This post was first published at NewsReal Blog. Visit us for more top 10 lists.
If the Left can do anything it can dream. And after eight long years of the “illegitimately-elected,” insanely religious, Warmonger-In-Chief George W. Bush, the Left was prepared to pour all its dreams into its new champion, and great hope, Barack Obama.
And while many “progressives” still hold on tightly to their utopian visions, others have actually started to wake up. No, not to the realities that he’s bankrupting our government and coddling the genocidal enemies who want to destroy us, but to the fact that Obama’s not all they were hoping and changing for.
Last week I featured the Top 10 Ways Conservatives see Obama. This week it’s the Top 10 Ways the Left sees their President.
The first seven are examples of the Left’s delusions about Obama. The last three are visions that conservatives should actually embrace (as many have already.)
Our first leftist delusion should be quite a laugh for regular NewsReal Blog readers…
10. The Neo-Con
Never mind what people thought they voted for in 2008; that’s ancient history. How about what they voted against? That would be, among other things, the foreign policy contrived by a gaggle of still unindicted war criminals, the neo-conservatives. Could people have been deceived about that too; could Barack Obama be a neocon himself? It’s too soon to say for sure, but it sure is looking that way.
He is not a true believer, of course; he is not so foolish as to think he can reshape the Middle East to make it safe for “democracy” (neocon for America and Israel). But then Bill Clinton wasn’t ideologically committed to deregulation or dismantling New Deal and Great Society programs either; it was his limitless opportunism that moved him to take up those Reaganite causes. For his lack of commitment, the true believers gave him only grief. But he did more to implement “the Reagan Revolution” than any other president. He was more effective than the dastardly Gipper himself.
The Obama administration has done nothing to force Israel to stop blocking a two state solution, though it continues to proclaim support for one; and it has resumed the neocon-Israeli campaign against Iran. Even in Iraq, the erstwhile peace candidate is doing just what the Bush administration would now be doing: ending overt combat operations in populated areas, while leaving tens of thousands of troops and countless “outsourced” mercenaries in some half dozen military bases – to be used as needed in Iraq or Iran or wherever else proximity makes them useful.
What makes Obama a Neo-Con according the the Left?
A) He sent more troops to Afghanistan.
B) He hasn’t immediately withdrawn troops from Iraq.
C) He OKed the assassination of American-born, Al Qaeda operative Anwar Awlaki.
D) He has not closed Guantanamo yet.
E) He hasn’t been rude enough to Benjamin Netanyahu.
F) He hasn’t gotten down on his knees for Ahmadinejad.
So basically by this definition everyone to the right of Bob Scheer is a Neo-Con. How useful and illuminating.
9. The Garbage Man Cleaning Up Bush’s Mess
Obama’s historic mission, unfortunately for him, has been to clean up Bush’s messes….Literally. So this [the BP spil] is the perfect metaphor for Obama’s presidency….That’s what Obama has had to do on Wall St., on the auto bailouts, on the bank bailouts, on Afghanistan, which turned out to be a much bigger mess than anybody anticipated and now on this. Part of his reaction has been to say privately ‘I haven’t been blaming Bush enough.’ You know, Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter for years, Roosevelt blamed Herbert Hoover for years.
My friend Howard Bloom has an expression for this: rats on a hot plate looking for a scapegoat. Whenever something starts to fall apart — when the ground beneath us starts sizzling — we need to find a weaker rat to jump on top of so we can avoid responsibility. What weaker target than an ex-President who’s going to be gracious and not speak up to defend himself?
The real answer, though, is much less satisfying. The boom and bust economic cycle has been going on since the days of Julius Caesar and it’s entirely natural. Who caused the recession? We all did. Rich people are to blame, poor people are to blame, and we can point to policies and tendencies on both the Left and Right which contributed.
But it just feels better to blame the recession on Bush and corrupt Wall Street fat cats.
