Tuesday, July 6, 2010

No Schizophrenia Here

The latest This Modern World is excellent:

Kevin Drum lays out his disappointments with Obama and calls them -- maybe not so helpfully -- "schizophrenia":
I never expected to like everything he did. The reason I'm schizophrenic is that it's almost impossible to get a handle on what he really wants. Did he want a bigger stimulus bill but compromised down because $800 billion was all he could get? Or did he not really want more than that in the first place? Ditto for the public option. Ditto for DADT repeal, which he had to be pushed into supporting this year. And ditto again on financial reform, which is worth passing only because of numerous amendments to the original bill. On all of these issues and more, I don't feel like I ever knew what Obama's real position was. There's a big difference between compromising because politics is what it is and you have no choice, and compromising because the more centrist position is the one you genuinely hold. But Obama never gives me a good sense of which it is with him. ... [T]here was seldom any question about where FDR stood on the big issues, and you either loved him or hated him for it. With Obama, I'm left unsure far too often for comfort. Thus my schizophrenia.
I was not bold enough to place strong hopes in the next FDR. Obama's disappointments have ranged from the expected-mild (the final outcome on health care reform) to the distressing-depressing (still no action at all on climate change or expanded labor organizing rights) to the unforgivably galling (civil liberties, executive power, Supreme Court nominations).

I had not simply hoped but expected a clean break from the Bush-Cheney junta on the fundamental questions of the rule of law -- all that chatter about "former law professor" and pretty definite pre-election commitments put this beyond the merely aspirational. On these grounds -- as documented day after day by Glenn Greenwald, among others -- Obama-Biden have been a spectacular, dismal, abject failure.

So yes, as the cynical operator in the Tom Tomorrow cartoon indicates, the USA will soon choose between a continuation of Obama-Biden's middling, weak, indefinite efforts and a firmer, clearer, wider stance from Sarah Palin (or a close approximation). It takes a crazy person to imagine that turning out in Obama-Biden's favor, and it's becoming harder and harder to sustain a sane rationale for caring.

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