Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fights Worth Having

The cross tabs tonight are actually pretty close to what they have been in every other primary: Whites and women vote strongly for Hillary, Independents and Republicans have crossed over to vote for Obama and try to defeat Hillary in the primaries, AAs vote for Obama, and he has yet to prove he can carry a large state with a minority Black Democratic constituency. All the votes of all the caucuses added together do not equal the turn out in just Florida, let alone California, so Hillary has still proved more popular with a wider swath and greater number of voters than Barack can dream of.

My mother is a strong Hillary supporter, but was too ill to attend the caucus in Washington last Saturday. She loathes Golden Boy Barry and detests his cultish followers even more. We talked for about 30 minutes tonight and she flatly said he was ripping the party apart with his self-centered, shallow, and arrogant campaign. You see, my mom was part of those 60s disturbances and an early feminist, and she knows that you don't get anywhere by refusing to defend what matters. She prefers Edwards to HRC (fair enough), but had no doubt who she would pick once Edwards dropped out. This is one life-long Democrat who will not cast a vote for Obama in November - she, like me and all our female relatives, will write in Hillary.

Why does Mom feel so strongly about this? She's a party-line voter and has been with a sole exception, to support Dan Evans as Washington governor in the 70s. She endured the tear gas in Berkley, she supported ERA, though she opposes abortion she defends a woman's right to choose, and she knows which political party supports her causes. Her support of Edwards was for his policies on the poor and disadvantaged and for his willingness to be the advocate of the "losers", the people America likes to pretend don't really exist.

One thing Hillary said in her Politico interview was that it's not clear what struggles of the last few decades Golden Boy Barry would consider worth his time. As I have asked over and over, just what is it that The Golden One offers Democrats? Be concrete. What fights is he going to wage for us? Taking troops out of Iraq? Uh, all the Dems say they will do so. Has he committed to what kind of judges he will appoint? What parts of Social Security are off limits to discussion? Holding the line against Republican intransigence? Saying unequivocally that the Democrats advocate what is right, good and for the betterment of the nation, and that the Republicans are fear-mongering cretins? Exactly what he will do to reverse the gutting of the Civil Rghts division of the DOJ? His policies on restoring privacy to the average American? Etc.

Hillary said something powerful in that interview that the A-List Blogger Boyz keep side-stepping in their fanatical promotion of all things Obama - there are fights worth having. Division can be constructive. Unity is self-defeating if it leads you to undermine the core beliefs that make you what you are. This is what Krugman and Perlstein get at, this is what my mother knows from having fought these battles in her youth and right through her life; it matters what we are for, what we are willing to stand up and defend.

Mom's memories of Kennedy aren't so much of JFK the sexy dude with the big speeches, though that is there. She talks of the day he was murdered. "They got him," she says, with disgust and anger, even today, "they knew they had to bring him down. Bobby, too." My mother looks up to Kennedy the martyr, the man who died because the right-wing in this country will literally kill to keep the world from changing around them. It goes beyond money or raw power or religion - these are markers of the root cause. It is the mix of hate and fear that powers fundamentalists around the world, allowing fanatics in the US to speak approvingly of al Qaeda's murder of thousands in the WTC. The pervs had it coming to them, praise the Lord! It is the impulse that powers the Republicans' Southern Strategy. Race may lead it, but the people who promote and support this mode of politics are opposed to anything that seeks to be open-minded, inclusive, ecumenical, and progressive. They are opposed to liberal democracy itself.

These are the battles that are fought when it seems we are just doing some policy wonkishness. The details matter. The concessions matter. There are points on which there cannot be compromise, where unity is not just undesireable but a mark of failure. Bashing the battles of the 90s, when the Movement Consevatives were ascendent, is not just stupid. It ignores the fundamental ground of the battles. Dismissing them all, as the Right so fervently wants to dismiss them, as some kind of character flaw of Bill Clinton, trivializes the brutal damage done to the fabric of the nation, turns us away from the sundering of judicial warp and legislative weft, and normalizes the assault upon reason, equality and justice conducted against the country by the Republicans since Goldwater.

