When Žižek wants to support mainstream leftish politicians, he argues that they make clearer the essential indistinguishability of mainstream candidates; when the right is in power, the superficial differences make arguments for the necessity of radical change appear false (we certainly saw this with Bush). But when Žižek wants to oppose these politicians, he argues that they, precisely because of their left-wing appearance, are better placed to implement right-wing policies than right-wing politicians. How might this look in the case of Obama?
Žižek’s examples here are Clinton and Blair, who carried out welfare cutbacks Reagan or Thatcher might not have been able to get away with. It’s a mistake, though, to conclude from this, as some on the left do, that Blair and Thatcher are simply equivalent. Reagan and Thatcher were crucial because their aggressive and ideological neoliberalism created the space in which third-way policies came to appear as a rational, pragmatic or technocratic, form of neoliberalism (this is especially clear in the work of Blairite academics writing on governance, such as Rod Rhodes). Might Obama likewise represent the “rational” mode of neoconservative foreign policy?