Saturday, November 27, 2010

The strange case of the anti-Obama liberal

Ever since I turned against Obama and his progressive acolytes in 2008, both right-wingers and left-wingers have included my email address on their mailing lists. You might say that my inbox provides the bed where strange bedfellows meet.

Yesterday, I received an inquiry from a student surveying attitudes among conservative bloggers. He presumed that I was among that company. Before waiting for a reply, the same student wrote again, apologizing for his first letter. He had originally taken me for a rightist, no doubt because this site has been known to criticize our current leader; further research uncovered a subtler truth.

My reply may be of general interest:

"Being an anti-Obama Democrat kind of freaks people out, and they don't know where or how to pigeonhole a guy like me.

"It's a weird situation. I'm old enough to recall the Johnson, Carter, and Clinton presidencies. They all had plenty of liberal critics. Liberals loathed LBJ. Liberals castigated Carter almost as vehemently as the right did. (Hence the Ted Kennedy run in 1980.) The magazines of liberal opinion (The Nation, The New Republic) almost never had a kind word for Clinton, at least not until the Lewinski scandal.

"But nowadays one is expected to be a team player.

"You may want to pursue that line of inquiry in your research. Were there anti-Bush Republican bloggers? Are there conservative bloggers who will take a stand against Palin or Huckabee, should one or the other become president?"

We should all ponder such questions. Why has politics turned into a massive game of Shirts versus Skins (to borrow Bob Somerby's phrase)?

In the old days, not only was LBJ loathed on the left, much of that loathing rubbed off on his veep, Hubert Humphrey. The local Pacifica station went after Carter as relentlessly as Rush Limbaugh goes after Obama. Gore Vidal's challenge to Jerry Brown's senatorial run stemmed from the belief that Brown and Ronald Reagan were ideological twins. (I met people on the Vidal campaign who actually believed that codswallop.)

Yet today, most people on the left can't bring themselves to express that level of disdain for Obama, even though his presidency has depressed many liberals.

What changed?

One could cite a number of factors, but the most important may be the ominous nature of the current Right. Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Partiers, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin -- it really is getting fascist out there. If forced to choose between a sell-out and a goosestepper, I must support the sell-out.

But I'll do so with a wince on my face and a clothespin on my nose.
Again, good to have you back, Joe.

What has changed is the nature of progressives themselves. The truth is, today's progressives are simply not so cool.

I'm talking mostly about the Obama Democrats, who have distinguished themselves by their willingness to attack their fellow Democrats in the most vicious way. This bad behavior applies equally to Obama and to his fans (if there are any fans left).

Since they first appeared, Obamacrats were unlike any Democrats ever seen. I first became aware of Barack Obama when I noticed that his supporters were calling everyone and his brother a racist. They clearly thought this was the most brilliant political tactic in the world. This is when they weren't calling Hillary and her female supporters the C word, again and again and again.

If I didn't know better, I'd say Obama supporters are foul-mouthed Philistines...

"Democrats calling Democrats racists," I thought. "What better way to kill a political party?"

And now here we are--Democratic Party dead, faster than anyone thougbt possible.

On schedule, the O-holes are now busily blaming Bill Clinton for the whole thing, with no sense of irony, much less any awareness of having screwed up. That's why it's so strange to be an anti-Obama Democrat.
LBJ, Carter and Clinton were not members of what Anglachel calls the "Stevensonians." All three were "Jacksonian" Democrats and southerners. Gore would fall in the Jacksonian category too.

Obama is a Stevensonian.


Lefty opposition to Obama tends to come from people with blue-collar roots.
People like us are deliberately ignored. A little limelight was shed on those who used to support Obama but were now disaffected. Of course, the attention they got was purely negative - being called "retards", deserving of straight jackets or drug tests. We, who had our eyes open since 2008 are not even raising to that level of contempt.
As for choosing between the sellout and the goose steppers - I wouldn't even attempt it. Whatever differences once existed are getting smaller every day.
I think the liberal criticism is muted because of the fear of being labeled a racist. Plus, with Carter, LBJ, and Clinton, there was and still is, a great deal of regional chauvinism at work, i.e., you can't be a liberal if your roots are in the Old South.
"As for choosing between the sellout and the goose steppers - I wouldn't even attempt it. Whatever differences once existed are getting smaller every day."

I cannot agree there. It might be instructive to re-read some classic books about the rise of fascism in the 1920s.

When the proto-fascists murdered Walther Rathenau -- and got away with it -- the German left barely protested. After all, Rathenau was a classic sell-out.

In the long run, did that attitude benefit Germany?

Similarly, and perhaps more pointedly, take a look at the fall of the Spanish Republic. The moderate Republicans were attacked and weakened by all sides, not just by the fascists. The hard leftists and the anarchists considered the mainstream democrats to be insufferable sell-outs.

And how well did that stance work out for Spain, in the long run?

