Saturday, April 19, 2008

Radical Chic

Over the last few weeks, it has become pretty clear to anyone not drinking the kool-aide that Hillary has the momentum and is viable in the general election while Obama is losing steam and will not be competitive with McCain, barring a melt-down on the Republican side. The question is whether HRC can make up enough of the the pledged delegate count that super delegates will have political cover to go with her. On the party side, Dean needs to seat Florida and Michigan as-is with full voting privileges if he doesn't want to go down as overseeing the worst Democratic defeat since McGovern. I think what is being reported here is a trial balloon sent up from the DNC to gauge whether the super delegates want those states to be seated. Dean is pressing the SDs to declare, I think, to help him argue that FL and MI should be seated. If the SDs are trending HRC, then it will be "safe" for him to bring the states aboard. If not, then, well, then he's fucked and so is the rest of the party. Too bad, Howie. That's what you get for playing favorites.

Reality has a certain Clinton bias.

Anyway, since the party's fate has already been decided (Choice A or Choice B), I'm more interested in looking at the campaign from a political theory perspective. Something I have been noticing in comments and blog posts in a variety of places are claims and curses about the radicals and extremists, the "far left" that allegedly infests the blogosphere, and even more peculiar claims that Obama himself is some kind of far-left extremist. This leaves me scratching my head as there is nothing politically extreme about Obama, or almost any other Democratic candidate this last round. Gravel is kind of a crank and Kucinich gets a little crunchy at times, but even they are firmly inside the bounds of normal liberal democratic politics. I think there is some confusion about what the Stevenson-Truman class split in the party represents (and that will be the subject of another post), wrongly attributing to the Stevensonian stance something it actually opposes, which is deinstitutionalization of power. There is also some confusion about what "far left radical" means, or who would count as one. The Right has a narrative it puts forward which points at one ineffective group on the Left but is really aimed at another, the one that actually scares them. The Left, oddly enough (or maybe it's just par for the course), doesn't seem to have organized its own narrative on this count.

Let's talk about the candidates. It is simply wrong to claim that Obama is some political radical. He is as mainstream as anyone else within the party power elite, which itself is a fairly narrow slice of all possible political stances. While it is popular in the blogosphere to cite this or that organization who has declared the senator to be "the most liberal" (and noting that, for some, this is condemnation, not praise), all of this needs to be put into the context of the rightward shift of politics, and even more so of political discourse, over the last 25 years. Obama is a left-leaning centrist, just like Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Bill Richardson and Joe Biden and Chris Dodd and John Kerry and Bill Clinton and yadda yadda keep the list going. The liberal "ratings" on any Congress Critter is pretty much meaningless outside of the survey itself. As with polls, those ratings are dependent upon their criteria, their data samples, their weighing and filtering, etc. The correct statement is the Mostest Cool Liberal Congress Critter survey finds Sen. So-And-So to be the mostest cool liberal critter in the entire Mostest Cool Liberal Congress Critter Survey. Richard Nixon would gain a rather respectably "liberal" score today given some of the things he advocated, which should help us get a better grip on the way in which the term "liberal" has been abused over the years, mostly on the Right.

As Paul Krugman discusses in Conscience of a Liberal, for much of the post-war period the majority of Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, could have earned the moniker "liberal" because there was a consensus on the necessity and legitimacy of the New Deal. Nixon's liberality, to the degree that it actually existed and is not revisionist history, was pretty much the last gasp in that consensus. The Movement Conservatives may tar the Democrats as "60s Radicals", but they were gunning for the New Deal long before the hippies showed up (Cultural note - in the Berkeley neighborhood where I lived while my dad finished up his degree from UC, we kids played "Hippies and Pigs", not "Cops and Robbers" or "Cowboys and Indians".) and their true enemy remains that socio-political consensus.

Getting back to the candidates, looking at nothing but policy papers, the Democratic slate presented us a large field of centrists, pretty blatently copying from each other and in general agreement about the issues. For all the fauxgressive eye-rolling and kvetching, the positions were solidly to the left of center. Of course, anyone can write (or copy) anything and the devil is not only in the details, but even moreso in the execution, because that is where words get converted into deeds and are placed under the protection of institutions which preserve otherwise ephemeral acts from the erosion of time and popular opinion. As I've said in earlier theory posts, boundaries sustain and strengthen as well as limit and constrain. To enact policy effectively is to institutionalize it. This is not simple to do, even with legislative majorities, and the ability to do so is difficult to predict as it requires building coalitions and leveraging bureaucratic mechanisms to enforce (or circumvent) legislative actions. FDR's real brilliance lay not just in sheparding the New Deal through but also in entrenching it within institutional safeguards. My point here is that none of the Democratic candidates, whatever the details of their plans, intended to do anything except work within the model created by FDR. Aside from universal health insurance, there wasn't anything groundbreaking, though that was certainly a big bite to take. I agree 100% with Krugman that universal health insurance is a profound challenge to the Right and constitutes a necessary expansion of the New Deal.

