GUEST POST: IF THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS, THIS IS NOT IT

(The following commentary was submitted by regular commenter HoosierPoli. Aside from being generally interesting – albeit considerably longer than you're used to on this site – it is relevant to the current BP situation among other Obama-related issues. As inexperienced bloggers stand to benefit the most from feedback, I'm sure that the author would appreciate your reactions. Without further ado, I present "Barack Obama Is Not Your Personal Fucking Santa Claus.")

Lately, there has been an undeniable trend in the medium of modern discourse in which I find myself writing. I lack a better term for it, so I am forced to call it the “Self-Righteous Liberal Bitch-o-Sphere” (Actually, I take that back; that IS the best term for it). Anyway, since you’re here, reading this, you know what I’m talking about: an endless procession of what passes in the US for leftists, saying at every turn how Barack Obama is actually a secret conservative Clintonite triangulator who’d just as soon sell out his dead mother to cash in on the old Washington games; a golden-tongued huckster who sold us on a Utopian ideal and then delivered more “business as usual”. I’m not sure what’s more distressing; that so-called educated and informed people have swallowed right-wing narratives hook line and sinker, or that they’ve convinced themselves that it’s actually of their own devising.

This “movement” seems to consist of a number of readily-identifiable groups. You’ve got your standard neo-hippie cranks, for whom any economic or political event only serves to further validate their Glenn-Beck-in-hemp-underwear eschatology, to the point that they will ignore actual facts and burn heretics at the metaphorical stake for DARING to suggest that perhaps man’s hubris and disregard for Gaia may not be, at this immediate point in time, destroying civilization as we know it. You’ve got your political idealists, whose first exposure to American politics in its most unfiltered form was the Obama campaign, and who, as a result, have a view of government functionality that can only be described as wildly hallucinogenic. You’ve got your lazy liberals, who feel that if they hit FireDogLake AND the Daily Kos in one day, they’ve done their part to make the world a better place. And you have, here and there, a smattering of people who either know what the fuck they’re talking about and/or actually get off their asses and help improve the world, one small piece at a time. This last group is so tiny that they really don’t fall within the scope of this criticism.

But what all these people have in common is this: They all view George W. Bush as something approaching the purest embodiment of evil in history, and if not, then he’s a close second to Ronald Reagan. They blame everything from Katrina and Abu Ghraib, to 9/11 (in various forms) and the current Gulf disaster on the Bush Administration, sometimes shorthanded to just Bush. Either way, in their minds, Bush was personally involved in or responsible for almost all of the terrible decisions and policy disasters of the last two presidential terms.

I certainly understand the allure of this narrative; in fact, I admit that I fall prey to it with more frequency than I’d like. However, this narrative is misleading, and I’m not here to defend George W. Bush, but to show how it is distorting people’s ideas about what Obama is, or should be.

There are two fundamental errors in the Bush as Antichrist mindset:

The first mistake is assuming Bush had anything to do with the disasters attached to his name.

Bush and Ronald Reagan were very different people, with very different backgrounds and ideologies. It’s easy to forget now that Bush was a born-again and Reagan barely even WENT to church. But their administrations served remarkably similar priorities, and this stems from their most important commonality: They were both absolutely STUNNINGLY incompetent executives.

Neither of them had any idea what their various appointees were doing, or even necessarily who they were. The picture that has emerged of the Bush administration since its merciful departure has been not one of calculated malevolence, but one of almost pitiable impotence. Bush and Reagan were both quite personable campaigners who couldn’t administer a government if their life depended on it. The consequence of that is that when they took power, the people around them who actually knew the score had a very easy time doing pretty much whatever the fuck they wanted with no consequences whatsoever. Reagan had his Ollie North, Bush had his Donald Rumsfeld, and these guys are not exceptions. The Minerals Management Service was not a case of the foxes watching the henhouse; it was a case of NOBODY watching the henhouse and the foxes just walking right in and doing whatever they pleased.