Let's be careful. We really are playing with fire here.
Those who supported Obama, have a certain mindset. From the beginning, Obama's supporters ignored Obama's weaknesses, defending candidate Obama by saying the weaknesses were strengths or unimportant, such as inexperience, or attaching the weaknesses to Hillary, e.g. NAFTA duplicity and being pro-war.

To echo Hillary, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. It's not surprising that Obama's supporters will make excuses for Obama or continue blindfolded support.
There were a few conservative bloggers who criticized the Bush administration, but they were later outed as RINOs. I assume those same 'RINOs' will be going after Palin and Huckabee. (The conservatives I am thinking of are Andrew Sullivan, David Frum, Bruce Fein and Bruce Bartlett but the last two are not bloggers and Frum I don't think criticized Bush but modern conservatism.)
The stricture (among liberals/progressives) against criticizing Obama preceded the real ascent of the Tea Party (so it's not a viable explanation as the primary cause). I think more valid explanations include race, the Stevensonian aspect (along with the ascent of the neo-Progressives - DailyKos, Ariana, etc.), and a general societal increase in team mentality/tribalism. I do think the far right had a role, but primarily by introducing forms of behavior that were then adopted by many progressives.

Obama isn't simply a sell-out. He's different in kind. And his ascent coincides with an ongoing shift in the interests represented by the Democratic Party - e.g.
Chris Hedges may be basically correct in Death of the Liberal Class - "The Democratic Party and the press have become courtiers to the power elite and corporate servants."...."The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism."

I also think Ian Welsh is largely correct: "The left must be seen to repudiate Obama, and they must be seen to take him down. If the left does not do this, left wing politics and policies will be discredited with Obama." I think providing our support (with clothespins on our noses) will have essentially no effect on the outcome of the 2012 election (we'll just be a few extra souls dragged down with the ship). If we are to have any real efficacy (and I'm skeptical in general), it would have to be as an alternative left/liberal political formation (either within and/or outside the Democratic Party) that is viewed as having some integrity (and that is voicing the interests of the traditional Democratic/Left base).
What’s happening now was totally pre-determined. Obama is a plant. In 2008 when it became clear that the Republican brand was so damaged that a Democratic president was virtually a foregone conclusion, the Bush Pioneers staked Obama to $100 million to get him into the race. He’s always been Wall Street’s tool. Hillary was a loose cannon. Too independent, not controllable, non-intimidatable, much too liberal, and much too wise in the ways of Washington, and much too willing to put a stake in the heart of the Republican radicals, to be a safe bet for the plutocracy.

Remember in Indiana when she proposed a windfall profits tax on the oil companies? That was her shot across the ship’s bow when she clarified that she was no longer beholden to the powers that be, because frankly - at that point Wall Street had cut off all funding to her and her entire campaign was being fueled by populist fervor and small donations. She had to be taken out (and, unfortunately, she was taken out). And the Democratic elite – awaiting their long–awaited and deeply-desired turn at the cash trough - were in collusion the whole time.

But now it’s a wide open secret. And it’s true that all seems lost; that the Democratic bastards are barely better than the Republican assholes. It may seem apparent that the Corrente-favored approach of None Of The Above seems like the only one that ‘feels’ right. But Joseph has a point. Voting for the lesser of two evils may be the only way to stem the tide till the right (person)(party)(movement) appears, if ever they do. Holding one’s nose when pulling the voting lever while remaining ever cognisant that this is not a vote of confidence but rather a defensive holding action, may in fact be the only practical approach to take at this moment in history. The tipping point may not be as far away as we think.
Agree w/Makana's post above to a degree (don't know about the $100 million dollar stake from Bush Pioneers, though-- haven't heard that one, and I ask for some evidentiary support for that claim, please).

But if it wasn't the Pioneers, then Wall Street support (not that far different).

Obama was no outsider-- his meteoric rise from obscurity as a keynoter to president in a scant 4 year period was not possible without key insiders greasing the skids, ala the similarly inside Establishment (David Rockefeller/Zbieg) sponsored Carter.

With Zbieg an advisor to Obama, and with the influence of Goldman Sachs advisors at the highest level as with Clinton, connect the dots.


Republicans for Obama have been around since 2006!
I didn't doubt that Republicans supported Obama, to some degree.

What I asked about, and what this doesn't show, is the claim that the Bush Pioneers put $100 million behind that horse. I still find that doubtful.

Clinton and Obama Raiding Donors Who Backed Bush

Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 30, 2007

As senators Clinton and Obama crisscross the country seeking the
Democratic presidential nomination and sharply criticizing President
Bush, they have been collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from
donors who funded one or both of Mr. Bush's campaigns for the White

In the first quarter of this year, more than 150 former Bush donors
pitched in for Mrs. Clinton's campaign, while a similar number anted
up for Mr. Obama, according to an analysis of Federal Election
Commission data performed for The New York Sun by the Washington-based
Center for Responsive Politics.

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