Stanley Dundee

Macronies

2019-04-22 v. 4, updated for Pete Buttigieg.

2018-12-21 v. 3, updated with Beto austerity quotes from Texas Observer.

2018-12-20 v. 2, updated with Beto cites.

2018-12-19 v. 1

We face an entire generation of Democratic Party politicians who are untrustworthy and need to be purged. They are all intent on fooling you, on convincing you that they have all turned over a new leaf after coming face to face with Bernie Sanders. They want you to believe that they are the magical young Berniecrats you've been waiting for. They are liars.

Benjamin Studebaker

Macron. Obama. Trudeau. Good looking. Youngish. Articulate. Smooth talking, vaguely inspiring. Easy to hear what you want to hear. Neoliberal to the core. Utterly in service to the plutocracy. Standing between the bankers and the pitchforks.

We are subject to a flood of such characters. They are products of two generations of neoliberal corruption. We need a term for this ilk. I propose Macronies. Let's keep a sharp lookout and call them out as we find them. As always, follow the money. If they take the plutonic dosh, they will follow the plutonic line. Watch what they do not what they say.

I'll start with Cory Booker, corporate hooker. Turn to Bruce Dixon at the Black Agenda Report:

Cory Booker is a great fit. As Glen Ford, who has followed his career in Black Agenda Report and Black Commentator since 2002 notes, charter school sugar daddies from the Olin, Bradley and Walton Family Foundations and the Manhattan Institute funded his early career. Cory's wealthy friends bankrolled and promoted a slick Hollywood documentary, Street Fight to ensure his 2006 election to Newark's City Hall . . . The one percenters take good care of their guy Cory, giving him 3 times the cash raised for all his opponents together in the 2013 Democratic primary, and he takes good care of them. When the anti-Romney rhetoric in 2012 strayed to touch on how the hedge fund Republican actually made those millions, it was Obama surrogate Cory Booker who stepped up on Meet The Press to defend the predatory economics of hedge funds, calling outrage against disaster capitalism useless rhetoric. After all, Goldman Sachs was and still is one of Booker's major contributors. Cory hit the Senate just in time to vote for a major school voucher bill in 2014.

Updated 2019-04-22. Let's consider now Democratic wonder child Pete Buttigieg. Harvard. Rhodes scholar. McKinsey. Redevelopment-friendly small-town mayor. Gay (but not too gay). Oh, did I mention, youngish, good-looking, articulate? Is there a pattern here?

We have Nathan Robinson of Current Affairs to thank for close-reading Buttigieg's highly revealing campaign biography. Robinson thoroughly shreds the evanascent shroud of progressivity that Buttigieg has recently donned:

Pete Buttigieg has just published a campaign book, Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future, that gives a much fuller insight into the way he thinks about himself, his ideals, and his plans. . . . It is very personal, very well-written, and lays out a narrative that makes Buttigieg seem a natural and qualified candidate for the presidency. It also provides irrefutable evidence that no serious progressive should want Pete Buttigieg anywhere near national public office.

I urge you to read Robinson's essay in its entirety; it's a shining example of de-Macronizing which has been justly celebrated all around the internet. We'll return to Robinson for the last word in this enquiry.

I'll skip over Buttigieg's early life as the child of two Notre Dame professors, his glittering string of youthful meritocratic successes, and his formative years as a McKinsey consultant. In keeping with a focus on money and action, we will look at his performance as Mayor, consider his foreign policy predilections, and look into who is putting up the big bucks for young Mayor Pete's presidential bid.

Buttigieg's major achievement as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, may well have been his service to real estate developers. Confirming that Buttigieg has been a boon for gentrifiers, the Guardian reports on the enthusiasm of a participant in the South Bend real estate market:

John Jessen, a commercial property broker who, like Buttigieg, is 37, said the market has exploded in the past five years and the mayor was the key factor. He's doing fantastic, he said. He's been a breath of fresh air in this country and he's done a lot of good for South Bend. A lot more people are living downtown; there are three or four buildings being converted into luxury apartments. There's no doubt the city is better now than when he took office. There's a sense of excitement that there hasn't been in South Bend for many years.

Despite Mayor Pete's success in fluffing the luxury real estate market, there was some disappointment in his inability to implement effect programs to alleviate the homelessness that was marring the progress of the expensive developments. From the South Bend Tribune:

[Willow Wetherall,] a Downtown South Bend Inc. board member, said she has generally been a big Buttigieg supporter, but feels his leadership has fallen short on homelessness. . . . Wetherall said she recently compiled a timeline of events surrounding the downtown homeless issue. She said the timeline speaks volumes about how much was accomplished in a short amount of time and how that goodwill, engagement and best practice solutions were squandered and dismissed by the mayor's office.

