There are two Obamas: the one as a progressive candidate, calling for immediate change; and the other as a conservative Democrat, appointing Wall Streeters as his top economic advisors. The campaigner speaking on behalf of Main Street; and the President catering to Wall Street.
What follows is a selective, partial, loose “transcription” of Cenk Uygur’s thoughts on the two Obamas.
Cenk Uygur: I want to discuss something that Arianna Huffington brought up on the Huffington Post: Obama versus Obama. The campaign Obama, whom we all like and was a wonderful progressive; we didn’t agree with everything that he said on the campaign but overall we take it; in fact, that is how we voted. Governing Obama, a little different.
Now we put together here a compilation of the two different Obamas. Watch for yourself.
[While campaigning for President, Obama said about Guantanomo:]
Obama: We are going to lead by shutting down Guantanomo and restoring habeous corpus in this country.
[But while governing as President, Obama said about Guantanomo:]
One way where we have fallen short is closing Guantanomo. I wanted to close it sooner; we have missed that deadline.
[While campaigning for President, Obama said about the Washington Wall Street insiders:]
You understand that in this election the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result.
[But while governing as President, Obama said about the Washington Wall Street insiders:]
Larry Summers also brings a singular combination of skill, intellect, and experience to the role that he will play in our administration.
[While campaigning for President, Obama said about changing the way Washington works:]
I am running because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now, because I believe that there is such a thing as being too late.
[But while governing as President, Obama said about changing the way Washington works:]
I always believed that this was a long-term project.
It is going to take more than a year, it is going to take more than two years, it is going to take more than one term. It probably takes more than one president.
Cenk Uygur: The fierce urgency of now. How do we get the campaign Obama to become the governing Obama?
Dean Obeidallah: …I don’t know if it’s possible frankly, Cenk. There is so much involved in our form of government that involves compromise….It’s going to take time. He’s a president; he is not a king…It’s give and take with Congress…It’s a different reality.
Cenk Uygur: Not buying it….If it was just, what could I do? I couldn’t close down Guantanomo because the Republicans blocked it. Then I would say that’s perfectly fair.
During the campaign he said that “I am going to double down on Afghanistan”, I think that’s fair; I don’t like the idea, but that is what he said during the campaign.
But there are so many times, when nominating Elizabeth Warren, he said “I can’t do it, the Republicans are blocking it,” but then he does a recess appointment anyway.
So he says I can’t get the public option because we can’t get past the filibuster. They didn’t get past the filibuster anyway; they only needed 50 votes, they didn’t do the public option anyway.
So many times he makes a choice. Larry Summers during that clip: oh, I don’t want the same old guys. Here’s freaking Larry Summers, who started the recession in the first place in a lot of ways.
So I don’t know. Laura, let me get your thoughts on it.
Laura Bassett: …But there are decisions that he made as President: Larry Summers. Congress did not have a knife to his throat telling him that he had to appoint Larry Summers for that position. There are certainly ways that he could have compromised less and been a stronger President….
Cenk Uygur: I don’t think he even meant it [his campaign promises]. I think his fundamental misdirection—and I am being kind here—was when he said we are going to change the way Washington works. If you think you are going to change the way Washington works, and you appoint your economic team of Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, you re-appoint Ben Bernanke, Peter Orszag: every single guy on that is as guilty as possible on the Democratic side of starting the problem in the first place, then you have no intention of changing the way Washington works. No intention.
Dean Obeidallah: …He got there, things were different….There’s practicality….
Cenk Uygur: On the first day it was different?! On the first day he picked his economic team.
When you look at this intent issue, and you see the economic team and you see all the decisions that he made, do you really think that he thought that he was going to change the way Washington works?
I don’t know which side is really worse. If he is that naïve and thought, oh my God, I didn’t know that I was going to Washington. That’s crazy. Of course the Republicans are going to oppose you. You didn’t know that the Republicans are going to oppose you?! I don’t know what’s worse then: knowing or not knowing.
The Barefoot Accountant: Of course, President Obama never intended to change the way Washington works. Cenk Uygur is correct. There is too much evidence to the contrary, beginning on his first day in office, appointing all those Wall Streeters to his economic team.
Obama talks left, walks right. He walks right to the political donors on Wall Street. He is a politician first and puts his political and personal future before country and campaign promises.
Perhaps he learned the art of political livelihood from his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, who supported NAFTA, deregulation of Wall Street, and corporate America, at the expense of the middle class. Bill Clinton is very prosperous now, worth well over one hundred million dollars, far from the net worth of $250,000 when he first ran for the Presidency. Bill Clinton receives $100,000 to $200,000 for every speech he gives today, like the one he gave in Hartford, Connecticut yesterday. Over the ten years after leaving the office as President, Bill Clinton earned $75.6 million for paid speaking engagements, averaging $181,000 per event. One can only imagine how many millions Barack Obama will earn giving speeches after his term in office.
Not bad for representing the interests of Corporate America and Wall Street, is it?