Last Updated:August 29 @ 11:39 am

Kenneally: Obama’s Politics Of Symbolism

By Ivan Kenneally

According to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama is considering soliciting corporate donors to help pay for his 2013 inauguration festivities. This would mark a significant departure from his insistence in 2008 that he eschew corporate contributions in order to symbolically showcase his political independence from monied interests.

The operative word here is “symbolically” since this grand gesture never amounted to much substantive sense. In 2008, a wilderness of corporations donated piles of money to a campaign that turned its nose up at public financing, after gaudily singing hymns of praise about its indispensability to democratic virtue. Were we to believe that Obama avoided indebtedness to them because they didn’t foot the bill for cake and streamers? Is he immune to corporate influence because some other interest paid for plastic flatware and finger food? And if that counts as evidence of his incorruptibility, why is he passing the proverbial hat around to them now?

The answer lies in the obsession the Democrat party has with the ostentatious show and tell of political symbolism. After the Supreme Court upheld the right of both corporations and unions to make independent political expenditures in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 2010, President Obama lamented the slow suicide of American democracy in terms worthy of Wagnerian drama: it “reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections.” This was not only constitutionally absurd–the decision had nothing to do with foreign corporations and left unrevised the strictures on direct campaign contributions–it never produced any crashing cataract of Wall Street spending on either candidate.

Why is this the case? Because for all the shrill grandstanding about the corporate sullying of genuine democratic representation, their contributions make little difference in most electoral cycles. Corporations are often reluctant to make significant donations to a candidate for fear of alienating customers, investors, and clients who might not share their political views. Also, despite the hackneyed caricature of the infamously incestuous relationship between big business and the GOP, corporation donations generally split evenly across party lines, neutralizing the potential for a meaningfully disparate impact.

In other words, whatever strain is placed on the democratic legitimacy of our elections by the hefty weight of campaign finance, corporations are not the primary culprit. However, Obama never points out that Citizens United also untethered union spending as well which does disproportionately sway election outcomes not only because it often outstrips corporate largesse, but because almost all of it finds its way into Democratic coffers.

Incidentally, unions did actually pay for much of Obama’s lavish 2008 coronation: does this mean he is politically indebted to them for their generosity? Yes, it does, in fact. But this patronage doesn’t count as undue political influence because it can’t be neatly nestled into Stalin-era rhetoric about the ferocious unfairness of capitalism and its robber baron advocates. And the quid pro quo between the Democratic party and unions really does undermine the integrity of our elections since their financial support is so often recompensed with taxpayer dollars, an unseemly collusion of labor lobbyists and politicians against the common citizen.

And while the liberal infatuation with “identity” politics is conventionally attributed to multiculturalist ideology, it’s effectively demanded by their attachment to incessantly aggrandized federal power. The growth of the state is marketed by liberals to each sliver of their constituency as the growth of each group’s collective welfare, making the infinite balkanization of the citizenry a political necessity. This is why Obama’s entire campaign strategy was to negatively depict Republicans as engaged in a war on this or that subgroup.There no longer are any overarching ideas that inspire them.

The problem with the Democratic preoccupation with symbolism, or their preference for doctrinal purity over practical policy, is that it’s no longer clear what doctrinal principles they stand for besides the infinite enlargement of government. One case in point: Liberalism today is reflexively enthralled by statism, despite its coming repudiation by the demographic future anyone can see just around the bend. Despite the daily specter of Europe rehearsing our fate in advance of us, drowning in big government commitments it hasn’t the funds to finance or the will to reform, Democrats press on undaunted, trading the nation’s solvency for their self-conscious shows of superiority. It seems to be a great consolation that they will drown in debt thinking well of themselves.

But the flashy advertisement of virtue is not the same as being virtuous. Running low on cash and abandoned by weary donors after a spectacularly expensive campaign, Obama will throw a sybarite affair underwritten by purportedly dirty corporate funds. It would be tempting to brand Obama a hypocrite for his grand reversal of principle, if he did, indeed, have any real principles to betray.

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Ivan Kenneally is Editor in Chief of the Daily Witness.

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23 Comments

  1. geoinsdComment by geoinsd
    November 27, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

    Remember, Obama has more flexibility after his re-election, his last election. He doesn’t care much how things look now.

