I've been getting plenty of physical exercise lately, so I'd like to do the mental equivalent and do some heavy lifting for the benefit of the community. So, I'm going to set aside my own reactions, and instead analyze and correct various fallacies among a minority of progressives by rationally tracing where they come from, how they develop, and what crucial logical and perceptual missteps cause them. Of course, some of these missteps aren't accidental - some people even on our side of the spectrum simply choose to believe things they know to be false because it somehow enhances their ego to always be exporting responsibility away from themselves, but this is not about that. I will focus exclusively on the process of faulty reasoning and application of insufficient knowledge.
1. Sweeping statements about Democrats.
There are about 100 million Americans who support the Democratic Party (via Democrats.com), and their reasons for doing so are as diverse as they are, but we can say that most of them have little difficulty distinguishing between that party and the surreal crime syndicate / hate group that styles itself the Republican Party. Constituencies who have very little trouble making the distinction, on the whole:
- African Americans.
- Children of immigrants.
- Hourly workers.
- Secular / non-religious.
- Poor people.
- The disabled.
- Other hospital staff.
I'm probably missing a bunch of them, and there are a lot more who merely lean Democratic (e.g., women) although without showing a strong majority. Meanwhile, let's examine the GOP's reliable constituencies:
- Corporate executives.
- Neo-Confederates / racists.
- Christian fanatics.
- Gun nuts.
- Anyone in love with their own reflection but afraid of their own shadow.
What they lack in mass-appeal, reason, or decency, they make up for with money and hate. However, most of these people see a pretty significant difference between the Republican and Democratic parties too. The grasping, Gollum-like creatures who inhabit corporate boards, for instance, see a distinctly more profitable (and less legally accountable) outcome to Republican leadership than to the Democratic version. Likewise, Southern race-nationalist whites definitely prefer to be represented by a party overwhelmingly consisting of people who look like them, and who pander to parochial regional sensibilities over national unity.
Christian fundamentalists seem to have no difficulty telling apart an organization that stands for religious universalism from one that is increasingly narrow, ignorant, and violent. People who who spend as much time stroking their firearms as their genitalia have no trouble knowing the difference between an arm of the NRA and one that stands for reasonable gun control. And just generally speaking, folks who are totally clueless about and terrified of the Other don't seem to have any trouble knowing that the GOP is their home, and the Democratic Party is The Enemy. At the same time, as noted above, we have all these vilified, demonized minorities and progressive servants of humanity who know with clarity that the Democratic Party stands with them.
Furthermore, we have about a hundred million average citizens belonging to any number of overlapping groups who recognize as much about this Party, and are not confused about the difference between reason and madness, love and hate, inclusion and exclusion, intelligence and ignorance, benevolence and greed, fairness and criminality, the empathetic and the despicable, etc. etc. As finely as you want to draw the lines between moral binaries, you find that the Dark Side is always overwhelmingly in Republican territory, and the moral / desirable / rational / beneficial is at least largely championed by Democrats.
The morality of it isn't the least bit ambiguous unless the guiding factor is the purity of a disembodied ideal rather than the reality of a human circumstance - and people for whom that is the case are not actually progressive, because an ideologue is not progressive: Fantasies don't improve other people's lives, they exist solely for the gratification of the ones imagining them. That, ultimately, is what separates the Democratic Party from its main ideological auxiliary, the Green Party - there are no elevators in politics: You either take the first step, or you'll always be standing on the ground floor belittling everyone walking up the stairs as "incrementalists" and "sellouts."
The values are the same, but the differences lies in who is willing to do the work to put them in practice vs. who merely likes to bask in moral superiority. For anyone who values their self-image over their actual utility to humanity, there is nothing much worth saying - they will take credit for the hard work and accomplishments of others who blazed the trails toward objectives they merely advocated in words, and will assign the blame for failures to those same others. So I address this to everyone else - the people who actually intend to see a better world, and not just use the verbal articulation of one as an ornament to their egos.