It refuses to acknowledge that they will stop at nothing to turn our country into Nixonland.

The wine-track Left's fatal flaw is its distaste for politics, the dirty hurly-burly of trades and deals, scams and sales, scratching backs and twisting arms. It is the disdain of the philosopher kings for the agora. But the public good is just as much the public's bad (as Madison famously balanced out), and there is nothing pure or simple about that market. They keep wanting to pick a leader who will somehow transcend politics, change the tone of the dirty market traders, dare us to hope for a time when we will unite as a single people with a single vision and march forward into a better future.

It isn't so much liberal fascism as the fantasy of the zipless fuck.

One Obamabot in a Corrente comment thread whined that he wanted to win, not struggle, and so he was voting for Obama, demonstrating once again the deep stupidity of the Obamaphilic Left. There will always be a struggle as long as there is a right-wing. We cannot "win" by putting a single person into a single office because of his mad oratorating skillz. This has to be likened to fending off a tide that will always be moving against us, corroding our foundations even when it ebbs. The A-List Boyz, the ones so angry at Hillary Clinton for daring to stand up against the calumny thrown at her (and most especially the calumny that comes from their own, dear, sweet little sexist mouths) are all slavering and quivering over the prospect of a political zipless fuck, where they can have their philosopher king, and an election success and have sweetness and light magically transform and transcend the icky struggles of the Clinton era into a progressive wonderland.

Oh, and a pony, too.

Here's some real history, little boyz. The wins of the Left have come almost as afterthoughts to the struggles, and are inevitably tarnished and dimmed by them. That is the nature of the struggle of liberalism against fundamantalism, because our opposition literally will kill to preserve their way of being in the world. The victories of the 60s came through the blood of our leaders. We envy (oh, how we envy!) the seemingly teflon triumphs of the Right, their Saint Ronnie, their wiggling out of scandal after scandal, their ability to catapult the propaganda. We want that, too! We want to be able to do as we like and get away with it. That, deep down, is the fundamental appeal to Obama - that he might be a "media darling" and thus get away with it. We want our zipless fuck. It's part of the guilty pleasure of watching him bash the Clintons with the same arguments and tone that a McCain would do, because, to our assaulted senses, that's what winning looks like.

It is against these kinds of wins that our struggles take place. These are the fights worth having.



Anonymous said...

Thank you for all of your blogs. They are very insightful. I listened to a podcast of Hillary at the University of Virginia. http://www.virginiapodcast.net/2008

She addressed that issue here as well. She reminded people that the "battles of the '90's" were about core democratic beliefs: health care, the Brady Bill, the budget and what was important in the budget, etc. She said very strongly that there are some things worth fighting for and that is why she was willing to revisit the universal health care issue and put it on her platform again. She said even though it was defeated the first time she tried to pass it, she felt so strongly about it that she was willing to try again, even at the risk of failure.

To me, that is pure political courage. And courage means sticking your neck out, stating your positions, knowing what you are willing "to go to the matt for." Hillary Clinton has tried to do a lot of things for the American people and has paid the price for it very dearly.

Obama has never shown the politics of courage and I doubt he ever will. For we don't really know what his core beliefs are. I only see him starting some sort of class war, where anyone that has tried to make any changes in the past decades are the enemy, people who were fools for wanting to fight for change. He doesn't want to fight for change, because he says he is change. I don't know what the hell he is talking about.

God Bless Hillary Clinton. For she has the integrity and beliefs to do what she thinks is right. Someday, this country will look back and see that we are witnessing a very historic women in our own lifetime.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% Anglachel. I along with a female friend who supports Hillary will not vote for Obama in the general election if he wins the nomination. It's awful because I wanted to vote for a woman as well as a minority politician I believed in for president in my lifetime. I'm still young so I guess it can happen again but a candidate like HRC does not come around every eight years. Right now I believe in Hillary Clinton but Obama is not the candidate for me. Unfortunately, Hillary might not get the nomination and Obama is not the black candidate I was hoping to vote for.

