September 7, 2008

Community Organizer? Bah! Lobbyist.... A-OK

The Republicans, notably the keening housewife of the tundra Sarah Palin, and decidedly goofy former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani, seemed to derive great pleasure in sneering at, and looking down on, Barack Obama for his service as a community organizer for a couple years when he was just out of college.

This exemplifies the fundemental nastiness, smugness, and yes, elitism that runs through Republican attitude and policy.

First a bit about Obama's choice to serve those less fortunate who were in dire need of assistance after being thrown out of work as a result of the global economy.

Obama worked as part of a oranization of the Catholic Church after graduating as a heavily recruited stand out from Harvard. He could have named his price on Wall Street and become very wealthy, very quickly.

But he chose to return to Chicago and do something that mattered. You might say that he choose to, as Sen. John McCain repeatedly admired himself for and exhorted others to do, serve a cause greater than himself.

And as you saw in the Daily Show clip below, at one point in the RNC, the crowd were all holding up placards reading "SERVICE".

According to Republicans, McCain's service should make every Americans chest swell with pride and gratitude, while Obama's stint on the south side of Chicago is worthy of derision and haughty scorn.

This is apparently because Obama's service involved trying to improve other people's lives, whereas McCain's service involved killing as many of them as possible from 5 miles up.

(And crashing 4 million-dollar plus military aircraft before eventually being shot down and captured. Truly a unique accomplishment.)

Is there any hypocrisy in mocking Obama's community service while McCain exhorts people to serve? Of course. But isn't that a given?

It should only be noted when Republicans do something that ISN'T grossly hypocritical and contradictory of their grab-bag of slogans and self-serving themes. It's nothing but words to them.

Is it true? Who cares! It sounds good and will rally the faithful.

But consider this. Obama as a community organizer sought to spend his time helping Americans who had fallen on hard times for reasons beyond their control. Forsaking a huge salary and the high life in Manhattan, he instead worked in lower middle class/poor urban neighborhoods on the south side, in church basements and on the streets.

His job was to try to identify the things these people needed to get back on their feet, the tools they'd need to adjust to a life after the steel mills shut down putting thousands out of work, and put them in touch with the government and church services which exist to help give such cases a hand up.

Lobbyists run the McCain campaign with nearly every top position filled by either a current or former mega-lobbyist from D.C.

What is their job?

To advocate for wealthy corporations and sometimes entire countries (such as McCain's chief foreign policy advisor who was paid nearly a million bucks to lobby for the nation of Georgia. But that didn't have anything to do with McCain's immediate sabre-rattling response to the trouble there. Nah, couldn't be.)

The job of a lobbyist is to avail corporations of government benefits that will help them make more money. It's to influence politicians to promote legislation that benefits them, often exclusively, or in the Bush era, where corporate lobbyists actually WRITE legislation themselves inside the Capitol. Their job is to get government hand-outs, tax breaks, passes on polluting, etc. that will make their clients more and more and more money.

THAT is ok. Perfectly legit, and so acceptible that McCain chose top lobbyists for all the top spots on his campaign.

Being paid millions to stroll the halls of congress and 4 star D.C. restaurants and foreign resorts in Gucci loafers and Italian suits in order to get government help for corporate or ultra-wealthy clients is as American as apple pie. Admirable.

Being paid next to nothing and spending your days on the streets of the South Side of Chicago in order to try to put those who have lost everything and are struggling to survive, in touch with government programs that may help them adjust, that's laughable. A joke.

Helping extremely wealthy and corporate clients to get more government hand-outs, no-bid contracts, legislation to shield them from liability and risk, billions in tax breaks, all motivated by million dollar paychecks - good.

Putting aside a huge paycheck and a career for a couple years in order to help out ordinary Americans knocked down when their jobs were yanked out from underneath them, in a depressed urban neighborhood for next to no money, motivated by the desire to give back to the community and devote some of your time to help overlooked Americans have a second chance - worthy of mockery. A big joke.

Which does this country need more of? Bending government to serve corporate bottom lines in the days of record shattering profits by paying off politicians through millions in campaign cash?

Or people willing to devote their time to helping their fellow Americans back on their feet when the corporate economy leaves them flat on their backs?

Which is more worthy of respect and admiration? And which attitude is harmful to our country?


At 9/13/2008 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.

At 9/14/2008 8:19 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

... Or so goes the latest snappy slogan.

Not sure if it's relavent, but as long as the Republicans are giddy over such drivel as the pitbull/lipstick line, why not join 'em?


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