Friday, November 16, 2007

Musings on Obama Pt.II

Andrew Sullivan makes the case for Obama in the Atlantic this month ( and there is some merit to his arguments. Unfortunately Sullivan while understanding the rift in U.S. politics trivializes it; he really does not understand what the modern Republican Party has become. He conflates what Mainstream Politicians are doing with the will of the people. He fails to see that there is a huge Progressive backlash brewing in the USA, that the unwashed masses are pissed and want radical change.

Let us take on Sullivan’s trivialization of the political differences first. In a sense he is marginally correct; the two Legislative parties’ positions are similar. In matters of foreign policy goals they are a squabbling about how best to “win the Global War on Terror” He is spot on that HRC’s and other Democrats being scared to death of Republicans labeling them as “weak on defense.” Taylor Marsh also explains HRC as a true believer in “muscular diplomacy” so for her there more than just a “defensive crouch” to her position.

However, outside the Washington bubble people are re-thinking Americas’ role in the world. They want their peace dividend back, and are souring against the war-without-end-amen. There is a threat of Religious Fundamentalism out there, no doubt, but now that the shock of 9/11 has worn off the masses are questioning the need to deploy troopers to god-forsaken corners of the world. There is a growing contingent that rejects the whole concept of a “war” period. This contingent realizes that war puts way too much power into the president’s hands and that the non-state actors of Al Qaeda et al do not represent mortal danger to the U.S.

For brevity let’s call these folks the Reality-Based Civil Libertarians. They are a motley bunch of people ranging from Anti-Government Super Free Marketers like Ron Paul to the usual suspects of Tree-hugging Granola eaters and ACLU types. What they share is a refusal to give up hard won liberties to the Government. They see no reason to give up their rights because the Government says that a small bunch of rag-tag nere-do-wells hiding in caves might do some bad things. They are pissed off that the government is violating their 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendment rights while Osama gleefully flips us the finger from his hide-out in the Pakistan-Afghan border badlands. They are enraged that all that intrusive airport security has netted one demented shoe bomber while outside studies have shown that “bombs” are still being missed in alarming numbers.

This is why Ron Paul is stirring up such passion. He is the only candidate from either party who is willing to challenge the received wisdom of Pax Americana. Unlike George W Bush, Paul really does believe in a “humble foreign policy.” Paul is a totally looney-toon on other issues, a kool-aide slurping free-market nutjob Libertarian extremist on all matters domestic, but his foreign policy stand resonates with an electorate exhausted with Americas’ Sixty year stint as the world’s policeman.

Yes this is a fight dating back to Vietnam, but thanks to W a whole new generation gets to understand why that war was such a disaster. There was a chance to bridge the divide just after 9/11 but Bush burned that sucker down. For reasons no one can really tell us he fought in a war of choice in Iraq. Granted Darth Cheney, master of the sith arts, did mumble a few things in to the Deciders’ ear. We all know that the force gives its’ practitioners power over the weak minded but how did the V.P. win the case for war with Bush? Peak Oil? Outshine your dad? What sealed the deal with incurious George?

But thanks to that idiotic decision our government is now involved in an occupation of a country in the midst of a brutal civil war. The blow-back from our excellent misadventure in Iraq is yet another item bequeathed to the generations following the boomers. In short it is too late for Gen X and Gen Y and Gen whatever; they have been sucked into Boomers’ Vietnam obsessions. Iraq is Vietnam on steroids. There are 2.5 trillion reasons why the post-boomers are now pissed off about Iraq.

Sullivan is right that Bush poured acid into the wound of the Vietnam divide. He is wrong about that wound only affecting boomers. The Rovian strategy did major damage to the nation as a whole, it coarsened the political discussion on all sides. Move-On is the mirror image to the swift-boaters. But the rage of Move-on is the rage of three million folks who had enough of the Rovian politics of personal destruction. It is a reaction to an Administration that uses a General to “catapult the propaganda” about its failed Iraqi policy. It was a rejection of the overt politicalization of the Military High command. Sullivan just does not understand the quantum leap in cynical political gamesmanship that Bush et. al. represent. He doesn’t get that Bush and his cronies represent a far-right radical transformation of what government in the U.S. is all about.

Sullivan trivializes the assault on civil liberties that Bush indulged in; he fails to understand how the Bush executive power grab violates the core of what our system of government stands for. This is not a quibble between Pro and Anti-Vietnam types, it is a fight over our very core as a nation. It is about limited government, it is about human rights, it is about the rule of law, it is about no man being above the law, and it is about holding people accountable. There is no bridge building to people who think torture and rendition are acceptable behavior. There is no compromising with people who run Kangaroo courts or try to suspend Habeas Corpus. There is no making nice to people who kidnap innocents off the street and ship them out to secret prisons in far off lands. These are not trivial issues. These are not sacrifices we have to make in the “war on terror” or the “war against radical Islam.” These things are profoundly Un-American and unacceptable.

