Posts about obama

It’s not just me

So now The New York Times frets — as I have — that once he got the nomination, Barack Obama has been making u-turns and right turns as he rejects public financing, embraces the Supreme Court’s gun decision, criticizes the Supreme Court on the death penalty, and flip-flops on FISA. (Oh, and I forgot, as he endorses “faith-based initiatives.” Here, alone, we see a helluva compilation of Constitutional views on guns, unreasonable search and seizure, capital punishment, and separation of church and state. He taught con law — let’s look up some of his old lectures, someone, please.)

I don’t want to — I really don’t want to — say I told you so. But this is what I feared from him: that his empty rhetoric was the mark of high cynicism in politics (if I get get them to buy this hot air without saying anything then I can do anything I need to do to get elected… though he’s not even letting what he has said stop him from flipping). My other fear is that he is unproven and could be Jimmy Carter, and given the clumsiness of his dash from left to middle — overshooting the mark and ending up too far to the right for The Times’ comfort — I’d say he’s not looking so smooth right now.

So what is it you can believe in with Obama? What is change? Answer me that.

Oh, I’m stuck voting for him. So are his cultists who are now protesting his moves; they’re really trapped. But this is what I feared.

Says The Times:

We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.

There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.

He’s just a politician.

: LATER: In the comments, Fred Wilson is making what is now becoming a common argument: he’s doing what he has to do to win: “I feared he wasn’t tough and polished and skilled. These moves show that he is.” Hear Eric Alterman saying the same thing: “I don’t know what he really believes in his heart.” Read Mike Tomasky saying the same thing: “It’s acceptable – and necessary – for Barack Obama to compromise his liberal principles in order to get elected…. I’ve always objected to setting up principle as a value that’s oppositional to winning. To me, winning is a principle. It’s the highest principle there is.”

So move on, folks, there’s nothing to believe in here. Change? What change? Chump change. Plus ça etc.

Well, since everyone’s abandoning principle for expediency, even though I disagree with the Obama supporters who are criticizing him on FISA — I actually support his stand — I will celebrate how they are holding his feet to the fire on his own principles and I’ll say what we need in particpatory democracy is more folks like them and fewer who are willing to throw aside principle for power, means for the end. That is politics the old way. That is what we were promised would be changing. In the immortal word of another blogger: Heh.

: LATER STILL: In my recitation of Obama’s flipping and sidling, I forgot to include his possible rethinking on Iraq. Here, again, I agree with him — he should reconsider dates and deadlines based on reality; I’ve said that all along (and so did Hillary). But this, too, will piss off the loyalists who got him where he is.

: And the Kossaks are restless. In response to Obama’s statement — which acknowledges the revolt brewing under his own wing at MyBarackObama.com — comments include:

The only explanation for his Oct 2007 FISA stance? Principle. He stood to gain nothing otherwise from it.

The only explanation for his current stance? Political necessity.

The only problem? It’s not necessary. We’re getting played, here, folks. This explanation is crap. He’s using several of the very same frames used by other capitulators and moderate Rs.

We’re. Getting. Played.

But other Kossaks are sounding like the robot on Lost in Space: Does not compute. Does not compute.
One complains: “Has this site always been so insane or has it really, really jumped the shark recently? I don’t belong here anymore.” Another adds: “That’s how I feel Like I don’t belong with the net roots anymore. Even TPM has been hammering Obama.”

And just as in every cult I’ve covered (and I covered them in my San Francisco newspaper days), paranoia emerges: “This is another ‘operation chaos’ style invasion to create a wedge among Obama’s supporters. The sad part is that Markos from Kos and Arianna from Huffpost, indirectly sparked the idea when they criticized FISA. While criticism and accountability should be welcome, those in a position of influence such as Ko and Arianna should use it more responsibly, knowing that Rove, Limbaugh and right-wing nuts are out there ready and desperate to use any tactic to diminish O’s support base.” The cult is cracking. They always do.

The Kos war

Jim Wolcott (fellow Hillary voter) dissects the feud — schism, actually — at Daily Kos and within the Democratic Party. Note well that the nasties in this story are the followers of Mr. Getalong.

The rancor was disproportionate in intensity and extravagant in invective, a fervor worthy of ancestral foes. Months-old grievances seethed and erupted as if they had been bubbling for centuries in a lake of bad blood. . . .

What chafed Hillary supporters was how many supposed liberal outposts chimed in with this chorus of abuse, from the op-ed pages of The New York Times (where only Paul Krugman seemed to have a kind word as Maureen Dowd kept reminding readers of Monica Lewinsky’s lipstick traces on the Clinton saga, and Gail Collins seemed to be putting on some sort of puppet show) to the studios of Air America (where hosts Randi Rhodes–who was suspended, then resigned, after calling Clinton a “whore” at a public appearance–and Thom Hartmann kept the hostility percolating), to progressive Internet mother ships such as Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post, where even a notable progressive such as Barbara Ehrenreich tried to tar Hillary with fascist associations. (The majority of Huffpo’s high-profile contributors were so over the rainbow about Obama that it was as if they had found rapture in the poppy fields and were rolling around on their backs like ladybugs.)

And quoting Kos himself over the departure/boycott of Hillary voters from his shrine:

“Clinton and her shrinking band of paranoid holdouts wail and scream about all those evil people who have ‘turned’ on Clinton and are no longer ‘honest power brokers’ or ‘respectable voices’ or whatnot, wearing blinders to reality, talking about silly little ‘strikes’ when in reality, Clinton is planning a far more drastic, destructive and debilitating civil war.”

