Thursday, May 8, 2008

Is It Still Not Yet Time For My Painkiller?

I’d intended to post yesterday, but after work I ended up finishing Raymond Williams’s second novel Second Generation, originally published by Chatto & Windus in 1964. It felt so good to be cruising along through a book at a reasonable pace that I decided not to stop until I was done, just in time for bed. Second Generation is a fine novel, though not as good as Williams’s first, Border Country (1960), nor his third, The Fight for Manod (1979), which I just finished reading today. Maybe someday I’ll get around to writing more about them.

But at the moment I’m feeling strange about a comment by a blogger named Greg Laden, an anthropologist and biological anthropologist who’s done a very good job rebutting scientific racism.
The existence of Obamomaniacs who would not vote for Clinton were she the candidate has been greatly exaggerated. All Obmama [sic – a Freudian slip, maybe?] supporters will support Clinton and visa versa. …

There are Obama supporters who are absolutely foaming at the mouth at Clinton. They will go on and on (totally justified, by the way) about how Clinton is ruining the party, etc. etc. etc. But then if you ask them "OK, but if she's the nominee, who will you vote for" and they always say "Well, Clinton, she's the Democrat."

No amount of Democratic party politics will make Democrats forget that they are Democrats and that a Bush Third Term is not an option.
I disagree (and so, I suspect, would Avedon Carol). I don’t think that the Obama supporters would find it that easy to give up the (often misogynist) venom they’ve been hurling at Clinton, or vice versa. Particularly those starry-eyed kids who’re getting involved in politics for the first time, who’re dripping Hope all over the landscape – they’re the most likely to bail if their dreamy guy is denied the nomination. (And “denied” is surely how they’ll see it.) And if Clinton really is a “psychopath,” as Laden says, how in good conscience could he vote for her? Each side has denied the other candidate's fitness to be President, and the Obama camp especially has claimed not to be playing politics as usual. So much for that pretense, if they turn around and vote for an evil witch or an empty, inexperienced poseur in November, just because she or he is a Democrat!

And then there’s that “Bush Third Term” thing. I think Laden is not being literal here – he means a Republican in the White House will be a virtual third Bush term. It’s still inexcusable sloppiness to put it that way, especially given the Democrats’ support for Bush during the past eight years, right down to their present drive to give him more money to continue the US occupation of Iraq. John Caruso compiled a concise list of the blessings the Democrats wrought under Bill Clinton:
• Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dying from sanctions
• Corporate rights agreements like NAFTA, the WTO, and the MAI
• Bombing Yugoslavia for 78 days, without UN authorization
• US-supported ethnic cleansing in Turkey
• US-backed civil war in Colombia
• Bombing Iraq (continually, when you count attacks from the no-fly zones)
• The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
• Record prison incarceration levels
• Bombing Afghanistan
• "Death by negotiation" for the Kyoto Protocol
• Endless corporate giveaways
• Permanent normal trade relations with China
• Executing the mentally retarded
• Bombing the largest source of malnutrition drugs in the Sudan during a massive famine
• Ending welfare as we know it
• Sending Haitian refugees back to Haiti, where they belong
• Etc, etc, etc.
And given Obama’s praise for Reagan and Bush’s foreign policy, his votes to continue funding Bush’s aggression in Iraq, his stated intention to keep US troops in Iraq and expand US forces to 100,000, Laden’s enthusiasm for Obama and his whitewashing of the Democrats seems not only out of touch with reality but somewhat sinister.
It is obvious in the United States that we need to replace the executive with a Democrat and add a few senators in the mix, in order to undo 8 years of Republican policy and replace it with four to 8 years of Democratic policy. This is because Democratic policy is better. Not great, just better. Also, Republican policy has a few elements that are truly evil, far more nefarious than anything the democrats have to offer. For instance, we really don't want to have a supreme court staffed entirely by yahoos. We are almost there now. Let's please not go all the way.
Come now, Professor Laden, you’re old enough to remember the Democrats’ predominant willingness to let Bush have the appointees he wanted, no matter how vile (Ashcroft, Bolton, Gonzales, etc.). Or their casual acceptance of his intention to use torture, or their support for his assault on civil liberties generally. (Obama, never forget, voted to extend the Patriot Act in 2005.) Literally speaking, there is not going to be a Third Bush Term, because Bush will leave office on January 20, 2009 no matter how the election turns out. But figuratively, all three candidates now before us are likely to continue Bush’s most destructive policies, just as Bush continued Bill Clinton’s worst policies. There's so much wishful thinking and convenient amnesia in Laden's post that it's hard to believe he's serious; the scary part, insofar as he's a nice middle of the road Obama supporter and a scientist/rationalist, is that he clearly is serious.