Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Still in the Tank for Obama?

About what might be regarded as a mistake by the Obama Administration, one "RadicalCoolDude" chastised me in the Moot, insisting "there is nothing wrong in pointing out he made a big mistake."

To this I replied, naturally enough, "Who ever said otherwise?"

"RadicalCoolDude" (who regularly makes pseudonymous appearances in the Moot to accuse me of Obamabotry and also to blame the Obama Administration for GOP obstructionism when he is not accusing Obama of stealth-corporatism or terminal stupidity or dishing out the latest variations of Rahmsputin handwringing), responded to my question precisely as I imagined she or he would do, that is, by insisting that it is I who has said or suggested otherwise, by not leaping on the Obama-bashing bandwagon too-cozily and too-eagerly inhabited by too many who occupy the leftmost precincts of the US political map where I myself -- cheerfully out-and-proud anti-corporatist anti-militarist anti-racist queer-feminist vegetarian atheist democratic socialist that I am -- reside, as it happens.

Quoth "RadicalCoolDude":
My point is that some of us would take your regular defense of Obama more seriously if you simultaneously acknowledged his major mistakes instead of always seeming as if you are bending over backwards to portray him as a master chess player always 3 steps ahead of us rubes...

To this I really must say, that all this "RadicalCoolDude" has said is complete and utter horseshit.

What I "seem" to say according to "some" (that is to say pseudonymous online coward "RadicalCoolDude") has no connection to what I actually say.

I guess I don't doubt "RadicalCoolDude" honestly believes that I am in fact indulging in hero-worship and nth dimensional chess and blah blah blah when what I am actually doing by my own lights is simply trying to grasp how actually possible progressive policies might proceed -- and might even be proceeding, occasionally, appearances to the contrary sometimes notwithstanding, given actually-existing senatorial and other legislative procedures, and electoral and demographic limits, and movement republican insanity, and relentless media misinformation, and an actually intelligent but quite non-demonic quite non-superheroic straightforwardly center-left President.

President Obama, as I've always been the first to say, is to my own political right. But he is palpably more progressive nonetheless than any president since FDR. And it would be quite wrong to infer from such a statement that I mistake Obama for a leftist, proper -- I leave such fantastic attributions to the Teabaggers.

The fact is that I have criticized plenty that Obama has done, from mis-steps and mis-readings of the politics of lgbtq issues to over-rosy assumptions about the neoliberal economy to heartbreak about his continuation of Bush's criminal war-making (say otherwise about my criticisms and you are lying, reader dear, plain and simple; think otherwise and you are lying to yourself, plain and simple -- which isn't that interesting to me on the face of it, such deceptions are boringly human and usually easy enough to forgive and forget, but it remains for you all to do the soul searching necessary to grasp whatever it is that is fueling these deceptions, since that, to the contrary, is a matter of some interest to me).

But whatever my criticisms, I do indeed refuse to truck in Dem-GOP equivalency theses, Obama as stealth-corporatist paranoia, or in forms of bashing by means of which the left divides and demoralizes itself to literally no practical purpose, out of childish impatience and narcissistic self-indulgence. To assume an analytic vantage from which one becomes indifferent to differences that make a difference is too often to lose the capacity to make a difference.

Again, I won't doubt "RadicalCoolDude" and other critics of her or his perspective really believe they discern in my writing this naive hero-worship they regularly attribute to me, and feel so weirdly personally slighted by for whatever reasons. But I am here to tell you, "RadicalCoolDude" and cohort, that I simply do not believe what you are attributing to me -- and I should know, now, shouldn't I? -- and, more to the point, these conclusions you are drawing are simply not entailed in my analyses.

I can't help but wonder just why it is "RadicalCoolDude" can't seem to move on to something more constructive than pushing me to "admit" what a calamity the President presumably is for the left? As opposed to what, exactly? Why on earth be so hellbent on indulging in bloated histrionic castigatory arias directed at the first President in generations who has any kind of chance to nudge the terrain for once in anything like a direction suited to the ends "RadicalCoolDude" presumably prefers?

I beg her or his pardon, but I wonder just who it was who ever promised them a rose garden?

I get it that I like Obama more than some of you do. Although far from naive about what his center-left campaign meant for my own priorities, and far from naive about the flabbergasting catastrophe he was saddled with and the institutional quicksand of polarized incumbent corporatized terrain in which he would somehow have to try to do whatever he and we with him could, against staggering odds, I admit I cried when he won the Presidency. I wept to find possible what I somehow imagined impossible right up to that moment. I don't think that is hero-worship and I don't think it blinds me to mistakes.

So, yeah, I don't think Obama's evil, and I do think he's smarter and better and more progressive than any other President so far in my life time, and so on... and his obvious mistakes and failures and frustrations neither change my mind nor even particularly surprise me. I think all of that is pretty obvious, to be honest.

One wonders just what it is exactly that "RadicalCoolDude" wants from me when he decries my insufficient hostility to the President? I am happy to report that this sort of weird demand does not seem to me to be quite so prevalent in the left-netroots as it did much of the first year of the Obama Presidency, when the online left was struggling to get its sealegs and make the novel transition from the epic effort of facilitating progress by blanket condemnation of the Republicans in power to the uglier effort of facilitating progress by pressuring Democrats in actually-relevant ways now that they, and also we, are in power and hence must take a different kind of responsibility for what is happening in our names.

I daresay like most celebrities or prominent politicians who manage such a level of sustained attention and authority there has to be something a bit skewed in Obama's psychological makeup. It is for this reason, among others, that I think it a rather bad idea to lose oneself in Great Man formulations of the substance and force of historical struggle in the first place, which is rather amusing given what I'm being accused of here. But, come what may, I can hardly hold whatever weird drives have undoubtedly propelled Obama into his inhuman power position against him, given its utter ubiquity and structural necessity. Again, he seems to me less awful by far than any others who have found their way to that swollen summit in my lifetime and many others who seem to want to follow him there in years soon to come -- of course, your mileage may vary.

I hope Obama is more effective in his second year, and I hope his team's conspicuous talents at campaigning translate to Democrats retaining Congressional majorities in the mid-terms, and I hope that governing in a more vociferous campaigning mode might actually yield better framing of Democratic efforts and more progressive policy outcomes than we've had so far. My sense is that some healthcare reform must pass that Democrats can run on, and jobs have to be a priority. Human needs and electoral demands seem to align right about now. We'll see what happens. I'd rather have Obama in the White House than anybody else on offer at a time like this. Sorry if that's not what you want to hear.

1 comment:

Dale Carrico said...

Dear "RadicalCoolDude." I was deeply moved by your very recent comment documentating the manifold psychological abuses to which you have been subjected by me, and also by your stirring defense of the bravery of hiding behind a pseudonym while sniping at arguments posted by me under my full name.

Wiping away tears, as you can well imagine, I brushed the "delete" button and whisked your powerful pleas away into the nonexistence of cyberspatial limbo.

I strongly suspect this will happen again repeatedly if your comments continue to move me to such a sympathetic emotional pitch again in future.

Stick to claims for which you make an argument, stand behind them with your name, and save the fracking whining for your therapist and the accusations for talking heads on your tee-vee, and you'll make the Moot's editorial cut.