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Last night, as we all celebrated Obama's victory, giddy out of our minds, everyone was also like, "Don't get me started on how much I am pissed off by Obama."  "Oh, I know I am going to hate a lot of the things he does."  "I can't stand him!"

Mind you, all of these people drove across the country to work on his campaign.  LOL.  

We know him.  We know what to expect from him.  In some way, we know that it is a good thing that he wont pander to us.  We know NO politician is going to please us.  But we also know he is smart, looks at the big picture, is highly disciplined, and very effective.  Which is what we need right now.  And that to elect a black urban intellectual in the political climate of the last 8 years is nothing short of a coup.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 03:04:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's, I think, the mature way to look at it.  And it's why I'm not too concerned.  I know Obama's going to do things that piss me off.  So would anyone else.  Hell, I'd probably do things that'd wind up pissing me off if I were president.  I think the netroots get sidetracked by very minor issues and miss the big picture sometimes, which is understandable for now given that there's no real news at the moment beyond Lieberman's fate (although I do wish Kos would work on getting the troops mounted up for this runoff election in Georgia).  I think Obama's got the brains and discipline to solve, or at least put on a good way down the road to solving, some key problems (health care, energy/climate change, economy), and at the end of the day, that's what's important.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 03:22:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe. But the bigger picture is that he's vulnerable to the press hyenas, and if he doesn't deliver substantial change - not just more Clinton-ish DLC-driven triangulation, but something fresh and different - there's a real danger of his fans deciding that he has screwed them over.

Which means that in 2012 they will vote for the other guy or gal, who will, undoubtedly, be far worse as a president.

Obama didn't win this time because he was black or because people liked his policies. He won because enthusiasm for a change mobilised volunteers on a scale that has never been seen before in US politics.

His political chances are completely dependent on those volunteers, and he can't afford to lose even 20% of them. His usual 'I realise we're going to disagree about some things' spiel is only going to take him so far - people are going to be expecting real improvements in their security and living standards.

If they get to 2012 and look back thinking 'Actually - that was kind of a Blair experience' he's toast, and the supposed massive national realignment and permanent Democratic majority will evaporate into nothing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 03:34:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also to add - just once, I would like a leader who chooses to pander to us and not the usual people who've been pandered to for decades now.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 03:36:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama's dependency on his activist support base is crucial.  If he sells them out he's just another establishment toady who will be sucked up and spat out by the military/industrial/financial complex.  He actually needs an ongoing level of tension with the establishment to keep his support base mobilised. Once he is accepted by the establishment as a reasonable centrist who won't ham their interests the raison d'etre of his support base is destroyed.  And once his base is destroyed the establishment can do what they like with him - he will have become their pawn - like a Samson with no hair and no independent source of strength.

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 03:48:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would argue that your characterization of Obama is does not reflect reality.

Barack Obama is an establishment politician.  I know, I know people do not want to hear that, but he is.  He always has been.  People can believe what they choose, but the facts are undeniable.  Non-establishment politicians are not surrounded by the David Axelrods and Rahm Emmanuels of the world.  Obama is an exceptional establishment politician.  But he's not grassroots.  I'm sorry.  He has used the grassroots community every step of the way to achieve his goals, but he's never shown any kind of tribalism or loyalty to them.  His entire history is one of disappointing people who thought he was the champion of their cause.  He did it at the Harvard Law Review.  I have a friend who wrote policy papers for him during his Senate race, and after Obama won, was replaced with Daschle's people.  

Also, this support base you speak of is mythical.  There is not one base of support.  It should be clear from looking at the electoral maps that his support is heterogeneous.  It includes leftist progressives and Rockefeller Republicans, the GLBT community, and a homophobic African American constituent, it is grassroots citizens and Washington insiders.  He's a human Rorschach test.  Everyone except McCain supporters believes they are his base.  Now, if you are Barack Obama, how do you please your base?  Because your base does not even agree with itself!  So instead of cherry-picking ideological tribes to pander to, I think he should make decisions based on his own wisdom and how effectively they will make America a more safe, prosperous and just nation.  And that's all he's promised.  And that is all I expect from him.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 04:50:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but the point I'm making and Frank is making is that he needs all of that base. It doesn't matter that it's not just the netroots - who remain the DLC's useful idiots in the same way that the Christian fundiegelicals are useful idiots for the repubs.

