Sunday, November 20, 2011

An Attempt to Answer a Question on My Hesitancy Regarding Obama - Updated

At the previous post here,  "Time for a 'Mic Check' Moment with Obama," an anonymous commenter asked a fair question.  I'll try to answer it as fairly:

I'm with you re the "mic" check of President Obama, and your response to Rahm Emanuel's speech is on target. 
Nevertheless, I'm wondering.... You have written post after post after post lambasting Obama, thus conveying your writhing contempt for the man.
I've lambasted Obama, as I have every President of the United States since Lyndon Baines Johnson.  The term "writhing contempt" is highly inaccurate and unfair.  What have I written about this president that was untrue? 
So, I'm asking you to name a progressive--just one--who would have done a better job by now. Not a fantasy candidate such as Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kuchinch, or Elizabeth Warren--an actual, viable person who could have taken the job and run with it in a first term to solve the nation's problems and to undo the damage inflicted by eight the years of the Cheney/Bush regime. You mentioned Howard Dean above. Would Dean be a successful president at this point?
Dr. Dean may have been more successful as chief executive, but he would never have been elected.  The media would have treated him with far more disdain than they did Obama. 

It has become almost impossible for a real liberal or progressive such as the late Sen. Paul Wellstone to rise to the top tier of presidential aspirations through our two-party system.  Obama had to raise hundreds of millions to be elected, and then had to surround himself with staffers and a cabinet who would get more.  He now has to raise over a billion to get re-elected, and will have to make more shady deals like those that led to killing the UN climate forum in Copenhagen, relaxation of ozone pollution standards, going ever so light on BP re the Gulf, rejecting a cluster bomb treaty, and so forth.
It seems to me that so-called progressives might be part of the problem. Aside from seizing every opportunity to voice displeasure with Obama and indict him as "just another G.W. Bush," what have progressives really done to advance an agenda that the president can adopt as policy? 
During the health care debate, hundreds of thousands of us tried.   His staff, more concerned with continued campaign financial support from the health care and insurance industries than with playing LBJ-style hardball with congress, flipped us off.  On many environmental issues, we are making proposals that would be workable with full-blown White House support that included heavy duty arm-twisting on congress.
I'd say not much, because of infighting and disarray in their own ranks.
 Please provide a specific example of how that came down.
Progressives simply can't get their act together, beyond being the voice of doom and gloom. 
In my view, we only have a short time remaining in which to reduce CO2 emissions radically.  By the mid-2020's, the oceans will no longer be able to sustain life-producing environments as they have for hundreds of thousands of years.  2/3 of the planet's human population will then simply die off over a couple of devastating generations, during which time wars like we have never known will rage, further polluting the earth.

Playing two-party politics as we plummet to that point seems absurd.  And awfully immoral.

You may call this "doom and gloom," but thousands of scientists - more every day - agree with this assessment.
To my mind, it's significant that Matt Yglesias, who has left Think Progress for Slate, expressed a weariness with intra-progressive differences in his farewell blog post at TP.
Since you seem to have all the answers here at Progressive Alaska, isn't it about time for you to toss your hat in the ring and run for president yourself?
I've been asked several times over the past 33 years to run for the Alaska Legislature.  So has my wife.  We've passed.

I'm 65, enjoy my work as a music educator, performer, composer and community volunteer.  I serve on three boards now, down from five. 

In 2008, my wife and I donated thousands of dollars to Democratic Party candidates, donated several hundred dollars to Obama's campaign, and hundreds of volunteer hours to him, as we opened up our house for weeks to his enthusiastic young campaign workers for their quarters and meals.

Now, my anonymous friend to whom I've responded, tell me why you think it is time for me to materially support this particular lesser of two evils?

He really doesn't seem to want my support, anyway.  I've responded to over 100 emails from his various fundraising arms, and have gotten no answers to any of my questions.  (I think they just wanted my check or credit card number.  What do you think?)

The GOP crop of clowns is so pathetic your dog or mine could do a better, or at least less harmful job, of running the country.  Barring something we don't know about yet, Obama will be president of the USA until January 20th, 2017.

