Behind Bars

Obama: Clinton With a Tan

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

As rumblings of discontent arose in the wake of the extension of the Bush era tax cuts by the Obama administration, President Barack Obama pulled out his secret weapon: former President William Jefferson Clinton.

Clinton before a bank of microphones is always a sight to behold, for few politicians have his peculiar mix of pure intelligence, down home folksy charm and sheer performance skills.

It is a measure of our politics that the system elected a man who was virtually a Clinton clone: born to poor and working class people; educated in Ivy League schools; advocates of globalism and neo liberalism, and servants of the business class.

When we recollect the acrimony and bad blood that flowed between the two camps during the campaign, and the post election integration and indeed immersion of Clintonites into all levels of the Obama administration, why should we be surprised when the president runs into a bad squall, and he calls out Bill Clinton?

Bill Clinton, perhaps the most talented politician of his generation, was also Salesman in Chief of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the pact that dealt a body blow to the very same working class that would be implored to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008. We have forgotten the almost comic H. Ross Perot, the Independent who opposed Clinton and Bush during the 1992 and ‘96 elections, based primarily on his anti-NAFTA stance. Perot warned, in so many words: if you pass that NAFTA, all you’ll hear is a giant sucking sound of jobs and manufacturers goin’ to Mexico!

People laughed at his Texas twang, his big ears, and his lack of height, while Bush and Clinton pooh-poohed his warnings as silly.

We live now amidst the post-NAFTA carnage that has brought mass disaster to both countries.

Only the rich and super rich benefited from NAFTA, as workers in the USA adapted to the new and grim economic realities, and workers in Mexico either joined the burgeoning drug industry or fled to El Norte (to the US) to find work in the fields of agriculture or carpentry.

It is therefore fitting that Obama would call in Clinton, for the man who could sell ice to the Inuits, or sand to the Saudis, can surely sell the perverse notion of tax cuts to billionaires...right?, December 17, 2010