hope Obama fails and that the country winds up in the toilet.

Then I realized that the people who are against Obama are the same people I’ve been fighting against my entire life. Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and Mike Pence represent the conservative white power structure at its most sordid.

And guess what? They’re scared to death at the moment because everything they’ve worked for all their lives is endangered and about to be eliminated. Conservatives are happiest when the nation is in a state of permanent war and when our economy is designed to keep our rich people rich and make our poor people even poorer.

All of that is imperiled by the presidency of Barack Obama. Halliburton no longer has a board member in the White House. The defense contractors who made billions during the Iraq war will have took elsewhere to sell their goods. The wealthiest 1 percent of people won’t continue to get unfair tax advantages.

No wonder they’re angry and afraid. They have good reason to be upset because the deck is no longer stacked in their favor. The preferential treatment they’ve received since 1980 is over. Reagan is dead and buried and so are his ideas.

But it was the Reagan revolution that gave so much power and wealth to those who were already plenty rich and powerful. Reagan’s deregulation boom eliminated many safety oversights and worker-safety rules, meaning millions more in the pockets of the fat cats.

Reagan’s union-busting philosophy took hold, denying millions of hard-working Americans the right to organize in the workplace and bargain with their employers for fair wages and benefits, causing a seismic shift in this nation.

And it was the Reagan-Bush expansionist, militaristic foreign policy that not only cost the lives of thousands of Americans, but also emboldened our adversaries, leaving us vulnerable to terrorism at home and abroad.

Yes, the forces aligned against our president are strong and powerful. These opponents have a nearly unbeaten streak of stripping away freedoms, causing economic devastation and waging unnecessary wars.

And these enemies of the people – for there is no other way to describe them – are gearing up for battle on every conceivable front. Our country desperately needs to reform its labor laws and the Employee Free Choice Act would do that, allowing workers to join unions free of the repressive hands of the bosses.

Big business will do everything it can to destroy this vital legislation. The medical establishment will pull out all the stops to keep health care out of reach for millions of citizens. The military-industrial complex will do whatever it takes to keep the machinery of war humming along.

There’s a difference this time, though. We now have something this country has never had before – a president who is on the side of the weak and powerless. Barack Obama, unlike any president since Lyndon Johnson, is determined to open the doors of opportunity wide to all Americans, not just a wealthy few.

And this president enjoys such widespread support that nothing short of a military coup can stop him. Rush might have a few million retirees, shut-ins and traveling salesmen on his side, but Obama could draw a million people just about anywhere he goes.

As the skipper said himself on Saturday, “I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this: So am I.  

 “The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t.  I work for the American people.”

That’s what got the conservatives frightened to death – and that’s what should bring the rest of us great cheerfulness and optimism. God bless America.