Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Missed Oz, Back to Kansas

(image from Bartcop, via Sideshow)

I corrected the verb in the first sentence of yesterday's post, because Gibbs's performance was clearly put-on, planned, prepared. (For those of you who wish Obama would, like, show some emotion -- this is what it would look like. Let's leave these distasteful performances to his underlings, shall we?)

A lot of the liberal/prog blogosphere is indeed having hissyfits (via) over Gibbs's remarks, and while I don't blame them, I find their performances as amusing and predictable as Gibbs's. It must be painful to realize you've been played for a sucker by a smooth marketing hustler like Obama, especially after you and your partner "raised nearly $43,000 for the man", and in fairness I should mention that that fund-raising Obamaphile makes some very good points against Gibbs, such as:
Clarence Thomas added diversity to the Supreme Court too. The substance of the nominees' beliefs really don't matter? And yes, of course Kagan and Sotomayor are better than Clarence Thomas. But we didn't vote for Barack Obama to be simply "better than the worst Republicans."
But the hope for change that so many Obamaphiles harbored was only partly due to the campaign's smoke and mirrors. They ignored plenty of direct and explicit evidence that Obama wasn't a leftist, wasn't a liberal, was in fact a "centrist" (that is, right-wing) Democrat -- pro-corporate, pro-war, and only cosmetically pro-gay. Aravosis is correct that Gibbs "puts to the rest the White House's prior defense, whenever a senior unnamed official went after the base, of claiming it was a rogue employee who didn't represent the President," but again, somebody wasn't paying attention: Obama's personal contempt for the left has long been on the record. But that didn't bother the liberals, because they figured the President was talking about someone else -- the crazies, the extremists -- not them. (Remember how many Obama supporters attacked anyone who criticized Obama from the left, from the campaign onwards.) And I can't help wondering: are Mr. Aravosis and his partner ready to vote with their feet and their wallets this November and in 2012, or will they let themselves be panicked by whoever Obama's Republican opponent turns out to be? (Sure, the President isn't perfect, but we can't let the Rethugs take the White House, skree skree skree.)

Today I stumbled on this item, which takes Gibbs's conflation of "the left" and "liberals" and runs with it: "his words reverberated in the left-wing blogosphere, sparking discussion about liberal frustration during the Obama presidency." The quotation from Marc Ambinder is precious: "These voters are frustrated because, for all of the president's legislative successes, there haven't been moments of clear triumph or moments of emotional catharsis...". Well, no; these voters are frustrated because Obama took their money and their hard work and cheerfully sold out all their concerns.

The professionally sensible Nate Silver at also gets it wrong: "The euphoric feeling among liberals in the days between the election and the inauguration seems so quaint now -- like something that happened decades ago -- but it was very tangible at the time. Conservatives, for their part, were willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, with his approval and favorability ratings sometimes soaring into the 70s. ... But Obama was never really able to capitalize on that momentum." Conservatives gave Obama the benefit of the doubt? And Obama never tried "to capitalize on that momentum": he made it clear where he was going from his first appointments, and took for granted that those lovely volunteers he'd organized for his campaign would continue to do his bidding.

Most notable is this bit from David Weigel at Slate, who thinks the left isn't mad after all (he confuses "left" and "liberal" too):
Who are the liberal commentators or activists who refuse to give the White House credit for its big progressive bills? Jane Hamsher, David Sirota, Ed Schultz, maybe the editors of The Progressive. Among all liberals, the White House has soaring, 85 percent, Chavez-when-oil-is-expensive popularity. So the fight being picked is with a noisy crowd that doesn't speak for the base. Seriously, now -- even MoveOn is going easy on the White House, edging away from anti-war activism and toward anti-corporate activism. That's quite a solid it's doing for Obama, whom its members endorsed in 2008 in large part over the war issue.
I'm not sure what a "solid it's doing" is, but that's secondary. There are quite a few other people who "refuse to give the White House credit for its big progressive bills": Glenn Greenwald, in Update II of this post, listed TPM, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Charlie Savage and Bob Herbert of the New York Times, Russ Feingold, and more; he could have named many more. And it grieves me to report that Weigel's statistics are -- I won't say "dishonest," I'll just say "fishy." "Among all liberals, the White House has soaring, 85 percent, Chavez-when-oil-is-expensive popularity." I clicked through and found that that 85 percent doesn't represent "all liberals" but Obama's approval rating in Washington D.C. as found by a recent Gallup Poll. The other "liberal states" weren't quite so enthusiastic: Massachusetts, rated the second most liberal state, gave him 56%; Hawai'i, number 6, gave its favorite son 68%. Nah, I think I'll go with "dishonest" after all.

That's still too high, of course, for a President who pushed to accept evidence gained through torture of a teenaged soldier, and that "the sentence imposed on a Sudanese detainee Ibrahim al-Qosi -- convicted as part of a plea bargain of the dastardly crime of being Osama bin Laden's "cook" -- will be kept secret until he is released. What kind of country has secret sentences?" You know what kind. I'm not surprised that many liberals can approve a President like Obama, but that just confirms my long-held suspicion of liberals. Remember when Ralph Waldo Emerson asked Henry David Thoreau, who'd been incarcerated for refusing to pay the poll tax, "Henry! What are you doing in jail?" Thoreau replied, "What are you doing out?" What am I doing, picking on the President? ...