Now, no one will pretend there are no moral imperatives the Party leadership won't touch - just as most individuals understand that some topics, however important, can only be usefully addressed in forums specific to them. Disrupting a charity fundraiser for Parkinson's by ranting on about Tibet or torture wouldn't be productive - most of us with a modicum of mental health could agree on that. Although you have the right audience (humanitarians), and the right overall purpose (focus on progress), the specific task is a higher priority than those issues - i.e., addressing Parkinson's is a much greater humanitarian imperative than liberating Tibet or ending torture. Now imagine you're in a forum where all important issues are to be aired - you would have to prioritize them, and assign time accordingly.
This is how an elected representative body works - only the priorities involved are not based on morals, but on public opinion and public passion. In other words, even if something is a high moral priority, it may be a low priority in public opinion; and even if it is considered a high priority in public opinion, it may be a low priority in current public passion (i.e., what has people abuzz at any given moment). However important it is in absolute moral terms to liberate Tibet and end torture worldwide, there are quite a few much higher moral priorities - just for example, reducing nuclear weapons, getting climate change under control, eradicating malaria, ensuring access to contraception and related education, etc. etc. In terms of public opinion, Tibet and torture are even lower priorities than they are in moral terms, and are even lower than that in terms of public passion. So don't expect much to be done or even said about them in an elected body - especially one where single-minded business interests are disproportionately powerful, none of which care at all about either issue.
There are solutions on the horizon to the Priority Problem of a representative body - namely, directly democratic General Assemblies with manageable numbers of participants that can work in concert with elected bodies to offer oversight, guidance, and balance. I've diaried about this possibility, and will continue to do so in the future, but I only mention it now in passing. But the lesson should be easy enough to understand:
1. Just because you care intensely about something does not make it a moral imperative.
2. Just because something is a moral imperative does not make it a high priority in public opinion.
3. Just because something is a high priority in public opinion does not make it a central focus of public passion.
4. Even if something is a central focus of public passion, that energy must be sustained and translate into electoral results before it will have a major impact on government policy in a representative republic.
The Democratic Party is not here to read your mind; it is not your mood ring; it will not kiss your booboos; and notwithstanding a shared set of humanistic/democratic/progressive values among its members and leadership, it cannot realistically ignore the priorities of public passion or pretend that public opinion (the mere abstract agreement with a principle) is equivalent to that. This is especially true when every inch of progress has to fight a torrent of downhill forces from lobbying money that is either hostile or indifferent to the betterment of mankind. Petitioning your Democratic leaders for a stronger focus on issues you feel have been neglected would be useful - it provides them with information about public opinion and passion, and makes their prioritizing more accurate. The same would be true of constructively protesting on behalf of those issues, although by "constructive" I include civil disobedience.
What is not helpful is accusing leaders of "ignoring" the issues or even somehow being "against" them for not making a point of addressing them. It's painfully embarrassing listening to sanctimonious rants by someone insisting that Democrats don't care about fill-in-the-blank because it's been a whole six months since anyone in office has made a statement about it - six months likely occupied with bitter fights trying to get people basic healthcare and job protection in the face of a Republican Congress we allowed to take power. It's embarrassing because it shows either a juvenile ignorance about what the job of being an elected representative actually involves, or else a malignant deliberate ignorance of same.
Before a bill comes to the floor, it has to pass a committee, and likely several committees and sub-committees. And before it even comes before a committee or sub-committee, it has to pass a number of procedural hurdles largely controlled by two people - the Chair (of the majority party) and the Ranking Member (of the minority party), with the majority of power in the hands of the former. The first hurdle is that the Chair has to agree to even let the matter be discussed by the committee - otherwise they can simply just not put on the schedule, and it doesn't happen. The Chair, as you might imagine, is usually an old hand in politics who has been elected and reelected multiple times, and buddy-buddy with the lobbyists and insiders who make most of the plays on a daily basis. Ergo, it's very hard to get progressive legislation even scheduled for a discussion, let alone a vote, in a committee.
