Monday, July 7, 2008

The Plight of the Obama Crowd

Original Link:

By Charles Lemos

I have zero compassion for them. Anyone who supported Obama after March 2008 is clearly either a delusional Obama cultist or a head in the sand idiot. This one is on you.

You had better more experienced choices, say Senator Joe Biden. You had better more principled candidates who live their convictions, say Representative Dennis Kucinich. You had a reform-minded committed populist, say former Senator John Edwards. And then you had Hillary Clinton who despite some flaws encompassed all the best qualities of the aforementioned. You dug the Democratic Party’s grave, now wallow in it for all I care.

For months, countless voices of reason have pointed out time and again, Obama is an empty suit (the above cartoon is from March 2007 so don’t act surprise that Obama is devoid of substance). Obama is a fraud. He lacks experience. He has no relevant qualifications. He has no conviction other than his own political welfare.

His past behaviour is troublesome. He threw Alice Palmer and four others off the ballot. His rise through the labyrinth of Chicago politics took him down some worrisome alleys and forged alliances with a cast of characters include Louis Farrahkan, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the Reverend James Meeks, Antonin Rezko, Rashid Khalidi, William Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn. Now he pals around with Donnie McClurkin, Father Michael Pfleger, and Jodie Evans.

For months committed liberals like Paul Krugman, in column after column, demonstrated how his proposals weren’t that progressive or even centrist. I’ve grown hoarse pointing out Obama’s lobbyist connections and his ties to the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries.

At every opportunity I get, I bring up the fact Senator Obama voted for the Bush-Cheney Energy Policy. The Washington Post called it “a piƱata of perks for energy industries.” John McCain did not vote with his party. Hillary Clinton did not cross the aisle.

But you would not listen. You were mired in a speech that Obama gave in 2002. I hope that speech keeps you warm the next four years because that’s is the extent of his progressive record, a speech. His real record is far more centrist (that reach out across the aisle and ream someone kind of record), or perhaps corporatist is a better choice of words. Six billion dollars in subsidies to the oil & gas industry and $12 billion in subsidies to nuclear power industry.

One has to wonder if he photocopied his energy plan from Dick Cheney and Charles Grassley. His health care plan is a misnomer, it’s an insurance plan. The beneficiary is the insurance industry.

His votes in the Senate were more pro-Bush than Hillary’s, than Biden’s, than Dodd’s, than Edwards’. Progressive Punch ranked Obama the 42nd most progressive member of the Senate. There are 49 Democrats and one Socialist and one “Independent” in the Democratic Caucus. Forty-second out of 51. Funny how that is. Laughing yet?

Now, you are upset that he is backtracking. News flash: he says what he thinks will please his audience at the moment and then he does whatever he thinks will advance his career the most. And what a career it is. Zero legislative accomplishments. Zip. Name one. He has missed 42% of the votes in the Senate this year. Over the comparable period, Hillary missed 30%. That’s over a quarter more votes missed. Not trivial and by design. He and his handlers don’t want him to have a record to run on.

You think his vote on FISA was shocking. Really? He is the candidate of corporate interests, the candidate of the anti-Clinton Democratic establishment. You’re voting for Obama but getting Tom Dashcle. There’s a winner for you. You’re voting for Obama and getting Jesse Jackson, Jr. Another soulless Chicago politician. As a bonus, tack on Dick Durbin. But wait there’s more. Act now and we’ll throw in out-of-touch effete liberals– John Kerry and a gasbag to boot — Bill Richardson. But wait, there’s more you also get master advertising guru David Alexrod. Think of it as the DNC’s special gift to to you.

Obama is the designated one, the annointed one, but you satistified yourselves with silly speeches and satiated yourselves with empty platitudes galore. You went for the hip and the flash, a no-hit wonder who hasn’t even come to bat yet. He moves from one on deck circle to another never fully entering the game.

