Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 04:35:52 PM EST
Last night, in the OT, I linked to some pithy criticisms of the perceived lack of achievement by the Obama administration. This led to an interesting discussion and Izzy kept coming back to a single question, "What good does it do to keep criticising Obama personally ?". It's a fair question and deserves a considered answer.
Of course, I have form here dating back to 2007 where I warned;-
But it's different for Obama, they believe in him: And he can't deliver on those expectations; nobody really could, but he won't even try. Items already announced, such as a bigger military really will make things worse. And where do progressives go then ? It isn't despair that hurts; you can live without expectations. It's hope that will break you, every time.
Fran noted at the Paris meeting that ET-ers are mostly all of "an age", not necessarily how many growth rings are in our heads, but a seen-it-all-before, won't-get-fooled-again attitude that looks at politicians with a hard-eyed reality. It was her observation that, conversely, Obama supporters, those who truly bought "the audacity of hope", are the ones who are most fired with enthusiasm and are consequently the ones must susceptible to disillusion.
Maybe I'll be wrong and Obama will confound our Old-Europe cynicism, but if he doesn't then it may be the progressives, the one real hope for America, who disintegrate under the burden of disappointment. And that, not another failed Presidency, will be the real disaster for America
Of course the cheap response to the question is to suggest the questioner must be happy and content with what has been achieved. I know, I've seen the diaries listing Obama's accomplishments and it can seem like a lot, even if to other eyes, it ain't exactly a hill o' beans. And really, it can seem like it's a lot but actually, no. But, to echo somebody wiser than me, that's a riposte, not an answer.
Jay Smooth got to the heart of what the question is really about here when he said ;-
"there is a difference between the "what they did" conversation and the "what they are" conversation
when I'm chasing down a thief who stole my wallet, I'm not doing it so I can sit him down and worry about what made him like that, I'm chasing his sorry ass so's I can get my wallet back
focus on the part that matters,holding each person accountable for the impact of their words and actions. I don't care what you are, I care about what you did
I guess that's the problem. Obama asked us to hold him to account on his promises and, believe me, those promises, despite our reservations here, were mighty fine things and wonders to behold. However, having led everyone up the mountain of dreams, when he doesn't even really try to make things happen in the way he led everyone to expect, the hurt such discouragements create mean that, in trying to understand what happened, conversations will sometimes stray from the "what he did" towards the "what he is" one.
But, as you ask, what does this constant sniping achieve ? For want of a better way to put it I suppose it's a way to turn the disappointment into something productive, even if it's just a diagnosis of what motivations Obama might have for following a path so divergent from that expected. Where, if they can go from finding what makes Obama tick, they can find the magic word, phrase or trigger that will put a spark up his arse. Cos they've gone past "what he did" really quickly and are now deep into the land of "what he didn't do". They can't believe the passivity, the absence of leadership. Of going from "No-Drama Obama" to "Low bar Obama". People thought there was more to Hope than just being better than Bush.
They've tried saying "you can do this by circumvent the Senate like ...., you can do that by Presidential dictat" and got nowhere. They've even recognised the truth of such diagnoses that suggested Obama had no plan for or even appetite for the Change America needed or wanted, that he was more of a "steady as she goes" pilot who just carried on from where the previous incumbent left him, trimming here, or balancing there, than an agent of Change. It was just a shame that Change had been his message and now people are getting disheartened and embittered that they ever allowed themselves to believe.
I fully concede that this attitude is a problem. November is coming and there is no upside to Democratic losses in the Senate; yet, as you say, this lack of enthusiasm, this carping from the sidelines, could be counter-productive in making those losses inevitable.
Yet I would contend that those losses were going to happen anyway. Obama's victory was always going to be the high water mark of Democratic advance given the amount of energy and sheer willpower driving him home, and the numbers in both Senate and Congress were always going to be heading down from that point. So, if Obama was going to achieve anything it was going to be in the first two years and that would set the agenda for the next two or more years of Democratic domination of the governmental process.
Which is why it's disheartening that, given all the advantages and the urgency, they have got so little for their pains. America needed to reverse the ratchet of conservatism, that incremental slide, year by year, to the right needed to be reversed where they could cancel out and nullify some of the worst excesses of everything back to Reagan. Sure you couldn't get rid of it all, but you needed to set out the stall of what you were about so you can make things happen. But Obama hasn't even stopped it, he's just slowed it down a bit. And come November, the Republican tide, however weak and less than expectation, will surely wipe away all those "gains" because if the Democrats can't do anything with what they have, they'll have no will to resist when they have less.
It's the poverty of ambition that has broken progressive hearts. And that's the real reason people are bitching. Senate majority or filibuster be damned, they all know so much more could have, should have been achieved. Obama had a generational opportunity to set the agenda, to make things different and set a new path. If he had delivered on "Hope" by starting to make "Change" happen, right now things would be so different out among the volunteers. But he's squandered the opportunity because he didn't really try; and that's why we're busting his chops.