I was so wrong. I thought Obama was JFK-like, long on charisma, but short on heavy lifting. Turns out, he was more like Nixon, the man JFK beat, but that's only become obvious in adversity. Richard Nixon, OTOH, was like that all along. He just loved to blame everybody except himself. It's how he got elected--by finger-pointing at Communists real & imagined--and it's how he dealt with defeat as well:
Of course, in Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady : Richard Nixon vs Helen Gahagan Douglas-Sexual Politics and the Red Scare, 1950, Greg Mitchell explains quite clearly how Nixon's rise to power was fueled by a sweetheart relationship with the press, highlighted by the LA Times chief political reporter, managing editor and editorial page editor (yes, he wore all three hats at once), Kyle Palmer, who also functioned as Nixon's de facto campaign manager. Nixon's rage at the press in 1962 reflected his loss of privileged treatment that he had previously taken for granted throughout his period on the national stage. Now it seems clear that--for much more complicated reasons--Obama has lost his magic as well, and he, too, is lashing out at others.
"[I]f people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place."
Both Daou and Hamsher's diaries were linked to in Quick Hits, and both had excellent things to say. Hamsher's was particularly devastating, as she recalled the parade of Obama's presidential leadership:
Obama Disengages From Race As Blanche Lincoln Slips In Polls....
I can tell you without fear of contradiction that in the last days of a tight race, or even a not-tight race, short of the FBI finding a stash of kiddie porn on your laptop there is nothing worse than the headline-grabbing news that the head of your party, the President of the United States, thinks you are a shitty candidate and his aides are privately saying you are going to lose.
It could easily shave 5 points off your total and mean the margin of defeat. It threatens to instantly suppress all those difficult-to-motivate 2008 "surge" voters the Democrats have been chasing, and which Obama's support was supposed to deliver....
There is no internal consistency to the narrative that the "professional left" is suppressing turnout by criticizing Obama, but Obama is not suppressing turnout when he scolds the voters who aren't clapping loudly enough for his achievements. But few in the professional punditocracy find their way to that obvious conclusion.
This isn't about GOTV. It's about setting up a fall guy for November. The headline should really read:
Obama Distances Himself From Democratic Voters
Democratic voters are all Martha Coakley now. And if shielding Obama from blame makes matters worse for those who are actually running in November? Well, that's the price of protecting the President.
The record Hampsher cites is clear and undeniable. The only question left is "Why?"
When the Obama administration appeared to collude with BP to bury the Gulf spill, squandering a historic opportunity to reverse the anti-green tide, it was a moment of truth for environmentalists. Now, it is dawning on some Americans that Bush wasn't an aberration and that a Democratic administration will also treat fundamental rights as a mere nuisance. It truly is a new (un)reality:
Let's face it, these are dark days for the left. As we barrel toward the November elections and an almost certain triumph for the GOP, we are losing the national debate and making giant strides backward on key issues. It's the new (un)reality:
George W. Bush is steadily and surely being rehabilitated and now the question is how much gratitude we owe him.
Sarah Palin can move the public discourse with a single tweet, promoting a worldview consisting of unreflective, nationalistic soundbites.
Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox are dominating the national conversation, feeding a steady stream of propaganda packaged as moral platitudes to tens of millions of true believers.
In the face of overwhelming evidence, climate deniers are choking the life out of the environmental movement and willfully condemning humanity to a calamitous future.
From ACORN to Van Jones, liberal scalps are being taken with impunity.
Feminism is being redefined and repossessed by anti-feminists.
Women are facing an all-out assault on choice.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is being co-opted by a radio jock.
Schoolbooks are being rewritten to reflect the radical right's anti-science views.
The rich-poor divide grows by the minute and teachers and nurses struggle to get by while bankers get massive bonuses.
We mark the end of a war based on lies with congratulations to all, and we escalate another war with scarce resources that could save countless lives.
An oil spill that should have been a historic inflection point gets excised from public awareness by our own government and disappears down the memory hole (until the next disaster).
Guns abound and the far right's interpretation of the second amendment (the only one that seems to matter) is now inviolate.
Bigotry and discrimination against immigrants, against Muslims, against gays and lesbians is mainstream and rampant.
The frightening unconstitutional excesses of the Bush administration have been enshrined and reinforced by a Democratic White House, ensuring that they will become precedent and practice.
Girls and women across the planet continue to get beaten, raped, ravaged, mutilated, and murdered while sports games induce a more passionate response.
These aren't just dark days for the left, of course. They are dark days for America as a whole, as well as for all sentient life on the planet. Global warming, for one, does not mess around. Just ask any of previous waves of mass extinction that it's been responsible for, either in whole (four of them) or in part (just one).
And the reason for all this boils down to just a few things:
(1) Conservatives have been engaged in hegemonic warfare for nearly 40 years now, and liberals have not.
(2) Anti-liberal, anti-progressive forces on the Democratic side of the aisles have adapted themselves to basic conservative hegemonic framing, and made attacking liberals (not just "the left") a routine part of their standard operating proceedure.
(3) The above two factors have been so all-pervasive that even after conservatism had collapsed in a multi-faceted failure of epic proportions, Obama was able to portray himself as a profoundly progressive political figure based on the thinest of promises, and so much personalized marketing that he was able to walk away from virtually everything he campaigned on--often embracing the exact opposite--and still pretend that he had not changed a bit.
I know that a lot of people are increasingly angry with Obama, and justifiably so. But there's an old street saying that applies in spades here: Don't get mad, get even.
Because just getting mad at Obama doesn't do anything to fix the mess that he's helped to make even worse than it was when he arrived at the White House. We need to understand why he's made it so much worse--and not just at the level of "kow-towing to Wall Street".
We need to understand not just the hegemonic forces we are up against, but also the rationale by which they convince themselves that they are not in fact doing what they are doing--which is nothing short of destroying the entire planet.