Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No Third Choice

Paul Krugman recently asked, “Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?” in a NY Times op-ed piece. Glenn Greenwald has a massive takedown on Obama, and Democrats generally, in Salon today. A sample,

When does he offer stirring, impassioned defenses of the Democrats' vision on anything, or attempt to transform (rather than dutifully follow) how Americans think about anything? It's not that he lacks the ability to do that. Americans responded to him as an inspirational figure and his skills of oratory are as effective as any politician in our lifetime. It's that he evinces no interest in it. He doesn't try because those aren't his goals. It's not that he or the office of the Presidency are powerless to engender other outcomes; it's that he doesn't use the power he has to achieve them because, quite obviously, achieving them is not his priority or even desire.

I don’t think that I’m quite with Glenn in terms of Obama’s motives, but the lack of leadership is certainly baffling. He allowed a Democratic Congress to neither raise the debt limit or pass a budget last year when they had a majority. He remained essentially silent in the “health care reform” and stepped in to kill the public option. He remained silent in the tax discussion at the end of last year and stepped in to extend the Bush tax cuts in toto for a full two years. He stayed silent in the latest budget debate and stepped out afterward to actually boast about the “largest spending cut in history.”

And, amazingly, a full two thirds of his Democratic supporters are happy with his agreement to that “largest spending cut in history.” Again from Glenn Greenwald,

In other words, once Obama lends his support to a policy -- no matter how much of a departure it is from ostensible Democratic beliefs -- then most self-identified Democrats will support it because Obama supports it, because it then becomes the "Democratic policy," by definition.

I think that in part that phenomenon is the result of Obama and the Democratic leadership having had so much success at creating such a high level of fear within the Democratic loyalists, fear of the Republican Party. They have painted the Republicans as so extreme and frightening, not without help from the Republicans of course, that Democrats will remain loyal to them no matter what they do, and in order to do that they must decide that they approve of steps taken by the Democrats they are supporting.

It points out the weakness of the two party system. One party has always been unacceptable, and the party you have been supporting is not implementing what you elected them to do. Where do you go from there?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You could do as the Libyans are doing?

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