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Ron Radosh

“Rabbi” Michael Lerner, you might recall, was last in the national spotlight during the heady early days of the Clinton administration, when, for a brief time, First Lady Hillary Clinton evidently became a fan of Lerner’s cause of the moment, “the politics of meaning.” You can read about Lerner and his background on Wikipedia here. Or, if you want a really critical account of his past, you can read the posting at Discover the Networks. I have previously written about his fraudulent pose as a true friend of Israel.

It is, frankly, somewhat beyond me to understand why so many people take anything he says with other than a grain of salt. The man has lurched from cause to cause, theory to theory, and movement to movement, always with one common theme: follow Michael Lerner to the path of nirvana. Years ago, before the internet, he seemed to echo the late Kim Il Sung, in buying full-page ads in the pages of the New York Times (at $40,000 a pop) to plug his own articles and books, which were otherwise ignored. The man is a notorious egomaniac, who for some unknown reason has managed to still maintain a band of followers.

Now, the Washington Post saw fit to give him space for his latest effort: to encourage the left to run a candidate against Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. Of course, the man who used to argue that one had to be candid and proclaim oneself a socialist revolutionary now refers to himself by the usual euphemisms “liberal” or “progressive,” a tactic we have become all too familiar with as the new way of hiding one’s true beliefs in the effort to gain acceptance.

Knowing that Lerner is really a Marxist of the far left, it is rather obvious to see why he chastises Obama for making his once true believers “depressed and angry.” Lerner does not seem to comprehend that those who come from a mix of the Chicago brand of rough politics combined with a Leninist pedigree have always been tactically flexible. As Lenin once put it, it is necessary to take “two steps forward, one step back.” Obviously having no patience for real politics, Lerner sees Obama as giving in on tax cuts for billionaires, demonstrating “spinelessness” in escalating the war in Afghanistan, giving in on a public option, and refusing to prosecute the Bush administration people who sanctioned torture. Lerner is a no-holds barred radical, and nothing less than an immediate enactment of the most radical agenda will satisfy him.

So having accused Obama of betraying his base, Lerner pleads with Obama to become “the candidate whom most Americans believed they elected in 2008.” Aside from asking whether those who voted for Obama agree with what Michael Lerner holds as his agenda, he assumes that the views of the “base” are those of the electorate at large. One must pause to ask the obvious: Does Lerner have any explanation for why the center, the moderates and the working-class independents who voted for Obama in 2008 deserted him in droves in the recent midterm elections?

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