Obama and Democracy

So, this month has marked some excursions from my ususal commenting grounds. My first comments at Balloon Juice and Lawyers, Guns and Money. Prompted by the shit sandwich that is debt ceiling Super Congress cutty Mc cut cut bullshit deficit OMG deficit - it's not like we're skirting around a fucking double dip recession or worse here. Anywho, what with all that, it's been a pretty Obama-bashing gay old time. And it's probably way too late at this point to clarify my position on Obama for folks who have only seen my nym for teh first time on some HE SOLD US OUT rant, but thinking about itand getting it down into words has been an intersting learning experience for me, so wev.

Firstly - yes, what some anonymous foul-mouthed d00d in Canuckistani land thinks about teh preznit? Who fucking cares? Well, I do. And it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to. Okay, here we go:

Item: As I said over at fish's
I am still very relieved that it's him and not Bomb Iran in teh Oval Office. Or, IPU forbid - Grifter McQuitsalot.
Even if you gone on the assumption that Obama is a corporatist tool, and nothing more, he is still way preferable over JiSM3. And for all you Obamapologists with your President Bachmann ooga-booga-boo! this is what we call "grading on a curve". And it is a crazy curve that yields nothing informative or enlightening. Like when folks tell you that whatever you're being forced to settle for is "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick". Great, thanks. When someone offer to trade me for said eye poking, I'll now know to pass.

Item: I'm not a PUMA. This isn't about Hillary being teh better choice. Ask anyone who knew me from back when I switched to this nym in ought eight. And I'm glad that we've got Barry instead if Hillary, notwithstanding that we'll never really know for sure how Hillary would have done things. LG&M moved onto this question after I decided to write this post but well before I finished it. Anyways, here's what I think about Obama v Hillary.

I'm pretty bullish about Obama on gay rights. Sure he moved really slowly on it, but I really don't know if Hillary would have been better. On DADT, I think she'd have been worse - and not because of Bill, but because she seems even more deferential to teh military than Obama does (IMO - can't be arsed to find back-up). This covers too, Iraq and Afghanistan. It's hard to imagine, but I believe that Obama is the least hawkish of anyone who had a reasonable shot at 2008.

I think HRC might well have pushed harder for HCR. It's hard to imagine someone pushing less than Obama did. Actively berating the people supporting what was then the strongest bit of leverage he had. Even if he was set on flushing teh robust public option, he could have let teh Leftsies rant and rave and shift the Overton and gotten a better price for killing the most effective cost control method being debated at the time.

Ugh, sorry for the Obama bashing diversion - where was I? Right, I think Hillary would have fought harder for HCR, but I also think that with Hillary pushing, the opposition would have fought harder as well. I think we'd probably have ended up with a dead reform bill. Although this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I believe I'm on record as a Kill Bill during HCR Shit Sandwich - not strongly but my feeling was there was too much graft. I seem to recall that my final position was pass the thing anyways, not on its own merits, but to add momentum going into Fin Reg. Yeah, that worked out fan-fucking-tastic. Still, my feelings about the HCR that passed, I'd have to say is it woulda wash if we had Hills instead.

In Hillary's defense, I would say that I'd have been less disappointed by Hillary if we ended up in the same Debt Ceiling Austerity Growth Dada play we're in. Not to say that I didn't expect much from her - for sure her election would have been historic - and coming out of the dark years that marked teh beginning of teh new millenium, anything would have seemed glorious. But not like Barack. d00d just has so much charisma and he so captured the imaginations of not only America, but teh whole world.

Okay, battle with ancient history done with - what's my beef with Obama? There's a bunch of specific things, but I think there's a separate common item to it all. I think teh word for it is establishmentarianism. A strong bias towards those already in power.

Here's teh thing - democracies are only as strong as their institutions, otherwise it's just mob rule. This is why, for example, plebiscites on minority rights are seen as uncouth. "Minority rights" is an institution that is respected in functional democracies. The problem with teh US is that some of those institutions have gained outsized importance - those being the usual suspects - Wall Street, The Military-Industrial Complex, &c..

And my problem with Obama is his whole hearted embrace of that paradigm. Hence the lack of accountability for war crimes. The campaign against whistleblowers. The continued record high deployment fractions of the armed forces. The financial bailouts that favour giant mega corporations over families with tough mortgages. Everything he does now is in this protect-the-hierarchy-and-expand-its-reach mode. HCR favours teh insurance industry and hospitals more than it does the uninsured. The outrage against entitlement program cuts only seem to want to protect Social Security and Medicare, neither of which are means tested (note that I am most definitely NOT endorsing means testing these programs). Medicaid, which is for helping the neediest is fine for chopping.

Even his approach to doing things is different. OFA, that grassroots machine that helped him get elected - practically sat out the first fight and then got mothballed. Everything is decided by small groups of appointees working in the back rooms. He received his transparency in government award in one of those back rooms. But it's this working group or that special Presidential Commission or its Super Congress - twice the authority and about 2% of the membership! Super!

That's the complaint really. What happened to the community organizer? To small donations? To the wide base of motivated volunteers? To listening to the people that worked their assess off three years ago instead of teh Republicans?


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I occasionally visit Balloon Juice to rile the Opologists, meself.

Doesn't matter, their minds are made up. Obama could nuke Iran, and they'll make excuses.

fish said...

Hillary was much more demonstratively eager to drink war blood during the primaries. Turned my stomach. Obama just made me sad. I still have Mike Gravel fantasies (in a totally het way, okay maybe a little gay).