Obama may paint himself as Mr. Nice Guy but he certainly has a nasty bunch of friends.

Obama’s problem

Now I’m actually angrier about Obama and the Rev. Wright than before. When I complained about what Wright said the first times, I was told that I didn’t understand the history of the black church, I didn’t understand black liberation theology, I didn’t listen to the whole context of what he said. Bull.

But now Obama repudiates Wright. And all Wright did was repeat the exact same crackpot crap that some of us had complained about before.

So before, I was as good as called racist or at least clueless for criticizing the not-so-good reverend. But now when Obama finally criticizes him, the New York Times editorial page — in a classic of doublespeak soft-headed mush from wimps — praises him for “the most forthright repudiation of an out-of-control supporter that we can remember.” Jesus.

Worse, the Times again implies that we’re all racists if we and candidates don’t criticize white crackpot crazy ministers as much as this one has been criticized. Well, I have my alibis: I’ve put in my time criticizing crackpots with white collars and white skins and protesting their bigotry. It’s the Times that is playing the race card here.

In the end, this isn’t about race at all — and I think it was a mistake, in the end, for Obama to put the needed discussion about race in America in the context of Wright.

No, this story is about a nutjob whom our potential president valued as an advisor. Obama would not repudiate Wright the first time he said all these hateful things; Obama did it only when they were repeated and when he realized that this could do him political damage.

You see, this is the problem I have with Obama. I’m still not sure what I think he is: a cynical politician who throws out empty rhetoric and makes these grand statements only when he needs to (that is, like every other cynical politician) or a mushy wimp who can’t make tough decisions because he thinks he can get along with everybody (Jimmy Carter).

Campaign placement

The most fun I had Twittering the election last night was immediately seeing the three Abercrombie & Fitch guys dudes standing behind Obama. Coinicidence? Conspiracy? Product placement. Either there is a story there or the Obama campaign is its own demographic clliche.

Maybe it’s the latter. The Toronto Sun said yesterday:

Hillary is minivans and American sedans, Barack is Range Rovers and Hondas. Hillary is cross-trainers with jeans, Barack is Abercrombie and Fitch and Banana Republic. Hillary is Dunkin Donuts, Barack is Starbucks. And their supporters are equally vocal, in different ways.

: LATER: USA Today talks to A&F, who says they had nothing to do with it. Ditto the campaign. The USAT blog is asking, ‘Anybody know these guys?’

China, finally

I am delighted that our national — our Western — love affair with China is hitting the skids. We were in love with nothing but its huge and opening market and plain greed pushed every company in sight to move into China, blindly and blithely ignoring the problems there. We could have opened our eyes over human rights. We could have opened our eyes over free speech, Yahoo’s complicity in jailing a journalist, other companies’ complicity in censoring the speech of the Chinese. We could have opened our eyes over the country’s unregulated and amoral economy, poisoning our children, pets, and poor people (some say that is just a stage in economic development; I say bullshit, it is the product of a dictatorship without a moral center). We’ve had so many opportunities. At last, we’re opening our eyes over Tibet and I hope we reexamine our lust for China’s money and the leverage we have to make it behave like a civilized and moral economy.

Finally, the IOC realizes it has a crisis. Finally, companies are realizing that their association with China can be bad for them. Finally, public figures are taking a leadership role (see Steven Spielberg’s refusal to work on the games). And finally, politicians are realizing that they must take a stand. Hillary Clinton and John McCain have said they would not attend the Olympic opening ceremonies, a small but important symbolic statement.

(Barack Obama won’t go that far. Said the Times this morning: “Senator Barack Obama suggested that Mr. Bush should wait to make a final decision, but leave a boycott ‘firmly on the table.’ ” Firmly on the table? That sounds like something a Bush press secretary would say. You see, friends, this is the kind of prevarication I fear from an Obama administration. It’s a small thing, of course, but I see in that small thing I see someone who wants to be everyone’s friend and who has trouble making a firm decision. I see Jimmy Carter.)

Elected by Google

Webguild has amazing numbers on Barack Obama’s online spending. They report that in February, he spent $1 million on Google vs. Hillary Clinton’s $67,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. He spent nearly $100,000 on Yahoo ads; she spent about a tenth of that. He spent an additional $58,000 on Yahoo search ads; she spent none. He spent $4,900 on Facebook; she spent none.

Spending money is only one way Obama and company have used the internet — particuarly the social internet — well. But they are spending money smarter.

Not what they seem

In today’s NY Times, Paul Krugman says that progressives (nee liberals) voting for Barack Obama are not getting the most progressive candidate:

All in all, the candidates’ positions on the mortgage crisis tell the same tale as their positions on health care: a tale that is seriously at odds with the way they’re often portrayed.

Mr. McCain, we’re told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.

Mrs. Clinton, we’re assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eats babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive.

Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.

‘The art of hypocrisy’

I was just thinking that we hadn’t really seen any slick, citizen-made attack ads on YouTube since the Hillary 1984 spot. But this morning, I find two, just put up, going after Barack Obama. They use the same video template to make two points — one about the disenfranchised voters of Florida and Michigan, the other about Obama’s campaign contributions from what the videographer calls special interests. The tagline: “The art of hypocrisy.”

The Florida/Michigan spot (which also throws darts at Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi):

The campaign contribution spot: