Thursday, January 07, 2010
Don't Say He Didn't Warn Us
I was going through my files and I was reminded that, way back on the day after the election in 2008, Sam Smith posted a long cautionary note about Obama; the past year has proven it remarkably prescient. From his conclusion:
As things now stand, the election primarily represents the extremist center seizing power back from the extremist right. We have moved from the prospect of disasters to the relative comfort of mere crises.Unfortunately, this administration seems far more hostile to "pressure from the left" than it does to pressure from the right—as when it sat patiently through months of tea partying, orchestrated town meeting shoutdowns, gun-slinging, talk of "death panels," and so on only to lash out at Howard Dean ("no rational person") when he had the temerity to suggest that the Senate's version of health care reform had been watered down to the point of pointlessness. That may be the anecdote that broke the camel's back in my case. I'd have been thrilled to hear a Democratic administration aver repeatedly that "no rational person" would say the sorts of things that routinely flow forth from the bilge pipes of Fox and friends, but no—they save that bare-knuckled rhetoric for Howard Dean.
Using the word 'extreme' alongside the term 'center' is no exaggeration. Nearly all major damage to the United States in recent years - a rare exception being 9/11 - has been the result of decisions made not by right or left but by the post partisan middle: Vietnam, Iraq, the assault on constitutional liberties, the huge damage to the environment, and the collapse of the economy - to name a few. Go back further in history and you'll find, for example, the KKK riddled with members of the establishment including - in Colorado - a future governor, senator and mayor after whom Denver's airport is named. The center, to which Obama pays such homage, has always been where most of the trouble lies.
The only thing that will make Obama the president pictured in the campaign fantasy is unapologetic, unswerving and unendingly pressure on him in a progressive and moral direction, for he will not go there on his own. But what, say, gave the New Deal its progressive nature was pressure from the left of a sort that simply doesn't exist today.
That's just sad.
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