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Caru On February - 11 - 2011

I’m tired of it. The Obama bashing. If the man walked on water, people would deride him for not swimming. What makes this current state of the info-sphere so ludicrous is that there are many dozens of perfectly legitimate and sometimes damning criticisms that can be made about the President. His not so keen grasp on many aspects of the Afghan situation for example. But do we get this type of logical and well-argued criticism? Very rarely, I’m afraid. At this point it’s become the norm to attack the President and, though I hate to use a media cliche, it comes from both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum.

It’s to be sadly expected that most right-wing criticism of Obama will either be based on a false premise or just downright bonkers, but you’d expect somewhat more nuanced observances from the Left, would you not? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Criticism of Obama from the Left is becoming just as vitriolic and bizarre as that coming from the Right. This is not, of course, to demonise legitimate criticism of the man. Far from it. I’d like to see more criticism and deconstruction of his actual policies rather than reactions to how he is supposedly handling an issue as supplied by an “anonymous source”.

How about an example? Obama’s “handling” – god, I’m beginning to hate that word – of the Egyptian Crisis was, from my perspective, nothing short of perfect. You see, if he had stood with Mubarak, as many right-wingers wanted him to do, he would have ignited a powder keg. Aside from it being morally wrong, it’s a geopolitically idiotic move. Now, if he had demanded that Mubarak step down he would have ignited that exact same keg. “The US imperialists are interfering with our country,” the Mubarak regime would cry. And guess what, they’d be correct and it could have had quite a negative impact on the situation.

But, by staying quiet the President loses nothing, gains nothing and ruffles no feathers. I think that this is what’s got people confused. Sometimes the only way to win is not to play and Obama seems to understand this. However, the best part of all is this: By going dark, the President ensured that the Egyptian Revolution would belong to the Egyptian people. It is theirs and theirs alone and any interference by the US would likely sully such a glorious achievement.

Written by Caru

I don't really have anything of note to put in here... Oh, I won a bar of chocolate once.

113 Responses so far.

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  1. Khirad says:

    Sometimes the only way to win is not to play and Obama seems to understand this.

    I’ve been trying to explain this simple concept since June 2009, and Iran.

    It’s best not to make us the issue, when it’s not even really about us in the first place.

    And dittoes on the rest of the article as well.

    I will say I still believe nothing is so bizarre as what comes from the right. The left stuff is more the purist, delusional tantrum type stuff mostly. Though the woo-woo stuff and the Obama=Bush III stuff is pretty bizarre, I’ll give you that.

  2. Redemption Song II says:

    Greetings Caru,

    Enjoyed your writing. I inadvertantly wrote my response to you in the second half of my response to biznesschic (directly below)--sorry about that! (Oh, well… *smiles*)

    All the best,
    --Redemption

  3. biznesschic says:

    Just new to this site from Huffpost, and love it.

    Few things going on here: Progressives have too many “leaders”. You have the Nader people, the Kucinich supporters, the Larouches, and the newly formed political party of “Hillary should have won”. Each group believes that we would have been taken to that liberal utopia, if America had not made a mistake and elected their savior. Not realizing that if their person actually had to govern, and make practical decision that goes against their followers “progressive” purity, they would turn on them also.

    A funny thing happened during Xmas when Ms Huffington posted her staff photo for all to see. And guess what, they were 99% white, and 80% under 40. So it is understandable why they would miss the true pulse of the progressive community. When you ignore 25% of your base, African Americans, and the father who was so grateful to be able to keep his college age daughter on his health care, you tend to miss the boat. I suspect this is happening to too many progressive websites.

    • Redemption Song II says:

      Welcome to the Planet, Chic.

      I have to say, I didn’t bother to look at the HuffPo 2010 Xmas photo although I did in 2009 and was quickly disillusioned not only by the photo itself, but the fact that any commentary regarding it’s racial and age composition was first deleted and then, after a few days, simply not posted. Reading the comments, you would think that every reader found the group utterly to die for which simply wasn’t the case. The dishonesty was appalling.

      Regarding progressives’ and/or liberals’ cacophony of voices, that in iteself seems simply to be the case…not many groups are without diversity (which is fine with me on general principles). I do agree with you, however, about utopian dreams--that realpolitik is, well, real; and I agree that the “Puma a la Hills” people surely need to grow up, get over it and move on. (The SOS certainly has.)

      That said, elected officials are accountable to the people that they represent. On that note, although I’m against criticism for the sake of criticising, I don’t hold (nor are you saying, as I read you), that any criticism of the current administration is treacherous per se…there are genuine concerns that should be voiced.