You can certainly argue that Bush bears MORAL responsibility for what happened on his watch, but that doesn’t really mean jack shit at this point. He had no idea what people were actually up to underneath him. They simply gave him some marginal decisions to make, he would Decide them, then kick back feeling good about himself while they kept doing whatever the fuck they wanted. Just look at the financial crisis. When the shitstorm hit in September of 08, if you listen to the people that were there, Bush had literally no idea AT ALL what was happening. Not only did he not expect it, he didn’t even understand it. And when it came time for him to be The Decider, who was it presenting him with the decision? The former head of Goldman Sachs, a man that I guarantee you Bush did not personally select to be Treasury Secretary, but rather was a name selected for him by some Undersecretary of Buttfucking the Taxpayer, which he signed off on and gave a nice speech and then kicked back with a nice run and an evening of reflecting on how history will validate his Leadership. So Mr. Paulson shows him a plan to give tons of money to banks and Bush says “OK, whatever you think, Mr. Smart Suit-Wearing Guy”.

The point I really want to be stressing here is that at no point is one person in charge of all these terrible fucking decisions. It’s a bunch of different people, all of them assholes, most of them on the take, doing whatever the fuck they please. There’s nobody at the top, not even Cheney, and CERTAINLY not Bush. The second mistake is thinking that if Bush could get what he wanted, and Obama can’t, then Barack Obama must either be a worse executive than Bush or he must be a secret conservative.

This is a well-worn tale: “Bush got trillion-dollar tax cuts with only fifty votes in the Senate! He got the Patriot Act and gutted regulations, etc. He knew how to bring the hammer down to get what he wanted, and so if Obama can’t get (the public option/financial reform/energy bill/whatever) passed, he must not actually want it”.

This is a steaming crock of bullshit and it should be obvious why by now. At no point during his presidency did Bush ever get a single thing he wanted. The closest thing I can think of to an actual idea that started with Bush would be either No Child Left Behind or possibly the Mars program, and he actually got neither; neither was funded, neither has had any noticeable impact, both were basically DOA. Recently Bush claimed that he believed that oil should be phased out and wind energy is the wave of the future and, call me crazy, I think he’s telling the truth. If so, then it should be pretty fucking obvious that W was not the one calling the shots in his administration.

No, what Bush got was what OTHER PEOPLE wanted. Massive tax cuts for the ridiculously wealthy were, I promise you, not Bush’s intellectual baby. It was an idea that one of his advisors said would be a good thing, and a bunch of Congressmen agreed, and Bush signed off on it. Every major piece of legislation Bush signed was something he AGREED to, not something he specifically TRIED to get. In other words, the 8 years of Bush’s presidency, that long national nightmare, was really nothing more than bland acquiescence to an murderous and insane status quo. I expect that the outcome would have been identical if there had been no President at all.

A note about the Sympathetic Fallacy.*

The sympathetic fallacy is the very human tendency to attribute human characteristics to non-human things. It is the source of our unshakable belief that our computers can understand us when we curse at them. It is (probably) the source of belief in God (but let’s not go there today). But, most relevant to our topic, it is the reason that we insist upon attributing human characteristics to governments, which may be made up of people but absolutely do not make decisions or in any way operate in the way that a person does. We like to say that the government “wants” this or that, but a government cannot “want” anything, because it is not a person. Unfortunately, this fallacy is really more on the level of a basic psychological illusion: even if we know about it, it won’t go away. And because it is so pernicious, it even demands a face to go along with that personality, and today, the face of the Government is none other than Barack Obama.

And so we come back to our Criticism-From-The-Left Obama haters. I have culled just a few comments from a comment section at Unnamed Liberal Blog (see if you can recognize it!), which I have deemed to be representative (of course, the reader is free to make their own judgments):

"I've sadly come to regard Obama as a Rockefeller Republican, but maybe he's further to the right than that"

“It seemed clear to me during the campaign that Obama was more conservative than most of my acquaintances thought, and I think his actions since the election demonstrate that. He talks nicely, but he's just not comfortable with radical solutions to anything (with 'radical' defined in terms of "sudden, dramatic changes of course")”

“News flash folks — Obama is to the right of Clinton, and HE was to the right of Eisenhower.”

I could do this all night, but you get my point. It started very early on, grew to an absolute fever pitch during the health care deba(cle)te, and has stuck around like a 4pm wine-and-Jagermeister hangover. If Obama is synonymous with “socialist” on the right, on the left it’s synonymous with “sellout”. On everything from Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to immigration, Obama is seen as, at best, a total pussy, and at worst, a JAP (Just Another Politician).