Sullivan must have missed the South Carolina debate. If he had watched it he would have finally realized what a god awful state the Republican Party has slipped into. The base of the G.O.P. has gone stark raving nutters. They have given into their inner Brown-Shirt. Mealy-Mouth Mitt Romney tossed all those goose-steppers a lovely piece of raw meat in that debate. Mormon Mitt promised to “Double Guantanamo.” Since that lovely little bit demagoguery was uttered the Republicans have been competing for new lows. Since Rudy Giuliani is the all-time leader as Pander-Bear has a leg up against his fellows.

Sullivan is also ok with the present state of reproductive rights in the U.S.A. Guess he understands neither the 4th amendment nor the rights to privacy. One must guess so since he is so willing to surrender his rights to the folks screaming “look out for the evil mooslims!” And since he will never be saddled with an unwanted pregnancy it’s ok by him that thousands of women will get shafted just because of there residency. Sorry Andrew but the constitution is not up to a majority vote. You are not justified in violating the private decision of a woman just because you have popular support behind you. The 4th amendment is not optional, equal protection means just that. States can not strip their citizens of fundamental protections of the law because they object to their citizen’s choice of bed partners. States do not have the right to be bigoted nor do they have the right to impose religious dogma on half their population.

Understand this, the “Family Values” types are not going to stop at choice, they are going after contraception next. They are imposing worthless abstinence only education in our schools and even trying sneak creationism back into the schools. They are beavering away at setting up a theocratic state.

Again, you can’t compromise with people who are trying to shove their faith down your throat. We have to reeducate the voters on what the founders meant by “freedom of conscience.” Our founders had no intentions of setting up a Christian State, Ours is not a Christian nation. Again there is no wiggle room here, either we are accepting of all religions and all people of good will, or we are not. Yes non-conformists are a small minority, less than twenty percent of the population, but they are Americans too and are in no way lesser men or women. Non-conformists have no reason to grovel to the Pat Robinson crowd for sufferance and benevolence. They need not have someone else’s religion shoved in there faces in the schools or at other government buildings. Our government should be cool calm and indifferent to any set of religious beliefs, its role limited to protecting the speech of the faithful. That is what the founders wanted.

The core issue here is that a major political party has been taken over by a far-right Authoritarian-Corporatist-Christianist cabal. All the moderates, all the Rockefeller Republicans, have been driven out of the party. Only the base remains. That base is both ugly and fear-inducing. It is chock-a-block filled with bigots and Authoritarians at every turn. Exhibit A is Rocking Rudy, a big daddy, my-way-or-the-highway type if there ever was one. Other than Ron Paul all the Republicans seem to be running for Emperor not president. These guys are not going to play nice, they are a bunch of slaving, slobbering vicious wolfs. And Obama is just the kind of guy to try to pet them and say “nice doggy.”

In a way it is a tragedy that someone like Obama did not show up sooner. In more normal times he might make a great president. Even now his visage could send a powerful message to the rest of the world. But leadership is much more than a surface. Leadership is substance, and as stated before Obama is sorely lacking in that measurement. He has dodged every chance to lead offered to him. He tried to raise above the fracas. In more normal times that might of worked. But we do not live in normal times. Our political discourse is totally poisoned, it is poisoned because one major party has decided to appeal to our lizard brains time and time again. It has done so since at least the time of Nixon. Each election cycle the elephant party has ratcheted up the levels of fear and loathing in America. It does so now even more than it did before because its governing philosophy has been shown to be totally bankrupt. Exactly why do we want to build a bridge to a sinking ship? Exactly why do we want to compromise with a pit of poisonous pit-vipers? Thanks in no small part to Bush’s extremism we may be on the cusp of a great populist-progressive uprising. America may finally be waking up from the long Regan induced slumber. Obama proposes to sing us back to sleep, not going to happen.

Sullivan is too much in love with the surface of Obama and too uncritical of Obama’s substance. He carries a generational grudge against HRC that much is clear. But as Los Vegas proved HRC is no one’s sob sister. She will park those pretty little Pradas up your butt and not ask “mother may I.” Edwards will tell you exactly how much those heels hurt when applied to the backside. This time neither he nor Obama had an assist from Terrible Timmy when the going got rough. Maybe that is why she is way ahead of all the boys, she is proving again, and again that she will stand up for herself. Behind that plastic fa├žade there is constitution of tempered steel. HRC is the Anti-Kerry she is more than willing to get medieval on your a**.

Los Vegas also was unkind to Obama as he crapped-out on the diver’s license question. He look like what he is: a pol trying to be all things to all people. While Edwards’ effort came off as a train wreck, Obama was at least a four-car pile-up. Hard to know how many more accidents Obama can afford before he gets towed away. Not that we should cry too many tears if the wrecker does finally pull him off the Demolition Derby that is the primaries. Obama has not shown what it takes to be a leader; he ,not Edwards, has been the ultimate pretty boy in the race. Check out these stats on the free ride the fawning media has given him so far

Tone of Coverage

Percent of All Stories



Hillary Clinton



Barack Obama



Rudy Giuliani



John McCain


What happens when the hack-pack media turns on their pretty boy? How will Obama react when the pit-vipers of the right-wing noise machine go to work? HRC has had two decades of practice, she will be ready. Edwards has shown his nasty streak, he’ll be ready. Obama? Good luck on that.
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