Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Obama’s Self Defining Moment

I really don’t have much to say about Obama’s speech and people have already dissected the speech for all that it was worth which isn’t much in my opinion. The claim that we will be leaving Iraq and Afghanistan of course is nonsense and shouldn’t be taken seriously. The speech itself was rife with revised history and to be blunt a pack of lies. No surprise there.

Some are calling this a turning point in our history but I cannot agree. A turning point would have been Obama saying that he would not send more troops to Afghanistan. But that didn’t happen so this is just continuation of business as usual though I can see how one would be tempted to call it a turning point but I just don’t see it that way.

On the other hand you might say this is a turning point for Obama because for the first time in his short career he has had to define himself and he clearly wasn’t comfortable with it. Most now know what Obama is and what he stands for. And for some they will be seeing Obama in a different light but many won’t as some so-called liberals are as rabid about war as conservatives are if one of their own is leading the charge. To date Obama has been able to get away with murder both in the literal and the not so literal sense because of his chameleon ability to be all things to everybody but events are finally starting to overtake him and he is at last being forced to define who and what he is.


At December 02, 2009 4:17 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Rob,
1.Absolutely. (And please go read Silber's piece if you haven't already.)

2.It is only a turning point in the annals of Obama worship, or Obama-ism, as I like to call it.

2b. For some.

2c. Maybe.

At December 02, 2009 4:52 PM, Blogger Mimi said...

I have plenty of friends and relatives--especially relatives--who still cling to hope and their basically racist beliefs: "He's black, so he must be okay."
It's getting harder, though, much harder.

At December 02, 2009 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good observations, Rob. And Jonathan. And Mimi.

Mimi, I predicted in Summer 2008 that Obama's blackness would give him a free pass, because most "liberals" and "progressives" I know are terrified of being labelled as racist, it's almost a defining feature of lib-prog politics to go out of one's way to defend a minority EVEN when the minority is culpable. The timidity with which lib-prog folks observed and semi-criticized Colin Powell and Condi Rice --as compared to the way they savaged Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et alia-- is something I won't ever forget.

This free-pass nature of Obama's blackness is why history will not judge him harshly, either.

In my view, this inverse racism goes a long way to explaining why people are so slow to accept that Obama/Biden is the 3d term of Bush/Cheney.

At December 02, 2009 7:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, I read Silber’s piece on the speech and as usual he really goes to town. I also recommend Justin Raimondo’s piece as well because he has some good insights into this as well. That’s basically why I didn’t bother to really dissect Obama’s speech, that, and I’m getting lazy in my old age. Oh yeah and Paul Craig Roberts has a very good piece over at counterpunch today which is worth reading.

Mimi and Charles,
I think you both hit on something most don’t want to discuss. I’ve noticed the same thing you both have regarding liberals who think if you are black then you can do no wrong. There is justification for this to be sure but there are limits to this for me anyway as in when a black president is pursuing war on false premises. Some things are just too important to be reduced to righting wrongs like when people’s lives are being lost to war.

And then there is the racist aspect of the terror wars as in brown people are sub-human, inscrutable, not to be trusted, and generally blood thirsty heathens. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes not so subtle but it is a thread that has run throughout all of this.

At December 03, 2009 8:35 AM, Anonymous micah holmquist said...

If I may enter into this conversation…

I’m not sure I buy the people do not criticize Obama for fear of being racist angle. While the phenomenon may exist to some extent in the broader culture, my guess here is that the lack of criticism from those on the mushy left has more to do with the fact that he is a Democrat. Of course it would be impossible to do a scientific test, but I suspect the Donkey is the key variable.

And even if the view expressed in the previous graf is wrong and Obama’s blackness is shielding him from some criticism, I am not of the belief that this is all that big of deal. Bush bashing was a cottage industry, much like Obama bashing is now on the right, and I believe the net result of this was absolutely nothing, unless you want to count Obama’s election.

At December 03, 2009 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know how you can doubt a real experience, Micah.

At December 03, 2009 9:59 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think you and Charles and Mimi are all correct. Part of it is that Obama is black and part of it is because he is a democrat. Let’s face it everyone in the U.S., for that matter in the west, is a racist to some degree because that’s part of the culture. So I find it insincere that some claim to be purer than pure when it comes to racist attitudes. There are those who are out and out racists and there others that find themselves disgusted by their own knee jerk reaction to other races and try to overcome it and I suppose everything between those two poles.

