Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama’s game is to move inexorably into Republican territory, putting his own brand on austerity, militarism and the growing police state.”

The Republican presidential primaries drew on the metaphor of the Etch A Sketch, that 1960s children’s plaything that allowed kids to instantaneously erase what had been drawn or written on a page. American presidential elections, stage-managed by money and refereed by the corporate media, produce a kind of Etch A Sketch effect: in an instant, history is erased, and the sheet is wiped clean for the candidates to write on.

Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats under her leadership have a lot of Etch A Sketching to do, to keep pace with the steady rightward movement of their party and their president. They are immeasurably assisted in these maneuvers by the Republican troglodytes, especially vice presidential pick Paul Ryan, whose damn-the-government-to-hell budget makes President Obama appear like a friend of working people. It provides a perfect camouflage for Democrats to adopt positions they had only yesterday rejected as unthinkably rightwing. This, of course, has always been President Obama’s game: to move inexorably into Republican territory, putting his own brand on austerity, militarism and the growing police state, until the Republicans have nowhere to go but off the cliff, like Wiley Coyote.

Nancy Pelosi, who in a long ago time was co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, and who opposed the recommendations of President Obama’s Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission as “simply unthinkable” two years ago, now says she supports it.

Simpson Bowles was really Obama’s vision all the time.”

The evolution of her thinking is quite simple. With the Paul Ryan budget now indelibly stamped onto the Mitt Romney campaign, the way is clear for the Democrats to move another step to the right and embrace Simpson-Bowles $4 trillion in spending cuts that will eviscerate what’s left of the social safety net. Which is what President Obama offered the Republicans, last summer. The Republicans didn’t take Obama’s offer, because it included modest tax increases and cuts to the military.

The current speculation – and I think it’s correct – is that Obama will again offer the deal to the GOP right after the election. And, why not? Simpson Bowles was really Obama’s vision all the time: the austerity plan he had in mind when he announced, two weeks before taking the oath of office, in 2009, that Social Security and all other entitlements would be on the chopping block. Back then, the Republicans were in no shape to do any pushing, having just suffered a whopping electoral defeat.

It was Obama who put austerity on the Democratic agenda. He has always been determined to forge a Grand Alliance with the GOP. The trick has been to make his war against the poor appear to be a “compromise” necessitated by Republican meanness and intransigence. Nancy Pelosi and the rest of Democratic leadership act as magician’s helpers in this performance, edging ever further to the right side of the stage. At the end of the show, the audience thinks they’ve witnessed some kind of victory for the little guy. The President will once again pull Simpson-Bowles out of his hat. The flim-flam man does it again!

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20120822_gf_Pelosi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45pm EST