Thursday, October 18, 2012


It's a humbling experience to realize how long it takes me to sort out and focus my thoughts on some subjects.  I take some comfort from people like Noam Chomsky, who has often remembered how timid at first was the movement against the US invasion of Vietnam.  The same goes for my responses to Obama loyalists during the present election campaign.  But tonight I think I managed to clarify something in my own mind, if in no one else's.

One of my Facebook friends linked to someone's tweet, to the effect that Governor Romney blamed parents for the violent tendencies of their children.  "Then, Tagg Romney said he wanted to punch the President."  Fantasizing about violence against one's political enemies is popular among the ruling elites, let alone ordinary Americans, and Tagg's remark (like his Dad's "binders full of women" remark) mainly served as a distractive tactic for Obama's fans to dwell on.

Who, I asked, should I blame for Obama's violence (not just tendencies -- he has a lot of blood on his hands)?  My friend surprised me by answering "Obama."  That, at least, was honest, and I said so. My friend replied:
In all seriousness, Obama's use of drones is one of the reason that I consider him a disappointment as a president. He'd be better, all things considered, than Romney but he also hasn't done enough to distance the nation from the arrogant bomb-first attitude of the Bush administration. That said, I don't know of anyone out there who'd be much better; I doubt Ron Paul would really break that much from previous policies overseas -- too much of the economy is organized around the military to cut the defense budget as drastically and immediately as he has indicated he would do.
... Which wasn't honest, on any level. I replied:
What boggles my mind is people who say things like Obama's use of drones being a "disappointment", and think that has appropriate gravitas. He's a war criminal and a bloodsoaked butcher, not a disappointment. (This also relates to the Obama devotees who sneer about Obama supporters who've been "disappointed" by his failure to save the world in six months etc. "Disappointed" is not the word. I was never an Obama supporter and never had any illusions about him, any more than I had illusions about Bush, though I admit that both turned out to be much worse than even I had expected. The Left has often been accused of cynicism, but once again Obama has shown that we aren't nearly cynical enough.)

Let alone the fantasy that Obama ever intended to "distance the nation from the arrogant bomb-first attitude of the Bush Administration." Why do you bring in Ron Paul? I don't, and never have, endorsed or supported him. Nor does it matter if there's "anyone out there who'd be much better." It doesn't matter if there's any candidate who would do what I think should be done. I can still criticize the existing candidates for what they do and what they fail to do. (In Romney's case, remember, all such considerations are purely speculative. I know what Obama has done as President.)

Remember too that serious social change is not brought about by voting. It's brought about by direct action -- organizing, demonstrating, and so on. To cite a minor example: Harry Truman didn't issue an executive order forbidding racial segregation in the military because people voted for it, he did it because he was threatened with massive protests in an election year. There's a limit to the effectiveness of such tactics, but they are much more effective than voting. Change doesn't come from elected officials, it comes from groups of people putting pressure on them. Obama might have been less destructive if people had done the same to him, instead of sitting around in a puddle of drool over him and his adorable family. The moral vacuity of American liberals these past four years has been an education to me, though.
I think I put my finger on something here: the use of the word "disappointment" by Obama supporters to express their admission that the POTUS isn't perfect (though he's still awfully good), while remaining convinced of their own great seriousness, unlike Obama's shallow, immature, drug-addled critics from the left.  Some other Obama critics, including VastLeft I think, have pointed this out too, but I hadn't realized before how much weight that one word carries in apologetics for Obama's administration.  Imagine someone defending a serial killer, or a child rapist, by saying that they couldn't think of anyone out there who'd be much better.  That, of course, keeps the focus on personalities instead of structural factors, but also keeps the discussion (to use the word loosely) within the gamut from A to B that is typical of normal political discourse.  Real "transformative" hope and change don't come from political business-as-usual, they come from people who refuse to work within the system as it exists.