Instead you left the ace of the Democratic Party in the dugout. You fools. Stop your crying and either attempt to salvage the situation or prepare yourselves for a McCain Presidency which from my point of view is preferable to an Obama one. Better the devil that I know than the devil that I don’t. I know what to expect from McCain.

But how can I trust that shiftless soulless hypocrite who with each passing day changes yet another of his positions? It’s backtracking with Barack. So far he’s trampled on the Fourth Amendment, a women’s right to choose, the health care of all Americans and now the cornerstone of what brung him to the dance in the first place, that magical speech in 2002 that had to be re-recorded so it could be replayed again and again and use your opposition to a fruitless war as his springboard to power.

So it is with incredulity that I read this silliest of wanking posts by Ian Welsh on Firedoglake entitled “Turning Obama Into A Punchline: How Democrats Can Lose.” He was mockable from the start and his supporters perhaps even more.

I still can’t forget that kid in Ohio who thinks Obama is infallible. Papa Obama the First. News flash — Obama is a joke. He isn’t just a punchline, he is one of those clown punch bags. He may come back up but he just gets walloped down again. The funnier part is that it is largely self-inflicted so far. The GOP has yet to get its licks in.

His post and selected comments below the fold.

Once upon a time there was a candidate who was 17 points ahead of his foe. The election, it seemed, was his.

His name was Dukakis, and he lost that election to George Bush, Sr.

Or, more accurately, he lost it to Lee Atwater, Rove’s mentor. By the time Atwater got through with him, Dukakis wasn’t even a respected politician anymore, he was a punchline.

In 2000 Rove ran Bush as a “compassionate conservative” and smeared Gore as a liar, the man who’d “invented” the internet. The fact that Gore had never said that didn’t matter. In 2004 Kerry, an actual war hero, was smeared as a coward by the Swift Boat Veterans for “Truth” and by the time they got through with him, the man who’d taught Swift Boaters that the way to respond to an attack was to turn into it, was branded a coward, not a hero.

Republicans try and run elections based on “character” and when they manage it they generally win. When the election turns on something else, such as hope, the economy and health care in ‘92, they lose.

Today McCain promoted a new campaign manager, Steve Schmidt. Schmidt has been pushed, hard, by Karl Rove. He worked for the Governator’s reelection, and he also worked for Bush’s reelection in 04. Schmidt understands both parts of the Republican two-step — how to take away the scary parts of Republicanism, which he did for the Governator, who ran on a number of rather liberal policy plans; and how to destroy the opponent.

McCain isn’t going to win this election by playing nice. The natural momentum of the time favors Obama, because the Republican brand is badly damaged. The appointment of a Rovian disciple shows that the Republicans get this, and they’re ready to intensify their strategy.

Folks act as if negative campaigning doesn’t work, but this is a myth. It works, and it works well. All it is is reverse branding — branding your opponent for him. Schmidt will be looking for the opportunity to brand Obama as effete, weak and unprincipled. Obama’s actions of the past couple weeks, his “run to the center” in which he has suddenly realized he didn’t mean what he said in the primaries is playing into this narrative.

As with almost all Democrats Obama doesn’t seem to get that strength isn’t about what you vote for (national “security”), it’s about how you act. Stand strong on a principle and people will admire that even if they disagree with it. Be seen to flip like a weathervane and even if people wind up agreeing with you, they’ll despise you. Being strong, appearing strong, is about having principles, about taking a stand, not about talking tough.

Now, certainly McCain has no principles to speak of, having thrown his few remaining scruples out the door over the last couple years to court the conservative base, as when he voted for torture.

But, as we all know, the media prefers Republicans on character issues. The Swift Boaters were liars, their lies were proved at the time, but they were never effectively rebutted by the press. In 2000 the press likewise repeatedly failed to call Bush out on his many lies, indeed Paul Krugman, who tried, was expressly forbidden to use the word “lie” by his editors.

