Blacklisting Progressives: The Untold Story Beneath the Daschle Headlines

Amid the swirling headlines about Tom Daschle withdrawing his
nomination for Health and Human Service Secretary is a very dark, very
foreboding story that tells us a lot more about what to expect from the
Obama administration than a single nomination fight. It is a story that
every single voter who supported Barack Obama because of his
progressive economic platform should know about - and worry about.

As every newspaper in America has been happy to report, Daschle
worked with venture capitalist Leo Hindery after he left the Senate.
Hindery was a top economic adviser to John Edwards and later to Barack
Obama, and many had floated his name for U.S. Trade Representative or
Commerce Secretary. Now, though, that won't be happening, as anyone
mentioned near the Daschle flap is being shunned by the Obama

But is that really why someone as accomplished as Hindery was
never seriously considered for a top economic post in the
administration? The media and the Obama administration would like us to
believe yes - but the answer is no. It has far less to do with the
Daschle situation and far more to do with Hindery's progressive
economic ideology.

Buried in a Politico dispatch, we get the real story:

Hindery did his best to carve out his own public
profile, with generous contributions to a range of Democratic-leaning
organizations and a 2005 book, "It Takes a CEO," decrying outsourcing,
Wal-Mart, and "an ethical and aesthetic 'race to the bottom'" in the
media industry.

He also hoped to land a job in the Obama administration, and he
had a close Obama adviser - Daschle -- in his corner, the two Democrats
said. United Steeelworkers union officials also backed him.

But while Hindery complained that he "waited for the phone to ring," a source said, Obama's
aides appear never to have taken his bid seriously. One possible source
of friction: Hindery had set himself up in opposition to Obama's top
economic advisors, many of whom were associated with The Hamilton
Project, an economic think tank that was the inheritor of former
Treasury Secretary Rubin's generally pro-trade position.

In the same story, of course, we get hedge fund shark Steve Rattner
- a huge Democratic fundraiser on Wall Street - bashing Hindery for
backing populist Democratic candidates for local and national office.

And that's the big story here: Leo Hindery, one of the few
business leaders to use his wealth to challenge deregulation, corporate
trade deals and anti-worker policies was blacklisted by the Obama
administration well before the Daschle flap ever happened - and he was
blacklisted because he dared to clash with the same Wall Street
Democrats whose corporate-backed policies destroyed the economy.

can go ahead and tell yourself that this is just theory - just a single
example. But that's willful ignorance, as the Hindrey scalping is only
one chapter in what has been one long narrative arc whereby economic
progressives have been deliberately shut out of top administration
jobs. Just step back and think about it for a minute: Amid a stable of
eminently qualified and well-respected progressives like James
Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz, Dean Baker, Robert Reich, Paul Krugman and
Larry Mishel, Obama has chosen Rubin sycophants like Larry Summers and
Tim Geithner to run the economy - the same Larry Summers who pushed the
repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act, the same Geithner who masterminded the
kleptocratic bank bailout, the same duo whose claim to fame is their
personal connections to Rubin, a disgraced Citigroup executive at the
center of the current meltdown. And the list of Rubin sycophants keeps
getting longer, from Peter Orszag to Jason Furman.

As the Nation's Chris Hayes shows,
its the same in other key regulatory positions, as free market
fundamentalists who created the problem take the helm of the regulatory
agencies they tried to destroy. Indeed, the only movement progressive
in a top economic position is Jared Bernstein, and he was relegated to
an amorphous job in the Vice President's office.

And now we see that's not an accident. Though Obama won states
like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana on promises to challenge Wall
Street and reform our trade policies, there has been a deliberate and
calculated effort to stack the administration with the very Wall Street
Democrats who created the problems he lamented, and shun those who have
been fighting the good fight.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.