Monday, May 05, 2008

Not Liberal, Not Left

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.



Anonymous said...

Anglachel, yes, your last sentence nails it for me. It's not what he'll do that's the problem (except perhaps foreign policy, which I'm really afraid that he'll mess up badly). It's all the problems we have that he'll do nothing to fix.

For a long time, I've felt that this is a critical election, that the problems we have right now must have bold solutions and they can't wait. Even with the bandaids Bush is putting on them, the financial markets are a mess. We haven't heard the last, or the worse, of the subprime mess. Nor is it going to be easy to fix the falling dollar/higher prices that are a result of the Bush policies. I don't have any faith at all that Obama understands the complicated economic realities of the world. And I especially don't trust the republican-lite advisers who would undoubtedly be the ones who would really implement economic policy.

Obama hasn't shown that he understands the right questions to ask, let alone knows the solutions. Clinton has been so far above him in that respect that I still have a hard time believing that he is even still in the race. With a real press he would have been gone a long time ago.

I really don't get what his appeal is at all. He has no experience. He has no original ideas. He has yet to do anything. And yet, he wants the most difficult job in the world. I think he basically just wants to be king while his minions do all the work. Unfortunately, it's almost too late for the voters to wake up.

gendergappers said...

There's a saying that "if you lie down with dogs you get fleas." Whatever associating with Rev Wright did FOR BO - and I agree that he is and will be an opportunist - what cannot yet be measured is what Rev Wright did TO him. This yet unknown may yet be the real danger.

I grow arugula in my garden but the early greens I enjoy are from the bounty of Mother Nature from the fields and roadside - dandylions, wild asperagus and pigweed. Staples for my family for generations.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Obama is an empty vessel single mindlessly pursuing the thrown, we should not forget the signs of danger that emanate from his campaign. The hate mongering, the release of goons, (so far mainly verbal) and race baiting.

These may be signs of things to come, because there is no such thing as campaign tactics; it becomes the way one governs. Fortunately, he'll lose in a landslide.

Pat Johnson said...

It still annoys me to see how rabid they are in this election. As you said, is this a sign of things to come? The DNC is backing Obama out of fear of disenfranchising the black vote when they should be looking at the most electible candidate. He will be eviscerated by the GOP in Nov because they are just warming up.

Imagine how they will use the flag pin, Rev. Wright, and Ayres against him to illustrate his "unpatriotic" beliefs.

I have a feeling he will go down in flames come Nov if he is the nominee as a direct result of what the GOP will utilize to win.

Hillary is a fighter and I don't think Obama has a clue as to what is in store. He will spend the general defending himself and any issues will get lost in the battle.

Anna Belle said...

Wow, again. This is why I read your blog. You are so good at teasing out the little buried messages like: I fret about the price of arugula and sneer at those who worry about the price of gasoline.

And I agree, that last sentence nailed it again. I think the whole conversation of this particular post is what finally swayed my husband to stop supporting Obama and vote for Hillary Clinton today. (We live in Indiana; I voted two weeks ago; our votes count this time! Yeehaw!)

Stella said...

The astonishing idiocy is when a magazine like the Nation endorses such an opportunist under the guise of change and lefty politics.

Arugala aka Rocket. Yes, it's faddy , but us Greeks/Italians etc, it was part of our core foods. So, the creative class did not invent it. People ate it for thousands of years, they just hijacked it. It's best when it has the peppery bitter taste. The little tiny ones. Arugala, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, lemon and salt. That is summer.

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

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.

Yes there is an auto-pilotness about him. Like allowing my daughter to choose her own bedtime or dinner. She will stay up late and eat cake every day until she crashes and burnes. Then when she awakes from the crash she will still not know what to do other than do it all over again. This is why Obama feels like Bush to me. Bush let the country go on autopilot while letting his friends do whatever they wanted. But using words like control and discipline garner fascist accusations.

Shainzona said...

BO's "Yes we Can" was ballyhooed as a great progressive (small p) slogan. We CAN do all of the great things we should be doing - optimistic, can-do, togetherness.

But the plans that Obama has "proposed" (I use that term lightly, as he never seems to talk about his proposals....just copy what HRC says a week after she makes a statement) have been baby-steps. Not quite universal health care ('cause, hey, it will never make it through Congress. Not quite out of Iraq ('cause, hey, now I need to listen to what's going on there), etc.

He never believed in achieving any great things - he's only "talked" about it.

It has been my experience that if you want to break a paradigm, you must think out of the box...and then, when you finally get agreement, at least you're not back in the box.

With BO's thinking we will never break out of any box. SSDD.

And oh, do we have a ton of paradigms that must be changed.

lori said...

