I keep seeing this argument and it blows my mind. Yes, it's early. No, people should not panic. He's made centrist and conservative (Gates) choices in appointments so far. It's not the end of the world, but it's fair to criticize these choices. I really do not like Gates.
U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned that limiting funding for the United States efforts in Iraq could lead to more bloodshed in the Middle Eastern country. In an interview with radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, he said it might even lead to ethnic cleansing in Bahgdad and elsewhere in Iraq.
Gates' comment followed a proposal from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to end most spending on the Iraq war in 2008, limiting it to targeted operations against al Qaeda, training for Iraqi troops and U.S. force protection.
We want this guy? We're happy because Obama picked him, because whatever Obama does leads to the promised land of progressivism?
Give me a break. I know this diary will piss off some, but that's the price of pluralism here.
More, after the fold.
Let's get clear on something. I think Barack Obama is decent person who seeks to do good. But that does not mean he's right on every choice. He has never claimed infallibility. It's okay to criticize decisions he makes that I (or you) disagree with. It really is. That is what the netroots are about.
Keeping Mr. Gates after a polarizing campaign on the war also seemed incongruous to some. "I really can’t begin to understand from a political point of view how Barack Obama, a person who got the nomination because he ran against the Iraq war, can keep around the guy who’s been in charge of it for the last two years," said Loren B. Thompson, head of the Lexington Institute, a research organization.
I don't understand, either, but this is about more than Gates. I thought a Democrat could run the Department of Defense better, but, as I said, there's another point.
Let's talk about the neo-liberal economic team. You've heard the criticisms of the personnel, but I want to add a criticism of the overall thinking that has been little noticed.
Obama’s team of treasury secretary and four top economic advisers, introduced as the hands that will steer America’s economy, had no particular ties to the labor movement. And Obama’s secretary of labor was not introduced as part of that team — a suggestion that that post will retain its second-tier status and quiet voice in matters central to economic policy.
"I wish that [the secretary of labor] would have been among them," former Michigan congressman David Bonior, a labor stalwart and member of Obama’s transition team, said of the group at the Chicago press conference. "I hope they take that job seriously."
It's a mindset, folks. Economics is business, and labor is not included. Like physical resources (oil, steel), workers are human resources. Inputs. Taking workers seriously is a big deal. I look at EFCA. That is the litmus test for me. Barack Obama's Labor Day message:
Here's a key part:
It’s time we had a President who will stand up for working men and women by building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but work and the workers who create it.
It’s time you had a President who honors organized labor - who’s walked on picket lines; who doesn’t choke on the word "union"; who lets our unions do what they do best and organize our workers; and who will finally make the Employee Free Choice Act the law of the land.
I think he will. But if he wavers, I'll criticize. EFCA is the road to growing unions and a strong progressive movement. It will take an epic battle to succeed.
Obama is going to do a big stimulus to save capitalism. He's right on that and even conservative economists agree. That's all good, but that's an emergency measure, not fundmental change. It may have good things in it. Time will tell. Green jobs is a good way to go and so is building infrastructure. These are necessary investments to save capitalism. We face the possibility of a Great Depression and they will be doing all they can to prevent that. Good.
But my point is not the substantive criticism of Obama's appointments. Those people may constrain Obama's policy choices by restricting the agenda or they may not. We haven't seen the policies, so there is no reason to panic. Indeed, some appointments may reflect Obama's policies, i.e. he's more centrist then some people here think. Time will tell.
My point is that if the so-called "progressive netroots" is to be anything, it must critically analyze both its opponents in the Republican Party and its favorites in the Democratic Party. Criticizing an Obama decision, with civility and on the merits, is the highest form of support for Obama. Do you think he really expects or wants abject, unthinking support and deference? I don't. He seems committed to empirical testing and criticism of assumptions. I agree with Obama sometimes and disagree with him other times. That's to be expected.
To fall into line with any decision by Obama is to betray ourselves, to betray Barack Obama, and to make a mockery of everything the so-called "reality-based community" in the netroots stands for.
Hell, we might as well just get our emails from the Obama campaign telling us what to do. Why think? Just follow.
We are capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time. We can support Obama, try to push him left when those here think he's moving too far to the center, fight for progressive issues, organize on issues for Obama, and criticize him when we think he is wrong.
Progressives are just one part of the Obama coalition, and if we truly believe in what we say, then we have a duty to tell truth to power, even when that power is Barack Obama.
We can support Barack Obama and remain true to our deepest beliefs, so long as we reject the pernicious doctrine of "Barack Obama, right or wrong, whatever he does is okay." That is the road to intellectual ruin.