I absolutely agree that there are battles worth fighting for. I'm proud to be partisan and I don't want to vote for someone who will bend under pressure for the sake of "partisanship".

I am optimistic that HRC can win Wisconsin, Ohio, and Texas BUT I'm a bit worried about Obama coming in a very close second in Texas or even winning because of their mix of primary and caucus. What do you think about her chances of winning this now? I have NEVER wanted anyone to win the presidency as much as Hillary Clinton. She is exactly what we need and it is unfortunate that idealistic youth and the "wine drinking" liberals cannot to see what we see. Let's all hope for the best. I'm still holding out hope that HRC will overcome this month, hopefully with a win in Wisconsin next week.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I like the Hannah Arendt quote; I added it to your rotation.

Anonymous said...

When all said and done, I am confident Hillary will be the nominee. She will win Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania and lead in the popular vote and lead in delegates counting Florida and Michigan.

If Obama is made the nominee by the DNC based on a bunch of his caucus wins and states with significant AA vote, I will write-in Hillary in the fall and urge all Hillary supporters to do the same.

Celandine said...

It isn't so much liberal fascism as the fantasy of the zipless fuck.

That is a fabulous way to put it.

Anonymous said...

I like your post. And I like the idea of writing in Hillary for Prez. If she doesn't win, I'm going to be doing that myself.

So much for "Mr. Electable".

Anonymous said...

I'll add...

that I think, having a BAD Democratic president is worse than letting McCain have the job for the next 4 years.

We can elect a respectable candidate in 2012.

Anonymous said...

Here is a video to accompany your essay. Thanks for your clarity and honesty. The cult creeps me out.


Anonymous said...

I am seeing a deeply cynical and manipulative campaign that is almost completely free of content by Sen Obama. This allows criticism of Sen Clinton for her specifics while also promoting the consensus formed by the right in the 90's and absorbed by the highly suggestible Obama supporters. She is hit both ways and Obama is hit with neither.

The Obama campaign is playing quite shamelessly on some of our deepest cultural weaknesses. Those in this group has been relentlessly told that anger is bad and dismisses the angry person as somehow less than the person above it all while negating what people are angry about. Our culture's disapproval of angry girls and emotional boys is used to dismiss the cause of these feelings. This is being used very cynically by the Obama campaign. By playing almost exclusively to the highly suggestible who are fantasy prone and easily lost in the movement, the Obamarama's are able to dismiss the real factors that motivate the Clintonians' anger and emotional. The highly suggestible are picking up fact free content simply through repetition and tend to be concentrated in the young (inexperience) and "creative" class who are imaginative and most capable of self delusion. The criticisms of Sen Clinton and her supporters are very clearly from our rather warped society's norms for males.

Anonymous said...

I also want to comment that I'm tired of arguing with Obama supporters who continue to make excuses to not seat MI and FL delegates. They believe that Obama will beat McCain without winning FL, CA, MA, or NY. These people are complete idiots. They don't see the big picture or the fact that disenfranchising voters goes against the principles of our party. The only benefit of Obama watching is seeing everything we predict come true in the general election.

Anonymous said...

Hillary voted for the war, Obama voted against it. Wasn't that a battle worth fighting for?

David said...

This is the first time I've viewed your blog. It's quite strong.

I think folk are getting the idea that if the Clintonites bite the bullet and vote Dem in the general, that a landslide for Obama is possible as long as he remains silent on the issues and the country doesn't learn what's under the zipper until after the inauguration. If it's a pair of cojones, he emerges from his defensive Democratic crouch and stops triangulating.

The fantasy starts with the premise that BHO is able to retrieve his past, and use that super majority to shake free of his corporate masters, project enough power to start the Congressional investigations, mobilize popular anger with the results thereof and begin to clean up Dodge City before the MSM realizes what's happening. This is indeed a slender hope.