Some people have pointed (both approvingly and disapprovingly) to Obama's association with William Ayers, former Weather Underground who is unrepentant for his acts of terrorism against the US, and say this is some kind of marker of Obama's "radicalism". I don't buy it. I look at that and see a few different things.
  • Ayers is something of a celebrity within a very small intellectual enclave centered around the University of Chicago. You want to advance in that club? You kiss celebrity butt. I had several former professors who were part of that enclave at one time and they neither thought it unusual that Ayers would be there, nor considered him more than a jerk trading on his "radical chic" cachet.
  • Associating with a (now domesticated and irrelevant) "radical" is one way to puff up your own ego about how cool, hip and "dangerous" you are. Given what I have observed of Obama's public persona, he strikes me as the kind of person who would do this. Kind of like people who want the cachet of gangsters by listening to a lot of rap and associating with rap stars. Shrug, not my cup of tea.
  • There is absolutely nothing in anything Obama has done as a public figure that indicates he has radical or extremist political beliefs, or that he would knowingly perform an act which carried political danger for him. This is a different thing than hanging out with people who might do such things. This is a person with a careful, cautious, centrist political resume, who doesn't push any legislative or leadership envelopes. And, no, I'm sorry, giving one anti-war speech (that was mostly ignored at the time) at an anti-war rally in one of the safest Democratic districts in the country is not a particularly radical act, however comendable the sentiments expressed.

So, for me, I doubt Ayers is an ideological or legislative influence on Obama, though he may end up being a political liability. The lack of influence is a good thing, as far as I am concerned, as Ayers is simply a domestic terrorist.

On the matter of Wright's effect on Obama, I also do not see any political influence. How much Obama does or does not embrace Wright's outdated and reductionistic social views I don't know and I don't really care. That Obama would join a prominent church to establish a certain kind of credibility with politically connected people in the AA community doesn't make me bat an eye. On the surface of it, it was not a bad move, but it has become a political liability for reasons someone as smart and ambitious as Obama should have understood before it got to this point.

Obama has worked as a community activist, though I have not yet heard what that work specifically accomplished. He served as a legislator in the state senate and is now a US Senator. John Edwards effectively used the courts to right wrongs committed against his clients. He has served as a US senator, and is now dedicated to public service to battle poverty in this country. Hillary organized child care for migrant laborers in Chicago, worked to impeach Nixon in the Watergate hearings, has worked her entire adult life as an advocate for women and children including for the Children's Defense Fund, ran a legal aid clinic for the poor and was appointed by President Carter to the United States Legal Services Corporation, participated in Bill Clinton's various administrations on issues touching on civil rights, trade, health care and other bread and butter issues, traveled the world advocating US interests, gave an historic and very politically daring speech in Beijing on women's rights, and is now in her second term as a US senator. Aside from Hillary's Beijing speech, none of this work by any of the top three candidates (Please feel free in comments to add more examples, espcially of the candidates I omitted) strikes me as particularly radical or extremist. These are all perfectly respectable and commendable public service records, and are well within the bounds of normal political activity. My point is that to call Obama a radical, whether as praise or as criticism, is simply wrong.

It also strikes me that to be talking in these terms about what we should expect from our political candidates is wrong. As criticism, it plays into the hands of the Right who seeks to demonize liberalism by invoking 60s conflict as a whole and subsuming legitimate Democratic political objectives to the reprehensible (and fundamentally anti-political) actions of wack-jobs like Ayers. As praise, it conflates a constructive strand of radical politics, one that pushes the envelope of liberalism but which is intended to expand and strengthen the New Deal, with the violent, shallow, narcissistic and disruptive acts of people like Ayers. It cuts to the core of why Democrats have a difficult time retaining power in the face of the Movement Conservatives, namely the Left's internal class division and the siren call of radical chic.

That will be the topic of my next post.



alibe said...

I am just reading a book, Obama the Post Modern Coup by Webster Griffin Tarpley Progressive Press
Bought it through and paid $5.00 for a download. It is fascinating. Worth ten times as much. Fascinating tidbits to ponder, history to ruminate and intrigue to think about. It made too much sense. Especially eplaining how some of these blogs and TV shows have gone off the deep end. How did Keith Olberman abruptly lose his sense? etc

Anonymous said...

This is a person with a careful, cautious, centrist political resume, who doesn't push any legislative or leadership envelopes. And, no, I'm sorry, giving one anti-war speech (that was mostly ignored at the time) at an anti-war rally in one of the safest Democratic districts in the country is not a particularly radical act, however comendable the sentiments expressed.