Why? Because (a) it's hard for leaders who don't Play Ball to get on to important committees in the first place; (b) it's hard for them to get reelected enough to end up with seniority in a committee; (c) it's hard for them, even with seniority, to have cultivated enough support with the Caucus to be chosen by the Majority/Minority leader to hold the Chairmanship or Ranking Membership on the committee; and (d) even with such authority, they still need to maintain their relationships with other committees and the wider body to get their highest-priority legislation passed through the body as a whole.
Are there rule changes that could enable this process to run better? Of course. But they're not going to happen because, once again, public opinion and public passion - the public doesn't know much about the inner workings of these bodies, and what's more, doesn't care. That means there is no impetus to change: Any specific proposal would be too obscure to generate public support, too wrapped up in the hidden inner workings of politics to generate public passion, and would draw intense opposition from the lobbyists and insiders who benefit from the status quo. And the Democratic Party can't just magically bootstrap itself into a position to change that against the net result of all the political forces (and lack of political forces) responsible for the situation.
But let's say by some trick of fate, the Republican Chairman of a sub-committee allowed a progressive bill to be debated; let's go further and pretend they allowed a vote to occur; and, by pure magic, the bill somehow passes the sub-committee. Now the whole ordeal can repeat itself on a larger scale by needing the approval of the full committee's Chair to be debated and voted on, then the approval of the Majority leadership of the body to come to the floor of the whole Congress or Senate for debate and then schedule a vote. And this isn't even remotely a full accounting of all the roadblocks that can be thrown up - many bills need approval from budget committees, ways and means committees, etc. etc. to even be voted on, let alone passed as legislation.
But even in the face of all these institutional hurdles, even in the face of a Republican Majority that we allowed to take hold, Democrats are still somehow making occasional progress, whenever and wherever the law provides the opportunity. We elect these people - people, dammit, not magical storybook characters - to do what they can for us, and generally speaking that is what they do. That is what we would do in their place, and very few of us would likely achieve even a fraction of what they do, though I'm sure some of us would do a lot more screaming and foot-stamping when reality smacked us in the face. Most of us would merely learn through hard, embarrassing trial-and-error of the pitfalls and obstacles that elected politicians know to avoid as a matter of professional competence, and even then be thrown out at the very next election because we proved incapable of cultivating the level of public support needed in a democracy.
It's perfectly logical not to trust elected leaders to look out for your interests to the same extent you would - after all, that's not their job. That's your job. Their job is to make decisions as a representative, to lead on behalf of the public in general, and to safeguard what works and seek new ways when the old ones stop working. Your issues may fall into the cracks of The Process even if it were optimal, and that is one of the unavoidable hazards of living in a republic with a large population. But there is a reason the Democratic Party is identified as the Party of the People, and it's not as the "lesser of two evils" or as a mere straw man rejection of the GOP - it's because regardless of how shitty the inherited conditions are, we are willing to try.
We volunteer to clean up messes, knowing we didn't create them and that we'll be blamed for whatever mess remains even if what we leave behind is better than what we received. However slowly, and however messily it appears from the outside, we're willing to blaze trails through hellish thickets of special interest and entrenched power, so long as we end up just one iota further ahead than when we started. Democrats are the good guys, period. Our party puts in the time for this country - it's not here to deliver stone tablets from the mountain to the heathens, and then just stand around waiting for other people to implement our ideas. We do the work, we build the bridges, we find the ways. Other than the experiments in direct democracy practiced by the Occupy movement - whose evolution I hinted at above - everything else is just empty talk and backseat driving. Within a framework of representative governance, the Democratic Party is the People's vehicle.
