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Links With Your Coffee - Monday

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RE: "Progressive complaints about Obama's appointments - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com"

I'm so tired of hearing people put words/thoughts into the heads and on the lips of others. On what basis does Greenwald claim to know what Obama knew?

I believe Obama is a pragmatist, not driven by ideology; that seems to match his record. It's good enough for me, at least for now, to know that he has clearly and consistently stated that he wants to focus his agenda on providing an economic boost for the working class, even when that boost might mean increasing the burden on the upper income class. This objective is what makes him a "progressive".

If he has some means of getting there that does not fit within the ideological based presumptions of the arm-chair experts; then so be it.

RE: "Progressive complaints about Obama's appointments - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com"

I am much more conservative than Greenwald, and so am less disappointed--actually, re-assured--by many of Obama's cabinet picks. That said, I think his analysis is by and large on the mark.

It's impossible to quantify, but I think the vast majority of Obama supporters were perfectly clear-eyed about what he is and voted for him for the standard unremarkable reasons -- that they perceived him as better than the alternatives. But there is no question that Obama has inspired among many Democrats a type of deep and intense loyalty that is personal to Obama rather than grounded in policy issues, that many see him as much more than a politician who will make good political decisions. That gives him far more latitude to do what he wants -- far more power -- than the average politician has.

Yes, and I think most of us knew that too, that he has that effect on people. Whether one is personally swayed by it, the cold-blooded observer can easily observe that it's a good trait to have if you want to build political support for what you want to do.

Finally, I think it's important to acknowledge that Obama hasn't done anything yet. BUT - with recent discussions of health care and a 'new' new deal, it's hard for me to really see the point of saying he's not "progressive" enough. Governing means working within the system for incremental change; if he really follows through on some of his recent promises, the result should be rather bold, left-ward shift--maybe not far enough left-ward for some, since it's not Sweden socialism, but great by me.

This post, by Jane Hamshire, which Greenwald links, seems to me quite sensible. The final sentence, which I've italicized, states my own view better than I myself could:

I'm actually modestly sympathetic to his current predicament. There are an awful lot of entrenched interests who will quickly line up to sabotage Obama if they think their privilege is threatened before he's even out of the gate -- we're talking about a group of bitter Beltway denizens, after all, who hamstrung Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter for populating their administrations with "outsiders" simply for the catty, junior high hell of it.

Obama is going to have to keep these vultures somewhat quiescent if he's going to achieve any real change.

His isn't the administration I'd pick, but the proof will be in what he actually does. If for instance he sets up a panel to take on torture, opens up intelligence files and lets the public know how this horrible, malignant policy came to pass, it will go a long way towards assuring people that a choice like Brennan for CIA chief isn't just "business as usual."

Look, for people who convinced themselves that Obama was the second coming of Saul Alinsky -- wake up. He never was. He may, however, be the most progressive person we could have possibly hoped to elect as President of the United States.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to help keep the obstructionists off his back and push him to fulfill his campaign promises to end the war, pass health care legislation and the Employee Free Choice Act, clean up the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, repair our infrastructure, create good jobs and restore the middle class.

It's funny - reading what you wrote Adam I realize, I don't even know how progressive I am. I am now standing so far left of our fascist Bushco government it's hard to tell where the center is. And, I can't believe there wasn't a landslide to get them all out. And then, Palin on the ticket made a possibly nuanced McCain vote just stupid. So, what does it take?

Looking at the excerpt, Adam, I thought this line (from Hamsher - she does FireDogLake) was telling:

He may, however, be the most progressive person we could have possibly hoped to elect as President of the United States.

I know Barack might not have gathered some of the racist votes, but who did the Dems have that would've created a landslide - certainly not Kucinich, the most progressive, not Hillary who is a more progressive voter than Barack - she is still a divisive figure, Edwards would've lost them on morals, so?

And I do like what you italicized....

It's a funny thing - I've been reading Greenwald for a long time and I don't have the impression of him being all that much of a leftist. He seems pretty willing to give a measure of respect to conservatives who believe as he does in the absolute primacy of the rule of law and of the Constitution. A large part of my self identification as a "liberal" these days comes from my revulsion with the Bush administration's utter disrespect for the rule of law and BushCo's ruthless pursuit of power for its own sake above all. The things that Greenwald most emphasizes in his blog are things that I've seen a couple of principled conservatives (Andrew Bacevich and Bruce Fein, for example) agree with Greenwald on the same basis. It is a disgrace that we even debate torture, or the suspension of habeas corpus, or unwarranted wiretapping, or immunization of lawbreaking corporate officers, and all the very fundamental principles the Greenwald writes about so often. My loathing of Republicans most deeply stems from their adoration of Bush's authoritarianism - something which I used to think was not a defining characteristic of "conservatism".

It is true that Greenwald wants us out of Iraq, but I think his most persuasive arguments against the war are (1) the utterly dishonest way that it was sold to the people, (2) the infinitely malleable manner in which the government has been allowed to shift the rationale for the war as it has been conducted, (3) the craven manner in which most of the mainstream media has "reported" on it as it has proceeded, and (4) the war crimes and profiteering that have occurred in carrying the war out. None of these arguments are really about being politically "liberal" - most of them could quite justifiably been leveled at Lyndon Johnson concerning Vietnam (at least Johnson had the decency to carry guilt about it - I doubt that Bush really loses a wink of sleep over his giant Iraq fuckup other than to worry about his poll numbers).

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