>I haven’t talked much politics here in over a year, really. I tend to get overheated. So I just keep it inside, or rant to Julia about it. Meanwhile construction on my super-secret Mountain of Power continues. Once the thing is complete, and all the construction workers are buried somewhere deep within, my plans will come to fruition. Besides politics isn’t really what this blog is about (not that it’s about anything anyway). I’ve even avoided reading some of the people I really like and admire for their thoughts, which is probably a mistake. But lately I’ve been getting pretty cranked up again.
Obama the War Monger
The moment I realized Obama wasn’t the guy for me was after the second debate with McCain back in October of last year. That was the point when I got off the bandwagon (though I was never really on it in the first place; as Democratic candidates go, early on I was more of an Edwards guy)(that should show you how friggin’ smart I am)(though in my defense I always did think there was something kind of smarmy about him — I did/do like his wife, though)(and no, I didn’t/don’t like his wife in THAT way you perverts)(and I should also say that I’ve never considered myself a Democrat either; I’ve voted Nader now three elections in a row). It was clear to me then that he was every bit as bloodthirsty as any of those other assholes running for office, and that pissed me off. It still pisses me off. I wasn’t in favor of the Afghan war when it started, and I sure as hell wasn’t in favor of Iraq. With troops ever extending, and a 16 yo son, the possibility of a draft — which may seem tinfoil hat material to some — is something that I really worry about. His actions as President have only reinforced my concern.
So I wasn’t all in a tizzy over Obama’s speech about Afghanistan. It was pretty much what I expected. What got me in an uproar is the behavior of so many of his, “We’ll get him in office, then hold his feet to the fire!” supporters that tried to sway me to the cause despite my gut level doubts. Watching my twitter feed during and after the speech the other night, a couple things really caught my eye.
- Speechifying. Come on people. We’ve been listening to this guy for a couple three years now. When are you going to stop dissolving into a wet heap just because he talks pretty? “Oh, it’s so great to have a President who can speak so intelligently!” “Did you hear what he said about [insert issue]? I had tears in my eyes!” Etc. Get over it. He’s going talk about hope, then dash them. He’s going to talk about peace, then launch a few drones to kill a bunch of people. He’s going to talk about human rights, then give China a full-on erotic massage. He’s a politician. A brilliant one. Which makes him all the more dangerous.
- Making Excuses. I saw something from someone who said something like the speech was “a serious speech from a guy who didn’t like we he had to say.” That to me sounds exactly like something a Bush apologist would say after one of his stupid speeches, and that the Democrats would then proceed to jump all over. I recognize that with the office comes making some tough decisions that maybe one doesn’t want to make. But that still doesn’t make them right. And it still doesn’t justify people jumping on board for actions that they villified Bush for that were similar, if not the same.
And that’s the thing. This all feels so utterly hypocritical. Take this article about Obama being sued for White House visitor list. Here’s an excerpt:
Like the Bush administration before it, the Obama White House argues that the visitor records belong to the White House, not the Secret Service. White House records are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, as agency records would be. Federal Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled twice during the Bush administration that White House visitor logs belong to the Secret Service, which creates and maintains them, and must be released.
Now there may be some bullshit to this story. Bottom line, though, is this is exactly the type of thing that the Dems crucified the Bush adminstration for, and rightly so. And I’m sure as hell not defending the actions of those assholes either, I’m just saying that if Obama is going to be as transparent about his business as he claimed he was going to be, then he sure has a funny way of showing it. Where are the holding-feet-to-the-fire people on this one?
