Something that I keep running into on the blogs is the idea that because The Precious rubs elbows with a semi-Black Nationalist (Wright) and a former terrorist (Ayers) that he is somehow "far left" and/or that the DNC, because of its favoritism, has somehow been infiltrated by the old 60s anarchic Left.
Obama is an opportunist. Beginning and end of story. As I pointed out in Radical Chic, the problem with Obama and far too many of the isolated and insular "intellectuals" of the Left is that they lack any marginal judgment on what these people stand for, instead excusing Wright's reductionistic rhetoric as a justified reaction against "the man" and, more chillingly, romantacize the terrorism of Ayers and Dohrn as somehow justified because they were, yup, fighting "the man." News to liberal snobs - we have met "the man" and He is Us. The Man was exactly the Best and Brightest shiny, squeaky clean out of college smart guys who had all the answers and didn't need any questions and rushed us into Vietnam. In short, they were the A-List Blogger Boyz of their day.
I actually do have sympathy for much of Wright's line of argumentation because this country has deliberately and maliciously stripped African Americans of their wealth, their rights and their humanity until very recently in the republic's history and there is a hell of a long way to go to redress the wrongs visited upon that group. There is no such excuse for the privileged white kids who decided to murder people for shits and giggles, and who are protected by some incredibly stupid academics and bleeding heart liberals who seem to think that Ayers' determination to butcher his fellow citizens is ennobled by his puerile spouting of mangled Marx. He is the moral equivalent of Charles Manson, people, just less bugfuck insane and with a rich daddy to bail him out of jail. He capitalizes on his cachet of dissing the establishment - though he is as thoroughly part of the acedemic establishment as any other no-account talentless prof with tenure.
But back to Obama. No, I don't think Golden Boy Barry shares any concrete views with either of the crackpots. He simply used them as stepping stones within the rarified environment of the University of Chicago political neighborhood. His lack of any stance that might possibly hint of a core principle, let alone political radicalism, pretty much crosses that out. As with his supporters, Obama is into feel-good politics that make gestures in the right directions, not anything that causes a restructuring of basic socio-economic relationships. This is what the Yankee moralists have always done, from the abolistionists right down to those tut-tutting about white flight from urban public schools. One nation for me and another for thee. I fret about the price of arugula and sneer at those who worry about the price of gasoline.
(For Turtle - arugula, also known as "rocket", is a very interesting salad green. It has a strong, peppery flavor and a little goes a long way. It's a traditional "weed" eaten by the poor, like dandelions, collards and kale. I had never tasted it until I moved to New York City for a while and the local Korean grocer sold it by the bunch. Yum. It is not so easy to find, even out here in California, one of the world's most diverse growing regions, but Trader Joe's has a decent bagged version of it for cheap. (I can hear Brad Delong fainting in horror that I buy my arugula in bags...) If you can find it for a decent price, give it a try. Don't let the snobs turn you off a tasty and traditional peasant green.)
What I'm trying to get to here is the simple proposition that there is nothing particularly radical or even political about Obama. He's out to claim some prize because he thinks he's entitled to it and not because he has an agenda to enact or a vision to pursue. There just isn't anything more than the message. He is not a liberal, let alone a radical. Further, the political extremists who have dug their claws into him are not Left, no matter what the Right may say. They don't want any part of the liberal democratic project or any other institution building philosophy. They are permanent adolescents, in perpetual rebellion against "the rules" without developing a comparable answer to the very real problems of power, exploitation, sustainable economies, and human rights that liberal democrats have honed over centuries of thought and practice.
It's not what Obama will do that bothers me. It is what he will fail to do for the party and the nation that makes me reject him.