Recently at Agonist, we’ve written about how Jim DeMint is deserting the people who elected him to do a Senator’s job of representing them for a post at the necon flagship Heritage Foundation that will pay him some $830,000 a year more, and we’ve also written about how the architect of much of the Affordable Care Act has hopped, skipped and jumped her way through the same lucrative DC revolving doors between private business, think tanks and government bodies – meanwhile managing to encode into legislation provisions that considerably enrich her various private employers.
To those inside the Beltway, this is standard operating procedure – to the rest of us it might smack of legalized corruption and the kind of “insider boys and girls” club that is antithetical to democracy, by creating a bubble between those who are deciderers in the process of government and the rest of the populace. A populace who only get to vote on which band of insiderers gets to decide next, participating in democracy in much the same sense as sports fans are expected to participate in “their team” come what may. The members of the “your” team have far more in common with their supposed competition than with you, the supporter, and it should be no surprise if they look out for their own mutual interests over yours.
Glenn Greenwald today points to another example – the truly bizarre support much of the loyal Left is offering Obama’s obvious first choice as the next Secretary of State, Susan Rice.
what is remarkable is how so many Democrats are devoting so much energy to defending a possible Susan Rice nomination as Secretary of State without even pretending to care about her record and her beliefs. It’s not even part of the discussion. And now that some writers have begun examining that record, it’s not hard to see the reason for this omission.
Last week, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern extensively documented Rice’s long record of cheering for US wars, including being an outspoken and aggressive advocate of the attack on Iraq, support that persisted for many years. In a New York Times Op-Ed yesterday, Eritrean-American journalist Salem Solomon condemned Rice’s fondness for tyrants in Africa, while Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford argued – with ample documentation – that her supporters “care not a whit for Africa, whose rape and depopulation has been the focus of Rice’s incredibly destructive career.” A New York Times news article from Monday separately suggests that Rice’s close ties to the ruling regime in Rwanda - that government “was her client when she worked at Intellibridge, a strategic analysis firm in Washington” – has led Washington to tacitly endorse its support for brutal rebels in the Congo.
Meanwhile, so-called “pro-Israel” groups have vocally supported her possible nomination due to her steadfast defense of Israel at the UN, hailing her as “an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum.” It was recently discovered that Rice “holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline,” and that “about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel — including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil.”
This is who progressives are devoting their energy to defending and the record they are attempting to further empower as Secretary of State. She’s essentially the classic pro-war, imperial technocrat who has advanced within the Foreign Policy Community by embracing and justifying its destructive orthodoxies (unsurprisingly, one of her most ardent defenders, even now, is her former colleague at the Brookings Institution, the war-loving (though never war-fighting) Michael O’Hanlon).
It would be one thing if Rice-advocating progressives defended this record and this set of beliefs, or attempted to argue why she should be promoted despite them. But, almost without exception, they don’t do either of those things. The minute it became clear that Obama wanted to nominate her and Republicans opposed her, they reflexively stood up to support her without any apparent regard for what she has done and what she believes. Put another way, they are devoting their energies to arguing for the political elevation of someone without the slightest regard for her beliefs. Isn’t that bizarre?
Truly bizarre indeed, as Michael Collins recently wrote. Especially when one further considers that SourceWatch tags Rice’s former employers Intellibridge as a haven and sinecure for Clintonesque neoliberal hawks like Michele Flournoy, David Rothkopf and Anthony Lake, the latter of whom “once served as Clinton’s national security adviser, and was at one time slated to head the CIA before he withdrew from consideration in March 1997 after serious flaws in his background were publicly aired, including his shameful role in supporting the Khmer Rouge takeover in Cambodia, where they promptly set about butchering the Cambodian people.”
In the current system, agreed policy is agreed by people who live in the revolving door beween ‘taking money to lobby’, ‘taking money to propose legislation’ and ‘making the legislation people pay lobbying and think-tank money to infuence’. They all, across party lines, eat together, drink together, think together and sleep together. The rest of us need not apply to join their club – we are not “serious people” and are only fit to cheer from the bleachers as if the players care which jersey they wear.