Monday, August 08, 2011

In Which I Admit I Got Rolled

So I decided to go back and check out what I wrote three years ago during the Democratic primaries. I am astonished to read this post which, despite a bow in the general direction of Obama's obvious weaknesses, I am revealed to all the world as someone who was willing to swallow a line. Even worse, I wrote the following:
- I believe that electing Barack Obama President of the United States will open up vast energies of enthusiasm and a sense of arriviste that a younger generation of Americans (even at 42, I include myself in this cohort; Obama is only three years older than I) both needs and will welcome. The boomer's have proven themselves ill-suited for governance, not once but twice, with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The new generation to whom a torch should be passed is one thatis quite tired of Republican nonsense, and the constant drumbeat of "must"'s that we hear from conservatives. The government, the economy, the society - they are ours, and we will fashion them for all our ends.

- Hope is not the same as blind faith. It includes faith, indeed, but is an active, rather than passive thing. It is working towards realizing that which in which we believe. All the tired dismissals of Obama's talk of hope misses the simple fact that for far too long both Republicans and Democrats have not told us we not only should be better than we are, but that we have the power to be better. We are not called upon to believe in Sen. Obama, but ourselves.
That last sentence, without a doubt, is one of the most embarrassing things I have ever written. It would be nice to say something like, "Well, I admit up front I have no illusions that Obama is a real progressive!", and I did do that. Except, if I really believed that, I never would have written that last bullet point, let alone that last sentence.

In retrospect, the Democratic field in 2008 was horrible. I had flirted with supporting John Edwards, but really wanted to get behind a winner early. I still think Hillary Clinton was unelectable for a variety of reasons. I think she would have been little different in matters of economic policy than Obama has been; she entered his Administration, after all, and I don't see her falling on her sword over his many failures.

The simple truth is I got rolled. I bought the whole, "Yes We Can" nonsense. Not only because I saw that Obama understood the most important lesson of Presidential electioneering - sell the voters a positive message, an upbeat message. I actually believed that Obama would be a different person than he had already shown himself to be.

The air-space between the Obama Administration and Bush Administration on a host of issues from the endless, stupid wars in Asia to the economy is almost non-existent. For all the right has this weird idea that Obama is some crazed Muslim sleeper-socialist, he is, in fact, that most dangerous of political creatures - a defender of the status quo.

Need I remind the world that on the day I'm writing this the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 635 points? Need I remind the world that Obama came out today and insisted we need to get busy cutting spending? Need I remind the world that Duncan Black is quite right - no one really knows what the hell to do?

I cannot sit around and blame Republicans or Tea Partiers for the mess we are in. I can, however, make clear that I got fooled because, after eight years of George Bush, I was ready for just about anything that sounded better. I surrendered the one thing I never should have - critical thought. So, sure, I am, in some small way, responsible. Because it seemed I was willing to buy the idea that all that rhetoric, all that "hopey-changey" stuff actually meant something.

It didn't. I owe apologies all around to those who said, "You're getting rolled, man." Because I was. It isn't the Republicans or the Tea Partiers fault that Barack Obama is in the White House, buys in to the same set of assumptions and priorities as they do, and has enacted policies on the economy that are indistinguishable from what a Republican President would have.

Today, as the system tumbles, yet again, I want to do the one thing no one else seems to want to do. I want to admit I am, in my own tiny way, complicit in all this. I really have no one to blame but myself.

Virtual Tin Cup

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