      The upshot: A bit of recognition and praise (from all sides) would be in order and welcomed as well as criticism, and to the extent that it is missing from public and political discourse is the extent to which the brow beating is distasteful from the point of view of integrity and honesty.

      Hmmm…better get back to (other) writing before the kiddo wakes and demands to be fed!!

      Kind regards,
      --Redemption (A fellow HuffPo expatriate)

    • KQuark says:

      A big welcome biz!

      You have allot of great points. You could not be more right about the HP. I get the feeling in Kanye West’s words “(Arianna don’t like black people”).

  4. SueInCa says:

    Caru

    Funny that first line you used is almost to the word a quote from LBJ. LBJ said:

    “If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read “President Can’t Swim”

    But you are right. There are plently of legitimate things to rag on him about, Wall Street, Corporate donors getting favors/special treatment, Too many Goldman Sachs in his administration, not visiting the west coast(lol that was for me). The problem is with those issues, the right is right there with him and the far left is more concerned with earthy things and social justice, taxes and healthcare.

    But………..no matter who is doing the ragging, if he came across as the slightest bit angry, then they would call him the “angry black man” There is no way to get around it and he is in a tough spot. I am disappointed in a few things he has done as well, but to try to take him down because of it is just plain stupid.

    • Sabreen60 says:

      Enjoyed your article. I will say that it’s a little disheartening to be called a “bot” if you even mention anything positive about the President. It’s also unfortunate when some who post on left blogs feel the need to call the President a “house Negro” (I’m pretty sure the “N” word would be preferred) or “Uncle Thomasobama” and have others defend the use of such name calling. I’ve visited those sites and really don’t see a lot of difference from what’s written on the rightwing web site.

      The problem with offensive language and vitriol is that it closes down all communication. But maybe that’s the intention.

  5. PatsyT says:

    Caru
    Excellent observation.
    I have been feeling this way for quite some time.

    There was a big upset over at the DailyKos over this subject and….
    There was quite a exodus at the Kos.
    BlackWaterDog left and started another blog!

    Like here, it’s one of the places to go to when you feel like the negativity is bringing you down.
    http://blackwaterdog.wordpress.com/

    • ghsts says:

      In as positive light I can muster, how do you stop unjust wars, police state, eviction, discrimination etc when 40% of the country is perfectly fine with all those so long as they have a job and a roof over their heads?

      • jdmn17 says:

        When they lose their jobs then they start to see things a little differently

      • KQuark says:

        MLK did accomplished all those things in an extremely positive light when far more of the country docile.

        • Sabreen60 says:

          I think when the country saw the dogs and the fire hoses on the nightly news, people began to take notice. It was the same with the Vietnam war, also. We watched wounded and killed Americans on the TV every night. The country woke up. I might add that apparently a conscious decision was made to never show those images of Americans wounded on the battlefields again.

          • jdmn17 says:

            Notice how we rarely see film of battles and casualties over in Iraq and Afghan? think they learned their lesson after Nam? The body bag shots, the war protests, Cronkite regularly giving body counts of our guys and talking about the ticking clock on the expenditures?

            I thought I was having a flashback when I mentioned to someone how one night I thought I heard WC talk about how we had reached a point in spending where it would have been cheaper to have simply gone in, clear cut and paved Viet Nam into a giant parking lot. Was that the inspiration for the song?

      • ADONAI says:

        We fire them and burn down their house.

  6. Caru says:

    America is a country with centre-left values -- if you poll on the issues and not the labels -- that votes centre-right and beyond.

    • PocketWatch says:

      From one of my rants of the past:

      http://www.perrspectives.com/blog/archives/000486.htm

      “On issue after issue, voters across the United States support Democratic positions. And in generic Congressional polls, a majority of Americans consistently prefer Democrats over Republicans.

      Almost none of which matters for the Republican braintrust. For the GOP, 2008 wasn’t a popularity contest. The Republican strategy for victory hinges on turning out their base while ensuring potential Democratic voters stay home.”

      “The Republican 25% Strategy of divide, suppress and conquer is simple. First, fire up the base with red meat issues, while using the proven conservative “distribution” channel of churches and single issue advocacy groups to get them to the polls. Second, drive down the participation of potential Democratic and independent voters through curbs on registration, onerous new ID requirements, and polling place eligibility challenges.”

    • bito says:

      Caru, that is a curious thing. In the book “What is Wrong with Kansas.” (is that title right?) the author makes a point of that. Many live on the largesse of the Federal Government and farm subsidies then complain about the Federal Government’s spending. Much like the “Don’t touch my Medicare” crowd on HCR.