But let’s be brutally honest with ourselves: Our last President showed us what the status quo is. Bush, by being essentially a rubber stamp (don’t let anyone get it backwards; in the 2000s, Congress did the pushing, Bush did the rolling over), demonstrated what our modern Federal government, left to its own devices, will get up to. And yet, whenever the CURRENT Federal government comes up with something that looks unpalatably familiar, the blame is instantly and unthinkingly heaped at the feet of Obama, invariably with some intolerably clever comment involving either “hope” or “change”.

Now I’m not here to be an Obama ballboy, but I do know this: Barack Obama is not a king. Barack Obama does not occupy 535 Congressional seats. Barack Obama’s opinions and beliefs about the way this country should be going, how we should be handling gay rights and global warming and Social Security, these count for EXTRAORDINARILY little when it comes to the governing process. Forget that tripe you learned as a kid about “the most powerful person in the world”; the President has got very little power beyond the ability to nominate judges and pray that he can get the head of the Ways and Means Committee to go along with his budget priorities. Our eight years of Bushanoia have given us an incredibly distorted view of what a President can actually accomplish; we just assumed that it was Bush at the wheel, when in reality he was passed out drunk in the trunk of the car. And so insofar as our government has accomplished anything even REMOTELY progressive or positive (and, in case you’ve forgotten, it has) in the past year and a half, the credit belongs to the incredible energy and discipline Obama has instilled in his administration, both directly and through his appointees.

Of course, I can already hear the (and I borrow humbly the term of the excellent Al Giordiano) poutrage machine beginning to stir from its slumber. “Fucking Obamabot” it will begin, its wit as sharp as ever. “You’re so stupid as to believe that Obama actually wants to change things. In reality, he WANTS offshore drilling, and he doesn’t want to help out gays. He wants a weak energy bill, and a crippled healthcare bill, and watered down token ‘progressive’ legislation while he bails out the bankers and screws over the working guy. He’s just another, differently colored cog in The Machine”.

To which I say: You could certainly be right. I mean, given all the layers of abstraction and sausage-making machinery between Obama and the rest of us, there’s really no way for us to tell. But if you make that argument, you have to make one conceit. If you actually believe that Barack Obama personally supports everything the Congress and Federal government have done so far in his presidency, you really have no choice but to admit that Barack Obama is the most talented political leader to ever walk the Earth. Because for an executive to always get what they “really want” on every single issue would be an absolutely unprecedented miracle of governance. If that is the case, then Barack Obama is playing some 11th-dimensional chess on a scale that has never before been witnessed.

Or, if you’re like me and you prefer the more likely explanation, Barack Obama is probably a fairly progressive person (if you pay attention to what actually comes out of his mouth, especially before he ran for president, this seems reasonably probable) and, more than anything, a highly talented executive who has managed to wrangle an mind-bogglingly huge bureaucracy, based on a frail and nearly-obsolete Constitution, chock-full of ideological opponents, massive egos, fabulously wealthy interests, and just plain antagonistic assholes and backwoods idiots, and managed to do more good with it in eighteen months than anyone in the past forty years. And on that point, the record is mercifully clear.

So next time you start to go on a tear about how Obama wants this, or Obama did that, or Obama is ignoring the netroots, or Obama is defending this or that Bush policy, please remember the sympathetic fallacy. The government is not a person, and Barack Obama is not your personal fucking Santa Claus.

*I have borrowed this section in part from a much smarter and more insightful commentator than I, but unfortunately I can no longer remember the source. If anyone could let me know who I’m ripping off here, I would like to add a proper citation.

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73 Responses to “GUEST POST: IF THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS, THIS IS NOT IT”

  1. comrade x Says:

    Nunya, maybe such executive power as Burple is worried about may not be abused by the current president ( well, not much), but who's to say the next one will use such restraint?
    The war in Afghanistan had a lot more to do with controlling a Central Asian pipeline and its access to the Indian ocean than fighting terrorism ( Clinton and Dubya hosted Taliban leaders in DC to discuss running a natural gas and oil pipeline through their country). Now throw all that recently " discovered" mineral wealth in the mix and the current administration will find all kinds of reasons why we have to stay there.
    Oh, and one more thing… who decides the target of the assassination is a terrorist and enemy of the U.S.?

