"Obama Backers on the Left Are Doing the Wincing Now"
By Paul Street at Jul 14, 2008
Here, pasted in (pretty far) below, is a very sharp and clever column on the Obama phenomenon and its often delusional "left" supporters/participants. The column (titled "Obama Backers on the Left Are Doing the Wincing Now") was written by the Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, himself something of a conservative witha good track record researching and skewering Chicago "Democratic" Party (Daley Machine) politics.
But first four (4) points.
1. I want to share something a progressive Democratic Party activist from the Kansas heartand wrote me the last Friday:
"Tonight on PBS (Jim Leher's show) David Brooks, when asked about the [planned 70,000 strong Denver football stadium] Obama rally, said, Obama took it 'because Mt. Sinai was not available.' He thought the emergence of a person larger than the party and its delegates was narcissistic and a very bad sign. This is one of the rare times I agreed with a conservative. "
"Mark Shields supported it and envisioned a retro of the dead Kennedy brothers on the screen with Ted walking up to the stage slowly and introducing Obama as Kennedy reincarnate, representing a new generation of leaders. Maybe he will reign for a 1000 years!"
2. Adolph Reed, Jr....in 1996! The over- the-top arch-narcissistic hubris and overreach of Obama is less than surprising to me. I was on the South Side of Chicago and was all-too familiar with Illinois state politics when the Harvard-certified know-it-all all centrist neoliberal University of Chicago faux-progressive phenomenon emerged.
Those who cling to the notion of Obama as a “true progressive” whose left and democratic orientation has been “squandered” or carefully hidden thanks to his national political ambitions and/or his political handlers might want to consider an interesting description of the young phenomenon penned by the veteran Left and black political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. just as Obama’s political career began..By Reed’s account, Obama came to the political game with an already advanced and highly cultivated bourgeois taste for incremental change and compromise and accommodation with power. Alternately praised (by moderates) as “pragmatism” and “realism” and reviled (by left progressives and radicals) as “selling out” and “cooptation,” his finely honed centrism was a habit of thought that flowed naturally from his elite socialization in a corporate-neoliberal post-Civil Rights era at privileged private institutions like Columbia, Harvard, and the metropolitan foundations (including the Woods Fund of Chicago and the Joyce Foundation), on whose boards he sat and in whose circles he moved (a rarely noted aspect of Obama’s biography) while he worked as a Chicago lawyer. This is how Reed described the 30-something Obama in early 1996, shortly after the latter one his first election to the Illinois legislature and more than eight years before the world beyond Springfield and the Chicago and Washington money-politics elite discovered the “Obama phenomenon”:
"In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices: one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program – the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle class reform in favoring form over substances. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics here, as in Haiti and wherever the International Monetary Fund has sway."
Source: Adolph Reed, Jr., “The Curse of Community,” Village Voice (January 16, 1996)), reproduced in Reed, Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (New York, 2000).
3. For what it's worth, I started writing about the Obama delusion at the time of national inception, right after the 2004 Keynote Address and have now written a richly detailed historical studyy and action-oriented critique (from the actual Left) of the of the phenomenon and its meaning and context.
Just wait. The nausea level is still low compared to what you'll be feeling in August, November, January and beyond.
4. The sad, slanderous, and vapid trolling of the foolish "socialist" Obamanaut Carl Davidson has now become a routine presence on of my election-related writings at ZNet. He has now branched out to the comments section of Black Agenda Report, where he is getting zero traction with that excellent hard left zine's often sophisticated readers. Can he contain himself from adding his Orwellian two cents to this post? I wouldn't bet on it..
It's interesting to note that Obama has repeatedly shit all over the 1960s radicalism (in his reactionary book The Audacity of Hope and in various other statements of centrist and imperial faith, including one explainng his admiration for Ronald Reagan) that once put Davidson on the map.
I find Davidson's viciously mindless and slanderous harassment richly reflective and emblematic of the signfiicant extent to which the ever more rightward Obama (how about that FISA bill and vote?) phenomenon has encouraged a dangerous form of early onset moral and ideological (and intellectual) dementia among certain segments of the old New Left.
