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I admire Glenn Greenwald, the writer of the Salon piece "Obama's "bad negotiating" is actually shrewd negotiating".  He's a really smart liberal, a smart lawyer, good writer.  He may well be right, but the piece bugs the hell out of me, nonetheless.

I admire Glenn Greenwald, the writer of the Salon piece "Obama's "bad negotiating" is actually shrewd negotiating".  He's a really smart liberal, a smart lawyer, good writer.  He may well be right, but the piece bugs the hell out of me, nonetheless.

In it he says that Obama is doing a very good job of positioning himself for 2012 by using some tried and true methods that work for Democrats.

Among other things, he says that by pissing off liberals, Obama somehow looks good to the center.

First, and broadly, I detest the preposterous oversimplification of Left and Right.  It allows good liberal causes, which are most of them and which, if enacted would vastly improve our nation and our lives, to be lumped in with fringy causes like banning perfume because a miniscule percentage of people are allergic to it.  (I once heard someone rant about this.)

Second, I think the whole idea of a "center" is a vacuous, feel-good appellation.  That is, a few months ago a study was published that said most Americans describe themselves as "conservative", but when you outline the goals of the liberal agenda without mentioning liberalism they agree whole-heartedly with it, and disagree with a similarly untagged conservative agenda.  They just feel really comfortable saying that they are basically "conservative" people.  Well so am I in the non-political sense.  I'll bet anything that most people would also describe themselves as "centrist" because leaning any way means, for them, being "radical."  Who the hell wants to be radical?  But again, if you describe liberal goals without calling them liberal, I'll bet you'll get the same high positives with "centrists" as you would when the same people describe themselves as "basically a conservative person."  (The most radically fascist major news outlet of our lifetimes strokes the vanity of its viewers by assuring them that they are "fair and balanced," after all.)

Further, I think many people who think of themselves as 'centrists' are simply the kind of people who do not follow politics much, and probably won't know who is running until late Summer of 2012.  Recall that Obama only attained his commanding lead in 2008 with his remarkably calm behavior in the debates, which came in October of that year.  Most "centrists" made up their mind at that point because they hadn't the slightest idea that Obama wasn't some scary Malcolm X-type Negro until 2008 was almost over.  They hadn't seen a single bit of footage of him until that moment, unless it was edited by CNN or Fox.

It's likely, in fact, that most people who are swing voters, so-called 'Independents', are that way because they don't follow politics closely and make their decision on which way (or whether) to vote based on a smidgen of input a few days before election day.

And this is what bothers me about Obama "trying to look good to the center."  What center does he want to look good for?  The one that won't even know there's an election in 2012 until they get the day off to vote that day in November?

Maybe I'm nuts, but I'd love for there to be a Progressive president who understands that our principles aren't some goofy laundry list of wouldn't-it-be-nice, kumbaya stuff, but rather stuff that would improve our lives and our nation, and then finally makes those improvements HAPPEN.   (I'd also like for her to sell our principles based on the idea that they ARE good for the nation, for the economy, for our lives, not because "we're a compassionate people".  Liberalism creates CUSTOMERS and customers lift the economy and create jobs, and everything good that follows from that.)

Maybe Obama is positioning himself brilliantly, and maybe he will beat whichever Dwarf the GOP runs next year.  I'm sure I'll vote for him, this time with a clothespin on my nose, but still.  But what if those people who only voted for him in '08 because they were so excited about what he was promising - what if they stay safe and warm at home on election day because they aren't all that excited this time?  Then how brilliant is his "strategy"?

In 2008 I loved Obama for doing what it took to get elected, because I was confident he'd keep the promises he made.  His promise to let the Bush tax cuts die, for instance, wasn't something we Liberals imagined he said.  

In 2011 I hope Obama is doing what it takes to get elected next year, but only because he will be the not-Republican in the race.  (I naturally hope he won't jerk the football away when we go to kick it in 2013, but Hope, it usually turns out, is just a town in Arkansas.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  An instantly-possible bipartisan campaign ... (0+ / 0-)

    is most desperately needed to combat the corruption that is EVERYWHERE these days (and speaking from considerable experience, with regard to California). Such an undertaking could form the basis of a solid bridge between centrist-democrats and centrist-republications, which logically is the only way to begin to extract ourselves from the mess that life on earth has become of late.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

    by Neuroptimalian on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 06:37:55 PM PDT

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