  2. Elder Futhark Says:

    Sometimes you can have the right people do exactly the right thing at exactly the right time and place… and the situation still takes a big giant shit on you.

  3. Burple Says:

    I think Nunya articulates a popular, if incoherent, viewpoint in the Democratic Party. And so, we arrive at the nub of things: the proposition that the President of the United States ought not be allowed to order extrajudicial executions and kidnappings has become a far left position, outside the mainstream of American political discourse. This is in large part because President Obama — not Congress — has institutionalized, made bipartisan, and extended the Bush Administration's theory of executive power.

    I suppose that is why my hackles were raised by Hoosier's original essay. He wrote "Barack Obama is not a king." How strange that he has successfully arrogated to himself several powers once enjoyed by absolute monarchs, but which — I was taught as a child — have no place in a constitutional republic.

    As Al Gore said in 2006, "Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is yes, then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the president has the inherent authority to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant, imprison American citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture [notice he does not mention assassinate, because even the Bush Administration did not go that far], then what can't he do?"

    I don't always agree with Glenn Greenwald. But I agree with him when he says that if you're going "argue that this is all justified because Awlaki is an Evil, Violent, Murdering Terrorist Trying to Kill Americans, you should say how you know that. Generally, guilt is determined by having a trial where the evidence is presented and the accused has an opportunity to defend himself — not by putting blind authoritarian faith in the unchecked accusations of government leaders, even if it happens to be Barack Obama. That's especially true given how many times accusations of Terrorism by the U.S. Government have proven to be false."

    Nunya, you say that you prefer your wars small as possible. I invite you to consider whether the program we've been talking about — let alone the current president's decisions to expand the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the resulting deaths of many innocent men, women, and children in those countries — really further that aim.

    Returning to Hoosier's original essay, on one hand, there is a reasonable argument to be made that liberals and leftists in the US should not be too disappointed in the Obama Administration's domestic policy record thus far, because the president is contending with many interests and forces beyond his control. That much I am willing to agree with Hoosier.

    But I would like Hoosier to concede that there is also a reasonable critique to be made from the left, of the Obama Administration's appalling record thus far on executive power, civil liberties, and the war in Afghanistan. As Nunya noticed, I am angry about it — and there are good reasons to be angry about it. Being angry about it does NOT equate to believing that Obama is my personal Santa Claus, and it doesn't make me, and others who share my deep disappointment in him personally on these issues, a bunch of starry-eyed idealists or whiny crybabies.

    Finally, I will vote for Obama again in 2012. But unlike Election Night 2008, when I shed tears of joy and relief for the future of my country, this time I will do it with a much heavier heart.

  4. Nunya Says:

    Burple – I rescind my comments about Fox and Friends. You have a well thought out argument and have refrained from telling anyone to go fuck themselves for several posts. Your restraint both admirable and appreciated.

    Not to drift too far from your comments, I ask what proof is required before we launch a missile on a village suspected to be housing an Al Quaida operative or what kind of judicial oversight it present when we lob artillery shells into a group of men that have never been read their Miranda rights?

    The truth of the matter is that war is the most perverse invention man has ever devised and I would like to see it used as little as possible. On this basic premise, I prefer to attack the leaders of the opposing side before escalating to a massive armed conflict. I understand that this is philosophically flawed and may extend unchecked power to the executive branch but if the end result is a preservation of the larger peace, my calculus deems this to be the fairest course of action.

    Make no mistake, civil liberties in America have taken a beating during the last ten years. As a society, we seemed content to give them up in order to be "protected" and I would love the Patriot Act to be abolished from the law.

    There is a great deal of damage to be healed and I believe Obama is doing as much as he is capable of in the short time he has been given. I don't pretend to know the extent of his intentions in Afghanistan or Iraq but I believe suspending the targeting of specific leaders in terrorist organizations is not high on the list of priorities.