Here's the John Kass column, which provides some excellent context for the rising discomfort of the increasingly exposed "progressives for Obama" crowd:
Obama Backers on the Left are Doing the Wincing Now
By John Kass
July 13, 2008
When Jesse Jackson's Castrato-gate or the Barack Obama Nuts Controversy
or whatever you want to call it erupted last week—as captured by the
hot microphones of Fox News—terrible cries of pain went unnoticed.
Not from Obama, who, as presidential historians will tell us after his
inauguration in January, was the great beneficiary of the rhetorical
(and never actually attempted) Jacksonian castration, and no cries from
Jackson's too busy to shriek. He's suffering the ambition of
African-American politicos eager to replace him as America's race
broker. And he's been hooted down in the style of pre-Revolutionary
France, by white liberals who once feared him, though they no longer
feel compelled to feign interest in Jackson's ridiculous rhymes.
The cries of pain came not from Obama or Jackson but from the American
political left, from scribes and liberal editorial writers and
broadcast analysts and eager bloggers. The true believers who
evangelized that Obama would transcend politics as we knew it are suffering a Barackian hangover.
Greedily, they drained the kegs once full of sweet Obama Kool-Aid,
drained them to the dregs and mopped up the remains with stale crusts.
The inevitable happened—the pain that comes as everything finally becomes clear,in the rosy-fingered light of a terrible dawn.
Obama used them to crush the Clintons, but now the left is finally
realizing it's been betrayed, on issue after issue, with Obama changing
his positions in order to defeat a tired and disillusioned Republican Party in November.
They're at the dance now and he's the one with the keys and he's the
only ride they've got. And they don't like it.
He has flip-flopped again and again, on campaign finance, on government
eavesdropping of overseas phone calls, on gun control and even Iraq.
Future President Obama now says he'll listen to his generals about when
to withdraw. He didn't say he'd listen to the commissars of the
And his cheerleaders are beginning to realize that Obama may not be the
Arthurian knight in shining armor, that he may not be Mr. Tumnus, the
gentle forest faun of our presidential politics. Months after his
inauguration, after he makes Billy Daley the secretary of the treasury
and Michael Daley the secretary of zoning and promotes Patrick
Fitzgerald to become the attorney general of Mars, the political left
may figure out that Obama is a Chicago politician.
"Only an idiot would think or hope that a politician going through the
crucible of a presidential campaign could hold fast to every position,
steer clear of the stumbling blocks of nuance and never make a
mistake," wrote Bob Herbert in The New York Times. "But Barack Obama
went out of his way to create the impression that he was a new kind of
political leader—more honest, less cynical and less relentlessly
calculating than most. . . . Obama is not just tacking gently toward
the center. He's lurching right when it suits him, and he's zigging
with the kind of reckless abandon that's guaranteed to cause
disillusion, if not whiplash."
This panic of the left—particularly among many political media types—is
profoundly instructive to foreigners seeking to understand American
character. The American media elite chose to portray Obama as some kind
of knight in armor. They're analysts. Yet they were desperate to
believe in a political fairy tale from Chicago. Somewhere in this
desperate yearning is an answer.
Obama is not their fool. And he's not weak. He got down on one knee to
the Chicago Democratic Machine and didn't make any waves and asked that
it make him a U.S. senator. He lectured the Africans about political
corruption and kept his mouth shut about corruption in Chicago, and the
national press ignored the inconsistency and pampered and protected
him. He waited and he's ready and now they're worried? Too late, boys
I don't mean to pick on Mr. Herbert, an elegant writer. His is but one
of many voices, stunned on the side of the road, wondering what
happened. I felt the same Kool-Aid hangover, and the same whiplash, but
from the opposite direction years ago, when I was run down in the
middle of a paragraph by a clown car driven by Karl Rove.
The Bush White House became the champion of big government, of big
spending, of Jack Abramoff and of perjury under oath. The clowns boiled
out of the car and I watched them go, taking the Republican Party with
them, dragging it out into the desert, where they'd dug a big hole and
stuffed it with Kool-Aid-addled conservatives.
So I have some sympathy for those on the left when it comes to Obama.
They feel jilted, and the story was of a growing sense of betrayal,
until Rev. Jackson whispered his desire to remove Obama's valuables.
Then the left joined in with the right, and with the viewers of Fox News in the front row—representing those Reagan Democrat votes Obama will need in November—we all pounded Jackson, righteously, in Obama's name.