Thank you for pointing this out Anglachel. I am so SICK of people mentioning Obama's anti-war speech before he joined the Senate as proof that he is a progressive and Clinton isn't. Obama and Clinton are left leaning centrists. I've known this from the start. In fact, I've argued with my friends that Clinton is actually the one who is more liberal than Obama if you actually look at what she plans to do with health care once in office.

My problem with Obama is that he has no courage. As you pointed out, Obama is careful, cautious, and doesn't push the envelope. I trust Clinton to actually get things done and not fold for the sake of bi-partisanship or play it safe to stay cool with the blogger boyz and not rock the boat with Independents and Republicans.

Clinton is a centrist politician but we know what she stands for and I trust that she'll get more things accomplished in her four years than Obama will.

But now I think that the animosity between Clinton and Obama supporters has little to do with policy differences. More Clinton supporters than Obama's will vote for McCain because we're insulted by his arrogance, elitism, bad attitude, race biating, refusal to count MI and FL, and insults towards Clinton and her supporters. Top all of that with MSNBC and the Blogger Boyz and you've got 30-40% of Clinton supporters staying home or voting for McCain if Obama is the nominee.

Anonymous said...

How did Keith Olberman abruptly lose his sense?

He never had it. Women have always been too damned fast to assume that a liberal man is liberal when it comes to what's in his shorts. They never are, not when it comes to women, and I think it's been proven pretty much beyond the shadow of any doubt that sexism is playing a HUGE part in this campaign.

A man who is anti-war, in favor of legal marijuana, supposedly sympathizes with minority struggles, possibly supports (some) gay rights, is a member of PETA, and drives a hybrid will still talk about his bitch-cunt whore of an ex-wife who got all his money.

NONE of these men can be ASSUMED to be on our side when sexism is in play unless they are sat down and unambiguously asked. PERIOD. Assuming that a man gives a damn about women's rights -- especially the rights and welfare of older women -- because they hate George W. Bush is an invitation to a sucker punch.

Anonymous said...

janiscortese: I've learned that being a liberal male is not synonymous with being a feminist or even a humanist. I think we've seen enough public scandals to know that both liberal and conservative men are guilty of sexism, sexual harassment, abuse, and cheating. Some of the most mysogynistic men I know are "liberals". Just because they are pro-choice (many just don't give a rat's ass about this issue or are more than happy that the women they sleep with can get rid of an unwanted baby) doesn't mean they give a shit about women's rights. I know Republican men who might be against abortion for religious reasons but when it comes down to treating their wives, girlfriends, or female friends with respect, some are much better than these fauxgressives. There are good and bad men on both sides of the political spectrum. It's easy to stereotype until it's easy to see the sexism when a viable female candidate runs for president. It would be really interesting to see Condi Rice run with McCain. As Tennessee Guerilla Women said in her blog post about a Condi Rice VP run, "Republicans would never stand for the media to treat Rice or any other woman on the Republican ticket with the vile disrespect showered on Hillary Rodham Clinton. Democrats have benefited from and all but begged corporate media to insult Hillary, and thus all women, with daily barrels of misogyny. With Condi Rice on the ticket, I'm guessing sexism becomes a firing offense at MSNBC. And I'm guessing Rush Limbaugh begins to look like a sensitive and gracious gentleman next to sexist thug Bill Maher."

Joseph Cannon said...

I agree with your take on the Ayers business, but I still would argue that Obama has more than a whiff of the radical about him. However, his radicalism differs from the sort you discuss here.

One may fairly label Libertarianism radical. Look at Obama's economic advisers -- the staunch free trader Austan Golsbee and the Cato Institute's own Jeff Liebman. Liebman was, I think, the main power behind Obama's signals that he intends to "fix" Social Security. That statement was predicated on false numbers coming out of Cato.

Just as only a Nixon could have gone to China, only an Obama could screw up Social Security. No Republican could ever do it.

Now look at Obama's media supporters. Markos Moulitsas is a Libertarian. Two years ago, he wrote "The Case for the Libertarian Democrat" for the Cato Institute. Arianna Huffington, until recently, espoused an ultra-Libertarian viewpoint, advocating a complete dismantling of whatever remains of the social safety net.

It is no accident that these two have led the Cult of Obama. It is no accident that these two former Republicans have taken it upon themselves to redefine permissible debate within progressive circles. Radical chic and Democratic Libertarianism are now two names for the same entity.

Libertarianism, having accomplished all it can working through the Republicans, now tries to insinuate itself into the Democratic party. That charge may seem counterintuitive at first, but look closely and you'll the see the indicators. The spurt of Democratic enthusiasm for Ron Paul provides one example.