So the McCain campaign is going to try and define Obama. Republicans defined Dukakis, they defined Gore, they defined Kerry. Only with Clinton did they fail. At the same time, I expect Schmidt to push the McCain maverick brand more seriously and start backing away from the right wing base on a couple of key issues. (Torture, for example, is a place where McCain appears to be attempting to claim he is different from Bush, despite his vote for it.)

Muddle the difference on some key stands, define your opponent, make the election about character and not about policy. Obama has made this easier. It can’t really be about health care since Obama is not for universal care, and it’s harder to make it about the economy after changing his position on NAFTA.

So what Obama’s got left is “I’m not George Bush. And I am change.” If he can define McCain as Bush, he can still win it. But remember, historically elections that have come down to being about character have favored Republicans. And as Obama decides to be all things to all people, and nothing to anyone, I hope he isn’t walking into a trap whereby in simply defining himself as “hope” and “change” and “not Bush” he’s leaning on some slender reeds, easily broken by the avalanche of mud soon to come his way.

Lee Atwater is dead, but the style of politics he perfected hasn’t changed.

And sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.

You’re deluding yourselves by thinking that McCain is defining Obama. Obama is doing it all on his own. Obama is defining himself with every word he utters on FISA, capital punishment, on Iraq, on abortion, on his own naivete. His own backtracking is blazing a fiery trail as if it were naplam.

His candidacy is, as we speak, failing to gain traction. So far his own saving grace has been that McCain too has failed to gain traction. It’s a comedy of errors or perhaps a Greek tragedy. Either way, there is plenty to mock but not much to laugh at.

But you will see McCain run as some cross between a Ford Republican and Reagan Republican. You are beginning that change now. McCain is taking energy policy, Obama is talking flag pins. And when Obama does try to talk policy, he ends up “revising” earlier statements. Not too clever this very junior Senator from Illinois. Obama is on his way being defined as well, let’s just say he is part Carter, part Dukakis and part Kerry and all Barack and not one iota of Clinton.

He is unelectable even before the 527s get started. Those will point to the Reverend Wright. How does he run from a twenty year association with Reverend Wright? The Wright of 1991 is no different than the Wright of 2001 or 2008. He’s the same man and the tapes are ready to go. Twenty years of Barack at Trinity ready to hit your television screens.

How does he run from William Ayers, an unrepentant terrrorist? How does he run from Jodie Evans, a wealthy divorcee who thinks it’s funny to sabotage Army recruiting centers?

How does he run from that Bush-Cheney Energy Policy vote? Or his countless oil and gas connections? He is in the uneviable position of being attacked from both the left and the right and some of the center to boot. He has his cult and his handlers. That may be all he has in the end. Don’t look now but Ralph Nader has been polling since June in the 4% to 6% range. If he gets up to 10%, he is in the debates.

Now for the plight of the Obama Crowd, a few select comments from Firedoglake:

I like your thinking. Maybe I’ll send a check to HRC and JE. Keep the options open.

Sending a cheque to JE is pointless. Sending a cheque to HRC is nice because we need to retire her debt but the real problem is the DNC. You need to act to stop the coronation in Denver. Talk to a PUMA.

Do’h! We cudda hadda John Edwards!

Yeah. But you let a stupid $400 haircut story in the media undo him.

I’ve given up on aristocrats, and I’ve quit donating as a general policy.

Though I will seriously consider giving funds to a good effort to primary any Blue Dog-type.

Yeah, well Clinton was the working class Democrat. So was Edwards. So was Kucinich. And Biden wasn’t bad either. Choices you had. Even as late as May.

And thereby hangs the tale. Because I expected integrity from Barack Obama. I expected at the very least that he would be a fierce defender of the Constitution. Remember the “taught constitutional law” meme? He had my loyalty (okay, trickle down loyalty from Gore and then Edwards) and he has some of my money. There will be no more money (he doesn’t need it — he can afford to cover Hillary’s losses) and the loyalty thing is in limbo. And I’m a staunch Dem.

