Friday, December 14, 2007

Obama's Cocoon

Here are two somewhat different observations on the flap over Obama's history of cocaine abuse. First, Eric Alterman:
I don't understand the problem with Billy Shaheen* saying that Obama's admission of drug use might turn out to be a problem in a general election. It's true, isn't it? It might be. Is it better to pretend that it won't and then find out later that you've just elected another right-wing extremist incompetent. The fact is we have no idea about any number of issues relating to Obama's potential vulnerabilities, and while I love the guy and think he would make one of the greatest presidents ever, I would like to have those answers sooner rather than later. Of course we'll never get them, but if anyone thinks that Republicans are only going to raise these issues because Clinton did, well, that person is stupid. It's rather childish to pretend that politics doesn't involve finding out bad things about your opponent and saying them. I say let's get everything on the table and let Obama deal with it.
And then there is the far less sympathetic Charles Pierce:
I guess we're all supposed to be horrified this week that Hillary Clinton is acting like a tough political candidate. (If Matthews crosses his legs over his cojones any tighter, he's going to be doing the show as a soprano for the rest of his career.) I have grown a bit tired of the whole Obama-as-the-anti-Hildebeast meme, which the Obama people have determined is the non-Oprah key to his current surge. Indeed, Obama's campaign has begun to make my skin crawl a little bit. The we-are-the-world optimism that not only blinds him to the fundamental corruption of the regime he hopes to replace, but also makes you wonder if he's the guy to come in and throw daylight into all the dark corners of the past seven years. The willingness to employ Republican storylines on Senator Clinton and, far more seriously, on Social Security in an apparent attempt to win the vital Green Room Primary in Washington and to appeal to mythical "moderates" who don't exist and won't vote for him anyway. If we're ever going to get past the depredations of the Bush Administration -- many of which, I guarantee you, are still deeply secret -- it is an insufficient remedy to declare that the "politics of division" are now over and we will now reunite under a banner and move forward together. In the first place, there already is a conservative attack machine in place that will nuke whoever a Democratic president is the moment he or she lifts a hand off the Bible. Moreover, there must be an accounting if the corruption is to be cleansed and the constitutional order restored. There is no way to do this without an angry, bloody, and, yes, political process. The next president's most critical function in the early days is not to make us all feel good about our country again. It is to be the head of an informal national Truth Commission. I'm not sure if Obama even wants this job.
(My emphasis)
Neither of these writers is an HRC fan, though Eric distinguishes himself by always speaking of her calmly and deliberately, his praise as much as his criticisms grounded in demonstrable facts. What Eric and Charles both point to is the cocoon that Obama has spun around himself. With Obama, there is a presumption that everyone agrees that any negative press is always illegitimate and a signifier of his opponent's fundamental bad faith and duplicity, while his own comparable attacks (see eRiposte of Left Coaster's latest for the run-down) are necessary actions to defend himself.

More disturbing is the way in which Obama doesn't seem to grasp the real task that faces any Democrat who can get his or her butt into the Oval Office - use the power of politics to restore the republic, taking it back from C+ Augustus and his fascistic kleptocracy. He doesn't seem to grasp (or care) that the nation is indeed at war, but it is a slow moving civil war of a privileged class against the rest and of reason and humanity against fundamentalist apocalypticism.

Obama seems to think that it is enough that he "isn't Hillary" to justify his claim on the presidency. It is unclear exactly he wants it for, except to cap off his glorious career. This is a demonstration of narccissism as great as W's - beacuse I'm sexy and give good oratory and I've decided it should be mine.

We can see from his oppo attacks on his competitors that he is quite comfortable with ruthlessness when it is to benefit himself. He evidently conducts oppo research against progressive bloggers who might be tempted to criticize him, rather than meet the criticism head on. But he doesn't appear to have any great desire to fight the deep wells of corruption on the other side of the aisle, preferring to tout his equivocal opinion on Iraq from years ago (and never once mention his current voting behavior) to exploit netroots HRC hatred than to actually create and explain foreign policy that would deal with the situation on the ground today.

He and his supporters are living in a cocoon of Golden Boy Barry's wonderfullness. It is supported by the Republicans he says he's going to fight, and spun to ever more glorious heights of gilded perfection by the media that transformed Gore into a loser and Kerry into a coward and wimp. The same media that is doing its darndest to ignore the vacuity and savagery of the current Republican field.

For those of us who keep in mind the political strategy Lee Atwater bequeathed to the movement conservatives, we all know what will be launched at Obama. Black druggie from the big city who is a closet Muslim, supports violating electoral laws and stuffing ballot boxes, and who will give away tax dollars to welfare queens and wetbacks. Don't think for one second they won't, or that it won't work. Even if he gets to the White House, this will be the constant refrain, with demands that he "prove" he's not biased to blacks, "illegals" (read - Latinos who don't vote Republican), single mothers, etc., etc. - in short, that he will throw the Democratic majority under the bus.

The cocoon is the fantasy of a large portion of the left that somehow they can all sing Kumbayah together and yet retain power. If only we get rid of the "dirty" parts of the party, we'll win on our virtue! Even Obama doesn't really believe that, but that's the campaign he is running.


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