Wright may play a role here. Black segregationist religious movements have never been left-wing, and have always disdained the FDR legacy. In the 1930s, the NOI (which began in Detroit) forbade members from participating in unions. As war approached, they linked up with the Bund. Malcolm X left the movement after the open linkage between Elijah Muhammed and George Lincoln Rockwell. If Farrakhan's economic stance could be summed up in a word, the word would be Libertarianism.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joseph. Thanks for pointing that out as well. I also have gorunds to believe that Obama is a Libertarian Democrat. I guess that would be a good reason for college-aged adults to support him. If you look on, the support for both Ron Paul and Obama is huge. As a young student myself, I never understood how the Libertarian movement became so popular since I started college. When I was in high school, one of my classmates declared in history class that he was a Libertarian (because his brother who was in college at the time was also a Libertarian) and I was like, "what the hell is a Libertarian?" and now it seems like every other kid on campus is a Libertarian or "progressive" for Obama. It's kind of scary if Libertarianism does insinuate itself in the Democratic Party. That is something I don't want to see happen.

Cathy said...

Well, I suppose I'm torn over term libertarianism. It has a surface appeal with the idea of individual freedom and responsibility. That fits the Western mystique up to a point (until your remember how pioneers hung together to survive). But if you scratch deeper you end up agreeing with the late author Marian Zimmerman Bradley that it's simply "Social Darwinism." In other words it helps those already ahead of the game stay on top.

Too many years in the Bay Area (both native and living) have me in the "radical chic" camp of the argument. Years ago Alison Bechtel produced a great cartoon showing two female demonstrators showing off the clothing items they picked up in various third world countries. (In other words, it was like a huge shopping trip akin to Macy's for the matrons.)That's the bulk of non-AA Obama supporters in Bay Area (CA).

As for youth providing bulwark for libertarianism that's been an accelerating trend since Reagan. Each succeeding generation of upper class kids has been pampered not only with material goods but extreme lessons in self-esteem. As a result many are impossible to be around, much less work or communicate with on a regular basis. Supporting Obama provides them both with the opportunity to fit with their peers and feel "important."

I'll conclude this rambling rant with an anecdote. We have a SF Columnist, Mark Morford, who specializes in creating memorable columnists pushing boundaries on sex and politics. He is now a huge Obama supporter and recently wrote of the need "not to lose the feeling" that came from joining Obama's campaign. I immediately likened it to something done in a circle. My partner - who is far more patient than me - more aptly pointed out that to these folks "feeling good" about themselves was far more important that picking the candidate best able to serve the country.

So when we go forward to rebuild the party (a necessity even if Hill pulls it out) we need to focus on fixing this problem. The selfless unity that should have happened with 9-11 and war has been squandered by Bushco. We no longer teach morality in schools (I dislike organized religion but learned life principles from the 1970's social gospel taught in my Catholic schools). Our popular culture is dominated by the need to be the most beautiful, violent, and/or popular.

However I'm at a loss on next step. At most we have folks concerned about "greening" country. But too often it's another excuse to shop.

A G said...

Thank you for this article - it's something I've always wanted to say, but I could never say it with so much insight and clarity.
On the Wright and Ayers controversies, my issue is not that Obama is 'friends' with them - I like my presidential candidates to be 'friends' with a large variety of people, actually, the more the merrier. My big issue is that Barack actually was close to them (at least to Wright), and then put of political expediency tried to play down his connections with them ["Ayers was just in the neighbourhood" or "I wasnt in church the day he said this"], and then alternately tries to stand up for himself [in his race speech about Wright] or shove them under the bus each time ["those statements were unpatriotic" about Wright]. He is a liar, and is trying to walk a thin, thin line here, which is fine - every politician does that - but hey, at least don't go around saying you're NOT a politician.
When Bill Clinton tried his triangulating, he actually gave it a name and called himself a 'New Deal Democrat', was relatively open about his vision and desire to be more moderate than far-left. Barack does not have the honesty to come out and say that he will be moderate or that he will be far-left, he prefers to let people project/make whatever they want, and in different situations will say whatever makes people happy. In that sense, he's more a film star or a celeb on the lines of George Clooney than like Nick Clooney, George's dad. Nick was, of course, the person who would stand up for what he believed in, even though that often made him unpopular, the guy you may not like but one that you will respect for his honesty.
So if Barry was a liar but honest about being a liar, that would be fine. If he was honest but unlikeable, that would be fine too. The problem is, he's a liar and lies about his lying. It's hard to like him, really.

CMike said...

Interesting comments Joseph and CutePeachPanda. I think the two of you are on to something.