II. Democrats and Republicans are the same.
This is the mother of all political fallacies, built on absolutely nothing and amounting practically to one Big Lie. Its sole purpose is to rationalize cynicism by default, lack of participation among the unaligned, and complete ignorance of the past, present, and future of American politics. It is a statement so sweeping in obliviousness, and so dismissive of the lives, efforts, and values of millions of people, that it's intellectually and morally on the same footing as "Jews are greedy" and "black people are lazy." Even at the very highest levels of government, seeing things this way requires being cross-eyed, short-sighted, and hanging upside-down.
Given the arguments already made, as well as the vast differences going all the way back to the origins of the current ideological split, even placing the two parties in the same moral ballpark - let alone equating them - is basically saying that black is white, up is down, and nothing exists because everything is just a subjective illusion. Basically, there is a level of insanity and moral obtuseness that I find difficult to forgive let alone understand, and I have never once seen such a position actually serve progressive politics or improve the lot of mankind. Instead, people on the left making such claims in any numbers always seem to presage a surge in right-wing power and the self-inflicted collapse of any institutional hedge against it.
I've never read of a single job created, poverty leavened, environment protected, rights defended, or liberty expanded by undermining the Democratic Party or blurring the perceived lines between it and the GOP. Frankly, it's always been the opposite: The more starkly the perceived difference, the more support the Party has, the more progress is made. This country made more progress in two years of a Blue Dog Congress resisting a liberal Democratic President's agenda than it had made in eight years of largely Republican domination, and yet some people remain convinced it was a total waste of time - and that just has me shaking my head in disbelief. I just don't know what these people are thinking, that they actually seem happier with the GOP in control of Congress after 2010 - I guess they just feel more comfortable when reality matches their cynicism than when they feel challenged.
III. President Obama
I have no reservations in saying that Barack Obama is the best President of my lifetime. I'm 28, so that's not an especially sweeping statement - at most I can say he's better than Clinton, Bush Sr., or Reagan, and obviously better than the vile, sub-human dictator Bush Jr. However, based entirely on historical retrospect, I feel comfortable also saying that he's a better President than Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, and Kennedy, and at least comparable to Ike, Truman, and FDR. I have a hard time imagining any of those three doing a better job if they were confronted by a Republican Party this psychotic, criminal, and supported by a bottomless international well of corporate funding and hostile foreign regimes.
Even they, in their day, were ridiculed by the same type of paranoid, misanthropic characters on the left who belittled every progressive move they made as some kind of phony token, and they took plenty of actions that were legitimately reprehensible - albeit logical in context. The surveillance apparatus employed by the Roosevelt administration during the War was as petty as it was comprehensive, and history tells us he wasn't above abusing it to spy on political opponents - armies of homefront volunteers, mostly women, were employed reading every piece of mail, listening to every phone call, busybodying around their communities looking for "suspicious activity" to report, etc. Speech could be, and was, legally punished. He made no attempt to integrate the armed forces, let alone the rest of the country. And there was the slight matter of interning Japanese-Americans, which even FDR's liberal-stacked Supreme Court refused to block.
But most of us still look up to FDR, because in most cases, he made the right decisions for the country he inherited - he didn't pretend things were other than they were, even while doing everything he could to bring them closer to the state America wanted to become and believed it could be. We owe quite a lot to him for that. And the same could be said of his successor, although for different reasons. Truman made plenty of decisions that have proven troublesome, or less clear-cut than they may have seemed at the time - dropping the atomic bomb would be one, although I still see no way around the argument that far more people on both sides would have died without it. I've seen documentaries of the plans for the invasion of Honshu, and the projected numbers were a lot more horrifying than occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But he made a lot of right calls at great political cost to himself: Defending South Korea when the North invaded was the right decision - it was an utterly clear-cut battle between two conventional armies, unlike the later issue in Vietnam that was more of a civil war. The public knew nothing about Korea, had no particular opinion about it, and certainly lacked the passion to put their sons on the line for it, but it was still right to defend it, and right to use the UN in doing so - the first-ever United Nations intervention against aggression.