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  2. bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
    November 27, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

    How about a third finger symbol on balloons, flags, hats, and hospital entrances?

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    • oleteabagComment by oleteabag
      November 28, 2012 @ 1:41 am

      That would certainly be “truth in advertising”, as it would accurately sum up Obama’s attitude toward the American people.

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  3. bna42Comment by bna42
    November 27, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

    “President Obama is considering soliciting corporate donors to help pay for his 2013 inauguration festivities.”

    I hope he does solicit corporate donations and I hope they all have the guts to tell him what he can do with his request. They should remind him that he has vilified them consistently for the past four years and their aid would be an act of hypocrisy since he encouraged the Occupy crowd to attack their corporations.

    I am sure his best pals, Warren Buffet, GE’s top executive, and his millionaire Hollywood buddies can afford to fund his party.

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  4. rosecoatsComment by rosecoats
    November 27, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    Will the 99% be allowed to peer through the windows to see how that elusive 1% lives?

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    • grinnin2Comment by grinnin2
      November 28, 2012 @ 1:12 am

      Yes. And that’s the part you hate the most. Even I met President Obama…my avatar is a photo that I took. The people’s president. Deal with it

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    • oleteabagComment by oleteabag
      November 28, 2012 @ 1:49 am

      To grinnin2:

      The people’s president — that is reminiscent of “the people’s Republic of China” and other Communist slogans. How appropriate. You idiots will reap what you have sowed before his last term is over. If, indeed, it IS his last term. I look for him to start campaigning to repeal the amendment against a President serving more than two terms any day now, and to declare himself our “Dear Leader for Life” shortly after.

      The sad thing is, we will be dragged along with you. As Pravda said about Obama, “He is a Communist, operating according to the Communist manifesto, and a good portion of the American public is now being held hostage by the Communists.”

      Keep in mind this is the assessment of Obama by PRAVDA–once the “official” and only news source of the Communist Soviet Union. But the Russians got smart and repudiated the soulless, overreaching bureaucracy of the “Soviet Union” and are looking on in wonder at the “ignorant Americans” who are VOLUNTARILY voting themselves into Communist bondage. Congratulations, sir, you are one of those “ignorant Americans” of whom Pravda spoke with such contempt.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      November 28, 2012 @ 9:39 am

      “I look for him to start campaigning to repeal the amendment against a President serving more than two terms any day now”

      oleteabag, there is NO “amendment” against a president serving more than two terms. It is explicitly spelled out in the Constitution that a president can serve no more than 10 years. That was done because if a president was unable to complete his term, the vice-president would fill out the remaining portion. He could then run for election. He could also run for reelection provided he had served less than 2 years of his predecessor’s term. But he could not serve more than 10 years, so if he has served more than 2 years of his predecessor’s term, he could only be elected once and would not be eligible for reelection.

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    • beckery49Comment by beckery49
      November 28, 2012 @ 11:43 am

      bna42:

      Try reading the 24th AMENDMENT of the Constitution. Until Roosevelt, no one had the ego to try.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      November 28, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

      beckery49,

      Why don’t you read the 24th amendment and explain to me HOW the government being prohibited from denying people the vote because they didn’t pay a poll tax has a damn thing to do with the Constitutional 10-year maximum term for a president?

      It wasn’t FDR’s “ego” that kept him in office for four terms. It was the fact that we were entering a world war, preparations and plans for victory were being made, and to replace him during such a critical time would have been disastrous.

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  5. RightStuffComment by RightStuff
    November 27, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

    Watch Barack Obama this term. If he continues to campaign, it is something first done by Adolf Hitler. In addition, watch to see if he continues to make contradictory promises to the various groups. He does this because he has given up working with Congressmen. He is a flake who can’t build relationships, so he just goes about his community organizing, in hopes of some sort of revolution. It will be fun to watch this totally dysfunctional man the next four years. He should be lampooned daily for his odd behavior. Of course, the press won’t do it, for fear of being called racists.

