Monday, July 07, 2008

New and Not Improved

It's not just amatuer indie-left whack-job pundits like myself and professional indie-left whack-job pundits like Arianna Huffington... the New York Times is none too happy with Obama's recent rightward sauntering and controversy avoidance - politicking which has left a whole lot of independents and liberals with a not so fresh feeling.

The Times editorial is peppered with words like, "distressed" and "perplexing," pointing to shifts on topics such as public funding for religious-based organizations, the death penalty and gun control. [These aren't even Liberal 101 topics - these are entrance exam "yes" or "no" questions.]

They sum it up pretty tightly here: "We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games." [And yet here we are.]

I'd be thrilled to have the Barack Obama of as little as a month ago be president. I don't know who this current guy is though. I think he's gone through some high level deprogramming or something. He refused to give a fist bump to a little kid recently! What the hell is that about?* If he wants to keep those 18 million new voters, he would be well advised to snap out of this Clintonian behavior right quick.

No question that the New York Times, Huffington Post and this blogger all want him to be president. I think we all want him to be a better candidate though, and that's not going to happen if everyone refrains from honest criticism and smiles politely because we're afraid of made-up words like "electibility." We huddle around him like some human shield deflecting controversy, while the Untouchable Cloud Of Vagueness™ expands and expands like a thick, soupy greenhouse gas, eventually choking out even Hope™.

I'm a pretty lousy source for political advice: I've supported losing candidates every presidential primary going all the way back to 1988, including Kucinich, Wes Clark, Bill Bradley and Jesse Jackson, but I do know that trying to please all the people all the time is a perennial recipe for failure. Obama just needs to be himself... or at least the himself we thought he was: "the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games."

* [edit: that was misreported. Thanks to Brian and Anonymous in the comments for the quick correction.]


Anonymous said...

"He refused to give a fist bump to a little kid recently! What the hell is that about?"

Umm.. You do know this was a fake story, right? He wouldn't sign the kids hand.. he never refused to fist bump. Second half of the page..

brian [SQUARE006] said...


Well, the anti-fist-bump story was a bit of shoddy reporting:

but aside from that, this election is very much Obama's to lose. Any change promised will never be made unless he's elected. And he has loads of moderates, republicans, and frightened elderly and white people to convince (and yes, pander to, it's an election after all) that he's not a far left-wing black panther.

I'm a news junkie who has stopped paying attention once Clinton was disposed of as that was the most interesting part of the election. Now Obama must get bland, and boring.. so people like my parents will stop freaking out. This part of the show (and the election is nothing but a show, I only hope he's 1/4 the politician I think he is) is not for us (us being progressive, intellectual people who are unafraid to shake up the status quo).. rather it's for our parents, for the midwest, for frightened, old white folk..:)

my 2 cents!