Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Irritability Keeps Me Alive and Kicking

Despite all the times I feel as if I've had conversations with the generally brilliant essayist Katha Pollitt, it turns out I really don't know her. For last week she wrote:

I know a lot of people who supported Obama, and every time I see them I ask how they think he's doing. The only people I've found who've given up on him, who feel betrayed, misled, and foolish, are those leftists who didn't like him in the first place and voted for him in a weak moment as the lesser evil.

She was writing this in response to fellow-Nation writer Naomi Klein, who set up a taxonomy of hopefiends and hopelash (that my fellow-blogging and drinking friend TL has also addressed at The Average Man). And while I agree with many of the points in Pollitt's essay--she's always so reasonable--I think she's discounting people like me who did like Obama in the first place.

Yeah, yeah I know--it's all about me. But I do feel a bit misled, despite the good things Obama's done (Pollitt lists them well). For I find it harder to dismiss what she does in one quick sentence: "Like everyone, I'm worried about the bailout, Iraq and Afghanistan." First, everyone isn't worried. Second, those of us who are worried are worried for all sorts of reasons. I refuse to get lumped into the batch of crazy tea-baggers angry enough to know something is wrong but not smart enough even to choose a name for a movement that isn't instantly be-littlable. Third, isn't it all about the money in the end? I certainly didn't expect Obama to be perfect, but I did expect something better than Timothy Geithner. (I guess "change we can believe in" in means most of us get stuck with chump change while the usual elites get the bulk of the bucks.)

It's one of the reasons it's been hard for me to blog of late--I'm just not sure what's worth saying anymore. Republicans are such a dying breed they can't even keep Arlen Specter in the party, but remember he's still the guy that helped defame Anita Hill to get Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court in 1991, and we're somehow supposed to be comforted he's socially liberal. But he won't vote for union rights, of course. Like the world needs more Joe Liebermans and Ben Nelsons. Dems welcome these losers without expecting anything of them. I could imagine an 70-30 Dem-controlled Senate that was still not able to get legislation through.

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Blogger Mike said...

Good points, George.

It's not about Dem vs. Republican.

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Freealonzo said...

I agree, good points.

I guess though, I am not as disappointed. Maybe I'm more cynical, but I don't expect anyone different than a Timothy Geitner type running Treasury, it's just the nature of the beast.

I never bought into the Obama as Messiah meme (and I am not suggesting you did either) so I'm not disappointed he hasn't brought us to the promised land. Would I hope some things were going differently? Sure but that's politics in a country with 300M people. Just like I wish my boss, my wife, my kids, and my friends sometimes made better decisions or saw things the way I see things, I don't always expect them to.

Anyway, like I said, good points. I still have hope, we've come a long way in 100 days and heading in the right direction. Now of course the bar was set pretty low so take it with a grain of salt. But I'm not giving up...yet.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

I am hugely disappointed about the bailouts, especially the disparity between how the banks are handled versus the auto companies.

But I feel like unreasonable expectations were hoisted on Obama, and that somehow, because the streets are not paved with gold 100 days into his Presidency that he is somehow a dismal failure. Christ, he hasn't even had time in 100 days to make all of our dreams come true! And he's gonna have a disorganized and non-unified Democratic Congress not helping all along the way.

Agreed on Specter: mixed bag. Great he left the neocon purity party because they are notjobs. But also not great for Dems. Sure, Specter was "there" for Dems some of the time, but not a lot. Not enough to think this is a veto-proof 60. After Franken is seated, it's still an unreliable 59...

9:29 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I think most of the disillusioned masses who were Obamamaniacs ignored his actual positions and instead expected him to enact their own dreams of a perfect President.

Case in point: Obama promised to reduce forces in Iraq over time and shift them to Afghanistan. Now Obama supporters are screaming mad because he is doing exactly what he said he would do instead of removing troops from both fronts overnight.

We can disagree with what he has done, but I cannot say he has done things much differently from what he said he would do.

12:05 PM  

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