What matters is that if he doesn't live up to at least some of his promise in an obvious way, his support will crumble and the next cycle will go to whatever foetid creeping thing crawls out from the far right.

He may have screwed over supporters before, but the country as a whole is too big to screw over, and he doesn't have the luxury of doing that again. His charisma buys him some breathing space, but there has to be some delivery and pay off too - he's not going to be able to fool all of the people all of the time.

As for trusting his wisdom - why? Things will get better or they won't. Wisdom isn't the issue - results are.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 05:23:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's what really scares the "centre right" Gopers who are now arguing he must betray his base and govern in a bipartisan manner from the centre.  They know how much he depended on his diverse base to get him elected and that they will now expect him to deliver on at least part of the agenda he promised them.  His base has become a real obstacle to the normal process of house-training politicians in the ways of the elite.

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 05:31:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He can't please his entire base all the time.  Like you said, our coalition is now much too diverse for that.  It's why he's got to stick to big-picture stuff and not get bogged down in this or that issue that only matters to a small group.

That said, he owes the GLBT community.  His failure to come out more clearly against Prop 8, among other problems, allowed the Mormons and their allies to prey on ignorance of the legislation in minority communities, especially among black folks (and to a lesser extent Latinos).  There's clearly an issue of homophobia among them.  We've known that for years, and leaders who are minorities have talked at length about it for a long time.

They need to step up and make this the civil rights issue it so clearly should be, so that we can throw this stupid ban out in two years.  Obama, Jesse Jack Jr, Bill Richardson, the mayor of Los Angeles, Cory Booker -- they all need to fix this.  Starting, like, now.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 11:44:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a diary on Kos that shows that there aren't enough black voters in California for them to be responsible for Prop. 8...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 03:12:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Link?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 03:47:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
link

Warning : story has about 2000 comments.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 04:43:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's close, but that's probably true.  Blacks are only 6% of Californians.  Latinos (36%) and Asians (12%) are the dominant minority groups.

If blacks had voted against it in the same proportion as Latinos (53%) or even whites (50%), it still would've failed.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Nov 9th, 2008 at 01:26:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that there isn't any evidence that Obama will do that. He will pander to the establishment. Indeed, I think his presidency will be very similar to that of Bush except in terms of image and actual imperial effectiveness ... Bush's main problems were, of course, poor image and incompetence as an imperial manager. Obama will do more or less exactly the same things as Bush, except he'll look better and he might do them in a cleverer fashion. That actually makes Obama much worse for the rest of the world than Bush would have been. At least Bush was driving the US right over a cliff twenty years before true imperial decline was scheduled to take the country down.
It is very depressing to see the extent to which Obama's campaign has been able to blind intelligent people across the globe. This is a man bought and paid for by Wall Street and AIPAC who has done nothing but mouth the words 'hope' and 'change'. His actual decisions to date belie those words.
As for Frank's contention in one of the comments here that Obama's proposed shift of military focus to Afghanistan is merely some sort of political ruse to enable him to disengage militarily from both Iraq and Afghanistan -- forget it. Obama will keep the military in both places and it will remain there until the money is gone or the respective local resistance movements and/or their allies inflict defeat on the US military (which they will do, in the end). I for one hope they manage it Teutoburger Wald-style (don't laugh - William Lind thinks Iran could do it to us forces in Iraq.)
by wing26 on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 06:05:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi wing26.  Why would any rational imperial leader want to remain in Afganistan?

