In an interview with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's The Daily Show Tuesday evening, Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged the anger and frustration many taxpayers feel over the way financial institutions seem to have favored status in Washington D.C.Another way of putting it, one that is used by the economist Nouriel Roubini and the Marxist geographer David Harvey, is: It's all about privatizing the profits and socializing the losses. But that is not my point for posting this piece of news. My point, instead, is this: It's not surprising that the "great expression" came out of Biden's mouth; but it would certainly be surprising if it came out of Obama's. One gets the sense that Biden is becoming more liberal at the same pace that Obama is becoming more conservative. Indeed, one of my favorite business writers, Doug Henwood, feels he has every reason to call Obama "Bush the Third."
Pointing to the hundreds of billions of government dollars that have been spent to keep banks from failing, he recalled a "great expression" of his grandfather, Ambrose Finnegan: "It's socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor," Biden said...
But what is going on here? Is this a case of "good cop/bad cop"? Obama, the bad cop for liberals; Biden, the good cop? Or is it this: Obama is truly limited by his insane critics on the far right who consistently call him a socialist and a Nazi. Because the such criticisms have a racial core, if he made a comment like the one Biden made on Stewart's show, he would face a flood and thunderstorm of insults. And here we can see something like the source of the problem. Obama does not want to be known as a black president but as an American president, and so he is forced to avoid the kind of language ("socialism for the rich") that would certainly excite criticisms that seem to be about his political philosophy and practices but are, as everyone can see at the end of the day, really about the color of his skin. That reading of things may not be far from the truth.