Saturday, June 19, 2010

Word to Progressives: UNPRECEDENTED


Progressives, as Liberals are called these days, have been pissed aplenty since President Obama's election. He's far too conciliatory for them, it seems, making concessions right and left, tabling treasured agenda items, like the public option, for example. They've gotten so fired up, they've taken to funding Democratic opposition to Democratic incumbents, even, making it necessary for Bill Clinton to fly in and save the day for Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. This week, even Rachel Maddow was all ired up, giving her own mock address from the Oval Office, saying what she thought the President should've said, about the oil spill.

I didn't watch the President's speech, nor have I watched the video of the oil and gas continually spurting in the gulf. The far and long-reaching implications of this disaster are patently clear to me; the powerlessness too debilitating to face in the near term. I find the President's tendency to react to criticism by responding to it (see the infamous "whose ass to kick" comment to Matt Lauer after weeks of the media contending he'd not shown enough anger) annoying-- I liked W's 'F*** u!' style a lot better; great intellect or not, he was no apologist.
Frankly, I appreciated Obama's few words where none would do in face of this tragedy. Paraphrasing a lyric from a great 70s song, he'd "rather hurt us honestly, than mislead us with a lie." Really--there's precious little he can do. What does he know about oil that the flipping oil industry executives and environmentalists don't?! The fact is, or, at least, what the media want us to believe is, that we the people needed to hear from our country's Daddy that everything's going to be okay; reassuring us, despite all evidence to the contrary, like Daddies sometimes do. They were breathless in anticipation of the speech, because it was emanating from the Oval Office, which, as we've been told ceaselessly this week, has some symbolic significance we've never heard of before. Well, surprise, surprise, they weren't reassured! Daddy O failed to kiss the boo-boo and make it better. (Again, WTF is he supposed to say?)

Fortunately, amid the din of disapproval, sometimes you can still hear the measured tones of those who still see the big picture, like Andrew Sullivan, whose Getting Shit Done is a must-read.

"This is just a glimpse into the distortion inherent in our current political and media culture. It's way easier to comment on a speech - his hands were moving too much! - than to note the truly substantive victory, apparently personally nailed down by Obama, in the White House yesterday. If leftwing populism in America were anything like as potent as right-wing populism - Matt Bai has a superb analysis of this in the NYT today - there would be cheering in the streets. But there's nada, but more leftist utopianism and outrage on MSNBC. ...

Obama's incrementalism, his refusal to pose as a presidential magician, and his resistance to taking the bait of the fetid right (he's president - not a cable news host) seems to me to show not weakness, but a lethal and patient strength. And a resilient ambition."

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