At December 03, 2009 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's it, Rob -- the type of racism that I'm describing, and what it seems Mimi was talking about, is not the sort of Ku Klux Klan / Aryan Brotherhood sort of racism.

Perhaps Micah is unfamiliar with inverse racism, where white guilt is a living, thriving concept and practical perspective. In this perspective, the guilty white wants so badly for racial equality/harmony to arrive and thrive, that he/she becomes a booster (to borrow from Sinclair Lewis) whose perspective is flawed by an unwillingness to accept and discuss malefactors who happen to be Black.

If Micah didn't observe the soft-pedaling by libs and progs around Colin Powell and Condi Rice, then perhaps Micah wasn't really looking very closely.

If Micah were in on the many conversations I had with my lib and prog friends during the Summer and Fall of 2008, leading up to the 2008 vote... he would have a hard time holding his skepticism on the accuracy of my diagnosis.

Micah, maybe you thought I was accusing YOU of that inverse racism. I wasn't. I was talking about interactions with people I know. I don't know you.

At December 03, 2009 5:08 PM, Anonymous micah holmquist said...

I should have thought about this issue more before thinking.

First of all, I was not trying to say that any person’s experiences were false and I understand inverse racism.

All that said, Charles’ point about the discrepancy between the attacks on Powell and Rice as compared to say Cheney or Rumsfeld is pretty convincing and causes me to think that perhaps I am/was wrong about this matter.

At December 03, 2009 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At December 03, 2009 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...had a typo/syntax problem in the first version of this post...


Micah, of course we're all playing at conjecture. But that's how knowledge proceeds, eh? Science is based on theory, test of theory, revisiting the theory or accepting it. What Obama-supporting strategies can you see that would explain the inconsistencies in treating Black (or in Sotomayor's case, Hispanic) political figures differently from ol' Whitey?

What explains the reluctance to see Obama/Biden as the 3d term of Bush/Cheney? Using Chris Floyd's clever acronym WIBDI as an analytic tool of the Obama/Biden admin's acts there appears to be no other conclusion to explain the reversal of position among Obama supporters who so vocally tossed digs, barbs, denigrations, slander toward Bush/Cheney. Well, other than Democrat partisanship of course. But you can see these same Obama supporters bemoning the Party generally now, on most of the major liberal blogs/forums. I saw a good bit of it at Digby's blog and at a few other places. So I don't think pure partisanship explains it.

The frequency with which my friends bend over backward to "admire" Colin Powell is astounding. It doesn't even matter if you tell them that Powell helped excuse the My Lai massacre and his career took off from there. It doesn't even matter if you offer proof that Powell lied about the yellow cake. It doesn't matter. Powell is to be "admired".

Condi Rice seems to get more criticism but I suggest that's due to her gender as we're still in a man's world here in America, even though women can get as far as Ms Rice or Hillary Clinton.

People are reluctant to criticize minorities who reach high places. It's understandable, any person with empathy and a holistic outlook would be eager to see minorities gain some equality in leadership/power roles, given the way they've been treated historically. And I'm suggesting that this creates an 800-lb gorilla when it comes to a room full of liberals and progressives discussing whether Obama is what everyone hoped he'd be, or whether Obama is any different from Dubya Bush in substantive ways, as a President exercising his authority.

At December 03, 2009 8:48 PM, Anonymous Jenny said...

Unfortuate too, that the marxism leninism alternative is rather diplomatically imperialistic:

At December 03, 2009 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenny, maybe consider this:

the pirate capitalism vs marxist-leninist communism dichotomy is as fake as the republican vs democrat dichotomy.

There are many alternatives to the fascism presently being used in America. And I agree with you on the negativity toward marxist-leninist-communist systems, as I'm sure Russia shows us that the USSR was as corruptible as the republican capitalist system we have here.

Both systems are heavy-handed and give too little freedom to individuals.

At December 04, 2009 12:01 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The only two possibilities are communism or capitalism? C’mon.

At December 05, 2009 3:21 PM, Anonymous micah holmquist said...


I agree with you now so I am not at all sure how should be responding.


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