Update:  Thanks for some of the civil comments.  I hope Peggy in OH, to whom this post is a response, feels better soon.

Don't you love it when somebody comes over here from another blog's commenters, and then writes:
I truly pity the people around you that have to stomach your continuous bile.
 followed by:
do your children hate you, do you have a teeny dick? What has made you such a foul individual?
 ... followed by more, uh, I guess one might call it "bile."

Nutzola, eh.....?

Gotta say, that and some of the other comments from Obama worshippers commenting here over the past few weeks remind me of this Onion video from the week after the November 2008 election:

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are


Anonymous said...

I'm with you Phil.

I was never as blindly enamored of President Obama as many of my friends, although I did vote for him with more pleasure than I have felt for a candidate in a long time.

When he was elected so decisively that the vote could not be manipulated, I was sure he would take advantage of the situation with some forward steps that he had been given the power and the people's backing to do.

My first 'uh oh' was his surrounding himself with some of the same people I saw as being a big part of the problem (Summers? -- Geez) and then doing the soft shoe instead of issuing a Trumanesque order re: Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

He had the background and the backing to understand and relate more fairly to the 99percent.

Instead, in my mind, he has shown himself to be another warmongering millionaire in the White House albeit one of color who loves his wife and his children.

Those who continue to bleat that you shouldn't criticize him remind my of my first husband's relatives who, upon hearing me comment negatively about President Reagan sternly told me that just because I had the freedom to say bad things about the president didn't mean that it wasn't treasonous to do so.

I will continue to vote and be a registered Democrat because I want a real voice in the elections however tiny it might be. But, once again, I'll be holding my nose and voting for the lesser of two evils.

In my opinion, Obama was given a mandate by the people and instead of being a leader, he played go along to get along and as a result he squandered his opportunity to make real change.

Will he be re-elected? Probably. But, unless he does an about face, he'll never be able to regain the advantage he had.

And, for many of us, he will never have our unhesitating trust and hope again. Once bitten...

For all that, it doesn't seem like he cares.

After all, if corporations are people, who cares what we little people think?

And, to those 'progressives' who attack you for pointing out the nakedness of the Commander in Chief, I have one question..... why is it so important to you that everyone agree with you?

Like proselytizing churchgoers, could it be that you aren't as secure in your own opinions and beliefs as you would like us to think you are?

Keep up the good work, Phil. There are more of us who agree with you and appreciate your willingness to speak out than you know.


Anonymous said...

PM, I saw that comment and appreciate your intellectually honest response. I agree w the above commenter and wonder what flavor of Koolaid people are drinking when they say "no one gives a shit what you think" in the comments on blogs.


Are we supposed to group think? Not question or disagree? Not try to persuade?

I think the flavor is Sour Grapes because people are pointing out the errors, trying to hold him accountable and try to get the President to work for the people people, not the corporation people.

Anonymous said...

Hillary Time

Anonymous said...

>>The term "writhing contempt" is highly inaccurate and unfair.

Actually Phil, it isn't inaccurate at all, and who said life was fair?

You are one of the most, if not the most negative blogger, out there. You never say anything positive about President Obama, ever, so your entire premise is shot to hell since you have no credibility as a result.

You seem hellbent on demonizing one of the most brilliant presidents of my lifetime and I'm as old as you are, so I know what I'm talking about.

Your posts are so toxic, with nothing positive to offer, just a lot of bitching and moaning. I can well understand why the poster wrote what they did, you DO come across that way.

In many ways you are no better than Sarah Palin, throwing bombs on the sidelines, with no accountability whatsoever, while you slander a man's character and honor on a daily basis. A man who exponentially contributed far more than you will ever contribute to this country.

I agree with the poster, and you can whine about it not being fair, but you EARNED IT, so own it and take responsibility for how you come across. Most people find you to be a cranky old man with little to add to the conversation, which is why you get very little traffic and have to sneak out and plant your hate on other people's blogs.

Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

"You have written post after post after post lambasting Obama, thus conveying your writhing contempt for the man."

Well, yeah. You have. Own it.

You - "..."writhing contempt" is highly inaccurate and unfair. What have I written about this president that was untrue?"

'Writhing contempt' is kind. I'd go with rude and disrespectful. Nastiness thinly disguised as sophisticated intellectually-stimulating sarcasm and snark.

You are writing position statements. Op-eds. You are not reporting fact-based journalistic analysis.

It's difficult to understand _point of view_, personal opinion, rhetoric, when points are slathered with mean-spirited and inflammatory statements of personal condemnation. It requires one to glove up and dig through slimy garbage to get at the substance; optimistic that there IS substance somewhere. It's often too distasteful and more investment than it's worth to find that pearl of wisdom.
I have done. I wanted to understand _why_ you think what you do. Mostly all I could come up with were grains of sand. I felt cheated. Ripped off.

Truth? Isn't that a tad arrogant? Opinion doesn't necessarily equate to truth. Opinion may or may not be based on factual detail. But in your case, it's hard to tell.
I don't know what you think about American foreign policy in Libya, or what resolution you think possible to Israel/Palestine conflict, or Yemen. All I can tell is that you don't 'like' President Obama. In a deeply personal way.

But no. Barack Obama does not kill children and wants to kill more. This is not true. It's not a question of semantics or metaphor or word choice. It's simply not true.

Nice choice of photo. It's the most neutral photo of Barack Obama you've ever posted.
This man is just a guy. Elected to presidential office by the citizen voters of the United States. You'll have another chance to vote for the candidate of your choice shortly. And either way, Barack Obama WILL leave office at some point.
But please. Valley Republicans are supporting Herman Cain with enthusiasm and vigor. Please don't waste that vote.

Philip Munger said...

anon @ 6:13 am ---

"In many ways you are no better than Sarah Palin, throwing bombs on the sidelines, with no accountability whatsoever"

Love the irony, I do.

I sign every post here that I write. My car has been vandalized. I've been followed. My phone number, which I've had for 17 years, is listed in the book. You can find my physical address on google.

I get creepy phone calls all the time. It was once from Vic Kohring's bots, when I wrote op-eds or music criticizing him in the 90s. Then it was from creationists, when I helped keep them mostly off our school board. Then it was from people on Ziocaine, when I wrote favorably about Rachel Corrie. Then it was from Bush Zeaolots, after I wrote "Two Rivers." Then it was from Palin zombies, when I wrote over 400 articles here and elsewhere critical of her politics and policies (while trying mostly - unlike some, to avoid the subject of her kids).

Now it is the pro-Usabelli coal people, sometimes three or more calls per day, as I make an increasingly public stand against Wishbone Hill Mine.

And you have the nerve to anonymously accuse me of "throwing bombs on the sidelines, with no accountability. whatsoever."

Get a grip.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that's true. You are not anonymous. You are right out there.

Your "hesitancy regarding Obama"?

There's nothing "hesitant" about your opinions. Do you see genuinely see yourself and your literary offerings as "hesitant"?
No, friend, everything you post is quite brave. You say what you think and I admire that. I agree with NONE of it, but I can still say that.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Chait (NY Mag): …. Here is my explanation: Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president …. they compare Obama with an imaginary president – either an imaginary Obama or a fantasy version of a past president.

…. His single largest policy accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, combines two sweeping goals that Democrats have tried and failed to achieve for decades. Likewise, the Recovery Act contained both short-term stimulative measures and increased public investment in infrastructure, green energy, and the like. The Dodd-Frank financial reform, while failing to end the financial industry as we know it, is certainly far from toothless, as measured by the almost fanatical determination of Wall Street and Republicans in Congress to roll it back.

Beneath these headline measures is a second tier of accomplishments carrying considerable historic weight (see article for list)

…. Of the postwar presidents, only Johnson exceeds Obama’s domestic record, and Johnson’s successes must be measured against a crushing defeat in Vietnam. Obama, by contrast, has enjoyed a string of foreign-policy successes ….

