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Monday, April 20, 2009

Your Taste in Despots

I will admit to a certain perplexity in finding some voices on the left that seem almost as upset at President Obama's unwillingness to assume the role of "enlightened despot" as they were upset at President Bush's eagerness to assume the role of unenlightened one.


Anonymous said...

Not sure who you are criticizing exactly so it's hard to know whether or not we can and should defend them but I sympathize with a lot of progressives who say "Fuck Bipartisanship" if it means that we need to give in to people whose domestic and foreign policies almost led us to a Second Great Depression! We control the White House and Congress so let's push our agenda through as quickly as we can before some disaster forces Obama to kneel to the right for the rest of his presidency...

Dale Carrico said...

For all the fears of bipartisanship early on (even earlier on, I should say) some might notice that Obama has more or less gotten everything he has tried to get so far, some of it historically unprecedented, meanwhile keeping the opposition corralled into flabbergastingly ridiculous marginality, despite the actual delicacy and potential divisiveness of some of his efforts given generations of widespread right-wing anti-government and racist demogaugery. Obama has taken up the "bipartisan" term and used it in my view to redirect public discourse back to the center-left where mainstream American attitudes reside, precisely to the contrary of its recent use to endlessly skew public discourse to the right.

That's a rather old argument by now, though, and I was triggered by other things in particular in making that blog-post -- among them the fact that it is apparently not enough for Obama to enable some good work all progressives want to see (more radical health care reform, prosecutions of Bush epoch lawlessness) while redirecting that work to different branches of government, some seem to want Obama to unilaterally implement progressive will whatever the interests in his way, whatever the priorities he confronts, whatever the limits he is negotiating.

I think insensitivity to these realities actually induces in some otherwise progressive people a weird inability to grasp differences that make a difference in the most urgent imaginable ways. I don't think there is a single way in which either progressive values or practical ends are facilitated by this sort of insensitivity.

There are enough questions about where lines should be drawn that I'm glad the smart forms of these debates are taking place, one doesn't want hardening of the orthodoxies to take place hereabouts, but the forms of these discussions that provoke declarations of Bush-Obama equivalence at worst or continuity at best are all idiotic beyond belief in my view. One opinion, mine, among many, but there ya go.