The second example looks carefully at Obama's lie that he was going to use public financing in the general in order to use that "pledge" as a club on Hillary. The Blogger Boyz, naturally, lapped up the high-minded approach of their love object, just as they have on pretty much everything else The Precious has shoveled out of his bullshit bag into their mouths agape with wonder.
Somerby dispenses some judgment of his own. I have cut out the newspaper quotes, though I encourage you to give Bob traffic and read them:
One of my favorite essays ever is Stanley Cavell's magnificent work on King Lear, "The Avoidance of Love". In it, one of his themes was that love, and those virtues that are related to love, such as honor, responsibility, respect, loyalty and honesty, are not things that can be claimed or spoken. They must be demonstrated. They are, to grab some graduate school lingo, performatives, made actual in the doing, and they bear a difficult relationship to language because they are difficult to represent in that way. Declarations of these virtues, most of which either are also political virtues or else have a political correlate, stand in tension with the actions of the one who declares - the act of declaration is an invitation to judge.
JUDGING CORDELIA: Did Obama reverse his previous stand when it comes to public financing of the general election? In our view, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t. (On Sunday, we thought people looked fairly silly when they said he hadn’t reversed.) You have to slice the meat mighty fine to find escape hatches in Obama’s statements about this matter during 2007. We don’t think his change in stance is the end of the world. But for ourselves, we wouldn’t claim that he didn’t reverse on this matter.
In today’s column in the Post, E. J. Dionne states a similar view. (“Obama’s choice has been criticized by reformers such as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and even by normally sympathetic editorialists, because his new position contradicts his old one, which was that he would accept public funds...”) But Dionne also says that Obama made “the right call” last week when he eschewed public money. As a general matter, we agree with that too. But we disagree with Dionne’s use of the word “opportunistic:”
“Opportunistic?” Why get so hot and bothered? But for the record: If something like “opportunism” was ever present during this long-running financing drama, it was present during 2007, not in this recent decision.
Presumably, Obama will gain an advantage over McCain by making this decision. But in current discussions of this matter, an earlier fact has rarely been noted; Obama gained an advantage over Clinton during the primaries by taking his previous stand. All during 2007, those “normally sympathetic editorialists” compared Obama favorably to Clinton because he was taking a high-minded stand—and because she wouldn’t follow. Let us stress: This wasn’t a giant part of the coverage, but we think it’s worth noting.
No, this wasn’t a major part of the primary coverage. But the “Goneril and Regan” aspect of this episode was lightly echoed in other areas—in the press corps’ coverage of “no preconditions,” for example, or in the remarkably unbalanced treatment of the driver’s license issue. (Especially at MSNBC, whose working-class, lunch-bucket journalist heroes were devoted to unvarnished truth. By their own admission.)
Lear loved Goneril and Regan best, because they kept telling him things that weren’t true. Cordelia refused to follow suit. How would “editorialists” at the Post have treated Cordelia’s vile stand?
Cordelia was willing to suffer curses and abuse from Lear precisely because she loved him in a way that did not allow her to prostitute that love for gain, exactly in the way that her sisters did. Her love (and thus her integrity) was present in the enactment of it, obeying her father and king's unjust banishment but coming back to try to defend him from the treachery of her sisters, for whom a declaration of love was simply a way to seize power.
The avoidance of love (and it's been a few years since I read the essay), was Lear's downfall. He would not be content with the ordinary expression of this relationship - and the inevitable disappointments of it - avoiding the mundane claims this interaction laid upon him. He purposefully sought what could be counted out in gold, something that he could alienate from himself and thus avoid investing his emotions, and when that transaction was completed, found himself on the losing end of the political power struggle.
Cordelia's love was ordinary, quiet and steady. It did not change to suit the situation, even as she could see the fate that might befall her unless she submitted to her father's imperious demands. Lear was not the only person in the room passing judgment.
I think Bob picked his example very well.