Now what’s the solution to cleaning up all of the conservatives’ mess? Well that’s #8…
8. Obama is Today’s FDR
As President Obama weighs his options for adding jobs and pumping up the economy — amid ever-louder calls for spending cuts — he might look back for guidance to Franklin Roosevelt.
Indeed, Obama’s experience so far resembles FDR’s first uneven stabs at job creation. Roosevelt accepted the Democratic nomination in 1932 touting a plan to put a million men to work in national parks and forests. When he took office, with the unemployment rate at 24.9%, he created the Civilian Conservation Corps, his first jobs program
But it was too limited to make much of a dent in joblessness. Estimates of the number of people out of work ranged as high as 15 million. The “CCC boys,” as the young men who worked out of military-style camps doing erosion control and reforestation work were known, never numbered more than 300,000 at any given time.
Roosevelt continued his efforts with the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The agency’s first charge was to feed the hungry and see that they had clothes and shelter, and in tackling that mission, it put 2 million people to work by the fall of 1933 as well.
The default response that a leftist will give for every single problem on the face of the planet is the same: the federal government. Out of some sense of masochism and morbid curiosity I continue to engage my “progressive” friends in discussion and debate about political matters. And I have yet to find an example of a problem where they don’t suggest some variety of government program.
Why is this? Because of the myth of Franklin Roosevelt and his magical New Deal which lifted America out of the depression through the Fairy Godmother of Big Government.
Thankfully this myth is now being challenged and we can equip ourselves to refute it:
But not all Obama leftists are quite so wonky…
7. The Hipster
During his first 100 days as president of the United States, Barack Obama revealed how different he is from all the white men who preceded him in the Oval Office, and the differences run deeper — in substance and style — than the color of his skin.
Barack Hussein Obama is the nation’s first hip president.
This, of course, is subject to debate. But watch him walk. Listen to him talk. See the body language, the expressions, the clothes. He’s got attitude, rhythm, a sense of humor, contemporary tastes.
This much is clear: Whether dealing with the Wall Street mess, shifting troops from Iraq to Afghanistan or fumbling to fill his Cabinet, Obama leans heavily on personal panache to push political policies. Truth be told, his style is rooted in something elusive and hard to define. Pure and simple, it’s hip.
Why on earth would someone want a cool president? What does it say about the infantilization of the Left that this is something it celebrates in its leaders?
If you want a cool president then how about just watching a movie instead of screwing up our country?
6. The Racial Bridge-Builder
As the Chairman of the non-partisan, nonprofit The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, it is my personal opinion that Senator Obama’s campaign for President has and will continue to transcend race in America and have a profound positive impact on the very issues I have been fighting for my whole life. Many of you know my work as Chairman of the non-partisan, nonprofit Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. Hip-Hop as a cultural phenomena is also about transformation and taking action to end poverty, war and ignorance. While I am endorsing Senator Obama as a private citizen, I am in complete solidarity with the transformative consciousness of the growing number artists and young people from the hip-hop generation that are overwhelmingly supporting Obama.
Barack Obama cannot be the racial bridge-builder and transformative figure he needs to be because to do so would too deeply alienate his base.
Let’s put it simply: anytime someone says something about “white people” and then assigns a characteristic to everyone with white skin they’re being a racist. Anytime someone suggests that all black people have some behavior, belief, or attitude in common they’re being a racist. Most of the genuine racism in our country today comes from the Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons, Cornel Wests, and Tavis Smileys of the world. And for that matter — the Bill Mahers. Every time Maher jokes that Obama needs to be acting more “like a black man” he’s being racist and undermining the bridge building the Left claims to support.
This point is probably the most depressing on the list. Perhaps delusion #5 will bring a smile to your face…
5. The Savior of the Democratic Party
James Carville’s book predicting the election of Obama would signal a generation’s shift to the Democratic Party came out in May of 2009.
Perhaps he should’ve waited a bit to see at least how the first year turned out?
I’ve already begun receiving questions about whether it’s likely that Obama is going to get elected again. My answer is always the same: it’s way too soon to tell and there are too many variables up in the air.
Will the economy improve? Probably. Will Obama claim his policies were responsible for it? Definitely.