So, if Obama is the most successful liberal president since Roosevelt, that would make him a pretty great president, right?

Anonymous said...

You truly are a joke, Phil. A small minded, whining crybaby. You have nothing going for you so you have to bash a good and honorable man on a daily basis.

What is wrong with your life that you have to project such negative barbs at most everything. You are a small little man with a hugely blown up ego acting like you make a difference in the world. Ha! Only in your mind.

And it doesn't take any 'nerve' to point of the obvious that any of us can see clearly that you really aren't any better than Sarah Palin the way you constantly berate and bash the president of the United States.

I challenge you to take your head out of your arrogant ass and list 10 things that you ARE happy about our president. You won't be able to do it since you are so entrenched in your thinking.

I truly pity the people around you that have to stomach your continuous bile, it must be pretty disgusting after awhile to listen to you.

What made you so unhappy in life that you never have a kind thing to say? Were you abused in your childhood, do your children hate you, do you have a teeny dick? What has made you such a foul individual? It must have been pretty big, for you to have turned out the way you have...nasty, nasty, nasty.

I'd feel sorry for you if you weren't such a flaming asshole. Why not try something new and GET OFF BARACK'S BACK. What would you do if you couldn't attack and demean someone? Who would you be if you didn't have all this psychological torture inside of you?

The mark of a man is in how he treats others. You, sir, are miniscule and pretty pathetic. On the other hand, President Obama is hugely gracious, intelligent, humble, heartful and highly effective. Something you will never be, and that bugs the living shit out of you doesn't it, little insignificant man?

And that's why you have to attack, to try to make yourself feel better about your own failings. So sad.

You're an extremely troubled man, Phil, you might want to seek some professional help.

You're a vert triyk

Philip Munger said...

"Your "hesitancy regarding Obama"?"

--- hesitancy means that I may vote for him, may not. I would NOT vote for any of the current or likely potential GOP candidates.

Hesitancy means that I cannot imagine donating to his campaign, either in $$$ or time, unlike 2008, when without any hesitation both my wife and I gave a lot of both. She feels the same reluctance I do, BTW, and there's a lot politically upon which we do not agree.

Philip Munger said...

Don't you love it when somebody comes over here from another blog's commenters, and then writes:

"I truly pity the people around you that have to stomach your continuous bile."

followed by:

"do your children hate you, do you have a teeny dick? What has made you such a foul individual?"

... followed by more, uh, I guess one might call it "bile."

Nutzola, eh.....?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you. I worked as hard as anyone to get Obama elected and as they say the disappointment is large. Is being the lesser of two evils enough to rally the troops. I'm just not that bad is not a great campaign slogan. But with the rethuglican clown car rattling along it looks like Obama will be re-elected. I am getting ready to go to Occupy rallies in Oakland, LA, and Tucson. Got my old field jacket packed, and am ready to stand in solidarity with the 99%. I will give you a call from them.

Anonymous said...

It comes down to campaign donations? What?
You live in a far different world than I do.
I do not give MONEY to campaigns. Ever.
The only exceptions were Bob Poe and Scott McAdams.
I'll volunteer time. I'll get involved. But I will not pay for it.

First of all, I can't afford to. NO ONE in this state who lives paycheck to paycheck paying for children, can afford to pay politicians to run for office.

Second, I'm jaded and bitter. It should not be about money. But if it is - and it is - my tawdry little personal sacrifice ain't gonna make a damn bit of difference if they don't have some deep pocket funders behind them.

How could you even pretend to consider voting for a man whom you believe seeks to kill children? That makes no sense at all.

Anonymous said...


Your "anonymous friend" here.

Thank you for the thoughtful, extensive reply to my comments--I truly appreciate your taking the time. Also too, I'm grateful that you didn't call attention to my misspelling of Kucinich :).

I wish to accept your invitation to respond to points you've made here, but I'm under the weather today. (Not a cop-out, honest. I frequently have these spells.) May I ask for a rain check?

Peggy in OH

Philip Munger said...