Benjamin Studebaker, native of Indiana and automaker Studebaker family scion, has some useful remarks on Buttigieg's career as turnaround mayor. He offers a corrective to the breathless cheerleading of mainstream press, directing attention to the consequences of Buttigieg's leadership for ordinary people in South Bend:

What has Pete Buttigieg done for the poor and working people of South Bend? The numbers suggest he hasn't done anything. What he has done is threaten low income homeowners with financial penalties if they don't make their homes prettier in a bid to push up land values and gentrify the city. If they couldn't pay, Buttigieg seized their homes and ripped them down. . . . Studebaker gave South Bend's workers jobs. Buttigieg took their homes. Studebaker hired South Bend's workers to make cars for ordinary Americans. Buttigieg wants to hire them to make lattes for rich kids. The Americans who need a big new choice in the low-price field won't find a friend in Buttigieg. He's not different by design. He's just another Ivy League McKinsey consultant looking to find ways to make the world a little bit better for rich folks and a little bit worse for everyone else.

What about foreign policy? Well, we have a former head of AIPAC providing a solid endorsement for Buttigieg:

The dark horse Democratic presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, got a pro-Israel boost with the endorsement of Steve Grossman, the former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. . . . His endorsement of Buttigieg gives the candidate, who has already surprised his rivals with solid fund-raising and campaigning skills, a boost with the party's establishment. . . . Buttigieg already has a relationship with the American Jewish Committee, having participated last year in that group's Project Interchange tour of Israel.

That trip to Israel cited by Grossman led to some remarks afterwards by Buttigieg, which have been reviewed by Mondoweiss, who concludes:

Buttigieg is a quick study; and what leaps out from these remarks is how completely the Rhodes Scholar imbibed the official pro-Israel version of events, and showed contempt for Palestinian understanding. There is no sense in Buttigieg's remarks that Israel is a militarized, rightwing country that adores Donald Trump and that is led by a strongman and that answers resistance to the existing order with overwhelming force that international human rights organizations said at the time of his remarks were likely war crimes. . . . [W]e can expect Buttigieg to take a centrist pro-Israel position in opposition to the Democratic base, which is highly critical of Israel.

So who is paying? No reliance on paltry $27 donations for Mayor Pete! According to The Hill, Buttigieg is to return to Washington DC for a golden shower hosted by longtime Democratic bundlers:

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) will attend a fundraiser for his 2020 White House campaign next month hosted by several high-dollar Democratic bundlers . . . Buttigieg will attend a May 21 event hosted by Steve Elmendorf and Barry Karas, two longtime Democratic donors who organized hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for Clinton and Obama, respectively. . . . Invitations to next month's fundraiser in Washington for Buttigieg range from $250 to $5,600 per person, according to NBC, and the event is billed as the mayor's first visit to D.C. since launching his presidential bid.

Also kicking in are several former ambassadors from the Obama administration, notable for having raised millions for the former president, one of the greatest Macronies of them all. Again via The Hill, we have the testimony of William C. Eacho, III, former ambassador to Austria:

I am all in with Mayor Pete. No one else. I don't see anyone else who comes close, said Eacho. His ability to come across as authentic, honest, and trustworthy; his ability to connect emotionally with the American people, are qualities I have not seen in the other candidates. And of course I like the way he frames important issues. He is all about making progress without a flame-thrower approach.

Wondering about Eacho, who is so impressed by Mayor Pete's ability to come across as authentic, honest, and trustworthy (i.e. to fool the rubes) while making progress without a flame-thrower (i.e. to not interfere with plutocratic privilege)?

William C. Eacho, III served as the U.S. Ambassador to Austria from August, 2009 to July, 2013. Before that, he was a successful business manager and entrepreneur with a history of active civic engagement. . . . Ambassador Eacho managed a diverse portfolio of public equity, private equity, and real estate investments as CEO of Carlton Capital Group, LLC in Bethesda, MD.

Pete Buttigieg: oligarch approved!

Updated 2018-12-20. Putative Democractic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is one of the inspirations for tagging Macronies. He was defeated in his bid to turf out Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race. But he raised mountains of dough (money watch alert) and got a surge of national attention as a potential presidential candidate for 2020.

Beto won everlasting internet fame when CNN political analyst Leah McElrath sexualized his appeal:

O'Rourke is like the guy who is all sweet and nerdy but holds you down and makes you cum until your calves cramp.

Who worries about policy when her calves are cramping?

But who is he really? Raising lots of money and cramping virtual calves are fine achievements for a Democrat, but is there anything behind that smooth facade? Long-time analyst Zaid Jilani at Current Affairs does not find much to impress:

While the Democratic base is coalescing around single-payer health care and free college, O'Rourke sponsored neither House bill. During his time in Congress, he never joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He has been, however, a member of the New Democratic Caucus, the group organized to carry on the ideas of Clintonite policies. During the 2016 presidential primary, he stayed on the sidelines. . . . While O'Rourke steadily avoided left-wing legislation, he went above and beyond to ally himself to the corporate wing of the Democratic Party . . . O'Rourke was one of the Democrats who voted to grant [so-called Fast Track authority as it related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership] to Obama.