What will happen foreign policy-wise? Will Israel attack Iran? Will Iran drop a nuclear weapon on Israel? Will there be another terror attack on par with 9/11?
Will people start to revolt more against Obamacare as more elements of it become implemented? Will the Tea Party continue its ascent?
Will Obama change course once the Republicans gain control of the House and/or the Senate? Will he finally pursue a more centrist course then that might prepare him to campaign more easily for 2012?
Who will the Republican candidate be? Will their campaign be as incompetent as McCain/Palin? Will Obama’s campaign have the same strength as ’08?
There are too many questions. It’s really not even worth speculating.
Smash the crystal ball and focus on the here and now. And while you’re at it look the past too — something those who embrace #4 most definitely are not doing at all…
4. The Post-Boomer Peacemaker
Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.
At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.
Considering Sullivan’s thesis two years later and after completing my ideological shift to the Right something new begins to stand out: the utopianism. Sullivan seems to think that if we can just get beyond the history and experiences of the Boomers then there won’t be significant philosophical conflict.
We cannot transcend the tendencies of Left and Right. The conflict of the Baby Boom generation was not caused by the Vietnam War. It’s not as though Right and Left can all of a sudden go away once my parents’ generation dies off and it’s just Gen X and Y running the show.
The intellectual battle of Left and Right is an expression of something entirely natural. Conflict and war are built into us going back to when we were bacteria. It’s Mother Nature’s brutal method for forcing our continued evolution. As Victor Davis Hanson quotes from Plato, Peace is a parenthesis. We’re usually going to be in some variety of war and conflict going from our geopolitical struggles to our daily lives.
Accept this historical and scientific reality and you’re on the Right. Obama and Sullivan certainly do not. And because they’re not oriented toward their warlike nature it makes sense that they would fall into #3…
3. The Wimp
But now, the world’s most powerful man too often plays the 98-pound weakling; he gets sand kicked in his face and responds with moot-court zingers. That’s what Mr. Cool did at the White House health-care summit on Thursday. For seven hours, he racked up debating points as he parried Republican attacks without so much as raising his voice, but the performance didn’t exactly intimidate his foes.
He was calm and collected when Senate Minority Whip Sen. Jon Kyl took a demagogic turn. “Does Washington know best about the coverage people should have?” he asked. “Or should people have that choice themselves?”
Obama replied: “Can I just say that, at this point, any time the question is phrased as, ‘Does Washington know better,’ I think we’re, kind of, tipping the scales a little bit there. . . . It’s a good talking point, but it doesn’t actually answer the underlying question.”
Obama took the same cerebral approach when Sen. John McCain made a lengthy comment accusing Obama of breaking campaign promises and of unsavory and “particularly offensive” deal-making.
“John, if I could say — “
“Could I just finish, please?” McCain bullied.
And here’s where Left and Right actually do begin to find some common ground, albeit for different reasons and surely not the kind that Sullivan wanted.
Yes, Obama does have the tendency to wimp out. Those of us in the Loyal Opposition mostly think of his in the context of his approach to foreign policy. However his inability to hold his own when under fire from domestic critics is certainly relevant too. Why do we see this wimpiness with adversaries both foreign and domestic?
Simple: When you don’t believe in anything it’s hard to be able to stand up and fight. (Don’t mean to spoil #1 of my “Top 10 Ways Conservatives See Obama” for those who haven’t read it.)
