Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Barack Obama: like Ike?

This article*, which likens the leadership style of Barack Obama to that of Dwight Eisenhower, elicited two comments from me, although each appeared in the context of a reply to another reader’s comment.

From left: Barack Obama and Dwight Eisenhower

Twins? Barack Obama and Dwight Eisenhower do not discuss the military-industrial complex since somebody would be embarrassed.
[ Image Source ]

The first reader predicted that Barack Obama would end as one of history’s greatest presidents. I was a bit skeptical:

As president, Barack Obama has never shown sufficient resolve, fortitude or forthrightness to stop a Republican majority in one house of Congress from defining the nation’s agenda while the White House backpedals. This does not suggest greatness to me.

Obama may — if he digs in and defends the rights of the middle and working classes, vigorously punishes polluters, protects the environment, regulates the bankers, and starts to fight in earnest and with all the tools at his command against a hubris-ridden kleptoplutocratic aristocracy — one day hope to regain the respect of progressives and to be remembered as a competent and essentially decent leader. Let him fail in any of these things, and he will go down as yet another imposter.

Another reader imputed to The Atlantic a liberal bias. This “liberal bias” is a popular fallacy on the right — ironically fostered by a right-leaning corporate media environment — which I felt necessary to refute:

As a longtime journalist, I look into the pages of the Atlantic, and I see not a trace of “liberal bias.”

To me, it looks like yet another representative of the corporate-funded mainstream media, with opinions running the gamut from M to Q — in which both M and Q may be considered liberal or conservative, but neither thinks to question certain central assumptions that define a corporate-dominated United States. What sorts of assumptions these will tend to be can be easily inferred. You need merely ask three critical questions: Who owns most of the media outright? Who buys the advertising on which the media depend for most of their revenues? And are corporations more likely to offer financial backing to journalists who praise them, or those who call them to account for their acts of moral putrescence?

From this follow certain other questions.

Imagine, for example, that you are a reporter for a corporate news magazine funded by ads from, among other sources, the tobacco industry. How do you think your career will prosper if you write stories that impute to the executives of that industry all the malign ingenuity that they actually demonstrate daily in devising new ways to package death and sell it to little girls? What if, instead, you dress up the story in specious objectivity and allow readers to believe that there are as many sound arguments for as against marketing tobacco to children? Which course will get you promoted, and which will get you eased off the staff as soon as a pretext can be found?

Now multiply this scenario by all the individual media outlets belonging to the five corporations that essentially own journalism in the US, and you begin to see why there is nothing liberal about the corporate-owned, advertising-dependent media. They are uniformly authoritarian and center-right on an already artificially narrow US political spectrum, and their ideologies stray never a step outside the bounds set for them by a corporate mammonolatry ultimately bent on arrogating to itself all wealth, all political power and all access to wholesome air, water and food.

*Originally published as a review of an Atlantic article equating Barack Obama with Dwight Eisenhower.

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