Saturday, March 12, 2011
Fool me once
At this point, I can't see an image of Barack Obama, or hear his voice, without an almost physical revulsion. Since his election, joy has turned to puzzlement, to concern, to frustration, to anger, and as of now my sentiments is about an equal mixture of despair, shame, and contempt. The latest contributions to this process are his pathetic sophistry regarding the shocking treatment of Bradley Manning, and his crouching passivity, masquerading as sophistication and nuance, as he prepares to all but completely abandon Libya to slaughter.

It is more or less completely clear now that this man is a pure transactionalist, who is largely unmoored from a moral or policy center, whose interest is in winning as much as possible with the least risk. Never mind what is the substance of such victories, of course, so long as he can burnish himself with them. Obama would call this "pragmatism"; what it means in reality is giving up challenging the existing condition even before joining the battle.

I wonder now what made me support him so ardently during the last election. I conclude that it was largely for tribal reasons rooted in sentiment; after all his policy differences with Clinton was small, and I would have supported any Democrat against Palin & McCain. Obama's personal charisma and rhetorical powers are undeniable, but I think I supported him largely because I thought we were in the same tribe: liberal academic types who value intellectual rigor and sophistication, and read the New York Review of Books. Obama may still read the NYRB, I don't know, although it has been pretty hard on him.

It says something about modern political campaigns that even after a long and grueling primary, all I had to really go on were these sentiments. It also says even someone who fancies himself to be too sophisticated, too grand, to be confined to mere tribes, can nevertheless be easily fooled by such tribal feelings.

Well, I have certainly learned my lesson: Paul Krugman is always right. Obama doesn't deserve to hold the office of Washington and Lincoln; he certainly doesn't deserve to be reelected. I hope never to be so fooled, and so fool myself, again.
Bradley Manning I'm worried about, but abandoing Libya? Obama is the president of the USA, not Libya. So what if he abandons Libya? What could he do for Libya? There is little more to do than hope for the best from Quaddafi, Quaddafi and his people. Though I am very saddened by it. But hopeful about the uprisings in general.

The resistance, I suppose, the futile resistance on the part of the tyrant, that is what is sickening, pathetic. | commentedBlogger Erika on Sunday, March 13, 2011

Well, Clinton wasn't the president of Bosnia, and Bush wasn't the president of Kosovo either. And the situation is Libya is far, far worse. I think is appropriate that after Iraq and Afghanistan, we ought to be fairly allergic to the notion of nation-building by force. But no-one is asking for Obama to send the Marines into Tripoli, I don't think. A no-fly zone, especially now that the Arab League has asked for one, and recognition and material support to the rebel government — I don't think they are too much to ask. | commentedBlogger ZLN on Sunday, March 13, 2011

This comment has been removed by the author. | commentedBlogger 7.5 PSI on Sunday, March 13, 2011

That being Tim | commentedAnonymous Tim on Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just because something should be done, doesn't mean the US should be the one to do it, or that we can. You did see the statue where Qaddafi gives his speeches, yes? A no-fly zone involves bombs and missiles. I would rather they were not american in this case.

Unlike Krugman, the president does not have the liberty to sulk or grandstand, and I am happy to have a president who appears to grasp this. At the beginning of these revolts, he had every opportunity to grab the cameras, and instead he ducked them. I think Hitchens is exactly wrong on this, and that this is what he should have done | commentedAnonymous Tim on Sunday, March 13, 2011

I am also not at all sure the situation in Libya anywhere near as bad as the situation in Bosnia. I am very happy that Samantha Power, who wrote an excellent book on what happened in Bosnia and how and why the world failed there is in a position to be heard this time around. | commentedAnonymous Tim on Sunday, March 13, 2011

post a comment