    I also agree with your disillusionment in our government. I assumed that two unjustified wars coupled with massive unemployment, evidence of corruption at all levels of business and politics and the wholesale destruction of the middle class would have motivated the public to press for real reform but instead, we're pointing fingers and trying to drag down our neighbors simply because they're the only ones who will listen.

  5. Monkey Business Says:

    Honestly, I just want to know what the career path is for becoming the Undersecretary of Buttfucking the Taxpayer. That just sounds like fun.

  6. Burple Says:

    Nunya, I appreciate your comment. In my defense, I thought that a GFY was sort of in the spirit of Hoosier's original essay, which has an F-bomb in the title and no less than 10 in total — one of the things I did like about it, by the way.

    And I agree with Monkey Business…

  7. ZenPoseur Says:

    The point that I wasn't able to make clearly enough in the piece was that so many of these supposed "powers" impinge on so many other people's turf that to view them as the exclusive privilege of the President is a dangerous oversimplification.

    And no amount of political pressure is going to get a West Virginia congressperson to vote against the coal lobby unless you give him something more valuable in return. I can certainly be accused of stating the obvious here but sometimes things bear repeating.

    I would advise you not to leave this experience with the belief that you just weren't clear enough. Your problem is that you're racking up a strawman. Your problem is that people disagree with you on the merits of your argument. Those are your problems. You're being perfectly clear. We think you're wrong.

    Listen, we know that it's hard to get what we want. We get that we're probably going to fail. We get that it might even be impossible (although we do not believe that's the case because we're not political nihilists — yet.) We know that we're lucky to have gotten what we have so far. Most of the whiners get that. Please dispense with the notion that we don't get that, because it's fucking annoying.

    But, when faced with a very difficult road, we feel the appropriate course of action is to push harder (which, in American politics, means whine harder — because you might have noticed that whiners in American politics get stuff.) And we want the president to push harder. And we want the Senate to push harder. And you know what the corollary to the whiner rule is? It's that people who are happy with what they have don't get anything else. Why would they? So I refuse to be content.

    Your feeling, when faced with a very difficult road, is that we should… Well, actually I'm not sure I understand what your feeling on the matter is. You mention going after congress (which we're also doing, so that's a borderline strawman) and industry groups. But the president is the most powerful single force in D.C — more powerful than any single congresscritter. You get the most bang for the buck by convincing him that something's important, because he's the power broker and he sets the agenda (and that's not even taking into account his constitutionally granted powers, which you rightly point out are not as extensive as most people believe.)

    And there are things that he could be doing. He could be threatening recess appointments. He could be wielding the EPA as a bludgeon on climate legislation. He could be doing more to shame republicans on the national stage over their anti-jobs, pro-Wall Street, pro-filibuster abuse, and anti-immigrant behavior. He's the only single person who can do all of these things at once, but he's not going to do them if he's more worried about his right flank than his left.

    And as for trying to convince industry groups… Are you serious? If I thought I live in a world where it was futile to whine to the president, but effective to whine to the oil industry, I'd shoot myself in the fucking head. Is that what you want? Do you want me to shoot myself in the head? You must, or you wouldn't have said that. You see this, everyone? He's trying to get me to shoot myself in the head!

    Monster.

  8. Nunya Says:

    @ZenPoseur

    I think he meant only to do this:

  9. RosaLux Says:

    I'm with Zen.

    I appreciate the effort Hoosier, but I wish there was a function whereby I could edit this post line by line with a red pen. Because it seems that nearly every sentence contains either an overstatement, or a wild speculation, or an outright error.

  10. ladiesbane Says:

    With you on the Left who are frantic that Obama broke some mythical promise to cure cancer or something, but please don't make Bush out to be a complete puppet! He appointed a slimeball cabinet who ran amok carrying out his policy, but not against George's wishes. Hell, he just said he'd waterboard all over again. He may be sincere when he espouses energy independence, too, but he still appointed Gale Norton and her deputy, Griles, to the Department of the Interior. His actions speak for themselves. The appointment of attorneys from Christian Cow Colleges, lobbyists, elite donors, corporate shills, and nutty extremists (Dr. David Hager, I'm looking at you!) was not some accident. Elaine Chao didn't wander in to get out of the rain. Bush thought they did a great job and said so.