Peggy in OH,

Get well soon. Thanks!

clark said...

yeah... i will go to the voting booth a year from now and mark the ballot for obama, like the good, obedient democrat i am. but i will be doing it for the sake of the supreme court, and hardly anything else. i'm somewhat conflicted, being reluctant to say out president is a bad person necessarily... maybe nobody could shine, or have an impact under the circumstances?

i can also see the folly of pretending that kucinich, sanders, wellstone and the like are 'fantasy candidates'. as i age i am shaking off the belief that i should vote for candidates who appeal to my insecurities, vs. those more aligned with my true beliefs.

keep on stirring up trouble and questioning the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Here's one way of looking at things: Humans are the biggest "virus" and scourge that Mother Earth has ever harbored. We will be 9 billion by 2045. At that point things begin to go wayyyy south, even WITHOUT detrimental climate change.

There's not too much we can do right now to change things in a drastic enough manner to prevent the looming disaster that will happen globally due to food shortage and overcrowding, regardless of whom we elect for POTUS. Things are going to get very bad, very soon and there is absolutely ZIP that we can do about it. Most studies show that even if we cut our carbon dioxide output globally by such an unrealistic amount as 50% in 10 years we're still going to not recognize a cessation in climate change for 100 years. China is burning more coal than ever, so the likelihood of cutting carbon emissions in the foreseeable future is pretty unlikely.

Earth is going to kick us out, then Earth will be fine. For those of you with children, realize that their lives will be vastly different than yours; your grandchildren and great-grandchildren's lives will be even more different, that is if they are able to survive the onslaught that Earth will lay down upon us for being too many, and too hungry.

Earth will be fine, especially once our numbers are minimized. Even if Rick Perry becomes POTUS, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.


Anonymous said...

For those who won't, or may not, vote for Obama, are they prepared to deal with the alternative should the GOP win in 2012? All of the anti-Palin posts mean nothing if you indirectly support the Palin/GOP agenda by not voting.

Should the GOP prevail in 2012, then those who sit it out deserve the GOP agenda they will have to live with. Did you see the article by Kathleen Parker-"The Palinization of the GOP"? That says it all.

I've always liked this blog but I've been saddened by some of the posts about Obama. But everyone has a right to his/her opinion. It is just sad and I haven't agreed with everything Obama has done. But, I also recognize the enormous amount of obstruction he has had to deal with. I am an unhealthy senior with a son in his 20's. My vote will be for my son's future and I see Obama as the best choice moving forward.

The GOP represents absolutely no hope to me. None.Ever.

Keep plugging away whatever you decide. Still like the blog and enjoy the gardening posts/pictures.

Anonymous said...

For what I am about to say, please don't classify me as an 'Obama worshipper'- it's just that I love my country and choose to support my elected, seated president.

I wasn't going to weigh in on this at all because our opinions are so at odds, but I would like to express an overall feeling I find myself walking away with from even reading some of PA's headlines on a blogroll these days - and that is a feeling of great sadness to see so much disrespect shown for the office of the President of the United States.

Richard Nixon sold the country down the river by illegally using the power of his office to manipulate an election. For this he was asked to resign. But nobody drew hateful pictures of him. Nobody went on the air and vented hateful rants. Nobody took from him the positive things he did while in office. His crimes were held in a certain perspective. And until the day he died he was referred to - respectfully - as president Nixon.

Disagree with Pres. Obama all you like - call out the injustices you see as you find them - just don't ever forget he is our president - no matter the individual vote WE THE PEOPLE elected him into office and promised to stand by him.

I think the Bush administration made it too easy to be critical of the top office as a nation and we lost the ability to show respect for those with whom we disagree.

Pres. Obama has not done a horrible job. He's not done enough. On the other hand - WE can't see always see what ties his hands or guides his decisions - and to always leap to the conclusion he panders to big money for personal gain isn't a fair stance to take when we aren't privy to all the facts.

It can't be easy trying to work within a congress that is stacked so against your ideals they refuse to even do what's best for the country as a whole.

So call him out on his faults and weaknesses all you like - but can we at least agree to tone down the lack of respect?

