I am now waking up from Obama Defense Syndrome almost three years after his election.
What is Obama Defense Syndrome?
Well, since being elected president, Obama has been subject to the most ugly racist disgusting prolonged attack I’ve ever seen happen to a US political figure. For those people who thought racism was dead in America, think again! The birth certificates-He’s a Muslim and hate Islam in general-attacks on his mother’s morality go beyond anything even remotely fair or right and they expose the hate, the jingoism, the racism at the core of right wing groups operating in the USA.
In particular, something that grabbed me as my parents are both immigrants is the sense if you have a funny name and are first or second generation background that you are not truly an American.
All of this has caused me to adopt a very defensive posture when discussing Obama as one can see from earlier entries on my blog.
Bu the bottom line is now almost three years into his presidency that some of the problems I’ve alluded to earlier cannot be ignored. Recent debacles like the debt ceiling debate as well as Obama’s caving in on the date of his jobs speech make him look weak even if they are only symbolic or basically meaningless Washington insider issues.
I theorized before about Obama’s rope a dope strategy http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2009/06/deliberately-weak-president-obama.html
It’s now clear Obama’s strategy is to be “the only adult in the room” in other words an even more deliberate (compared with Bill Clinton after 1994)defining of the Republicans as petulant children and enslaved by their extreme right wing who will primary them and vote them out of office if they do not do what they want. Who knows? This may still result in an Obama second term especially considering who is running on the Republican side
But in the process of executing this strategy Obama’s looking gutless, weak, and seeming to stand for nothing. In addition, his seeming collusion with corporatists on any type of regulation, his failure to make higher taxes for the wealthy part of any plans, and worse of all his militarism and failure to correct Bush policies make him seem like another Clintonian hack who is more Republican than Democrat but without their gift for communication, message discipline, and putting together the perfect photo op (even though Obama has taken less vacation time than Reagan or W Bush going to Martha’s vineyard during a time of economic distress is not a smart move).
I think it is now fair in retrospect to give some credence to two specific criticisms brought up during the 2008 campaign 1.) That Obama did not have any experience running anything. In other words, no management experience-a senator is just one out of a 100 after all. 2.)That he spoke in platitudes and generalities beautiful, poetic ones to be sure but not addressing problems specifically. I think a lot of people noticed the second one but wanted an antidote for the Bush years.
And yes the Bush years....One must always remember that Obama inherited more problems (wars, depression etc.) than any other president but three years on that is not so strong a defense anymore.
The problem is not ideological. I’m not sure what Obama stands for at this point. The problem is that Obama does not know how to govern. He does not know how to negotiate. He does not know how to use hard ball tactics. He leans too much on other people, offices, branches of government to get things done. He is ineffective at using the bully pulpit of the presidency. Obama governs like a legislator rather than a president.
Speaking of attacks, this article in The Daily Best website without meaning to totally is an example of what I wrote two postings ago about the attacks on Ron Paul by progressives and why they will never win anything. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/08/29/ron-paul-the-gop-s-leading-crank.html
The author Michael Tomasky wrote “And yet Paul has appeal (which I find appalling, to riff on Adlai Stevenson’s great old line) among people who would normally find such views risible. I can’t tell you the number of people I encountered in 2008 who said they were Barack Obama supporters first and foremost, but, by cracky, they were also kinda interested in this Paul fellow. This seemed completely insane to me, a person who sees the world first through ideology.”
Right there is the problem. Unless the candidate fits every nook and cranny of your ideology you won’t vote for him? Nonsensical and counterproductive! That’s why I set priorities and vote for a candidate based on those priorities.
On foreign policy the area where progressives and Ron Paul supposedly agree? But he does deserve a measure of credit for adopting that posture and holding to it in George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s Republican Party, even if he took matters, as is his way, to an indefensible extreme at the last GOP debate, when he insisted that if Iran wants the bomb, that’s Iran’s business.
Yes it is Iran’s business and no that is not an extreme position. Anything else is neo-conservatism or in the case of Mr. Tomasky neo-liberalism which is neo-conservatism’s twin and which actually came first. Let’s not forget the first neo-conservatives were Democrats, people who described themselves as liberals.
Tomasky also wrote “But outside of that and a few other smaller things—like his support for drug legalization, a long-held and standard libertarian view—he is a conventional right-wing, out-there extremist, and on both economic and social issues”
I addressed the issue of Paul’s platform on social issues here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2011/08/ron-paul-and-social-issues-setting.h but what really grabs me from that above quote is his description of drug legalization as a “smaller” issue.
As I wrote before there is tendency among a lot of progressives to think this way and that is completely wrong. Drug policy is the middle point extending outwards tentacles that affect a lot of other areas-the budget, immigration, law enforcement, the increased privatization of prisons (something I deeply oppose). I rank drug policy as the second most important issue after US militarism because like ending US militarism there is enough money potentially to be saved and rerouted there to the government’s offers that it would help correct the economy.
If Mr. Tomasky doesn’t understand that, he shouldn’t consider himself “for progress” and he shouldn’t be writing for any major magazine.