This is not looking good.

You wouldn’t listen to reason. Anyone who would throw five people off the ballot, as he did in his first state senate race, cannot be expected to be a Defender of the Constitution, can he? Anyone who arranges to get pundits thrown off CNN because he didn’t like their coverage cannot exactly be called a civil libertarian, can he? Integrity? From Barack Obama? Based on what? The way he handled the Reverend Wright? The racist card he has played throughout this campaign? His misogynistic remarks? His complete disrespect fof the success of the Clinton Administration? And yet he praised Ronald Reagan? Integrity?

And as Obama decides to be all things to all people, and nothing to anyone.

Nail on the head. We have a winner, ladies and gentleman. I have been saying this since January. It was evident then and it has been parcel post part of his campaign throughout. Did you just wake up from a six month hibernation?

I wrote to the Obama camp that I will not donate to someone who does not fight for the Constitution of the United States of America. (FISA, supporting church charity.) Not that I think letters, e-mails, faxes or phone calls are having any impact on any of the Dems. I don’t see Pelosi/Reid/et al. taking any notice of their base, and I don’t see Obama wising up. I despair, but I think McCain will slip through. Sad for all of us.

Sad. Yeah, that’s the word. Sad. You’re despairing? Despair if he becomes President. That’s truly what must be avoided. When we have reached the point that John McCain is the sane choice, I am afraid despair is pointless. That line was crossed long ago.

FISA anyone?

Obama’s new rush to destroy the Separation of Church and State isn’t going to help much either. If there is a plausible challenge to him in 2012, he might be a one-termer. Historic, but a single.

He’s getting the 3P’s down…Pander, Prevaricate and Pirouette.

He’s your man, not mine. I have opposed him from day one and will continue to do so because he’s dangerous. Obama is nothing but duplicitous.

Be seen to flip like a weathervane and even if people wind up agreeing with you, they’ll despise you. Being strong, appearing strong, is about having principles, about taking a stand, not about talking tough.

Let’s see now, who had principles? What was her name? Experienced too. Tough as nails. Wouldn’t quit until the DNC told her to shut up and get on board. Now, what was her name again?

Obama wasn’t my first choice, but as the primary campaign progressed, he grew on me (mostly by treating the electorate as grown-ups instead of fearful children).

Now, I want a do-over. The FISA capitulation was bad enough, but now he’s walking back his commitment to get out of Iraq? What is wrong with him? Did someone kidnap David Plouffe and replace him with Mark Penn?

Treating the electorate as grown-ups? What, by telling fairy tales in the land of hope and change? By telling you that you were the ones you had been waiting for. That was shameless flattery. Also out of Lenin’s playbook.

Clinton treated you as an adult. Edwards treated you as an adult. Obama treated you as a toy, a piece of silly putty that he could mold into his own legion of toy soldiers marching onto Washington to defeat the evil lobbyists who form his very own shock troops. It’s like watching an episode of Star Wars.

You have been deceived. You have been lied to. Wake up and doing something about it.

What’s wrong with Obama? How long have you got? I have written volumes. So have others far more learned than I. But you preferred to believe that a speech by an Illinois State Senator mattered more than the hard work of US Senators who faced tough decisions or who actually realized that telling the American people we can just waltz out of Iraq and leave it in a vacuum would be to mislead them.

Senator Biden, who is likely the most knowledgeable US Senator on both sides of the aisle on Iraq, told us that Obama didn’t have a plan, he had a dream.

Senator Clinton had the endorsement of nearly 40 retired top members of the US Armed Forces, including two former Chief of Staffs because they knew she understood what it would take to do the groundwork so we can exit Iraq.

Ambassador Joe Wilson wrote op-ed after op-ed praising Clinton for her approach. In return, you vilified him. And he broke the goods on Cheney.

