Friday, December 17, 2010

Keeping the Obama faith?

Nicole Belle has a post called Going Through The Stages Of Grief And Coming Back To Reality C&L 12/17/2010 which argues the case for keeping the faith in Obama despite his excessive eagerness to capitulate to the Republicans on substantial policy issues:

But then Candidate Obama became President Obama, and the besotted progressive blogosphere got to see what it was like to actually live with the man. And like the guy who seemed great when you were dating but is annoying as a husband because he never picks up his socks and has to be reminded to take out the trash, the reality didn't quite match up with the expectation.
And she quotes from this post by Bob Cesca with the High Broderist title, Are Progressives Losing Touch With Reality? 12/15/2010.

I left a comment citing the David Bromwich quote I used in an earlier post in which he observes that Obama “has two distinct registers of diction: one for talking to very clever but abstracted people, the other for talking to well-meaning people who are very young or very old and certainly need remedial help.”

The latter is the tone he’s been using in speaking of Democratic liberals who criticized his tax deal. Bob Cesca and numerous others have followed his lead. And no doubt some of us are in need of remedial assistance. I’m not so sure that applies to critics like Paul Krugman or Dean Baker.

Lyndon Johnson famously said of Gerald Ford that he was too dumb to walk and chew gum at the same time. It’s famous because the reporters cleaned up the LBJ quote, which actually referred to flatulence rather than walking. But it's a reminder that Democrats ought to be able to walk and, uh, talk at the same time. Most sentient adults, even some of us in the remedial category, can criticize something Obama does without cheering for Sarah Palin to become President.

But instead of lecturing those in need of remedial help about the glories of Compromise, tax deal defenders like Bob Cesca might want to explain to us why they think critics are wrong to be concerned about how the payroll tax holiday affects the politics of Social Security; what evidence they will see that Obama will fight harder than he did this time to allow the payroll tax holiday and the billionaires’ tax subsidy to expire in one and two years, respectively; why they think it was good strategy for Obama to put up virtually no public fight at all this time and then announce that as long as the Republicans are willing to create “hostage” situations that he will cave in; and, why in the world they think this is a good way for the President to prepare for a new Republican Congress that will be cranking out the crazy non-stop.

The Democratic critics haven’t been saying the tax deal was bad because it didn't cut the military budget in half or nationalize the means of production. They have been addressing its actual content, its relatively modest stimulatory effects, and the political traps it lays for the Democrats on taxes and Social Security.

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"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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