Monday, April 10, 2017

Neoliberalism Flying High? April Elections in U.S. & France

It would've been hard to imagine last November, following Hillary Clinton's spectacular defeat by a reality TV star, that the corporate wing of the Democratic Party would be flying so high in April. Then, post-election, the widely held and uncontroversial conclusion was that Hillary lost because she was too close to Wall Street, too rigid a practitioner of "identity" politics and too hawkish. The only prominent "Not My Fault!" note struck was to blame FBI Director James Comey for reopening the investigation into Clinton's email less than two weeks before election day.

How times have changed. Just one example is today's "Gabbard takes heat from Dems for skepticism of Syria chemical attack" by Mike Lillis writing for The Hill:
Powerful liberal voices are calling for the ouster of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard over the Hawaii Democrat’s vocal criticism of last week’s U.S. strike against the Syrian government.
Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Neera Tanden, head of the Center for American Progress, both took to Twitter to bash Gabbard for what they see as a shameful defense of Bashar Assad, the Syrian president long accused of brutal attacks on his own people in the country's ongoing civil war.
They’re urging Hawaii voters to replace the third-term Democrat in 2018.
“People of Hawaii’s 2nd district — was it not enough for you that your rep met with a murderous dictator? Will this move you?” Tanden tweeted.
“This is a disgrace,” Dean echoed. “Gabbard should not be in Congress.”
You'll recall Tanden as the bitchy star of the Podesta Emails and Dean as the disgraced faux-populist candidate from the 2004 Democratic primary. What is happening is that the corporate Democrats are exterminating the peace wing of their party. All Gabbard has said is that no proof has been provided that the Syrian government is responsible for using chemical weapons at Khan Sheikhoun. That's it. But for this Dean and Tanden say she has to be rubbed out. This is evidence that we are living in a closed society.

Matt Taibbi predicted that this would happen, just not so soon. He was speaking more in terms of the next presidential election.

How have the Wall Street Dems been able to turn things around in a mere six months?

By engaging, with the fulsome support of the mainstream media, in a neo-McCarthyism so pervasive and devoid of content (instead of microfilm in a hollowed out pumpkin, we're supposed to sustain ourselves with Fancy Bears and office visits from Serge Kislyak) that it has to be classed as the most astonishing feat of propaganda in the 21st century, surpassing even the invasion of Iraq. (Today The New York Times announced that it has won a Pulitzer for "Russia’s Dark Arts: An investigative series on Russia’s covert projection of power.")

We'll see if this corporate McCarthyite rebirth of the Democratic Party has any pop at the polls when a special election is held next Tuesday in Georgia's 6th Congressional District to fill Tom Price's seat. Young spooky elite Jon Ossoff is running as a Democrat, and he has garnered an enormous amount of prestige press, partly because he has raised the unheard amount of money -- $8.3 million. The race is being spotlighted as a bellwether of the anti-Trump "Resistance."

Commentators have opined that Ossoff has to win more than 50% on April 18. If not, and he ends up in a one-on-one runoff with a Republican, he'll most likely lose. It is after all Newt Gingrich's old district.

Recent polling gives him a chance, a remote one, to win it all on the first ballot. I'm looking forward to a little schadenfreude at the neoliberal's expense.

The Sunday after the special election in Georgia's 6th CD the French hold the first round of their presidential election. The National Front's Marine Le Pen has had a brutal go of it lately. During last week's presidential debate, Le Pen was attacked as an out-of-touch elite by a Ford factory mechanic Philippe Poutour running on the New Anticapitalist Party ticket. The story received a lot of coverage. Now, after an interview Sunday, it is the old Holocaust-denial bugaboo that doomed her father.

All of this obscures some devastating appraisals of neoliberal savior Emmanuel Macron that have appeared lately. Not in mass publications mind you. But all -- "The Macron Phenomenon" by Christakis Georgiou writing in Jacobin; "Big Stakes in the French Presidential Election: Governance Versus the People" by Diana Johnstone writing in CounterPunch; "Candidate Macron" by Jeremy Harding writing in London Review of Books -- paint a very similar portrait of a technocratic shape-shifter spawned from the womb of France's corporate-liberal elite and whose mission is to erase the age-old left-right divide through some alchemy of propaganda to empower a new popular party -- with a mass base of support -- for the 1%.

This picture of Macron is so consistent, so easy to understand, it is hard to see how it doesn't filter down to the 99%; hence, the recent fusillade against Le Pen.

A silver lining is the recent surge by Communist Jean-Luc Melenchon, who polls show has replaced Francois Fillon for the number three spot behind Le Pen and Macron. Is it too much to hope for the Communist to knock off the neoliberal?

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