And you certainly won’t be able to truly fight those your supporters want you to go after…
2. The Corporatist
Obama, more than Al Gore, George W. Bush, John McCain, or Hillary Clinton, has been the most fully realized CONSENSUS CORPORATIST CANDIDATE of the last decade. His policies reflect a revival of the overt corporatist model prevalent in Bill Clinton’s first two years, with a vengeance. Obama’s economic rescue package was written by Wall Street, through Timothy Geithner and company; the same will be true of any “financial regulation reform” that ensues from Washington. Big business, with some input from big labor, has already written the immigration bill, quietly resting with Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham, ready to be sprung when the time is ready; it will narrow citizenship rights and redefine immigration from a strictly economic point of view. Energy companies are fully incorporated into the writing of the climate and energy bills. The military writes war policy (General Stanley McChrystal’s little “rebellion,” as Obama was supposedly “thinking out” Afghanistan war policy, was all the more ironic for its pure redundancy). Any legislation that comes out of Washington can only be corporatist in tendency (this will be further enhanced by the Supreme Court striking down campaign finance restrictions), and will only make things in each of the realms–energy, finance, immigration, health care–worse, by definition, since genuine redistributive/egalitarian thinking is completely off the table.
How can Obama fight Wall Street when he put Wall Street in charge of most of his economic policy? Just look at everyone around him.
If it’s your objective to curb corporate power then politics really is not the way to make much of a dent. They have more money, more manpower, and more media access than you will ever have.
Read Douglas Rushkoff’s book Life Inc. (my review here) to see how a more balanced blending of corporate commerce and local commerce can be achieved through shifting our cultures and working within our own communities. That’s the only way to effectively change things. But because the Obama Left ignores it, #1 is inevitable…
1. The Failure
It’s now clear that we’re looking at a failed presidency. Regardless of whatever else happens, even if he wins re-relection, Obama has utterly squandered the promise he held out for us all. He empowers the haters and evildoers of the world by only opposing them academically, while giving way to them in every practical sense.
And the longer we refuse to see this obvious fact, the more complicit we are in betraying his promise as well.
As I’ve said many times, Obama’s legacy — and indeed the legacy of all 21st century presidents, starting with George W. Bush — will be determined primarily by whether we avert catastrophic climate change (see “Will eco-disasters destroy Obama’s legacy?“). If not, then Obama — and all of us — will be seen as a failure, and rightfully so
I’ll give the last quote on the subject to the leftist who most influenced me back when I was still a “progressive.” Eric Alterman wrote an article titled “Kabuki Democracy: Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, for Now” in The Nation:
Few progressives would take issue with the argument that, significant accomplishments notwithstanding, the Obama presidency has been a big disappointment. As Mario Cuomo famously observed, candidates campaign in poetry but govern in prose. Still, Obama supporters have been asked to swallow some painfully “prosaic” compromises. In order to pass his healthcare legislation, for instance, Obama was required to specifically repudiate his pledge to prochoice voters to “make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as president.” That promise apparently was lost in the same drawer as his insistence that “Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange…including a public option.” Labor unions were among his most fervent and dedicated foot soldiers, as well as the key to any likely progressive political renaissance, and many were no doubt inspired by his pledge “to fight for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.” Yet that act appears deader than Jimmy Hoffa. Environmentalists were no doubt steeled through the frigid days of New Hampshire canvassing by Obama’s promise that “As president, I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming—an 80 percent reduction by 2050.” That goal appears to have gone up the chimney in thick black smoke. And remember when Obama promised, right before the election, to “put in place the common-sense regulations and rules of the road I’ve been calling for since March—rules that will keep our market free, fair and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in our corporate boardrooms”? Neither, apparently, does he… Indeed, if one examines the gamut of legislation passed and executive orders issued that relate to the promises made by candidate Obama, one can only wince at the slightly hyperbolic joke made by late night comedian Jimmy Fallon, who quipped that the president’s goal appeared to be to “finally deliver on the campaign promises made by John McCain.”
None of us know what lies inside the president’s heart. It’s possible that he fooled gullible progressives during the election into believing he was a left-liberal partisan when in fact he is much closer to a conservative corporate shill. An awful lot of progressives, including two I happen to know who sport Nobel Prizes on their shelves, feel this way, and their perspective cannot be completely discounted.
Obama will fail to accomplish everything his supporters want. Why? Because the founders doomed him to failure right from the beginning just by the nature of how government was set up. The kind of “fundamental transformation” that the Left really craves cannot be accomplished by a president. On our darkest days Never forget that.
This post was first published at NewsReal Blog