Although many of the TV, radio and print interviews with Max this late summer and early fall, while he has been on tour promoting his recent book, Republican Gomorrah, merely ask the same questions again and again, the LA Times Q&A session, while also reiterating some of what Max has been asked, goes into a lot of new territory.
Max's comments on the current dilemma facing progressives who ardently supported Obama in the 2008 election, and who are now disappointed, are notable. Blumenthal, like me, recognizes the historical nature of Obama's election, but has been concerned about some of the Messianic imagery:
Many liberals projected their own ambitions onto Barack Obama, as if he were a tabula rasa. Some had higher expectations of him than I’d seen of any politician from the Democratic Party.
Some of the followers of Barack Obama during the campaign reminded me of the Christian right, and he used evangelical language to appeal to them, with New Age themes like: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” — which is a phrase introduced originally by Maria Shriver. It’s a Hopi end times prophecy actually. This became a theme of his campaign. I saw his campaign as an illusion that brought together people from all different backgrounds, and actually did create a hopeful vehicle for change.
Progressive Alaska ends up writing both critical and praiseful essays about the President on a weekly basis. PA has also been the most critical of the Alaska progressive blogs toward Sen. Mark Begich, as he, like Obama, has become a centrist's centrist, particularly when handling the issues of outrageously out-of-control corporate lobbyists in DC, and in dealing with the corporations themselves, nation- and worldwide.
Blumenthal, notes that Obama's run to the center in 2009 is far different from the situation Bill Clinton found himslef in, particularly from 1995 on:
[Obama] become the centrist I always expected him to be. And in a different environment than when [President] Clinton was a centrist. Clinton was triangulating in response to a Republican Congress and a right-wing political environment.
Barack Obama is dealing with a progressive moment. He’s being pulled by various forces to the center and even to the right. Those that are disappointed with him should be disappointed with themselves because they’re not demonstrating the same energy that they displayed in propelling him into the White House and making him a historic figure. They’re not propelling his agenda and they’re not pushing him to fulfill any of the promises he made during the campaign. They have a faith in him, but no one should have faith in politicians.
Politicians are there to be pressured.
When asked what drew him to making videos, Blumenthal explains that he has noticed the effect of his YouTubes on a new generation of potential progressive voters:
I originally started doing it to show people what it was like covering this movement. When you read about it, it is almost unfathomable. But when you see it, it becomes undeniable. Seeing is believing.
Beyond that I wanted to distill my work to a younger audience that might even be more politically apathetic, but has intrinsic progressive tendencies.
LA Times: What age were you aiming for?
Any age from zero to 25.
This sort of reporting appeals to them more. They’ve become attracted to my videos. They’ve become really popular among the young audience.
For example, I spoke at University of California Riverside and they created an events page for me on Facebook, titled “Remember the Chicken Hawk Guy?” — referring to my video about the College Republicans.
I showed my videos to the entire high school of Dalton High in New York, and they were cheering and asking provocative questions, even the ninth-graders.
People could be more engaged in politics, if the way it was reported was more interesting and entertaining. At the same time, I want to continue to operate within ethical journalistic parameters.
If Alaska progressives are going to rebuild our Party, we'll need to get more local people like Max out there, covering Alaska GOP insanity, on a more regular basis. Dennis Zaki, Jesse Gryphen, and a few others have been doing investigative videography here. But we need to find ways to support more efforts by young people to get involved, give them examples of how that is to be done, and help them get the tools they need to do the job.
images - Max and Joe the Plumber; Max blowing Brian the Moose a kiss (by AKM)