Updated 2018-12-21. Christopher Hooks in the Texas Observer likens Beto to Obama:

Like Obama, O'Rourke is able to appeal to groups with different interests by nature of his effortless charisma and a somewhat indeterminate rhetoric that emphasizes hope, change and regeneration.

Not unlike Obama, Beto tipped his hand in favor of austerity, according to Hooks. Covering his campaign against Ted Cruz, Hooks refers here to Beto's first House campaign in 2012, versus long-time democrat Silvestre Reyes:

At the first debate with Reyes, O'Rourke criticized Reyes for not offering concrete ways to cut the federal budget, and then turned to Social Security. We need to look at things like means testing, he said. We need to look at a later age at which my kids are gonna retire.

We have David Sirota to thank for a review of an analysis of congressional votes performed by Capital & Main. Beto was often aligned with Republicans:

In the last two years, O'Rourke was among the top fifth of all lawmakers voting against his own party's positions. FiveThirtyEight has calculated that in that same time period, O'Rourke has voted for the Trump administration position roughly 30% of the time.

Sirota's piece uncovers Beto's aisle-crossing ways regarding the CFPB, energy, immigration, finance, healthcare, and taxes. Excellent detail there! This is how we smoke them out.

It also seems Beto has been taking dozens of contributions exceeding $200 from oil and gas executives, despite signing a pledge not to do so:

Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke has been removed from a pledge he signed to reject large donations from fossil fuel PACs and executives, following a recent Sludge investigation of federal campaign finance records. Sludge reported on Dec. 10 that the congressman had accepted dozens of contributions of over $200 from oil and gas executives and had not reported refunding them. Oil Change USA, which led a coalition of environmental and democracy organizations to create the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, attempted to reach O'Rourke's campaign and congressional office but did not hear back. Nor did Sludge. David Turnbull, strategic communications director at Oil Change USA, told Sludge on Tuesday that the group had just removed O'Rourke's name from the list of signers.

Updated 2019-01-10. In case Beto's policy record doesn't quite convince you that he's got the oligarchy's stamp of approval, consider Amy Hoover Sanders, his wife. Ms. Sanders is a telecoms entrepreneur and executive director of a charter school. Moreover, she is the scion of near-billionaire real estate developer Warren M. Sanders. Sanders was one of the pioneers of the real-estate investment trust (REIT), a popular financial vehicle for high-leverage real estate investing. One of Beto's first tussles as an elected official on behalf of the oligarchy was a 2006 project spear-headed by his wealthy father-in-law to use eminent domain to evict low-income residents from downtown El Paso neighborhoods to make way for high-end development. This development was vigorously resisted by residents and never completed. Here's how the Gray Lady tells it:

At a special City Council meeting in 2006, a billionaire real estate investor unveiled his vision for redeveloping downtown El Paso. To replace tenements and boarded-up buildings, he proposed restaurants, shops and an arts walk rivaling San Antonio's River Walk. Representative Beto O'Rourke, one of hundreds attending, wasn't exactly a disinterested party. Not only had he married the investor's daughter, but as a member of City Council, he represented the targeted area, including a historic Mexican-American neighborhood. . . . Mr. O'Rourke would defend the plan before angry barrio residents and vote to advance it. At other times, he would abstain. Business owners who opposed the plan accused Mr. O'Rourke of a conflict, citing the involvement of his father-in-law, the billionaire developer William D. Sanders.

Beto O'Rourke: an exemplary Macrony!

Updated 2019-04-22. Let's give the last word to Nathan Robinson, writing on Pete Buttigieg:

Do not be deceived . . . Look into the actual records of these candidates. Get their shitty books and scrutinize them closely. A lot of money is going to be flowing toward tricks like this, as frantic Democratic elites try to push someone like Buttigieg in order to prevent a Sanders nomination. They know Buttigieg is one of them; they see McKinsey and realize they'll come to no harm. But they hope you don't see what they see. It has been the same over and over: Hey kids, Tom Perez isn't any different from Keith Ellison! No need to do anything rash now! At every turn, bandwagon-hopping frauds are going to mouth the latest slogans. . . . Demand the evidence. Examine the record. We have got to learn to see through this stuff. You have to look at what they did and said before it was politically opportune to say what they're saying now. Five minutes ago, Pete Buttigieg was the management consultant making the South Bend sewers run on time. Now he's suddenly a radical who want to pack the Supreme Court. From Mitt Romney to Eugene Debs in a single news cycle. . . . [W]e can't afford to make this mistake again. No more Bright Young People with their beautiful families and flawless characters and elite educations and vacuous messages of uplift and togetherness. Give me fucked-up people with convictions and gusto. Give me real human beings, not CV-padding corporate zombies.