You may not have voted for him - but you helped elect him - and that makes him your president too.

Philip Munger said...

Thanks, Ozmud. You wrote:

"You may not have voted for him - but you helped elect him - and that makes him your president too."

I voted for him and will probably vote for him again. I thought that was fairly clear.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, ozmud. That's how I feel as well.
Don't really care if Bush got more, or less, respect. I just want there to be support for what we've got, either way. And a certain standard that we don't go below.
The president, whoever that may be, deserves and is entitled to respect for the office.
Disagree all you want. We must speak out; it's our responsibility. It is NOT duty to engage in character assassination and slimy discordance. And Barack Obama doesn't deserve it either way - he's hardly Richard Nixon.

I'm not disappointed at all. But perhaps my expectations of ALL politicians and world leaders is lower than yours. A president CAN'T act unilaterally, no matter how much you'd like him to. The job is limited by his singular authority. Don't you all know that? He's not the king.

If you're upset, pissed off, your energies would be better spent convincing your senators to respond and take action. CONGRESS holds the power, not only to interfere with the president as they have willfully done, but also to change direction, implement, initiate. RIGHT?

Either way - I am fucking proud to be in the United States of America, under the flag of the first president of color. I've never in my life felt such pride, comfort, hope. What a marvelous thing!
It's not that I think there's much of anything different this particular president can do with a bunch of juvenile, short-sighted, self-serving, frankly stupid, Congressional representatives. What is it exactly that you expect him to _do_? YOU NEVER SAY, YOU JUST INSULT.
But he represents something different, an alternative perspective that we all need. Even White people.

That's one reason PA's post are so hurtful to ME. He knows how the system works. He knows better. His words and small meanness discourage me.

MY president.

Anonymous said...

So many well written and heartfelt thoughts here. No matter your opinion on this topic, I for one am impressed by all the intelligent posts. Don't think the non-progressive blogs have this quality of discourse. Now may we all be more tolerant of our differences and remember: we are all lovers of this country and should treat each other with respect.

Thanks for the venue, Phil. Agree mostly; respect always.

mac said...

While I understand some of your reservations, one thing I think we all should remember is that not voting is giving your vote to the republicans. Apathy is our greatest enemy. I don't know yet who the repub nominee will be, but there is your choice. Obama or one of the crazies. I know I'll be dragging my butt to the polls!

Mark said...

Jeez, Phil - is this seeherpee or PA? LOL.
Your thoughtful views on any number of issues have been intellectually honest and, to me, intellectually invigorating.
I don't understand this anonymous circling of the wagons around a President who has, in far too many respects, shown himself to be NO DIFFERENT than George Bush on the overwhelming growth of the National Security State, which should frighten the hell out of every American. Civil liberties? His claim to fame is DADT. Safe kids? Never heard him say shit about all the kids dying on the streets in Chicago. Can you imagine a White House Gang Summit early on? Oh yeah, never happened. Marines in Australia? Are you kidding me? Obama must smell the impending end of the British Commonwealth post QE2 and senses a vacuum in the South Pacific. All he did there was make Australia a new Chinese target. Nice duty, though.
Anyone who spent more than a few minutes glancing over the AHCA knows it IS a bureaucrats dream. It pushes us closer to computerized medicine, that wont really be any cheaper.
Transparency? Lets go have coffee outside the White House and we'll talk to you, Mr. Lobbyist.
Rahm "We need more cameras in Chicago" Emmanuel shares as much blame for the situation in Congress as anyone else. He either gave the President crappy advice, or no advice or just brought so much baggage that most of Congress realized there was no hope in dealing with the executive branch.
Obama is a fine Establishment member in good standing and always will be.
Keep it up, Phil. Keep it up.
And remember, it's not how much you've got, it's how you use it!

Mark Springer

Philip Munger said...

Thanks, Mark. There are a lot of things I like about Obama as a person, but he's just another POTUSA, like the rest. The only thing that separates them from you and me is the way people seem to lose their marbles defending whatever they do.