Thursday, November 19, 2015

Only Nixon Could Go to China

It was really just a tactical rhetorical move, I know, but I was slightly surprised by Roy Edroso's decision yesterday to speak ill of the Only President We've Got:
I realize that, as circumscribed as he's been, Obama has accomplished some good things for the country. The trouble is, they're mostly half-measures. Take Obamacare. We only have this shaky Rube Goldberg system because the insurers and the AMA had to get paid off or national healthcare would never fly -- Senators and Congressmen have to get their contributions from somewhere, y'know! Single payer has been and remains the choice of the American people, but in the name of prudence and moderation we have instead a system nobody's entirely happy with, and because they're not happy Republicans get to exploit it while scheming to bring back their preferred Pay or Die healthcare system.
Okay, maybe not ill but less than the adulation that is mandatory for the faithful.  I mean, how can Edroso undermine POTUS like this?  If Barack is defeated by Ann Coulter in 2016, we'll know who to thank.

Edroso's mild critique followed on praise of Obama for criticizing Republicans who wanted to block Syrian refugees from our shores.
Naturally I am very pleased to see this, not only because Obama is usually much too nice to these assholes, but also and mainly because it's a refreshingly strong defense of common sense in the normally common-sense-free War on Whatever. When was the last time you heard any other top-tier elected official call bullshit like this?
Better late than never, I suppose.  As I've said before, it would have been better to anticipate the Republican hysteria before Obama was even elected, instead of whining that no one could have foreseen that the Right would be so mean.  But you'd have to be mighty gullible to think that Obama really will follow through when he talks tough.  I don't deny that he faces a vicious, obstructionist opposition -- "art of the possible and all that," as Edroso says -- but it seems to me that in such a case it's better not to make threats or promises you can't keep.  In Obama's case, I doubt he even intends to do so.  These remarks are meant to excite his fans, who will spread them all over the social media and pump their fists and hoot derisively like the Bandur-log they are.

I decided to look at the comments to see if any of his regulars would attack Edroso as a turncoat stealth Republican and Trump-lover.   So far (I'm not up to wading through all 350-plus comments), no.  What there was was funnier.  The first comment is from the blogger Susan of Texas, whose Hunting of the Snark is even more specialized than alicublog: most of her posts for the past several months have been devoted to jeering at Megan McArdle.  Here's Susan of Texas's opening volley:
When somebody starts talking about reality and common sense, run for the hills. They're about to do something stupid and they want you to tell them that they are being smart.
Okay, I agree with this too.  But Ms. Texas seems to have missed Edroso's invocation of common sense in his post.  Did she mean that he was about to do something stupid and wanted his readers to tell him that he was being smart?  Of course not: she was attacking the centrist writer Kevin Drum for expressing his commonsense concern about letting thousands of Ayrabs into our country.  Several other commenters defended Drum, and I quit scrolling through the comments when one of them accused Drum's critics of "purity of rhetoric."  It's entertaining to see conventional liberal-Democrat invective turned back on its usual deployers, though.

For what it's worth, Ms. Texas herself has been known to call on the name of Common Sense in her critiques of the Right ("Stupid people think they are following their ideology to its logical conclusion. They ignore common sense, logic, reason, and empathy because they they have an ax to grind."  So has Barack Obama.  So does just about everybody, including sophisticated moral philosophers who ought to know better.  It's almost always a sign that someone is arguing in bad faith.

And what's wrong with talking about "reality"?  That used to be popular among Democratic loyalists as it is on the Right.  Am I the only person who remembers liberals casting themselves and their positions as "reality-based"?  The very Republicans supposedly conceded that they were, by contrast, "faith-based."  But since then, Democrats gained Hope, and they're clinging to it fiercely, until you pry it from their cold, dead fingers.