There are no words that can describe the utter disgust I feel towards many of Obama supporters. Those that engage in tactics that aim to suppress dissent by shutting down websites nefariously or spreading misinformation about the membership of PUMA are nothing but vile worms living off their own manure.

I have long recognized that my political views put me in a minority- and that no candidate will win by espousing what I believe- so I try to support the person who will do the least harm.

Well unless you are willing to consider Nader, you’re likely talking about McCain at this point as the person who will do the least damage. Obama can not be trusted and then he lacks all relevant experience and that in and of itself is eminently dangerous.

His comments on Jerusalem at AIPAC would have set off riots in the Middle East and put both American lives and interests across the globe in jeopardy had he been President at the time. Words matter. Nuance matters. Precision is important and now he’s puzzled by how the media reads his every word. Unless you want to be the Hugo Chavez of the United States who spouts like some uncontrollable geyser, words need to be measured. But Obama is such a panderer that off the cuff he will fly and into the abyss we will go.

All the people who are disappointed in Obama need to remember on thing - if you remember nothing else about him. He is a student of George Lakoff.

For those of you who don’t know what that means, it is simply, George Lakoff is a specialist in the cognitive science of linguistics. In English, he studies ’framing’ and how it works.

In the instance being worried about today (faith-based initiatives), everyone (including me) has heard this term over and over for the past 7 or so years, and have become very familiar with the Bush version of this. It is a failed policy whereby the Rethugs dismantle a government program that was doing an adequate job, in favor of some crony religious program that is marginal at best, and outright corrupt at its heart at worst.

Along with this, the Rethugs dismantled social safety net programs leaving these so-called faith-based organizations to pick up the entire load, something they were never qualified for, nor were capable of doing on the scale of need. So we hear the words - faith-based initiative - and immediately all this crap comes to mind. Along with the erosion in the line of separation between church and state.

Let me propose a ”Lakoff transformation”. First, listen to Obama’s speech. And I mean REALLY listen. Don’t just read the headlines, here or anywhere else because they all have as a subtext the Bush definition.

Second, let’s lose the descriptor - faith-based initiative. What Obama is proposing is a PARTNERSHIP between the government and private institutions to get a job done. He is proposing that the government will keep its ongoing programs and work to make them better. And will work as a PARTNER with other organizations to help address needs that may be better suited to these particular organizations or for which these organizations may have a better track record of success. He proposes to LEARN from these organizations and figure out ways to help the government agency do a better job so that all persons needs are met. Yes, some of these organizations are religious - but the appropriate guidelines are in place - they just need oversight, accountability and enforcement, something that has also been completely missing under Bushco, and which Obama says he will make the Office in charge do its job.

I think that we are all too quick to dismiss and feel bad about Obama’s supposed policy direction changes, when they may not be that at all. Or they may be policy direction changes that are going in an entirely new direction than the one we are thinking about. Lakoff says this is the trouble with our language - we tend to develop a ’frame’ around a word or phrase when we first encounter it. That frame gets imprinted on our brains, and then we have to work really hard to actually think ”outside the frame” for a new and better context.

Next time you hear that Obama did XYZ using language that feels/seems bad - try this exercise. Replace the objectionable frame with another word that describes the action being taken - as I did using the word ’partnership’, and then look at the issue again. We may all be surprised - in a good way.

What Obama is proposing is a PARTNERSHIP between the government and private institutions to get a job done? What Obama is propsoing is a giveaway of taxpayer money to private institutions that proselytize. Government is in the business of assisting people in their lives. Churches are in the business of saving souls. The two are not complimentary. There is a Constitutional separation between Church and State. Your framing is blind acceptance of utter folly.

The kool-aid is strong in this one. Anyone who supports him now is blind to the dangers that Obama poses to civil liberties and human progress. And blind men are at their blindest when they suddenly think that they can see.

See you in 2012, if we get there.

No comments: