“There’s a Growing Sense Among Progressives [and Conservatives] That They Have Been Punked” → Washingtons Blog
“There’s a Growing Sense Among Progressives [and Conservatives] That They Have Been Punked” - Washingtons Blog

Friday, August 21, 2009

“There’s a Growing Sense Among Progressives [and Conservatives] That They Have Been Punked”

Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times yesterday:

I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions paying giant bonuses is playing. But I’ve had many conversations with people who voted for Mr. Obama, yet dismiss the stimulus as a total waste of money. When I press them, it turns out that they’re really angry about the bailouts rather than the stimulus — but that’s a distinction lost on most voters.

So there’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on the public option created such an uproar.

Krugman makes a good point. Progressives are furious that the giant gamblers which caused the financial crisis have gotten taxpayer money showered on them by the government, without any reform. (Whether Krugman's take on Keynesian stimulus is right or wrong is beyond the scope of this discussion.)

And Krugman is right that progressives are more sceptical of Obama's "public option" than they would have been if Obama hadn't so obviously sold out on financial issues.

Krugman's reference to Frank Rich, of course, refers to Rich's essay "Is Obama Punking Us?", where Rich writes:

Yet there is real reason for longer-term worry in the form of a persistent, anecdotal drift toward disillusionment among some of the president’s supporters. And not merely those on the left. This concern was perhaps best articulated by an Obama voter, a real estate agent in Virginia, featured on the front page of The Washington Post last week . “Nothing’s changed for the common guy,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been punked.” She cited in particular the billions of dollars in bailouts given to banks that still “act like they’re broke.”

But this mood isn’t just about the banks, Public Enemy No. 1. What the Great Recession has crystallized is a larger syndrome that Obama tapped into during the campaign. It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged — that, as the president typically put it a month after his inauguration, the system is in hock to “the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few” who have “run Washington far too long.” He promised to smite them...

What disturbs Americans of all ideological persuasions is the fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media. It’s a cynicism confirmed almost daily by events ... legitimate suspicions on the right and left alike that even their loudest public voices can be silenced if the business interests of the real American elite decree it...

[Obama's] first questionable post-victory step was to assemble an old boys’ club of Robert Rubin protégés and Goldman-Citi alumni as the White House economic team, including a Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who failed in his watchdog role at the New York Fed as Wall Street’s latest bubble first inflated and then burst. The questions about Geithner’s role in adjudicating the subsequent bailouts aren’t going away, and neither is the angry public sense that the fix is still in. We just learned that nine of those bailed-out banks — which in total received $175 billion of taxpayers’ money, but as yet have repaid only $50 billion — are awarding a total of $32.6 billion in bonuses for 2009...

The larger fear is that Obama might be just another corporatist, punking voters much as the Republicans do when they claim to be all for the common guy. If anything, the most unexpected — and challenging — event that could rock the White House this August would be if the opposition actually woke up.

So it is not just progressives that feel like they've been punked by Obama. Remember that many conservatives, mainstream Democrats, and libertarians voted for Obama as well. Conservatives, libertarians, liberals, progressives all feel like they've been punked. It is not a partisan issue.

Indeed, the only people who don't think they've been punked are:

1. The banksters, derivatives traders and others who have directly benefited from the bailouts and maintaining the broken financial system the way it is without any true reform


2. Those who believe the propaganda of group number 1.


  1. 'punked' is somewhat mild. the term I had in mind is the one that describes how you feel when you are violated repeatedly while anesthetized in your dentist's chair. yes, now envision your dentist has left, and a gang of street thugs are there, your hands are not able to move, your body is immobilized, and they're unzipping their pants and getting ready to serially rape you. that's right! just imagine Geithner, and Bernanke, skanky little dong'd faggots from Goldman Sachs, whipping out their puds and jerking off in your face with wild faggoty abandon while you lay back on that dentist's chair and can only watch in abject horror as they do this, and things you don't even want to talk about when you leave. add a Sibil Edmonds 'patriot act' gag order afterwards, and 'voila', you now kind of get the feel for what these son's of bitch's intent is, don't you?

    punked? naw, that term is way too lightweight and demure to get the true flavor of this butt fucking you've been getting at the hands of professional, trained thieves.


  2. Webster Tarpley incessantly warned us that Obama was a front for the same interests that gave us our current situation.

    Readers of sites like whatreallyhappened.com are disappointed no doubt, but not suprised.

    A Paul/Paul ticket (for example) next time would send the Obama Administration packing, imho.

  3. Cone on, havent you figured it already???? BOTH parties are the absolutely the same, they are just diff faces of the same coin, serving themselves first. How long is it gonna take you? US's 2 party system is the biggest lie presented to the American sheeple who have bough it hook line and sinker. The ONLY way USA sheeple will EVER have a true representative is to form a 3rd party, (something the "Democrats" are actively working against) but I don't see that happening ANY time soon.

  4. My dream team in the last election was Paul/Kucinich or Kucinich/Paul -- it really didn't matter who was on top of the ticket as long as both were Of the People and For the People. In the end I could only vote against the senile McCain and his imbecile sidekick. I came a hairsbreadth from voting for Obama, but couldn't suppress the gag reflex long enough to mark the ballot, so Cynthia McKinney got the nod.

    In a nation of 300 million souls, is this the best we can do? The word "leader" is stretched thin to describe these candidates. We are toast.

  5. Do Duhmerican'ts really believe they pick their leaders? Do Duhmerican'ts really think their leaders work for the best interests of the Duhmerican't people?

  6. Hope and Change my sticky rice! Hope was dashed when Obama began installing neo-CONS, neo-liberals and convicted criminals into his cabinet and senior postings. Further dashed when he doubled down on the worst of Bush's bullshit. Can't wait for Duhmerica to collapse under the weight of its lies!

