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Monday, September 26, 2011

Establishment Media Deliberately Misrepresents Inspirational Conclusion of Obama's CBC Address As Castigation

I posted the entire clip of Obama's Congressional Black Caucus address and provided a transcript of the choicest bits of the address (with parts I especially liked in italics) yesterday. I did this, in large part, because I considered the speech the latest in a series of really welcome re-framings of Obama's message into more progressive terms, terms I believe at once more righteous and also more likely to be electorally efficacious than his language and efforts have often been, especially since the disastrous mid-term elections.

I have to say I have been rather dismayed to observe the extent to which both broadcast and blogipelagic coverage of the CBC speech has seemed to fixate not on Obama's calling out of the ugliness and craziness of so much that the Repubicans are saying and doing in public places these days (my headline, unlike anybody else's I've seen, pointed to his laugh line describing Republicans as "the bad kind of crazy") but on his exhortation of his allies in the CBC to put on their marching shoes at the end of the speech. Not only did I not regard that part of the speech as particularly noteworthy, but definitely I did not make the surreal error of confusing a call to arms as a so-called Sista Souljah moment, of all things. I consider those who are saying otherwise to be deliberately whomping up a phony controversy on a par with "bitter"-gate (remember that idiocy?) from the 2008 campaign trail.

I don't know if this is a matter of lazy or dull witted reporters falling for Republican operative spin, I don't know if this is a matter of Villagers worried that Obama's successfully activating his base will spoil the plausibility of their preferred mode of horse-race coverage of 2012, I don't know if this is just the usual misplaced resentment onto Obama of the frustrations of our ridiculous and appalling moment. But I do know that nobody who actually listened to Obama's CBC address, let alone to the many other speeches Obama has made recently in which he riffs on variations on its themes, can honestly pretend that Obama was telling unemployed people to stop complaining about their lot -- in a speech that trembled in empathy and outrage at the tragedy and scandal of catastrophic unemployment among especially African Americans and also so many others in America today.

Obama was literally exhorting everybody in that room, his natural allies and friends at the CBC, to get on board with his effort to pass his Jobs Bill to make a difference in the lives of the unemployed. Obama was asking for support now, from constituents and everyday citizens and activists on the ground, precisely as he has been doing through his advocacy of his Jobs Bill over the past few weeks. Obama is striving to overcome the temptation so many seem to feel, to give in to the apparent hopelessness of this moment, to give in to inertia in the face of evil GOP obstruction, to sleepwalk through the next year thinking that only our re-election efforts can mobilize the agency to "do something" about our problems... eventually. Obama has been moving people in their millions to call their congresscritters, even when they are Republicans, to urge their support and action on his Jobs Bill, here and now, now, now.

Obama is insisting on all this despite the unprecedented obstructionism of Republicans who hold the House majority and have used their power there and by manipulating arcane procedures in the Senate as well to stymie efforts to solve the shared problems of the American people both because they are ideologically committed to dismantling government and to making Obama a one-term president by any means available to them, however destructive.

Don't believe me? Listen to the speech, read the transcript. It's all there.

I must say, by the way, that I am not happy with Maxine Waters' widely reported recent comments in which she rather opportunistically jumps into the feeding frenzy on this phony controversy, invigorating it in ways it does not deserve and to the cost of her own politics (which are surely in sympathy with Obama's recent priorities and formulations). The truth is that Waters' constituents (among them, me) are to the left of Obama and we usually rather like it when she pushes him left from his left, but I do think that this time around her comments look to be an impolitic miscalculation (rather as Obama's comments are now being mischaracterized by his allies as a way of making the story go away as quickly as possible). The truth is that Obama has been making powerful speeches in support of proposals of precisely the kind his critics on the left have bemoaned the lack of for years (sometimes in ways that testified to an ignorance of or indifference to actual political realities, I might add) and the last thing that needs to happen is for Establishment media hacks to punish him for doing what is right and then having his natural allies bash him on top of everything else for making the sorts of moves we actually want of him. (I still love Maxine Waters, though.)

PS: Rachel Maddow has just done a fine job of reporting on this story this evening and I will post a clip from her indispensable work on this Establishment Media mischief-making against the President the moment it appears.

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Martin said...
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Dale Carrico said...

That the article demands we set "realism" aside as inadequate and leap feet first into the most appalling obfuscatory anti-intellectual pop psychology should make you more leery than it seems to have done.

By the way, Obama's civil liberties policies include some unprecedented feminist and lgbtq victories, too. Shall we oppose all for opposing some?

Some of what you say here simply flabbergasts me. If you really think Dems should be wasting energy and money on a completely quixotic primary challenge to Obama right now you should I have to wonder if you are suffering from a head injury (pop psychologist to pop psychologist).