To my ear Sen. Obama has never sounded like a left leaning centrist. On issue after issue Sen. Obama lets it be known that he's to the right of Sen. Clinton. She's going to raise taxes on households making over $200,000, he's going to raise taxes on households making more than $250,000. She's going to force people into health care plans, he's going to let the people continue to decide for themselves if they can afford health care.

Sen. Obama lets you know he's the type of conflicted pro-choicer that a pro-lifer like Sen. Casey can respect. Obama has his public positions on free trade and troop withdrawal from Iraq but, if you listen hard enough, his top advisers indicate he has his private positions on those matters.

Recently Sam Nunn, Dave Boren, and Lee Hamilton endorsed Sen. Obama. Believe it or not, but his progressive supporters are taking that as a good sign.

gendergappers said...

Cutepeachpanda wrote: "More Clinton supporters than Obama's will vote for McCain because we're insulted by his arrogance, elitism, bad attitude, race biating, refusal to count MI and FL, and insults towards Clinton and her supporters. Top all of that with MSNBC and the Blogger Boyz and you've got 30-40% of Clinton supporters staying home or voting for McCain if Obama is the nominee."

I have sensed this through the comments on various Blogs and I wonder if anyone has any real measure of this. Certainly the women and men I know are not the go with the flow usually seen. They do not like the idea of voting for McC but will write in HRC. Anyone got an estimate of those of us who will write in HRC if fairness is not observed?

Also, Anglachel - thank you so much for staying positive on HRC.

Anonymous said...

gendergappers: Yes, Gallup did a poll in late March and 28% of Clinton supporters said they would vote for McCain compared to only 19% of Obama supporters who said they would vote for McCain if Clinton is the nominee:

Wanna bet that number is even higher after bitter-gate, flipping the bird, and a poor debate performance? My own estimate is that a good 40% won't vote for Obama if you include those of us who will stay home or write in Hillary.

I realize that Hillary can't win without Obama supporters either but Obama has more to lose especially since many of his votes were from Democrats for a Day folks who will vote for McCain anyway and Republicans and Independents who might have left Obama for McCain since revelations of Rev. Wright surfaced. We can't really poll how many former Obama supporters deflected back to McCain because of all these gaffes made by Obama in the last month. Clinton's only mistake was her Bosnia flap but I think that's pretty much ended and will soon be behind her after she wins PA. Obama has a lot more issues to deal with and as we saw from the ABC debate, he isn't ready to answer any questions about Wright, Ayers, bitter-gate, Rezco, among other problems he'll need to deal with if he's the nominee.

rainsinger said...

Thank you Anglachel, I wish I could write as well as you.

I too have little issue with Wright, Rezco, Ayers and co, except that, I think too many fellow Americans might have issues with it in the GE.

Like some others here though, I have had difficulty with seeing Obama as a left-centrist. I originally saw him significantly farther to the right than Clinton, Edwards and other high-profile long-term Democrats, eg his position on health care, his watering down the nuclear leak legislation, his 'present' votes etc and his Milton Friedmann school of economic advisors, all for laissez-faire free-market unregulated capitalism.

However, Obama has been allowing his public persona/image to be painted with a veneer of left radical cred, pandering to the left with dog-whistles.

Thanks to this blog, up until now, I hadn't seen the connection with Libertarianism. Duh! That would help explain why the dog-whistles and wedging have worked on a cross-section along the spectrum through traditional leftist and rightist factions, and also the youth voting bloc.

Also helps explain my confusion in why some perceive him as liberal/progressive, while others like me, always saw him as much closer to Republican-in-Drag.

jacilyn said...

I think he's considered radical because he wants to be. He deliberately drops these clues and if you don't get his little clues, you don't understand what is being meant by 'nuance'.

He's advertising alienation and bitterness - it's all that comes out of his mouth, and the way he has surrounded himself by bitter people sends a message that he likes radicals. And the way he himself keeps bringing up "bittergate" does double duty twice - first, it reminds everyone of an attack on him, don't you hate people like that. But then, when he has the chance to talk about any issue he likes, he chooses to talk about bitter some more. And when he talks about how bitter people are, the correct interpretation alternately becomes "America is bitter and needs to be changed like a dirty diaper" and "Americans are bitter because the government mistreats them" - it becomes whatever is convenient just like "dirt on my shoulder" is both the coolest pop culture reference in the world (if you like rap) or not there, can't prove it (if you don't).

A lot of people think the change he is talking about is pretty radical (as in turning over existing order and replacing something radically new and different). They'll vote for him because from their vantage point, he gets (and we don't get) that everything is rotten and no good. And that's what they see as being needed: someone who can say, "everything is rotten and no good".

