SUBSCRIPT: Obama unveils his plan for continued political suicide

This is the first of what will become monthly reports on how the administration and re-election campaign of Chicago's Barack Obama is being organized to ensure that Barack Obama loses the 2012 presidential election by continuing the arrogant errors that have characterized the 26 months since he was inaugurated. Now that the Obama campaign has established its campaign office (in Chicago) and put out its first messages (from Chicago), it's time for a Chicago-based look at how Obama sold out everyone who backed him, all the way back to his days as an Illinois State Senator. At least one thing is clear from the newly unveiled Obama campaign video. The President and his campaign haven't learned anything from the actual history of the last two years, or from the debacle they created in the mid-term elections of November 2010.

Even before the January 2009 inauguration, Barack Obama declared war on America's teachers and teacher unions by making Chicago's Arne Duncan U.S. Secretary of Education. During the seven years before Obama's election, Duncan had been in charge of Chicago's public schools, attacking union schools, teacher bashing, and closing dozens of schools under the privatization scheme known as "Renaissance 2010." By appointing Duncan, Obama announced that he was going to take the Chicago Plan nationwide. The teacher bashing and union busting attacks currently underway under Duncan's Race to the Top program are Obama's answer to the union teachers who elected him in 2008.…Anyone who wants to know how Barack Obama plans to continue to commit political suicide in 2012 can now get the first video version of the Obama campaign strategy. The six-minute video, featuring Obama campaign chief Jim Messina, is up at It should be studied. Not once during the campaign does Messina mention that Barack Obama betrayed the people who elected him in 2008 — and the programs he promised to support.

It wasn’t just the additional wars Obama is promoting, after publications like Substance published his famous speech against the invasion of Iraq (a speech that some of our staff witnessed at Chicago's federal plaza.

Obama's refusal to provide universal single-payer health care has left things in a bigger mess than before. In addition to the individual misery it will increase, think of the following economic question: Would General Motors and other corporations have gone bankrupt if the USA had the health care system of, say, Canada?).

The economic policies are pure Wall Street, despite the evidence that Wall Street is the problem, not the solution. Omama’s surrender to Wall Street on the economy is grotesque, but easily visualized in the Goldman Sachs crew he keeps to run the economy for the benefit of the plutocracy. One of the ironies of the Obama capitulation is that the wealthy people who helped put him in office (with their dollars, not their precinct work) are now finished with him. See the Wall Street Journal article "Financiers Switch to GOP" (front page, April 26, 2011) reporting that the hedge fund heads and billionaires who backed Obama in 2008 are now pouring their millions into the Republicans.

Much of the policy and personnel for the Duncan Education Department has come through privatization promoters like billionaire Eli Broad (above right, with Duncan). Broad's "venture philanthropy" includes training corporate people to become "educational leaders" and training educational leaders to become urban schools chiefs to promote policies of teacher bashing, privatization, and union busting under the guise of "school reform."But for Substance readers, Obama's most fatal mistake is spelled out in one word: Arne Duncan.

Duncan was the enemy of public schools teachers and public worker unions long before he teamed up with others of his ilk in Washington, D.C. The teachers and union workers who worked to get out the vote for Obama in November 2008 — and who were sold out by Obama before he even took the oath of office in January 2009 — won’t forget, despite videos and smarmy appeals. What was once speculation is now fact. More than any other president — Republican or Democrat — in recent U.S. history, Barack Obama has put the nation's education under a union busting privatizing group of zealots. The corporate ideology of Arne Duncan and his top aides at the U.S.Department of Education is almost straight out of Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged."

Obama's supporters must think that teachers don't know history and can't see facts that are before their eyes. Public school union teachers — not the charter school hacks and “eduprenuers” who have gotten all the top jobs in the U.S. Department of Education under the Obama administration — were the largest single group of delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Union teachers helped nominate Barack Obama. Union teachers then got out the 2008 vote for Barack Obama. And union teachers were the first ones betrayed by Barack Obama when he announced that Chicago's privatizer- and teacher-basher-in-chief, Arne Duncan, was the Obama choice to head education.

Union teachers in just about every county in the USA were part of the Obama get out the vote work, door to door and hour to hour right up until the polls closed. Yet even before Christmas 2008 Obama had put a teacher bashing and union busting hack — Arne Duncan — in charge of the U.S. Department of Education. Within six months after his January 2009 inauguration Obama approved Duncan’s all out attack on inner city schools through “Race to the Top.” To the cheers of Obama's plutocratic supporters, Duncan announced that he was going to destroy what he calls the "worst 5,000" American public schools — and replace them with privatized charter schools and similar things.