I keep trying to find out what Obama has actually done in his life that benefits other people. I'm thinkin' I'm gonna have to buy his autobiography to figure it out. I look at his history, and as far as I can tell, in between graduating from law school and Emil Jones gift of legislation, there isn't a single accomplishment for other people. He's an attorney at a civil rights law firm, and despite his law school pedigree, he never winds up heading a significant case of any kind. He doesn't use that platform to advance his world view in a tangible way. He gets into the Illinois senate (which only meets 55 mandatory days a year, folks) and for the first five years, while Illinois is controlled by Republicans, he does nothing. Nothing. Where is this bi-partisan genius I keep hearing about? Or, for that fact, where is the legislation he introduced year after year moving the marker down the board (so to speak), until the Dems take over and sign it into law? Once Dems are in charge, he has his name on legislation that other people have carried in years past. But where is the legislation he's worked on for years? Then he's in the US senate, and what has he accomplished for others? Anything?

I keep asking. The best I get is a list of bills he wrote that were never signed into law, and no evidence that they were introduced and refined yearly until they passed.

Anonymous said...

Stella remind us of the sad part of the Obama campaign. If an institution such as The Nation abandons its lefty roots for the sake of meaningless slogans, we lefties are orphaned and bankrupt.

Unknown said...

I was active in the student left and antiwar movements at the time William Ayers was involved with the Weathermen, and so I want to give the impression people on the ground had. Most that I knew thought the weather people were full of it, and the term used was "infantilism". They were kids playing Revolution.

So here we are almost 40 years later. Mr Ayers seems to be still in that infantile mode. Any connection with Mr. Obama seems to be just a further reflection of his infantile behavior, believing that Obama will bring the Revolution, or something like that.

So you have it correct: Obama's connection with Ayers does not show that somehow Obama is part of a giant left-wing conspiracy (as the right and unfortunately some of the pro-Hilary bloggers seems to think) but rather that Obama has no core beliefs but will do whatever at the time seems to advance his fortunes, only to discard those people later if that too seems convenient at the time. Barack Obama is the perfect embodiment of a post-Bush candidate. Is this what we have come to expect after 8 years of George W. Bush?

jangles said...

You nailed it for me when you said that Barack is not political; he does not have a political philosophy; he is not a politician; he is an opportunist. We have to stand back and look at this disaster in the making because his victory in NC and his close finish in IN are not good news. I think the opportunity for Hillary to win this just got a little more difficult. I say this with both deep regret and profound wonderment. What in the world do people see in this man. I am really disappointed in my home state of Indiana. Yes, she cam from behind but she pulled ahead. I do not get it at all folks. If he wins this nomination, we will have to unite behind McCain or he is going to win it. There is some mystique about him that has most of this country hoodwinked, bamboozled and okey doked out of their minds.

cal1942 said...

"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.

That's precisely what I'm worried about.

ALL evidence points in that direction and there is virtually no evidence to the contrary.

Judging by comments made by Obama backers throughout the campaign and in fact Donna Brazile's comments tonight sent a chill down my spine.

Deserting working people to create a new coalition seems to be the order of the day. Something like today's Democratic northeastern "liberal" establishment taking the place of yesterday's Republican northeastern "liberal" establishment. Both groups' liberalism limited to social matters. Economic justice appears to be left out of the equation of the new coalition.

In economic terms, in the long run, the old Mexican style system; only a choice between right and farther right.

Ironically, considering what the Obama coalition would do to the Democratic Party, a GE loss might be in the long term best interest of party and country.

It sounds like burning down the village to save it, but the Obama coalition is doing the same thing, except they're burning down the village to build a smaller, less inclusive one. A gated community and the hoi polloi need not apply.

For these reasons I can't possibly vote for Obama. If he's nominated I'll write in Hillary Clinton and if that's not possible I'll leave my Presidential spot blank.

fachero said...

You said Obama wants to be president because he thinks he's entitled to it. And Clinton doesn't?
Or McCain, for that matter? Anyone who runs for president is ambitious with a healthy dose of entitlement. For all the Kool-Aid that some of Obama's more stupid supporters have drunk, you've had your own Kool-Aid.
Obama's an opportunist? And Clinton isn't? She saw an opportunity to run because she figured she had a good chance of winning, and still does. By definition, that's an opportunist.
You're rightly contemptuous of some of Obama's blogosphere support, but you seem to have canonized your own candidate.
Clinton is not, at least on this blog, an opportunistic politician who sees an opening and goes for it. She's a true progressive who has always stood up for progressive principles. She's never been a part of any onerous compromise. Her war vote was not opportunistic or informed by her ambition to be president.

Uh-huh. Right. Obama's a weak candidate, I think. But so is Clinton, and for my money for almost the same reasons.
But in spite of my distrust of both, I'm not going to do anything so willfully stupid as not voting for the Democratic candidate, or worse, voting for McCain.