Whatever the intentions behind this campaign, it is revealing a real weakness in the liberal position. To criticize is important, much needed - but our party has gotten so hung up on negativity and bitterness that its own negativity and anger could get in the way now that the chance for change is actually here.

Shainzona said...

cmike...Exactly! BO's positions are not liberal (particularly if you listen to the details) and yet people (Markos, et al) make him out to be a screaming liberal.

I have been on edge about the guy from one of the early debates when he (once again) avoided saying "Yes, he supports a women's right to choose" and instead talked about how he believes the decision should be between a women, her doctor, her family and her clergy. I about fell off the couch...who's next...your next door neighbor and the mailperson?

My concern has always been - and continues to be - his inability/refusal to avoid answering important issue questions.

In CT in 2006, CT Dems were rallying around Ned Lamont and we looked to national Dems to provide support. In classic Obama "present" fashion, he avoided setting foot in the state - even though he was in NYC for a book signing event, then had a free day before he needed to be in Mass to copy a speech from Devel Patrick, er, I mean, campaign for Devel Patrick. CT is smack dab in between the two locations and he never showed. Then he got angry when a last minute "I support Ned" e-mail was sent to 5,000 CT Dems instead of 500. The result? Another 6 horrible years of Joe Lieberman.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

He wants to be all things to all people and that never works out...for anyone.

SweetSue said...

Barak Obama is not the Manchurian Candidate.
He's the Morgan/Stanley Candidate.

AdrienneJ said...

You write, "There is nothing Obama has done as a public figure that indicates he has radical or extremist political beliefs." I guess I want to point out that, I can't think of anything that Obama has done as a public figure, period. Even you find it hard to find anything of substance in his resume. I can't find anything. So, probably because we have no record to go on
(except things like the ironic missing records from his Illinois days) we, the people, tend to look towards his associations....

Wherein we find a lot of unpleasant, unsavory characters. To me, Obama has united the far left and the far right. Something no sane person ever wanted to see. Perhaps I shouldn't say Obama, because I certainly don't give him credit for having the brains to pull off such a political move. To me, Obama is just a poster boy. He's just the messenger, nothing more.

Not only does Obama not have any political (or even any substantative private sector or academic) record, he also seems to have no verifiable stand on any issues. For gay rights, not for gay rights? Pro choice or not pro choice? Pro NAFTA and Columbia Free Trade Agreement or anti CFTA? He slides all over the place on gun control, all over the map on the Iraq war. The guy will not take any stand on any issue and stick with it. It is as though he has some kind of memory disorder-- wherein he can not remember what his stand is supposed to be-- he can only think of what this particular audience is supposed to want to hear. And sometimes he falls completely flat on that.

If it were possible, I would begin to think that this guy is just a holographic image, he seems so without substance or soul. I know that's impossible...
No really, I know that's impossible....

Anyway, because Obama himself seems to be a black hole, I look around him for clues as to his
unobservable essence.

I see Ayers and Dohrn and Wright and Meeks and Donnie McCulkin and
Donna Brazile. These people are
traitors to each of the causes from which they say they spring.
Ayers and Dohrn were all about ending war. Instead they brought war. They killed people and would have killed many more in the name of ending the killing of people.
How's that for a mind twist? Wright and Meeks supposedly are Christian church leaders. Instead they preach pure hate
(a thing most of us don't associate Jesus with). They teach intolerance and divisiveness. Donnie McCulkin is the poster boy for "Jesus saved me from being a homosexual." Enough said there. And Donna Brazile (big, big homophobe herself. Dean is quoted as saying that Donna Brazile objected to affirmative action on behalf of getting LGBT members as delegates.
According to Dean, Brazile objected to it because it equated civil rights with gay rights. Oh my. That's right,Donna. Give gay people civil rights, and everybody will want them. For Pete's sake.) Anyway, Brazile-- who is supposed to be looking out for Democratic voters in her high profile role in the DNC-- was a principle actor in denying the votes from Michigan and Florida from counting. Each and every one of these people have betrayed those they supposedly represent.
And they all have close allegiance to Obama. That means something to me. I find these characters to be very unsavory.

Then we have the college devotees.
The Obama followers who have decided that for some reason acts of intimidation are "okay." We have virtual terrorists lighting up the blogsphere with the most vile spew imaginable. Not content to soil their own sheets, they come out to mess up the pro Hillary blogs. There is an incredible lack of courtesy here.

I have to look at who is encouraging this kind of behavior, who is condoning this behavior. And it obviously is Obama and his campaign. The incredible lack of class Obama showed in his recent "finger" speech was really disquieting. How can one expect his most non-critical thinking devotees to behave any better than he does.

So, although we don't have evidence on record of what Obama stands for... I think by examing what stands around him we see him take some form.

