Friday, 17 August 2012

Why We Can't Have A Liberal President

posted 8/17/2012 by the Salt City Sinner

For the first time in the history of this blog I would like to reproduce, in its (almost) entirety, an essay.

Thomas Frank, "Compromising Positions:"

Let us review. Barack Obama, who was lifted to the presidency four years ago on a great wave of progressive fantasy, likes to say that hte national budget is like a family budget: that when times are tough, government has to tighten its belt. This is a Republican simile of very long standing, and the president is a Democrat. He is in fact the leader of the party that is supposed to believe in deficit spending during hard times. Yet Obama has enthusiastically adopted the belt-tightening trope, and all the terrible ideas that go with it. 
Another thing the president likes to say - or liked to say, back in the days when his administration was new and "hope" hadn't started to stink yet was that "we should be looking forward and not backwards." More recently, he has argued that we should not "relitigate the past." What Obama has meant is that he and his colleagues won't look too closely into the Bush Administration's torture policies or the causes of the financial disaster of 2008. No, they will focus on "getting things right in the future." It's a kind of intellectual amnesty program that has absolved in one fell swoop the nation's failed political leadership and pundit corps. 
A truly dedicated Obama watcher could pile up dozens of similar examples. Such an observer might note that big chunks of the president's signature health-care reform effort were borrowed from the conservative Heritage Foundation and a certain Republican governor of Massachusetts. That Obama's bank bailouts were no different from George W. Bush's bank bailouts. That his Fed chairman was Bush's Fed chairman. That his 2009 stimulus package was, in large part, made up of tax cuts - just like Bush's stimulus package of the previous year. And that by February 2010, when he created the Simpson-Bowles commission, Obama had pretty much given up on stimulus anyway, choosing instead to lend his gravitas to the worldwide push for austerity. 
That some observer might remind us that President Obama has pursued governmental secrecy to a degree even the Bush Administration never dared, and that he has arrogated to himself the right to kill American citizens overseas who have not been convicted of any crime. President Obama likes (or used to like) to extend the hand of kindness to the nation's bankers: "Help me help you," he implored them back in 2009.

Actually, I'm not going to reprint the whole thing here, because that's enough to make me thoroughly sick to my gills.

Frank notes that in constantly - pathologically - capitulating to the Right, Obama is entering the "Desert of Centrism" (nice verbal flourish, that) and that it allows the Right to label his increasingly limp, center-of-right proposals "SOCIALISM" and "MARXISM" and "SCARY ANTI-COLONIALISM!!" (The last one there to be a hit movie coming to a theater near you from established lunatic, professional clown dildo and weird extremist Dinesh D'Souza.)

yeah dude that mild centrist health reform was totally a Kenyan plot, thanks Dinesh

In this way, our dialogue - or Glenn Beck's beloved "Overton Window" - gets dragged further and further and further rightward.

We can't have a liberal president any more because everyone to the left of Glenn Beck - from the Anarchists to the AFL-CIO, from the Wobblies to the Reagan Republicans - is terrified of these people.

YEAH DOGG STOMPIN' THOSE HOMOS DOWN (seriously, she was McCain's Vice Presidential pick)

They are crazy.

They are crazy as hell. They are well funded by billionaires who are complete nihilists, and will deeply fund any group (including, apparently, a necrotic pack of cannibalistic HyperColor clowns) that is willing to bark and froth and forcibly impregnate people's brain-stems to get the ruling class a few more percentage points shaved off their capital gains taxes, no matter the long-term societal cost.

They are increasingly supported by a - let's say it - clinically insane, elderly white population who crap themselves and arm themselves to the teeth at the idea of EN-CEROACHERATING SOCIALISM AND THAT BLACK KENYAN FELLA!

The shut-ins, the crazies, the Ron Paulites and the John Birchers and the Birthers and the deep-fried Chick-Fil-A fat-assed suburbanite bigots...welcome to your new Governing Coalition, America.

3 comments:

  1. I just read Frank's essay and I thought it was a rather insightful piece of commentary. For any of us who have been wondering "What ever happened to the politics of hope?", I think we have our answer.

    The question you ask in your title, I believe, is unfairly answered by your line "They are crazy". In fact, that line seems to embody at least half of the divide that we currently face. If conservatives are quick to play the Victim and Patriot cards, liberals are just as quick to be smug, condescending, and uncaring.

    The reason I say uncaring is that the typical liberal doesn't seem to care that nobody wants to be thought of as ignorant, yet that seems to be the only play liberals make time and time again. This constant condescension, this uncaring approach to education (which is essentially what the left seems to be trying to do) will neither win friends nor influence people, but will only serve to temper the anger and ignorance of those they seek to "enlighten".

    Strange as it may seem, there was someone who was able to make the christian coalition and the Glenn Beckers (before he had a spotlight) smile and nod and take their populist/collectivist message while wrapping it in in a flag and calling it whatever he pleased: Ronald Reagan. Sure, he may have started us down a fiscally dangerous path, but he also passed any number of left-leaning - if not outright liberal - policies during his presidency. The difference? He lead. He was a leader. Dislike the man all you want, but there are things he was able to accomplish through leadership and charisma that others would kill for. But I digress...

    Do you like to be told you're wrong? I'm not sure that anyone enjoys that experience. I think we all hold on tightly to the idea that we are capable, rational beings even when the contrary is plainly true. When someone directly challenges that view, the knee-jerk reaction is not to open the mind, but to dig in.

    I'm sure it's exciting and emotionally invigorating to call someone a "deep-fried Chick-Fil-A fat-assed suburbanite bigot", but when you resort to those tactics, you become just as ignorant, just as ridiculous as those you try to ridicule.

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