Firing MacArthur was also the right decision, despite his enormous popularity, because he had begun to act like Caesar in the Korean peninsula and make arbitrary, dangerous geopolitical decisions with respect to China without consulting Washington. Adopting the Marshall Plan for Europe was the most far-sighted post-war plan in history, as it turned the parts of ravaged Europe under US and British control into a thriving, prosperous region just a few short years after the end of the war, while the Soviet side remained an impoverished post-apocalyptic wasteland. This set the stage for the moral triumph of the West over totalitarian Communism. Next, vetoing the Taft-Hartley Act was the right decision, even though the veto was ultimately overridden, because it eviscerated collective-bargaining. And, of course, ordering the racial integration of the Armed Forces was one of the boldest and rightest steps Truman took as President - a step that society in general had not yet reached consensus about, and occurred well before Brown v. Board of Education.
Ike has more to answer for in the negative column - he was, after all, a direct conspirator in the overthrow of the democratic Iranian government, set the stage for the Vietnam War by supporting Diem's boycott of previously agreed upon elections that would have favored Ho Chi Minh, and either authorized or turned a blind eye to most of the CIA's undemocratic actions in the 1950s as well as domestic McCarthyism. But all of these decisions, however bloody-minded, actually made sense in the context of the Cold War as it was then understood - the Soviet Union at the time was not an equal, it vastly exceeded the West in military power and industrial capacity. Eisenhower had just helped lead his country on the battlefield through the most trying epoch since the Civil War, defeating two empires the likes of which had never been seen, and yet here we were confronted by a third empire that dwarfed both of them put together and only seemed to be getting more powerful with time. Here we were, confronted by weapons that could obliterate all life on Earth, in the hands of people who seemed to have no respect for life.
To a military mind like Dwight Eisenhower's, Iran = checkmate on the geopolitical map - direct access to and control of Asia Minor and the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and so on. It wasn't "domino theory," but simple geography. Perhaps he was deluded by the CIA about the nature of the democracy in Iran - they may have (with some small amount of justice) characterized the government as more of a faction than a popular leadership, and portrayed its socialist-leanings in the starkest possible frames as some kind of insidious Soviet tentacle rather than a normal leftward tide in domestic politics. There may even have been kernels of truth to the claim, as there often are in the most dangerous lies. Nonetheless, whether the decision was right or wrong for the time, we're still cleaning up the shit from it today in the form of the theocracy that replaced the CIA-backed monarchy.
Still, Ike was a great President - he made decisions that made sense in context, and were usually far-sighted. He ended the Korean War without conceding the South, made the first uses of the National Guard to enforce Supreme Court orders with respect to desegregation (although he personally opposed it - which just shows he was a principled President who enforced the law), instituted NASA, created the Interstate Highway system, and presided as a statesman rather than a politician during a period of tremendous global change and danger.
I consider him an honorary Democrat, because he most certainly would not today be a part of the pack of thugs, criminals, and raving lunatics who now comprise the Republican Party, regardless of his conservative leanings. The funny thing is, he was a Christian fundamentalist - but was so decent a person and reasonable a leader, that you would never have known it listening to his speeches or reading about his decisions. That's when it was possible to be both an American and a conservative - I'm sorry to say today's conservatives are no longer capable of patriotism.
John F. Kennedy, meanwhile, is often lionized because of his youthful contemporary persona and subsequent martyrdom, but the truth of his Presidency was nowhere near as progressive as his ongoing reputation. The fact is, he was something of a warmonger - he first became competitive with Nixon in large measure by attacking him from the right, playing up the Soviet threat and claiming that there were various types of armament "gaps" (e.g., bomber gap, missile gap, etc.) that the incumbant party had allowed to take hold. He won in a razor-thin election made possible only with the support of Mafia-affiliated groups, in a process we would consider crooked - although largely by virtue of votes being bought rather than defrauded or thrown away. He was totally at a loss with how to handle government bureaucracies, and appointed his brother Attorney General - a move that, regardless of RFK's personal qualities, looks very bad - because he didn't feel like he could trust anyone else. And meanwhile, he filled the Pentagon and foreign policy apparatus with bloodless, Eichmann-like technocrats who would architect the eventual Vietnam War.