He is politically opportunistic, Republican-speaking one moment,
Democratic-speaking the next. Pro gun control, anti-gun control, ad nauseum.

But more than all these things, is the importance of pure instinct. My instinct tell me that this man is a very dangerous creature. And any argument I make only is an attempt to try and put into words why that is.
However, Mr. Obama is now giving us all sorts of words with which to name him.

On a different note: Thanks for your remarks on Dean. I thought perhaps there was something else going on there than his usual cheerleading for Obama. Thanks for giving a different take on that.

Anonymous said...

Catriley over at NO QUARTER remarked that she's seeing the frat houses that mocked the anti-war supporters who now have Obama stickers in the windows, and who had GWB stickers in the windows before.

Democrat for a Day doesn't even begin to cover it. These are white men using black men as a bat to beat and old white bitch with. The minute she is out of the way (assuming she is, and the better she does in PA, the less likely that becomes), the McCain stickers are going up.

They aren't in this for anti-war reasons. They aren't in this for "hope" or "change." They are in it to beat the bitch, and once that's done, Obama will be dropped like any bat once you finish beating up your target. That's the endpoint they are aiming for-- beat the bitch. Once that's accomplished, he's done with and they back to voting Repub they go.

Again, when it comes to women and women's issues, there are two parties only, and the dividing lines do not match up with the loines dividing Democrat from Republican or liberal from conservative. Those two parties are:

1) People who see that we are human, and
2) People who do not.

That is ALL there is for us.

idear said...

Thanks, Anglachel, for another great post.

And thanks to others for bringing up the topic of Libertarianism. Now that you mention it, it seems to explain a lot of what seems to be going on.

Thom Hartmann often cracks that Libertarians are just Republicans who want to have sex and do drugs. Hmmm.

btw, another prominant Libertarian is Bill Maher, who happens to support Obama too. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Hi idear,
I'm glad someone brought up Libertarianism as well. I didn't take Libertarians seriously until the last several years when - as I mentioned previously - they began to gain a huge following on college campuses and on online networks like the Facebook and Myspace. For a long time Paul was the most popular Republican candidate on Facebook. The fact that Paul raised so much money from online donations should make both Republicans and Democrats take notice. Mike Gravel also switched over to the Libertarian Party recently. I think Libertarianism will become a competitive third party in my lifetime. Obama's Libertarianism, his Libertarian supporters, as well as Libertarianism's growing popularity with young people needs to be addressed. I know some Libertarians at my school who voted for either Paul or Obama in the primary and the reasons why some Republicans - namely Independents and Libertarians - are so attracted to Obama should be studied with a closer lens.

Sherry said...

all of this needs to be put into the context of the rightward shift of politics, and even more so of political discourse, over the last 25 years.

Thanks for pointing this out, Anglachel. I have essentially the same political standards today that I had in the 1970s but in the 1970s I was a moderate liberal and today I'm considered way to the left. It's as though the entire world has shifted around my still point. (How's that for solipsism?)

Cathy, you frighten me a little. I was hoping these threats to riot at the convention etc were just so much hyperbole. But you make me feel as though these young people are like something out of A Clockwork Orange.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Cathy. The young creative class are likely to be more socially liberal and open minded about gay marriage, abortion, and drug legalization than their parents but they are still fiscal conservatives because they want to hang on to their wealth and social status. It is exactly Social Darwinism.

I went to a private high school in a conservative upper class city. Most of my classmate's parents are the conservative Republicans who voted for Bush and will vote for McCain in November (remember, these aren't poor whites who cling to guns and religion. These people were 100% WASPS who will never vote for a Democrat - including Clinton - because they are just fine with remaining at the top of the social hiearchy). However, many of my classmates have become "progressives"/fauxgressives(the graduate school trust fund babies you will find in San Francisco, NYC, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and Boston) who will vote for Obama or they are Libertarians (yes, many enjoy drugs and are athiests) who will vote for Paul or Obama.

This is just from the people I know and go to school with but you can see where Obama's support comes from and why Clinton, the candidate who will fight for universal health care and other social programs for the poor, isn't popular among the young, the educated, and the upper class who care more about feeling good and voting for an AA candidate who runs on the platform of hope and arrogant coolness rather than actually change anything that has to do with giving up some of their wealth and priviledge to help those who desperately need real change in our governmental policies.

I definitely see this trend continuing as the income gap widens between rich and poor, and the top 1% who are priviledged to attend private and ivy league schools will vote for Libertarian candidates who will cater to the needs of the new liberal elite.

If you guys haven't visited the site "Stuff White People Like" it is hilarious and you should check it out:
Obama is #8 and it everything mentioned on that website describes the stereotypical latte drinking white Obama supporter, aka most of my friends in the 20s.