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 06:27:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Frank. Well, I think your question shows part of the problem here. You already assume that Obama is 'rational' simply because he looks and sounds it in comparison to Bush (and a whole lot of other recent US presidents). But that does not mean he is exempt from the run-of-the-mill delusions that plague American politics. Principal among these is that the US really is some fantastic military power and can do whatever it wants militarily.
But I do not want to enter into a discussion of what 'rationality' might mean in a US political context. For what it's worth, I think nearly all US mainstream political leaders are insane (as in disconnected from reality, unable to understand reality's limits). Below, Jake mentions Putin. The difference between Obama and Putin is that Putin is probably already an order of magnitude more realistic simply by virtue of not being an American.
The real point is what Obama has said about Afghanistan. Basically, he said 'Screw Iraq, Afghanistan's the good war and that's where we're going!' Now I do not think this is at all able to square with some sort of strategic withdrawal. If the populist angle mattered at all (which it doesn't), Obama would have said, 'I know you're all sick of bullshit wars, so I'm bringing our troops home, especially from Afghanistan, which is strategically pointless.' And with as little faith as I have in Americans, I think that would have gone over a treat. But that isn't what he said at all. He is on record as saying he will increase the US military commitment to Afghanistan.
We all know that politicians lie to get elected, but the lies are usually positive ones. They don't usually promise to keep fighting a stupid, immoral, unwinnable war that is unpopular domestically, unless they are actually dumb enough to mean it. And I submit that Obama, despite how suave he appears, is dumb enough.
If Obama told any lies to get himself elected, they were the 'hope and change' ones, not the 'We're staying in Afghanistan' ones.
by wing26 on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 12:21:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama will do more or less exactly the same things as Bush, except he'll look better and he might do them in a cleverer fashion. That actually makes Obama much worse for the rest of the world than Bush would have been. At least Bush was driving the US right over a cliff twenty years before true imperial decline was scheduled to take the country down.

While I largely agree with the premise, I disagree vehemently with the conclusion. I'd much, much rather have a smart emperor running a nuclear power than a drooling moron. "Desperate, flailing implosion" is not a qualifier that's designed to make me sleep soundly when applied to empires with enough megatons to scorch every major city on the planet five times over.

I think the US just got rid of a Yeltsin and replaced him with a Putin. Yes, it means that the US will be more powerful, just as Putin has made Russia more powerful. But I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that humanity is worse off with Putin than with Yeltsin.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 09:48:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For Chechens, Putin was no improvement over Yeltsin, not at all. For Afghanis and Iraqis, Obama may not be one, either.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 10:18:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chechnya did actually cross my mind when I wrote it. And yes, being a more effective emperor will mean that he will be more effective at making life miserable for those he decides to make life miserable for.

But I don't think he'll be making life miserable for quite as many people.

Obviously, the world would be a better place without emperors. But until that happy day, I'd much prefer smart emperors over stupid ones.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 11:02:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I prefer Mussolini over Hitler.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 11:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Before the above is misunderstood as an analogy between Hitler and Obama or Putin (pace poemless), I should make my argument explicit.

You'll notice that I have't argued that Putin was worse than Yeltsin for the majority of the citizens of Russia, or even for EU-Russia relations. Indeed I do not think so. But I won't draw a general conclusion from this specific example. I brought up Hitler and Mussolini to counter JakeS's general claim.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 02:32:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Point taken.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 04:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A case could certainly be made that Hitler wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer either.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 04:31:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We need to draw a distinction between delusional and reality based leaders.  Hitler and the neo-cons were both delusional to a degree, failing to see almost no limits to their own power and no bases for the power of their opponents.  These guys are ultimately defeated when their  delusions are defeated by reality - but often at great cost.  

Putin and Obama, I would argue are realists by comparison.  They have a more sober appreciation of the limits of their own power and the reasons why others might oppose them.  They are more amenable to negotiated solutions taking both their interests and those of their competing powers into account.  They can build on common interests rather than polarising situations to such a degree that only extreme force - on either side - can resolve the conflict of interest.

Obama may not be a starry eyed idealist who will bring peace in our time overnight.  But neither would he start stupid wars, and or re-polarise situations that are starting to find a relative level of stability.  That is  huge improvement on where we have been, and I will take it for the moment.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 9th, 2008 at 09:29:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that distinguishing between delusional and sane leaders is a better split than between dumb and smart ones.