  11. yellow juan Says:

    HoosierPoli, I think the lesson to be drawn is that if the readers of this blog don't know you and you don't pay enough lip-service to standard left-wing boilerplate bullshit, they are apparently willing to tear you to shreds.

    When someone seriously puts forth arguments as stupid as:

    The war in Afghanistan had a lot more to do with controlling a Central Asian pipeline and its access to the Indian ocean than fighting terrorism ( Clinton and Dubya hosted Taliban leaders in DC to discuss running a natural gas and oil pipeline through their country)

    And expects to be taken seriously, I can only shudder at the future of the left. Are we taking our marching orders from Michael Moore now?

    So, Comrade X, were the Bushies just waiting for September 11 so that they could have their chance to seize control of the vast Lithium deposits (which by the way, are not financially feasible to access).

    Burple at least has a specific, narrowly focused, and logically coherent argument.
    What is up with the rest of you….

  12. one of the rest of you Says:

    I'm not sure Juan, but at least my sense of irony is intact.

    I mean fucking Afghanistan. So the correct answer was what? Revenge? Bloodlust? Kickass practice? Justification of the military budget? Too many cold war intervention arguments still not sufficiently flogged? Profit? Maybe, but those don't seem like they should've sustained a whole decade in that place, and they're nothing to be proud of, especially in hindsight. But you know, jumping into war and all, who could have guessed? At least pipelines and minerals are a rational explanation.

    As for me, the problem is that Obama doesn't represent my concerns as well as I'd like. I don't care if he's hamstrung or if he's sold out, really. The process selects for people that are highly indebted to the architects of last week's series of graphs. I don't think clapping louder is going to forestall an oil shortage or send a higher fraction of corporate profits to wages and benefits or prevent extralegal detentions. Etc..

  13. ZenPoseur Says:

    Juan's just jealous that no one bothered to tear HIM to shreds.

    You know, if you add up the demeaning false characterizations and the histrionic laments about how "you people are ruining the ENTIRE LEFT!", from both sides, here and wherever else this stupid argument takes place, I think the numbers are pretty telling. And take a look at how very tame the comments from whiners that HoosierPoli presents are, compared to his and others' characterizations of said whiners. Which side is supposed to be the melodramatic ones, again?

    Yeah, things got a little heated during the healthcare debate. Although I never heard any such thing, perhaps there really were bloody screams about betrayal and purity and fascism on Kos and FDL. But if you check those sites now, they're really quite calm.

    They somehow managed to get the fuck over it.

    Some people, however, never did.

  14. daphne Says:

    Hoosier: it wasn't intended as flattery, as you surely realized.

  15. Mike the Mad Biologist Says:

    HP,

    It's very well written (I like the style), but I'm not sure I agree (and I was never in the bag for Obama, so I'm disappointed, but not 'betrayed'). Obama does have considerable say over some things, such as reappointing Bernanke (didn't have to do that), many of the civil liberties infringements, doubling down in Afghanistan, and still being in Iraq (just to name a few).

    Those failures provide a context for pushing for other parts of his agenda (e.g., imagine if the war spending weren't being spent on war). His administration also has doesn't understand the value of 'strategic losing', which can be used to pressure Congress into acting (others on this thread have noted the bully pulpit–he could do that too). And as de facto head of the DNC, he has considerable power to pressure vulnerable congresscritters through purse strings (e.g., Lincoln on derivatives).

    Finally, to some extent, it's Obama's decision who is in the position to make certain calls–Reagan and Bush picked oddballs (to be kind about it), but Obama doesn't have to. To the extent that he did, that's his fault.

    So while he's not Santa Claus, he's not as impotent as you make out either.

  16. Mike the Mad Biologist Says:

    I forgot: Obama also doesn't have to use conservative/Republican talking points either: why is Social Security even being 'debated'?

  17. yellow juan Says:

    Hey ZenPoseur,

    I provided an actual quote from a reader of this blog responding to this post, I was not just making shit up. The quote I found represented moronic conspiratorial thinking.

    I could go through and find several more, but honestly I don't have time.

  18. Chief Says:

    Here is a representative sample of why this liberal/progressive is disappointed with the performance of President Obama:

    Dawn Johnson. POTUS nominated her to be in charge of the OLC (Office of Legal Council). Then he let her nomination languish for 14 months before she withdrew. First, he did not fight for her and, second, he did not make her a 'recess' appointment.