Cathy said...


Just a quick response.Never let these people physically scare you. Most, if not all, wimp out from any type of physical confrontation that could cost them.

(Now that doesn't include a little queer-bashing that frat boys and others do on the side. I'm talking an open conflict.)

As I used to say in my old left days, they are waiting for the masses to spontaneously erupt on their behalf and then immediately turn to them for leadership. It was never clear what was more appalling: their limited political analysis (masses tend conservative) or their egos (like a college student gets seen as a savior).

This is not to say there won't be the usual suspects in Denver. These people get off on street theater of violent demonstrations and fighting the "man" (another working class cop who puts his or her you-know-what on the line everyday for these wimps). Yawn.

(I hate to quote Newt Gingrich but he wisely once called a demonstration a "cheap date" in SF.)

No, what they are doing now is a variation on their old argument. Only instead of hinting at working-class revolution, they are convinced African Americans will do it for them. That's not going to happen. Overwhelming majority of AAs still like Hillary and will vote for her if she gets it. (May not hold true on coasts but many of these folks fall into same class elite as mentioned above. In other words, no confrontation.)

Anonymous said...

As I used to say in my old left days, they are waiting for the masses to spontaneously erupt on their behalf and then immediately turn to them for leadership.

It sounds like the Bay of Pigs. *stifled laughter* With reason, I might add.

CMike said...


Thanks for the recommendation.

Sherry said...

Thanks, Cathy.

We do seem to be talking Paul Lukasiak's Infantile ID here.

If we're talking tantrum, I'm the mother of two sons. I can handle tantrums.

lost clown said...

AdrienneJ : It's because he just wants his name in the history books. He stands for nothing, because he is nothing but ego.

cutepeachpanda: all I learned from stuff white people like is that I'm not a white person. (but it's probably because I don't have the right income level (or mindset-I'm from one of those clingy families) as my frustrated partner kept telling me over my exclamations while reading the site)

Anonymous said...


Correct, Obama's voting record marks him as a cautious centrist. But isn't that the very definition of a rigged result? What in the Illinois State Senate, or the US Congress, could he vote on that would mark him as a raving radical? The company he keeps is radical. Is it not fair to judge him by that? If not, why not?


"I know Republican men who might be against abortion for religious reasons but when it comes down to treating their wives, girlfriends, or female friends with respect, some are much better than these fauxgressives."

This was a common complaint back in the 1960s. See under: Forrest Gump.

"As Tennessee Guerilla Women said in her blog post about a Condi Rice VP run, "Republicans would never stand for the media to treat Rice or any other woman on the Republican ticket with the vile disrespect showered on Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Why do you think this is? I have my suspicions. I'd be interested to hear the gallery explore this issue.

"And I'm guessing Rush Limbaugh begins to look like a sensitive and gracious gentleman next to sexist thug Bill Maher."

I yield to no one in my contempt for Rush Limbaugh, but there's no doubt in my mind he'd never trash a female Republican the way that some Dems. have trashed a one-time party heroine.

Pour moi, the misogyny of "progressive men", esp. those in the arts, or punditry, never ceases to amaze.

Gary McGowan said...

Libertarian is just another op of the free-trade empire utopians.

No offense intended (I just can't express myself well on your level.) but you guys seem to be dancing all around a stake in the ground when I want you to pull it up and thrust it through the heart of the enemy.

Greenconsciousness said...

"Something I have been noticing in comments and blog posts in a variety of places are claims and curses about the radicals and extremists, the "far left" that allegedly infests the biosphere"

What I as a feminist am talking about is not the "far" left but the "male" left, the misogynist left, the sexist left which has never got it about the reality of woman's oppression. The male left who mouth feminism in order to gain our support so they can co-opt our organizations.

The Noam Chomsky male left who embrace Hamas and Hezbollah,the Muslim brotherhood and other thugs who actually slave and honor kill women. The misogynist left who call women Islamaphopes because they recognize a threat to their civil rights. The left who shouts down women on campus who try to discuss this.

The male left who managed to go through the whole war without any relief organizing for women in AF or Iraq. Who only lied about their condition to bolster their antiwar campaigns.

The male left who has exposed their sexism with the tactics they have used in this campaign.

The male left who gives lip service to woman's reproductive rights but organized for Nader and in the words of Michael Moore at a WI Nader Rally is "sick and tired of voting for people to protect abortion rights. Nothing is going to threaten abortion rights. Nothing is more secure than Roe v Wade". That is the left we talk about when we say the left is not to be trusted.

You are not talking about the criticism of feminists of the left with the distinctions you have made.

Having said that I think the post is really interesting and have passed it on.