By Ben Norton
Gray Zone (11/30/19)
Barack Obama urged bankers to thank him for helping make them so much money during his tenure as president. He also boasted of turning the US into the world’s largest oil producer, while surrounded by wealthy Republicans in tuxedos.
Obama made these appeals for elite adulation at a lavish gala hosted by former Secretary of State James Baker. His comments came just a few hours after he met with former Republican President George H. W. Bush at his home in Texas.
If there was any single event that captured Obama’s centrist, neoliberal capitalist politics, it was the former Democratic president’s oligarch lovefest in Houston on November 27.
In their discussion, both Obama and Baker lamented the decline in US imperial power across the globe. They agreed that the world cannot run smoothly without the United States as an international hegemon.
At this sumptuous black-tie gala, Obama talked the 1,100 elite guests into raising a staggering $5.4 million, in just one night (at an average donation of nearly $5,000), for Rice University’s centrist, pro-corporate Baker Institute for Public Policy, the honorary chair of which is James Baker.
Baker quipped that Obama would be getting paid 10 percent of the $5.4 million in donations. It is unclear how much Obama raked in for this specific speech, but given the $400,000 fees the ex-president has charged Wall Street firms to speak since leaving the White House, Baker’s joke might not have been far off.
After begging for the gratitude of the ultra-rich, Obama and Baker rattled off a series of platitudes about the importance of “bipartisanship.” The Baker Institute described the event as a discussion of “political civility.”
The two did not once mention the name of President Donald Trump in their more than 30-minute discussion.
“Have you checked where your stocks were when I came in office?”
In one of the most eyebrow-raising moments of the night, Obama pushed back against Wall Street executives who have criticized him. He told the bankers who crashed the global economy in 2008, and who were then bailed out by the US government, that they should have been grateful, because they still made money.
“Sometimes you go to Wall Street, and folks will be grumbling about, ‘Anti-business…’” Obama said. “And I say, ‘Have you checked where your stocks were when I came in office, and where they are now?’ What what are you talking, what are you complaining about?” …
(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link toe www.thecommonercall.org )