Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


A Totally Partisan, Totally Disappointed Reflection

This long essay in the NY Times Magazine is very astute.  UPDATE:   This short article by David Corn of Mother Jones magazine is also good, and more recent, and shorter!

The NY Times article echoes what many on the left have been saying:  Obama failed to seize his FDR moment after election during a devastating economic meltdown, failed to thing big and challenge the right wing narrative of what has put this country on the wrong track.

Obama felt that he could “transform politics” by appearing reasonable, being open to compromise, not fighting.  He failed to recognize that the right-wing echo machine would hate him no matter how nice, no matter how centrist, no matter how conservative he tried to be.  It would call him a socialist no matter how beholden to wealthy and corporate interests he would be.  He failed to fight.

The essayist says that Obama did not articulate a story for us when he gave his inauguration speech.  Stories help us make sense of things, can reassure us in times of confusion and stress.  (And the most hateful and dishonest narratives can lead us to permit demonic behavior, even to participate in it, as many nations’ genocides continue to exemplify.)

When we trust the narrative our leaders give us, we will grant them a lot of room.  Obama still has not done that.

I wonder if Joe Biden is trying to get him to do so.  Biden wanted to be “in the room” for all major discussions.  Is he arguing for an FDR kind of opposition? Is he chomping at the bit to get out in public and let his loud mouth say some true things that later he’ll have to apologize for?

I wonder how Hillary would have done.  She has always been a fighter, but during the campaign I feared that she would come across too defensively once in power.  (And of course, given the right-wing’s vitriol against her and her husband, she had plenty to be defensive about.)   There’s also the point that she and her strategists (one of whom a former 2-term president) failed to see how she could lose the primary–so how can we be sure she could have beaten McCain?  Well, anyway, my apologies to her.

So now we’ll have angry lefties calling for a progressive primary opposition against Obama, and others fearing that this will only weaken him–not pull him to the left, not scare him, and definitely not replace him at the top of the ticket.

And we’ll have loyal Democrats –and many grateful groups of activists, like LGBT people and, well,  uh somebody else–saying we need to send Obama our money and give our time because we can’t afford another Republican President, not with the GOP in control of the House and very strong in the Senate, and the tea party caucus making Ronald Reagan look like a socialist.

AM I BOWING OUT?  Not yet, just tired!

First I was fooled by John Edwards, when I gave him money in the primary in 2007.  (I still want my $115 back.)  Then I was fooled by Obama.  Now I’m tired.  It will take a few more outrageous statements by Republican primary candidates for me to join those loyal Democrats and again believe that we’d lose too much if we let the reasonable, charming, smart and spineless incumbent lose the re-election campaign.

At this point I plan to send most of my money to 1) local and state candidates and 2) truly progressive U. S. Senators running for re-election.  If a Republican is President, we need a strong Senate to stand up to her or him–in terms of cabinet appointments, court nominations, and tax policy. I am open to your suggestions and recommendations!

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