OTOH, while being smart does not guarantee that one is not delusional, there is a point where dumb and delusional become virtually indistinguishable.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 9th, 2008 at 12:16:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's dumb and dumb. I don't think Bush would ever have nuked the world or gone up against the Russians even as his empire went straight down the vortex of the bog. McCain ... hard to say, the man's got 'issues'.
But anyway, in general terms you are wrong. See, the rest of the world doesn't want a competent imperial manager for the US. We want an incompetent one, because such people are easier to beat. Bush, being a fool, did immense damage to the US imperium. I hate the US imperium, and I hope to live long enough to see the US itself reduced to the point where it is accorded the same international interest and respect as, say, New Zealand (i.e. pretty much none. I initially wrote 'Zimbabwe', but Zimbabwe still gets a lot of attention through mere notoriety). But it was only fifty-fifty, until Bush came along and did such sterling work. Believe me, ten years ago I would never have imagined seeing the US in such poor shape. (Now I expect the US to be essentially defunct before I retire, not a decade after I'm dead). Now, the only reason people still pay attention is because they haven't realized the place is doomed. (We got six pages of Obamania in our newspapers after he got elected ... and I live in Asia! What is this crap?)
Hopefully, Obama is so constrained by institutional interests that he'll be functionally stupid as President, no matter how intelligent he may be otherwise ... in fact, it's a given. We see it already. Look after Wall Street and Israel before he's even in the White House. Hope and change? Maybe. For the US's enemies, that is.
by wing26 on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 12:36:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush did immense damage to the US empire, not the least by bogging it down in Iraq. Though in principle probably many iraqis agree that the end of the US empire is a good thing, they would have prefered the US empire not bogging itself down in their country. In the same way I suspect most afghaniis could have done without bringing down either evil empire.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 8th, 2008 at 08:49:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But even if Bush/McCain hadn't nuked the world, they could have done immense damage. An invasion of Iran, another clumsy attempt or two at installing puppet dictators in South America... there's no end to the amount of mischief those crazies were getting themselves into.

I think - and at this point a guess is all we have - that Obama has greater mental flexibility than Bush/McCain on the subject of foreign policy. Read: He'll be able to understand and more or less accept when a country has clearly and unequivocally left the US sphere of interest.

Bush/McCain seemed to have no willingness to concede loss of territory. And if you have a major power trying to enforce its will on what is clearly another major power's turf... Bad Things Happen. Think Georgia or Lebanon. Or a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, for that matter.

Yes, a US empire that flails out desperately at a variety of lost causes would weaken itself faster than a US empire that cuts its losses and manages more or less orderly retreats from its former colonies... But flailing about would hurt a lot of people on the way.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 9th, 2008 at 06:27:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wing26:
See, the rest of the world doesn't want a competent imperial manager for the US. We want an incompetent one, because such people are easier to beat. Bush, being a fool, did immense damage to the US imperium. I hate the US imperium, and I hope to live long enough to see the US itself reduced to the point where it is accorded the same international interest and respect as, say, New Zealand (i.e. pretty much none.

By the logic of this argument, we should all have been rooting for a Palin Presidency.  The problem is that if the US is reduced to the influence of a New Zealand, the likelihood is not that we will have lots of New Zealand type countries in the world living in peace and harmony with one another, but a world dominated by China, Russia, Islamic countries or multinational corporations of no particular national loyalty - something which may be happening anyway.

A uni-polar world order leads to unparalleled hubris and arrogance, and I a glad that era is drawing to a close.  But a multi-polar world order -in the absence of strong International legal institutions - could be even more unstable.  We have to be careful about what we build to prepare the unipolar system - and the cataclysmic decline of the US is not guaranteed to give us a better world.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 9th, 2008 at 09:40:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the US just got rid of a Yeltsin and replaced him with a Putin.

Agreed.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Nov 10th, 2008 at 12:21:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
....maybe a Putin with an Idealism transplant...?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 08:07:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Replacing a delusional with a realist is a good start even for the present.  But visionary realists also plan for the long term which is an even better start.  You don't have to be an "impractical idealist" to make some very good decisions for the future.  You should know!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 08:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming that his idealism isn't for the sole benefit of the cameras. We don't know that yet. His idealism could exceed what he felt safe to campaign on... or it could fall far short of what he thought opportune to campaign on.

I'd never even heard about the guy before he started campaigning, and I always take election campaigns with a largish grain of salt, so I don't think I'm qualified to comment on how much of his program he's actually serious about.

He might surprise us and turn out to be a Gorbachev. He might disappoint us and turn out to be a Bliar. But right now, I think he looks like a Putin.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Nov 12th, 2008 at 10:45:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know enough about these Russians personalities to be able to comment but it might be instructive to revisit this thread in 6 months to see if opinions have changed.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 08:12:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2008 at 03:42:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Furthermore you'll have the Palinites pushing fascism and world conquest in order to reclaim America's rightful place in the world.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 08:14:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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