On the domestic front, his brother launched McCarthyist crusades to purge media, labor, and academia of leftist political influences; J. Edgar Hoover continued to have free reign to spy on and slander these segments of society as well as Civil Rights activists; he seemingly had no control over, or else was complicit, in the shenanigans of the CIA throughout the world; and he instituted the first in an ongoing half-century landslide of upper-income tax cuts. On the positive side, he neither capitulated nor allowed the world to blow up in the Cuban Missile Crisis (although the resolution of the crisis resulted from a "back room deal," as so many left-wing conspiracy theorists love to condemn), committed the nation to landing on the Moon (although documents indicate he would have backed away from the pledge if he'd lived), and solidly committed the federal government to enforcing desegregation - one of his few totally independent and unblemished actions as President.
So I'll tell you why Barack Obama is a better President than John F. Kennedy - because, unlike Kennedy, we're not seeing double-digit cuts in upper-income taxes; he isn't conducting a military buildup; he is an effective administrator of the federal agencies; he hasn't attempted to appoint close family members to high office; he hasn't demagogued the threat from any other country and, in fact, has been quite successful at empowering global diplomacy; tens of millions of people now have healthcare who did not when he took office; he won election in a free and fair landslide; his foreign policies are based on reality, not any kind of "theory" pioneered by economists who view warfare as just another business; we have two more women on the Supreme Court; he opened the military to gays and lesbians; tens of billions of dollars have already been invested in new technology and economic growth; started the ARPA-E program to put America's best minds to work on energy technology; put a Nobel Prize-winning physicist in charge of the Energy Department; fired Gen. McChrystal for insubordination; has winked at allowing the Occupy movement to conduct its affairs on federal land; and has proven himself more than the equal of the entire Republican Congress, even though we rank and file Democrats so often fail to have his back.
That's off the top of my head. I won't even bother being comprehensive, because frankly it's been done so many times that it shouldn't have to be done again - rational adults don't need a daily reminder that the things they were congratulating yesterday are still worthy of congratulation today. Diaries have been posted that run on, and on, and on about the accomplishments of this administration to such a degree that it's almost boring listening to all the great things they've done - and I have to imagine that boredom with success is perhaps one of the reasons why some people are so resistant to giving due credit. It's so much easier and more fun to pretend reality is just the sum total of the holes in our gratification - all the things we wish we had that we don't, all the things we expected that didn't come to fruition, and so on. The problem with being a negative person is that ultimately that's all you are - you serve nobody and nothing being like that, and there has certainly never been an instance in history where disappointment, cynicism, and personal demonization of "establishment" leaders has brought about positive developments.
We adore Gandhi, and we forget the names of all the militant firebrands who thought him a collaborationist for not wielding a gun. We lionize Martin Luther King Jr., while we study Malcolm X more for his personality and the drama of his individual experiences than anything he accomplished. Does anyone know or care the names of principled left-wing activists who were jailed for expressing dissent under FDR? You've heard of Howard Zinn's explorations of social injustice, but how many people can you name whose lives were tangibly improved by his work vs. the "compromised" work of political leaders who muck around day in and day out in the sausage-making of a democratic process? Since his crusade against the Corvair in the '60s, I don't know of a single person whose life is better because of Ralph Nader other than Ralph Nader. The same goes for Dennis Kucinich, or any other morally spotless darling of the left with nary a passed bill to his name.