In the midst of all the hero worship is the idea that by pointing out where this guy is being anything but progressive in so many ways (and yes, much of what is going wrong is happening in Congress, but since Obama is The Man for the party running the store, he’s the one who is going to take the hits for their bullshit), one is somehow betraying the cause. Turning coat, as it were. That sounds awful familiar to things we heard over the eight years prior, if you ask me. Glenn Greenwald wrote a great piece the other day called My Friend the President. It is well worth reading. An excerpt:
According to these defenders, it’s just wrong — morally, ethically and psychologically — to criticize the President. Thus, in lieu of any substantive engagement of these critiques are a slew of moronic Broderian cliches (“If Obama catches heat from the left and right but maintains the middle, he is doing what I hoped he would do (and what he said he would do) when I voted for him”), cringe-inducing proclamations of faith in his greatness (“I am willing to continue to trust his instinct, his grace, his patience and his measured hand”), and emotional contempt for his critics more extreme than one would expect from his own family members. In other words, the Leave-Obama-Alone protestations posted by Sullivan are fairly representative of the genre. How far we’ve fallen from the declaration of Thomas Jefferson: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
With regard to many of the above-referenced criticisms — as well as ones I haven’t included — there are reasonable disputes over the validity of the critiques, and many Obama defenders voice those on substantive grounds. Obama admirers like the ones featured above are a minority, albeit a vocal one. But far too many have an emotional attachment to him and investment in him that is deeply unhealthy, particularly when it translates into intolerance for the very act of objecting to his decisions and policies, as one sees on vivid display in the responses Sullivan posted.
Greenwald goes on to compare the uber-supporters referenced in the second excerpted paragraph to these fine Americans interviewed in the following Sarah Palin video. He makes a great case. I love this video more for the comic effect, because I like people who think they’re smart proving without a doubt that they’re morons (kind of like my political blogs). I’ve been to that Borders in Columbus. I watched this video hoping to see one or two of my co-workers, but I didn’t. This thing kills me. Especially the gomer in the Steelers jacket and the hardass in the Buckeyes jacket ( I HATE both those teams too, I might add).
So, Are Liberals Really Useless?
Chris Hedges thinks they are, and he delivers a severe ripping to the Left in this piece called Liberals are Useless. Agree with everything he says or not, he makes some great points. An excerpt:
Anyone who says he or she cares about the working class in this country should have walked out on the Democratic Party in 1994 with the passage of NAFTA. And it has only been downhill since. If welfare reform, the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, which gutted the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act—designed to prevent the kind of banking crisis we are now undergoing—and the craven decision by the Democratic Congress to continue to fund and expand our imperial wars were not enough to make you revolt, how about the refusal to restore habeas corpus, end torture in our offshore penal colonies, abolish George W. Bush’s secrecy laws or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American citizens? The imperial projects and the corporate state have not altered under Obama. The state kills as ruthlessly and indiscriminately in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as it did under Bush. It steals from the U.S. treasury as rapaciously to enrich the corporate elite. It, too, bows before the conservative Israel lobby, refuses to enact serious environmental or health care reform, regulate Wall Street, end our relationship with private mercenary contractors or stop handing obscene sums of money, some $1 trillion a year, to the military and arms industry. At what point do we stop being a doormat? At what point do we fight back? We may lose if we step outside the mainstream, but at least we will salvage our self-esteem and integrity.
Can One Be Cynical Yet Optimistic?
That was a question a couple of my twitter friends were kicking around earlier this evening, which made me think about my own perspective. This may come as a surprise to you, especially if you’ve read this far, but I’m pretty cynical when it comes to politics. No, really, I am! I think politicians — at least at the federal level — exist in a little world which is so far removed from the reality of real people as to make them essentially irrelevent. It’s all about money and secret deals and backslapping and keeping their job. Anything they do that’s favorable takes rare courage, or happens purely by accident. Or pressure from the people that they just can’t ignore and still maintain all of the above.
So am I optimistic? I don’t know. My gut feeling is to say I don’t think so, just because the debate is so angry and so spiteful with no one willing to look in the mirror and admit their own hypocrisies that it seems more and more difficult for anyone to do anything even if they want to! I realize Obama hasn’t even been at it a year yet, but as much as it is important not to judge all of his works for what he’s done with only 25% of what’s been allocated to him time-wise, it is also important to realize that he still needs to be called out on his actions. Four years ain’t that long, folks, and politics are like losing weight: it’s a hell of a lot easier to really go to shit than it is to straighten up.
Hell, Obama isn’t even the issue. Maybe he really is a great guy who wants to do Good, he’s just totally whipped by the people who attached strings to him. The issue is the stranglehold that corporations have on our nation due to the influence they have on everyone in the halls of power, Obama included. I don’t think there are any arguments that can be made that really deny that, regardless of the good things he’s accomplished. I don’t know that we can overcome that before it’s too late. I don’t trust the guy as far as I could bowl him, but I hope he does more good than bad.