    Why did he nominate her, if he wasn't going to fight for her?

    Second: the Public Option. POTUS could have advocated for that from the beginning. But it wasn't even on the table.

    Third: Instead of getting the US out of Afghanistan, he tripled the number of troops there.

    So, basically, even though you have raised some seemingly valid points, the think your post is pure BS and a waste of ink.

  19. Monkey Business Says:

    The reason the Left has to come hard at Obama is because it lacks any sort of real representation in government. The Right has the GOP, the moderates and centrists have the Democrats, but there is no really, truly Left party in the United States.

    Ultimately, the Left is burdened with trying to drag the ignorant mouth breathing masses into the next century, which depending on which set of mouth breathers you're talking about, is either this one or the last one. Yet there are precious few people in Congress that are willing to take on some of the Left's pet projects, because they'll whip the crazy Right into a froth and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and their ilk will start foaming at the mouth like mad dogs.

    Basically, it's tougher to be Liberal in America than it is Conservative. If you're Conservative, there's no rule that says that you have to move forward. You can just dig in your heels and refuse to move. If you're a Liberal, you can't just move yourself forward. You have to lasso the Conservative behind you that's just standing there like a four year old in the toy department throwing a tantrum and drag him forward with you.

  20. jazzbumpa Says:

    Hoosier –

    I haven't read the comments, and there are so many, I might not. But since you were kind enough to quote me without attribution, I'll add my penny and a half. Regarding Bush, you are mostly right. He is a blundering buffoon who fucked up everything he ever touched. And this over his whole life, not just the presidency. Seriously, I believe he was irrelevant to his own administration. The only thing he was ever good at was executing convicts. OTOH, I think you misunderestimate Cheney.

    And you're pretty much on track with your assessment of the non-power of the presidency. Johnathon Bernstein had a series of posts about this recently. Here's one of them.

    http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2010/06/presidency-and-national-security.html

    Re: Obama, you seem to be presenting some false choices. I stand by my comment that he is to the right of Clinton, and Clinton to the right of Ike. I'm thinking mainly of economics here. Look at tax policy during those administrations. Look at the level of regulation. Look at Ike's words about Social Security and the Military-Industrial complex. On economics, Obama cut taxes, kept most of Bush's econ team, and is buying into the right-wing meme that austerity is the best course of action in a demand deficiency depression. It's as if Keynes never existed.

    In foreign policy, Obama has fully embraced in Afghanistan what was called THE SURGE in Iraq. Another thing Ike warned against was getting involved in a land war in Asia. You can see how right he was. You can see how Obama's foreign policy is very little different from W's foreign policy.

    I'm not a disappointed Liberal, feeling buyer's remorse for the Obama choice. I knew I was getting a right-of-center, corporatist, highly competent pol. Among Democratic contenders, he was my 5th choice, only ahead of Hillary (I really don't like dynasties), and behind anyone who could genuinely be considered progressive. I don't think he's timid or wishy-washy. I think he is legitimately a moderate (at best) conservative. In a world that made sense, he would be a Rockefeller-style Republican. But the current Repugs are fucking insane.

    None of this makes me an Obama-hater, and I resent your careless misrepresentation of me. My point was that Obama – the lies of the McShame campaign notwithstanding – NEVER was a progressive with a strong commitment to a liberal political agenda. I've certainly thought about my position longer and harder than you have.

    http://jazzbumpa.tumblr.com/post/54408970/anti-partisanship

    You have to look at these things in historical context. Liberalism has eroded since the Reagan admin, while the country moved several steps to the right. There are damned few real progressives in govt. Bernie Sanders, Byron Dorgan (retiring), Ted Kennedy (dead) maybe a handful of others. Definitely not Obama.

    Cheers!
    JzB

  21. Pictorial Says:

    Ed; this post sounds like it was written by a 16 year old. Please don't subject us to this again.

  22. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    Time to salt the earth. Tom Tomorrow just happened to release a comic about this:

    http://www.salon.com/entertainment/comics/this_modern_world/2010/06/29/this_modern_world

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