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    • oleteabagComment by oleteabag
      November 28, 2012 @ 1:53 am

      Interesting you should mention Obama continuing to campaign, because that is EXACTLY what he is doing. Currently he is on the road campaigning for his idea of how to avert going over the “fiscal cliff”

      He’s doing pretty much the same thing he did over the debt ceiling fight in his last term. While loudly proclaiming that he is willing to negotiate and listen to other ideas, he is sticking his arrogant, petulant little chin in the air and declaring “it is my way or the highway”, because he is SO arrogant and SO egotistical that he simply can’t believe anybody ELSE’S ideas could POSSIBLY be better than his own.

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  6. ivankenneallyComment by ivankenneally
    November 27, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

    Well it would be nice if the corporations gave him the cold shoulder but I wouldn’t bet on it. The next four years will be about lobbying for solid ground in the ever changing world of byzantine regulation and so the inauguration is where the bribery begins.

    Ivan Kenneally, Dailywitness.com

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    • oleteabagComment by oleteabag
      November 28, 2012 @ 1:55 am

      Well, now that “crony capitalism” has become all the rage and won the approval of the electorate by virtue of them having reelected the KING of crony capitalism, I imagine the corporations will be lining up to suck up to Obama in hopes of getting some of that “crony capitalism” cash in their OWN bank accounts.

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  7. suzy2Comment by suzy2
    November 27, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

    Since Obama lies about everything and Obama is about the most dishonest human being alive, He will lie when he is sworn in and the Cowards will let him get away with it. He will hold his hand on a Bible he hates and lie, LIE, LIE. aN oATH ,EANS NOTHING TO OBAMA., LET THE A–Hole PAY FOR HIS OWN INAUGURATION THAT IS ONE BIG JOKE. Is anyone going to vet him properly this time? I doubt it. BUNCH OF A KISSING COWARDS!

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    • grinnin2Comment by grinnin2
      November 28, 2012 @ 12:46 am

      You are crazy. Obamacare covers that.

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    • oleteabagComment by oleteabag
      November 28, 2012 @ 1:57 am

      For SURE he lied when he vowed to “preserve, defend and protect the Constitution”. He tramples on the Constitution daily, and spent the last four years making end runs around it, when he wasn’t blatantly violating it.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      November 28, 2012 @ 9:45 am

      “Is anyone going to vet him properly this time?”

      suzy2, the time for “vetting” has long passed. The vetting process should have taken place BEFORE he was ever elected, making certain that he was eligible to hold the office. That was never done and now is almost 5 years overdue, but now the precedent has been established. The Constitution has been shredded because Obama was never required to produce the documents certifying that he met the requirements for election.

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  8. rushbabe49Comment by rushbabe49
    November 27, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

    Big businesses who supported and continue to support Obama and all Democrats do so because they are Liberals first, and everything else (businesses, private sector) second. The bigwigs at Costco Wholesale wholeheartedly supported Obama in both elections (Sinegal held multiple fund-raisers at his home), regardless of the fact that he vilifies them as “millionaires and billionaires” whom he is intent on taxing back into the Middle Class. They all seem to do this, and I’ve never been able to understand it.

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    • grinnin2Comment by grinnin2
      November 28, 2012 @ 12:54 am

      “Taxing back to the middle class”? You really believe that. Your first $250,000.00 will be taxed at the same rate as everybody else. You will be just fine. 98% of people earn less.

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    • stopspendingComment by stopspending
      November 28, 2012 @ 6:56 am

      The leftist corporations continue to support O because of the goodies he gives them. O strongly believes in croney capitalism and makes sure his supporters get special considerations – tarp money, tax incentives, gov contracts, etc. GE did not even pay taxes and then Emol gets put on the Pres commision for job creation, comes to the White house reg, etc. They know in the long run, O will help their business. They also know how vindictive O can be if you cross him and do not want to risk that.

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  9. oleteabagComment by oleteabag
    November 28, 2012 @ 1:40 am

    I believe your last sentence pretty well sums up the situation:

    “It would be tempting to brand Obama a hypocrite for his grand reversal of principle, if he did, indeed, have any real principles to betray.”

    As the man is an utterly unprincipled, pathological LIAR, he has no principles to worry about violating.

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  10. way2coolComment by way2cool
    November 28, 2012 @ 11:59 am

    …we are seeing it happen when a ‘hypocrite reverses his principle’…. in Egypt!

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