What would FDR, Truman, Ike, or Kennedy have done with this Republican Party in this climate of ultra-corruption and corporate power? In fact, would they not be doing pretty much what President Obama is doing, if not being far more timid? These Presidents had Democratic Congresses that bent over backwards to push a progressive agenda, and Republican Congresses that bent over backwards to pretend they wanted to pass a progressive agenda. Now, being honest, what do you think President Obama would accomplish with one of FDR's Congresses - any of them? Give him the most conservative Congress FDR, Truman, Ike, or Kennedy ever had to face, and do you doubt that we would have a return to rational tax policies, a rigorous social safety net, real education, and universal health care? But see, that isn't the Congress we have given him - it wasn't the Congress we gave him 2008, and it certainly isn't the Congress we gave him in 2010. The fact is, no matter how strong your laborer, if you give them shitty tools, the job will be less satisfactory and take longer than you want.
But for some reason, every once in a while someone will post a quote from one of these earlier Presidents as a rationalization for saying Obama doesn't measure up. Basically, they cut and paste words from the past in place of facts, and then dismiss equally fiery, populistic speeches from Obama as "mere rhetoric" or phony attempts to satisfy the base - and I think they have a serious problem understanding that the past is not a fundamentally different universe from the present. Reality is reality, then and now, even though circumstances change. You could not pass the New Deal through this Congress whether it presided in 1932 or 2932, no matter who is President, and you would get considerable social programs through a progressive Congress even if you had a (now largely mythical) moderate Republican in the White House. That doesn't mean it doesn't matter who is President - quite the opposite. But as an adult citizen of a republic, you have to have some kind of rational appreciation of the fact that our government has three coequal branches, and most of the detailed legislative work arises in Congress.
Even limiting the scope to the Executive branch, you probably have plenty of negatives you can identify, but I want to ask you this: Do any of them - any of them - even compare to the ones I noted in talking about FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy? Do any of them make sense to an informed person who knows what a government does and how it works? You want to complain that this administration "hasn't moved" on some issue of yours, but don't want to hear about how Obama's appointees are being obstructed from confirmation en masse, leaving huge numbers of vacancies thanks to the Congress you allowed into power? Are you putting as much or more effort into changing the composition of Congress than you are into bitching that Barack Obama isn't ignoring its current composition and trying to force through legislation by the magic of wishful thinking? Do you sift through his comments and statements for word choices and memes that you find unpalatable, like some kind of Outrage Whale sifting plankton through baleen? If so, can you please name the President whose entire history of comments and speeches you've likewise and sifted and found nothing to object to?
Or perhaps you're one of those people who sincerely believes Barack Obama is on the right on something - my question is, compared to what? What the hell President of the United States are you using as your basis? Was there a four years of American history I missed when Eugene Debs was President? All around, he's the most liberal President we've ever had. EVER. The most transparent ever. The most accountable ever. The most inclusive ever. The most democratic ever. The most committed to the environment ever. The most committed to civil rights ever. To find even an anecdote of a more benign attitude in a President, you would have to go back to before our country was even a military power, let alone a superpower, and then you'd find they held slaves, opposed women's suffrage, or thought other races were inferior. You think Jimmy Carter was more benign? Tell that to the victims of Savak, and other beneficiaries of Zbigniew Brzezinski's machinations.
It's okay to want more than this, and it's okay to work for more than this, but it's not okay to sit around bitching about how little other people are doing to make it happen for you - especially when that other person is as great an American, a leader, and a human being as Barack Obama. This Presidency is a gift to the American republic, and it's a tragedy that we've already wasted part of it allowing Republicans to control Congress. I frankly pity anyone who doesn't recognize that, because they're never going to look at the present and feel like anything has been accomplished - whether they're living in the 1930s, the 1960s, or today, they're going to look around and only see enemies, problems, threats, everything wrong with the world and with their fellow human beings. They can wish they had FDR all day, but the truth is if they had him, they'd just be sitting around wishing for Lincoln; and if they had Lincoln, they'd want Washington; and if they had Washington, they'd be daydreaming about the Gracchi or Pericles. Leadership in a democratic society is a two-way street - it's wasted on people who don't know what to do with it.
6:03 PM PT: Almost forgot to mention that he killed Bin Laden, who had evaded two presidents and regionwide decade-long man-hunt before him. Yes, this President is something extraordinary.