From that point on, the rest has been history. At every point, Duncan and the plutocrats have been teacher bashing and union busting using the power and purse of the federal government to push anti-union charter schools, union busting merit pay schemes — and, now, “value added” nonsense and the “common core.”

ON April 25, 2011, Obama's campaign chief Jim Messina (above) produced the Obama 2012 campaign's first video outlining the plans to re-elect the president. Ignoring how his candidate betrayed the "grass roots" people who elected him in 2008 — especially the union members and union teachers — Messina talked as if Obama had not produced a record of privatization, union busting and teacher bashing under the U.S. Department of Education and its chief, Chicago's Arne Duncan.From the beginning, Duncan bragged that his approach to “school reform” would be “bipartisan,” and it has been. His carefully scripted "tour" with Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton was designed to promote the attacks he would oversee against inner city schools, unions and teachers. The corporate reformers are now promoting Race To The Top with the same zeal they once promoted No Child Left Behind. But Race To The Top is even worse. While he was promoting every Wall Street hack to run the economy, Obama was also promoting a group of Wall Street hacks to run the nation’s education reforms.

Most of the people who went into the top positions in Duncan’s Education Department came from charter schools and corporate outfits like Joanne Weiss (formerly the privatization pusher with the New Schools Venture Fund, now Duncan’s Chief of Staff; see Susan Ohanian’s profile in the March – April Substance). We could easily go on, but the delusional push to re-elect Barack Obama ignores that fact that the “change” Obama promised came to the public schools in the form of vicious teacher bashing, official union busting, and the rewarding of hacks and hack science with enormous federal support from Duncan and Obama’s education department.

The Obama campaign will continue to ignore the fact that Obama now has a history — of teacher bashing, privatization, union busting, and hypocrisy — that can’t be swept away. The main reason that Obama’s candidates lost so much in the November 2010 election was not the “Tea Party” but the fact that the teachers and union workers who had walked the precincts from Maine to California in 2008 learned the hard way that the “Audacity of Hope” really meant the audacity to believe you could betray the groups at the “grass roots” that had worked to elect you in 2008 and not pay the price at the grass roots in 2010. Obama's candidates lost big in November 2010 because the people who had worked for Obama in 2008 knew that Obama had sold them out by October and November 2010, so they just stayed home.

The same thing is going to happen in 2012, no matter how much Obama's people prattle about the importance of the "grass roots."

It’s too late for Barack Obama to apologize to America’s teachers and other working people for having sold out. It's too late to rethink becoming the tool of Wall Street and the plutocrats, and no video is going to wipe out the bitter memories of those who worked for Obama only to see him betray them, in some cases (like the teachers learning that Arne Duncan would become the nation’s education chief in December 2008) even before the inauguration took place in January 2009…


April 26, 2011 at 5:36 PM

By: Barry Soetoro son Frank Marshall Davis

Hope deferred makes you cognitively dissodant

The sad truth is if Obama were pro union you would all be loving his warmongering and baby killing. This is what you get for ignoring the questionable past of this foreign born CIA asset and his ties to Goldman Sachs and the seedy world of corrupt Chicago politics. You fools! And thank you for taking my compulsory union dues so that this man could take office. Unfortunately, most will continue to hold this low grade community agitator in messianic adulation.

April 27, 2011 at 10:28 PM

By: Nick Shafer

Giving up

So should teachers just step back and let the Scott Walkers of the states get elected?

Are country's politics and infrastructure are about compromise. You can have your thoughts, views and opinions, but obviously they won't be shared by all. And the truth is, public education is failing many children. Are teachers and the unions that protect them entirely to blame? No but to deny they share no responsibility in the failing education system is a lie. I've worked with tenured teachers that do a disservice to the field while watching good young teachers get riffed.

The truth is, the public is jumping ship at a pretty alarming rate, and the more the union sticks their heels in and fights change, either from the President, the Mayor or our current president, then our union will lose all credibility in the public and what happened in Wisconsin will happen everywhere, but it will happen without the 100,000 protesters because the public will hate us more than they already do.

April 28, 2011 at 9:19 AM

By: Sean Noonan


The "errors" of Obama are only mistakes if you assume he is on the same side as you are. If you assume he is on the side of Wall Street and its neoliberal agenda, then, Obama is an effective politician. He absorbs his critics on the left by being a democrat, a person of color and cosmopolitan (the nation's symbolic daddy is thoughtful and congenial again). At the same time he keeps the machinery of the state operating in the interests of the highest echelon's of the ruling class. Liberals, Progressives and even some socialists need to stop thinking about their imaginary Obama who is secretly on their side and start thinking about the real Obama who actually runs the presidency of the United States.

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