Monday, August 08, 2011
When the Arc of History Doesn't Bend ...
You can smell all of that on the breeze... Change.
I just finished reading Drew Weston's powerfully written essay in last Sunday's New York Times, entitled ; "What Happened to Obama?" To be honest, I didn't want to read it. Weston is a Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and one of the most eloquent and cohereant voices on the American left. I knew that if I read his analysis of President Obama one of two things would happen. I would either get angry or I would get depressed; and either way I'd end up with a headache, and I hate headaches.
I now have a headache.
I had orginally thought of going through Westen's essay point by point and explaining how so many of us have been thinking, saying and feeling very much the same things for more than two years. How we have lamented lost opportunity, been baffled by a lack of principle, lack of direction and even a lack of the passion that so fueled then Senator Obama's meteoric rise to the Presidency. But the truth is, I'm tired, and you can read the piece for yourself. What stands out for me is this one passage:
"THE real conundrum is why the president seems so compelled to take both sides of every issue, encouraging voters to project whatever they want on him, and hoping they won’t realize which hand is holding the rabbit. That a large section of the country views him as a socialist while many in his own party are concluding that he does not share their values speaks volumes — but not the volumes his advisers are selling: that if you make both the right and left mad, you must be doing something right. "
President Obama seems to think that if he does everything he can to not take any confrontational, or even strong positions, then independent voters will identify with him and think "he's reasonable and middle of the road, just like me!" They won't. The truth is, they will see President Obama for what he is, either a weak man who was not up to challenges of the Presidency, or as a weak politician who's desperate cacluation of what he, and those around him think will get him re-elected, trumps all other considerations.
The American people voted in 2008 for "change", what did that mean? Depends who you ask. What is so ironic that it might have been funny, if happened in another country, is how the Right got suckered in just as much as the Left did. To hear Republicans tell their version of recent history, President Obama makes FDR look like Rush Limbaugh.
They fling the word "Socialist!" around like a four year-old with a water balloon. Marching on the Mall in Washington D.C., as they scream nonsensical slogans like "Keep your Goverment hands off my Medicare!" You want to laugh, but it's too sad. The level of delusion on the American right defies any sort of analysis. It's just crazy.
To say the Obama Adminstration has been anything other than spinelessly centrist, is to be divorced from reality to such a degree that you can only conclude the vitriol coming from the American conservate movement is in fact, no longer about poiltics at all, but is entirely based on the President's race.
I voted for President Obama, and yes I will vote for him in 2012. Yet the sad truth is, it feels like once again, Americans are faced with the choice of picking the lesser of two evils. Vote to re-elect President Obama, and you are a sucker who fell for the same shtick twice. Vote for whatever GOP-teabagging-lunatic the Republicans nominate to run against him, and you are an idiot, who clearly would happily shoot yourself in the foot, if you could only get your hands on the firepower.
What I lament the most, as we head into what promises to be the ugliest Presidential campaign in America's history, is what might have been. Real health care reform, real immigration reform, a repaired financial system that holds those who nearly destroyed our econonmy accountable. Equal rights for all Americans, and a sense of stewardship of the enviroment that would have made Teddy Roosevelt proud. All lost opportunities. Lost in a sea of polticial timidity.
They say the arc of history beds towards justice. As what may end up being just his first term, heads into it's final year, the arc of the Obama Presidency is bending towards... nothing. It merely blows in the wind like a tattered cloth. Desperate to find the prevailing wind and ride it. Yes I will vote for the President in 2012. Yet all the while, wondering if a choice between cowardice and crazy is worthy of the effort.