  7. both parties are the same. they do the kabuki theatre shit to keep your and my eyes off the ball, but they're the reason we're in this boat. in the 1960's, and early 70's after Nixon got caught, there was a huge groundswell against governmental corruption and greed, with term limits being discussed and getting the money out of politics. Unfortunately, nobody, but nobody, followed thru with any of that, now here we are, nearly 50 sold out years later, wondering how we got here?

    the only way to fix this is to either bodily throw ALL OF THE POLITICIANS OUT, and I do mean, ride them out of town on rails with tar and feathers, or surround the Capitol Bldg. in Washington, D.C. and not let anything go in or out of there, demanding they all resign.

    if they don't, then it's time to lay siege to it. They can't kill 70 percent of 300 million of us, folks. They might try, but they can't do it.

    if they did that, there'd be no slave labor left to wait on them, hand over fist.

    IT'S TIME TO HAVE A REVOLUTION. really it's time.

  8. It's time for a revolution , your absolutely right. It doesn't have to be a shooting revolution ,it's much simpler than that. Read the first 100 pages of Web of Debt it lays out what a very small bunch of the really big money people intended to do to us. We have seen it demonstrated all through Latin America in the 80's.
    get us so deeply in debt that all our taxes goes to interest on the debt, we are there right now. Guess who gets the interest.

    So here's the plan gang. Stop having your taxes withheld from your wages, stop paying your taxes period, mail in all your credit cards (maybe you should max them out first) if your house is underwater mail them the keys. Oh shit, you say , you'll bring down the system. If you believe in Celente you know this is going to happen anyway. May as well have a little fun watching them poop in their pants as they leave the country.

  9. Thank you, GW, for this post. As a public school teacher of economics and government, I agree with the sentament of the first comment. I also note the increasingly emotional language from professional economists and the journalists who cover economics; that is, those who aren't the credentialed prostitutes covered by the seven corporations of our "mainstream" media.

    I use the term, "played" myself.

  10. this is the first time that i ever read a comment thread in which every person has finally awakened. Go Ron Paul 2012

  11. Krugman is a phony. A total and complete phony, since he has so little compassion for working citizens of the U.S. Just like Robert Reich, (who I actually used to respect)the dwarf in the Clinton Admiminstration, he's only worried that Americans will get jobs rather than illegal aliens. Why is Krugman so deluded about Wall Street. He isn't as stupid as he's acting, since he knows Obama's support came from Wall Street and it's payback time. These Democrats are just as every bit phony as the Republicans. They're always claiming the moral high ground is a big joke.

  12. One would have to assume that Acorn, SEIU and their cronies are included among those who believe the propaganda of group number 1.

    Have Gun; Will Travel

  13. I was a fan of Ron Paul. I say WAS because he had great momentum and then when he (predictably) didn't get the Republican nomination -- he just accepted it. Instead of running a third party campaign -- he just gave up. If you think your country is being ruined (as he claims) -- you don't give up when people around the country are sending you money and begging you to run.

    Maybe Ron Paul is the real deal -- but he doesn't have the guts to do what needs to be done, so people need to move on and find someone who does ... The two party system is rigged. Anyone who still accepts it is living in la la land -- Ron Paul and Kucinich included.

  14. You people should have all voted for RON PAUL It's so easy to see who is for us if you really listen.

    Unless It's a Ron Paul type candidate

    You know the truth when you hear it and that's why we are so passionate about him.

    Maybe someone will come up that is like him -America First! No income taxes, entangaling alliances etc ....

    Think of how your life would be if there was no income taxes, It would be like the 50's- They can't even fix the pot holes and rusting bridges but can erect new tolls and fancy tilt and pan cameras on the rusting bridges!!

    Anyone the media beats down should be the ones we look into..

    Our military is being used and abused

    Our families are being torn apart our good middle class jobs are being wiped out your 401k is smashed many have lots their homes. Many marriages are being wrecked people can't send their kids to college they won't secure the border. Obama says we are goin to keep looking for Osama up in them there mountains somewhere around Afganistan Pakistan Iraq and maybe Iran- Just like bush

    Obama is basically saying mission accomplished on the economy and that the recession is over!?!???? Wow

    He was picked out of college for his gift of the gab thats all!
    He is just a good infomercial guy! Well to be fair a very smart Infomercial guy.

    But non the less he was just propped up by all the usual suspects.

    The next election will be fixed I think cuz they know we know...

    When I say fixed I mean beyond anything they have ever done before..

    OR they will make up their own "Independent" candidate which we must be aware of.

    One last thing... Don't take the H1n1 shot!

  15. Obama didn't punk me. I knew he was a sellout who wasn't anything good he pretended to be to the left. I voted for McCain in the primary because he stood against Bush on the torture issue. I was punked because I didn't realize just how bad McCain was. I could have voted for Ron Paul had I known more about him and realized he was anti-torture. I didn't know I had a candidate I would have pretty much fully supported - and wasted my vote. If Ron Paul had been elected, we'd all be happy (I think pretty much) and none of us would have been punked.


→ Thank you for contributing to the conversation by commenting. We try to read all of the comments (but don't always have the time).

→ If you write a long comment, please use paragraph breaks. Otherwise, no one will read it. Many people still won't read it, so shorter is usually better (but it's your choice).

→ The following types of comments will be deleted if we happen to see them:

-- Comments that criticize any class of people as a whole, especially when based on an attribute they don't have control over

-- Comments that explicitly call for violence

→ Because we do not read all of the comments, I am not responsible for any unlawful or distasteful comments.