The DCCC and DCDC haven't even gotten candidates to challenge every congressional seat yet for 2012 for fuck's sake, at a time when winning back the House and keeping the Senate are desperate matters with little hope of success whatever their necessity.

I must say I despair a bit at the level of a mind so cartoonish that it can only regard Obama as the best available option by making recourse to assumptions about Obama as some sort of celebrity persona. If you think I advocate more, and better, democrats because I have Stockholm Syndrome I can only assume you haven't noticed that the only people in power who advocate anything remotely like outcomes I cherish are all fucking Democrats while the fucking Republican Party is full of white-racist Christian-Talibanist science-denialist neo-feudal corporatists who want to dismantle civilization.

Gee, DER, what side should I be on? DER!

I agree that the Obama Administration has continued Bush Administration policies in too many areas -- I opposed his Afghanistan surge, I opposed the Libyan intervention (as I recall you didn't), I oppose undeclared war via drone attacks, I oppose Guantanamo (which Congress failed Obama on not vice versa), military tribunals (again Congress was little help there), on the Unitary Executive, Bradly Manning, wikileaks hysteria, trumped up terror-plots and so on.

To support the President in spite of that is neither to support everything he does or even to say what I don't support matters less than what I do -- especially since I strongly believe that even on much that I do not support in the President the best way to empower those who might lend their support to what I do support instead (perhaps paradoxically, but not really) requires support of the President, and through that support of the President, support of the election and empowerment of more of the people of his own party like me who remain the people most likely to agree with me in NOT supporting the President on those very issues.

It doesn't matter if thinking at this level of complexity breaks your heart or hurts your head. This is what grown up participation in politics requires, to the extent that this politics is partisan rather than, say -- educational via issues oriented organizations, organizational via campaigns toward better local legislation or lobbying for such at higher levels, or takes more revolutionary forms that disdain partisan reform.

For many of these alternatives you know as a regular reader of mine, I have varying degrees of sympathy, so long as those who engage them know what they are doing and don't pretend what they are doing is something other than it is or has a better chance at a more progressive yield of outcomes than it really does.

Dale Carrico said...

I suspect I oppose much that you do, Martin. But I demand you actually specify what you mean by "oppose" if my own support of the President despite my shared opposition to these matters presumably invites these facile pseudo-psychological diagnoses on your part. If opposition enables Republicans who are no better on these issues and incomparably worse on most others then it is objectively reactionary, even when the outcome you desire too and in the name of which you want to shoot yourself in the foot is profoundly progressive.

Again, this doesn't mean we should ignore these terrible injustices, but we have to find ways of doing so that don't only benefit those who are enemies of equity and justice otherwise.

"Loudly" certainly won't cut it, especially if it is a loudness that drowns out awareness of the crimes and evil plans of the right or demoralizes the always skittish left into an inaction that enables worse outcomes in every way.

I think we need to keep shining a spotlight on the administration where it is wrong, but not in ways that distract skittish voters from supporting the administration where it is right (already "enthusiasm gap" stories are already appearing -- just as they were this time before the literally catastrophic 2010 result -- with all sorts of claims about the advantages it confers for Republicans). I recommend you join and support the ACLU and Amnesty International, write your representatives to informs them of your issues (if they are Democrats they are likely to sympathize with much that you say), and then donate, phone-bank and vote for every goddamn Democrat you can. More, and Better, Democrats is our only hope.

I'm not asking you to like it, I'm asking you to face it.

Martin said...
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Dale Carrico said...

I already know the litany of things Obama has done I disapprove of, as well as a litany of things he's done that I do approve of, and even more that I like better than not -- not to mention litanies of flabbergasting ongoing and upcoming evil Republicans are up to. You know, it matters that everybody who sensibly IS criticizing Obama, everybody in power who sensibly IS struggling against what you and I disapprove in Obama, everybody who is NOT afraid to point out these abuses on progressive terms is a Democrat who will benefit from an Obama Presidency. You say nobody is criticizing Obama but that is patently false -- unless you are unwilling to count as criticism any criticism that does not amount to struggling to topple his Presidency. Do you think toppling the Obama presidency or demoralizing Democratic voters or losing the Senate or failing to regain the House will save a single person from Guantanamo or get us out of Iraq a single day sooner or end illegal spying? Do you really think that, Martin? Quite apart from all the complete shit you know Republicans will do if they can because they are already trying to do so right before your eyes! It's not that I am afraid or lack the guts to rail against Obama immoderately or indiscriminately, it's just that I have a brain and I am using it. Like I said, join the ACLU (I'm a card carrying member and donor, are you?) and fight for these issues, but also work to re-elect Obama or you're working to elect a Republican who will do nothing to support outcomes you claim to care about while doing incomparably worse in incomparably more.