Sundance, Redford and Obama


The Sundance Film Festival is underway at Park City, Utah. This year the annual event is being covered by the alternative media news program Democracy Now!. Today,  Democracy Now aired an interview with Sundance founder and LA native Robert Redford.

Redford was asked to describe Utah where he owns land and a home. He did not hesitate - describing what he called Utah's "theocratic stance" and alleging that it is  "overdeveloped". You can listen to or read the interview by following this link.

Late in the interview, Goodman asked Redford for his opinion of the Obama Presidency and by implication the Democratic Party’s control of the federal government for the past 12 months. It is a question that is on the minds of many left-leaning and progressive Americans: why does government under the Democrats seem less confident and effective compared to government under the Republicans? Redford suggested the problem was essentially that Obama is too nice a guy; that he went for bipartisanship rather than aggressively using the mandate he had been given. He contrasted this with Bush II who had no legitimate mandate but acted as if he did. 

Most everyone knows that Obama’s approval ratings have fallen. But do you know how his ratings have fared in the West? The Pew Research Center tracks approval-disapproval by region monthly. Their polls show that Obama continue to enjoy majority approval in the West.  But they also indicate that Obama’s margin of approval shrank in 2009 from 63% in April to 54% in December. You can view these and other Pew Poll numbers by visiting their web site.

Robert Redford finds an explanation for the decline in Obama approval in the Administration’s overall softness and the attempt at bipartisanship.  I think the phenomenon has a more fundamental cause. The reason Democrats lack confidence and effectiveness when in power is rooted in the contradiction of a party which claims to be for everyday working Americans but is simultaneously attempting to do the bidding of its financial backers – the corporations and other monied interests. This fundamental contradiction results in an unwillingness to truly champion the causes of the people. But populist rhetoric raises the expectations of everyday citizens whom the Democrats can not help but alienate when they do the bidding of the corporations.

The presence of Wall Street insiders Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers at the center of the Administration economic team has not been lost on working Americans. All the anti-Wall Street rhetoric in the world will not counteract the message delivered by the Obama Administration’s decision to put these men in charge of the economy.

So long as it is a schizophrenic party confused about who it serves and to whom it owes allegiance, the Democratic Party will continue to lack confidence and appear ineffective. The same holds for the Obama Administration.   

Amy Goodman's interview of Robert Redford is worth checking out. In addition to the topics mentioned above they talked about environmental issues and spent a lot of time discussing Redford's most provocative films.

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