With Hillary, we have a known commodity. If she doesn't lose, she might possibly come in with a 51% majority even with Obamabots voting Dem and then it will be 4 years of trench warfare as the wingnuts have 41 secure seats in the Senate and aren't going anywhere.

Maybe a bad thing or two that McCain might have done will be prevented as long as the press is distracted by feasting on trivia from The Royal Marriage as the couple tries to find their way in their odd new situation. Maybe it's the prospect of that ongoing soap opera that's attracting some women.

Yglesias and Klein started the game of counting the issues that neither candidate will talk about in public. My list is up to 51 broad categories like race, class the rise of China, the budget deficit, the trade deficit, infrastructure etc. Anybody who wants a copy can write me at dcc@pobox.com

Kudos for the blog Anglachel. Ad multos anos!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful essay. You put into words some of my inchoate musings about just what it is that draws so many educated Democrats to Obama. But of course--it's that yearning for the magical person; that's why Democrats are always fascinated with quixotic campaigns. McGovern, Hart, Dean. Gore was vilified; now he's an outsider, so he's beloved by the netroots.

The Left has always wanted a hero. They imagined John Kennedy to be that; and maybe he would have been had he lived. The Clintons are not heroes; not in the fairytale sense. They are flawed human beings who do care about this country and who do what they can, while still of course trying to stay afloat politically. I think that Hillary would be a better President than Bill, for a variety of reasons. But the limousine liberals are determined not to consider effectiveness, or understanding of issues or even political courage--they want their fantasy Prince.

And the truth of your first paragraph cannot be disputed. Obama is winning this nomination with almost 100% ethnically based voting by African Americans, the aforementioned fantasists, and most importantly, a number of Republicans who are actually managing to determine our candidate, while destroying the career of the one person who might actually threaten their long-term domination of our culture.

StephenAG said...

Excellent post! Superb analysis! 'Nuff said.

TGGP said...

JFK was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, RFK by Sirhan Sirhan.

TGGP said...

You can watch a video of Vincent Bugliosi discussing the assassination here.

Anonymous said...

"February 13, 2008 1:05 PM, Anonymous said...
Hillary voted for the war, Obama voted against it. Wasn't that a battle worth fighting for?"

You are an uninformed Obamoron. Obama was not in the senate in 2002and was in no position to vote for or against the war resolution. He has taken five different positions on the war since then. Read Michael Crowley's article in the New Republic today:


It may even be cool for you "highly educated" guys and gals to become knowledgeable about your "dear leader."

Superstar said...

Thanks Tom. I was just getting ready to say a few words about that. This is a really great post.

I used to be an Edwards supporter, and had already figured I would have to choose between B.O. or Hilary as his campaign began failing. I had no real preference to either one at first, although I was leaning toward Obama based strictly on his speech at the convention four years ago.

But as I began visiting what used to be some of my favorite blogs, I noticed a change in attitude. They had become intolerant of anyone or anybody who did not bow down to all that is B.O. Superstar. I know for certain that at least two major progressive blogs probably more are coordinating their talking points with the Obama campaign. This is the very thing these progressive blogs used to complain about Republicans doing. Not to mention numerous other tactics they have adopted that they used to whine about Republican blogs doing. They began twisting every headline of their posts until everything was anti-Hilary. I found all of this hard to swallow, and it pushed me into Hilary's camp without hesitation. I even donated what little I could to her campaign.

I have voted Democrat in every presidential election since I voted for McGovern. So I'm certainly no babe in the woods. But I cannot bring myself to support someone who runs a campaign like George Bush, whom we know as little about as we did George Bush when he ran, and who secretly coordinates his talking points with blogs who then twist everything about the other candidate into points of negativity.

All one needs for a tiny inkling of what I'm talking about need to look no further than at Americablog right after New Hampshire where Americablog author threw in the race card to explain why Hilary won.

Did race cost Obama the win in New Hampshire?

But I'll have more about the blogs as soon as I can find time to write it up. But thanks for the article. It was a breath of fresh air.