Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Repentant ex-wingnut John Cole asks:

Where do these wingnuts come up with this perception ... that Obama supporters are somehow unaware that Barack Obama is GASP a politician[?]

He is a United States Senator. He is running for the highest political office in the land. He is a politician. We are aware of this.

One reason might be that many Obama supports seem demonstrably unaware of the kind of politician he is --- one who seems to be every bit as inclined towards "triangulation" on domestic economic issues as Clinton's husband, and who is, on some issues, clearly to her right.

The key example is health care, where Clinton supports a general mandate, and Obama doesn't --- a position he holds firmly enough that, for instance, it reportedly cost him an Edwards endorsement a few months back. (Elizabeth Edwards apparently has a lot to say about this, and she'll be a health care maven for as long as she can, for obvious reasons.) Mind you, Obama's position isn't even coherent --- in one debate, he whined about the difficulty of enforcing a mandate, even though (as Hillary pointed out) his own plan has a limited mandate, for kids, to which the same objections would apply.

What's really telling is the outrage from the more, well... devoted Obama supporters when liberal commentators like Paul Krugman call him on this sort of thing. Krugman in particular was subjected to, among other things, a ridiculous rumor that he was a closet agitator for Hillary because his kid was working on her campaign staff. He doesn't have kids. And his cats, he claims, are completely non-partisan. But you'll just have to take his word for it.

To be sure, Obama himself wasn't directly putting out this sort of nonsense. But his supporters were, and Krugman is prominent enough that past a certain point, the candidate ought to have known about it. He could have certainly, at least, damped down the volume by putting out a statement highlighting the importance of respecting differences of opinion across the ideological spectrum, including more liberal commenters and colleagues --- but so far, at least, he's using that kind of language mainly when he's trying to ingratiate himself with, for instance, Republicans who are touting a phony social security "crisis" as an excuse for dismantling the program completely.

And you're reading all this on the blog of a guy who regards Obama as the best available candidate. Hillary's engaged in plenty of flim-flam of her own (and Krugman's called her on some of it), including the much-ridiculed Walter Mitty tale of dodging snipers in Tuzla, and her flat misrepresentation of her own position on NAFTA during her husband's administration. Her foreign policy positions are notably more hawkish, and her record in some respects is scary. (Like the vote to authorize use of force in Iraq --- she keeps saying "if I knew then what I know now", and that just doesn't cut it. Half her Democratic colleagues did know enough to oppose it then. Why didn't she? Perhaps because she didn't even read the National Intelligence Estimate?) And even on health care, she's an advocate of good policy, but not clearly an effective one. As I've said before, the single most important fact about her effort during her husband's administration is that it failed.

But Obama is, at best, the better of two imperfect choices. He's not the magic negro from some cheesy hollywood thumb-sucker, whose mere ascendance to office will, by itself, change, well... whatever pisses you off. People who have convinced themselves he's that, or even some kind of economic progressive in the Edwards mold, are setting themselves up for disappointment.


Blogger Mithras said...

But his supporters were, and Krugman is prominent enough that past a certain point, the candidate ought to have known about it.

Really? I have seen this kind of comment from Hillary people(I know you claim to favor Obama), and I wonder: Are you totally serious? You expect candidates to publicly address stuff that happens on blogs? I find the idea absurd. No one reads political blogs.

Even assuming that each candidate had a staff devoted to following the intramural online bickering, why in the world would a sane candidate alert the media that this was an important matter? Should this commenting on blog wars continue after the nominee is selected? Insane.

I notice also that no one thinks Hillary should address the egregious behavior of her blog supporters. Why is Obama held to a different standard? I have a guess.

10:39 PM  
Blogger charles said...

Krugman himself is a prominent columnist in the New York Times, and his criticism only became significant when it showed up in those columns. He was also, for a couple of years, the most significant critic of the Bush administration in anything that I can recognized as mainstream media; that alone is reason for prominent Democrats to want to keep things cordial.

And I wasn't asking Obama to "alert the media" that his supporters were misbehaving. I was asking him to publicly singal his own respect for Krugman's views the exact way he's shown respect for multiple wingnuts spouting economic nonsense --- in hopes that would cool the idiots damaging his position with friendly fire.

But on Social Security, Krugman gets less public respect from Obama than Phil Gramm does. You don't have a problem with that?


10:14 PM  
Blogger Mithras said...

Okay, you're incoherent. Your post begins by attacking Obama supporters - you say you are one, and I actually am one, but I agree - a lot of Obama supporters are fools or annoying or annoying fools. Then you attack Obama on health care reform - fine. I favor single payer, and all the candidates' positions suck. Then you mention Obamaniacs saying mean things about Krugman. About that, you say, "past a certain point, the candidate ought to have known about it." If "it" doesn't refer to the blogosphere nonsense, what does it refer to?

And as to your solution - "putting out a statement highlighting the importance of respecting differences of opinion across the ideological spectrum" - have you ever actually heard Barack Obama talk, rather than just reading things on blogs? He's full of that kumbaya, let-us-reason-together crap about "a new kind of politics" that his followers lap up but doesn't actually mean anything. If he got more respectful of opposing views he'd be Ghandi.

Toughen up. The real nastiness starts around September, maybe as soon as June.

11:30 PM  
Blogger charles said...

One correction: I never said I was an Obama supporter. I said I regard him as the best available candidate. There's a difference. I nearly voted for Edwards over Obama even after Edwards had publicly withdrawn from the race. (He was still on the ballots.)

Beyond that, my whole point is that the "kumbaya, let-us-reason-together crap" is reserved for the right, drooling wingnuts included. Folks to his left, even just a little, get harsher treatment --- from "Obamaniacs", in part, but they're just reflecting the attitudes of the candidate himself. Go read the Edwards link.

8:47 AM  

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