    • KQuark says:

      Yes but people vote on the labels not on the issues that’s the problem.

      Until the numbers change liberals are outnumbered by conservatives 2-1.

    • ADONAI says:

      I disagree. I don’t like polls. People will say anything on the phone. I think this country is A LOT more conservative than those on the left want to admit.

      The reason why many Democratic politicians don’t really push a lot of social and cultural issues.

      • ghsts says:

        This is what makes guys like Luntz so dangerous, frame the issue so people avoid the label. We weren’t born that way but 50yrs of cold war framing and soon feeding the poor sounds too much like free lunch.

      • KQuark says:

        Nominally I would agree based on the labels people call themselves. But on the issues Americans lean left.

        • ADONAI says:

          Then why is gay marriage still an issue? Gun control? Why do the poor get shit on constantly?

          No, if they actually leaned left, the country wouldn’t be this far right.

          • KQuark says:

            The poor are the best example where a large portion of the group votes against what they are polled on when it comes to individual issues.

            Social issues the country was against DADT and even civil unions but are for them now.

            Economically Americans don’t want to privatize SS or Medicare like the GOP wants.

            I’m not saying the country is center left until we admit we are center left but we are far more to the left than the political IDs would indicate.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        I agree about the fact that this country is center RIGHT at best.

        • jdmn17 says:

          At best, if you go back and look at the former repub Presidents how many would even pass through the primaries today? A couple would have to switch parties

      • Plutocrats really suck says:

        If you are speaking in terms of registered voters polled, then I would agree with you. However, if we are talking in terms of population, Caru is probably correct IMO.

      • Caru says:

        I think that it’s more due to the idea that conservatism is more “legitimate” than liberalism.

        Some people think of themselves as conservatives regardless of how liberal their positions on certain issues are.

  7. ghsts says:

    You have painted a beautiful bulls-eye on my forehead, not that anyone is looking. I too have become frustrated, with Obama apologists that seem to be doing a Nixon imitation, ‘he’s our crook’ when it comes to the man who disappoints so many. I’ll save the list for some other day. (For context, I dedicated 18 months of my life to helping him, not just any D, get elected in a state know for blue dogs, heartland values, conservative righteousness and the wisdom of Kurt Vonnegut.)

    President Obama like many in that position has a fluid set of values, the older among us recognize this and push in an attempt to influence his migration. I find no comfort in being lumped in with baggers, neocons and fixed news services when our critiques coincide but will defer blame where it belongs, at the source. To highlight some sort of Catch 22 to a potus’ political stance does little to enlighten the debate because there is a critical mass attached to him unlike most, POWER.

    When our president avoided making statements to outright condemn one of this countries most successful puppet dictators it was understandable but not excusable. Many centrists have been touting the ‘he’s the President of the whole country not just the Left,’ as if his compromises are justified to encompass all points of view. Not to mention they serve only to embolden his critics from the right. I can only think of how sad it would have been if Lincoln had not been forced to paint the picture as black and white. This country has always had a significant population that has been deluded, coerced or just plain evil and while we are all Americans the brand belongs to our better angels not our inner demons.

    We may come to dislike Egypt’s democracy, but that is irrelevant to their god given right to define it for themselves.

    [img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5437037319/[/img]

    • zootliberal says:

      ghsts, I take it you’re a hoosier then.

      Great comment, though I do disagree with the way Obama handled this, as bad as Mubarak was (and he was very bad) he still had been touted as an ally of ours for 30 years. To step up and condemn him would have been seen rather schizophrenic. Friend one day, enemy the next when in fact Mubarak had not done anything differently. Obama has many problems, not the least of which is extricating this country from relationships such as this with countless similar puppet regimes -- for this has been the way America has conducted its foreign policy for at least 50 years. It’s a delicate balancing act and I think he walked that tight rope just right.

      • ghsts says:

        How about something like this- Mubarak has been a long time ally to the US and peace in the middle east however the cost to the Egyptian people has been great and the time has come for them collectively decide their own future, and please don’t use all those tanks, jets, and guns against us or our allies, ps you might want to look in Switzerland for a large chunk of that US aide money. Schizophrenia is believing that Mubarak would be allowed to transition the government to democracy.

        All kidding aside what was gained by towing the line, better relations with other pro US dictators?

        • Sabreen60 says:

          I think the USA’s foreign policy is schizophrenic. The rub is maintaining the USA’s “interest” and abiding by our stated principles of democracy. I don’t know what’s in Obama’s heart but squaring that circle has eluded those President’s who may have wanted to do.

      • jdmn17 says:

        Zoot, be nice to Hoosiers. Born in Indy and while the 500 is one of its major redeeming assets there are some really wonderful places there. The southern part is lovely. Northern, not so much. Indy when I was a kid was where the North and South collided. You’d hear southern drawl, hillbilly and “elitist” Midwestern proper talk. My dad was New England transplanted from Canada. My mom, southern. I studied the Civil war from the time I could read because it was played out every day in my home. Oddly my mom was the liberal non racist. My dad, he hated everything not WASP. Catholics the worst.

        Do you know where the term Hoosier came from? Have fun with that

        • Artist50 says:

          There are various theories. Most prevalent is hoos means hill and we gladly accepted being called hillbillies. Another popular one is people calling to neighbors “whose ere” and the word was formed. There are several more, no one is sure. A proud Hoosier!

        • zootliberal says:

          jdmn17 -- ha ha you’re right about the term Hoosier -- there’s a lot of speculation!!

          • jdmn17 says:

            Grandma was of the opinion it referred to the hill people, she was one of them, the southern leaning people, English origin who worked the coal mines. I tend to go with her explanation or the boat dudes. There’s nothing I’ve ever seen about the term being a term referring to industrious hard working folks. It was more derogatory down there, I suppose they had to clean it up a little because of IU

          • jdmn17 says:

            Tells you something, There’s the one my grandma told me. She was born there in 1891 and I tend to believe her -- well did. I think they’ve tried to rewrite it several times to make it more interesting. If there were any Canadians here tonight reading this they would understand how that almost got me beat up in a bar one night in Canada when my friend Pierre, whose English was good but not as good with Saki in him, tried to call me a Hooooosier because he knew I was from Indy, instead it kept coming out HOSER and that’s not the nicest term in certain parts of Canada. So as we drew menacing glances I yelled down the table Hoosier enough times he finally got it and the room relaxed again.

        • zootliberal says:

          jdmn17 -- I love Hoosiers! ask KillgoreTrout.
          as for where ‘Hoosier’ came from, will research right now.

          By the way, Hoosiers, the movie is one of my favorites still.

          • jdmn17 says:

            I’d like to get Gilgore’s and the other Hoosiers here -- their take on it. I know there are lots of them. Some more PC than others. As for Hoosiers. It was hokey as hell but in the end it is a great movie. Dennis Hoppers first real step back from the abyss. Sort of. He’s an interesting dude

    • KQuark says:

      Read up on history Lincoln did try to find areas of gray even with slavery, especially in his inaugural address.

      It’s silly to say you embolden the right by serving the majority of American citizens. It assumes the right would be somehow be less vial if Obama stayed more pure to the left where the opposite would occur.

      The best example is Bush while the left had been relatively quiet for decades W actually emboldened the left by being only the president of his base unlike his father who was done in by his own base.

      • ghsts says:

        That was my point on Lincoln, it wasn’t till thousands were lying dead on the battlefield did he come to publicly acknowledge or define the war.

        Had Obama simply stuck to his promises there would be no issue, it wasn’t a left issue then to characterize those critical pillars of his campaign now as too far left is absurd.

        • jdmn17 says:

          I think the brutality of the Civil War was beyond anyones worst dreams. The battle casualties and intensity of the fighting astonished even the hardest Generals. Grant was successful because he didn’t give a damn how many died to take an objective and he knew early that he would have a nearly endless supply of troops. They never stopped the immigration ships from landing and many of the new arrivals simply were signed on to specialized units and marched off with absolutely no knowledge of what was coming.

          Think of the percentage of southern men who died in the war. Most people would argue that many dead would kill a lifestyle. Southern women saved the culture. Without them the south would be nothing like it was before the war.

  8. KQuark says:

    Bravo excellent piece.

    The sad part is if you support the president from the left which should be a no brainer you get mocked and derided from both sides. They really try to shut down moderate voices on blogs like HP now.

    No one who supports the president says he’s perfect or that he made all the decisions we would have. But not supporting him because you don’t agree with him all the time is utter nonsense that use to only come from the insane ramblings on the right. The worse thing opportunistic like Huffington have brought to the left side of the equation is the vitriol and hyperbole we hear from the right.

    The progressive movement use to be FOR positive causes now too many have become AGAINST anyone who is not a “true progressive”.

  9. escribacat says:

    I’m convinced that at least 50% of the O-bashing that goes on over yonder is mindless parroting of the incendiary headlines. I’m not talking about the rightwingers, either.

  10. PocketWatch says:

    One thing should be mentioned.

    It is our *** DUTY *** as citizens to critically examine our elected officials.

    Criticize when necessary and praise when able.

    It is this nonsensical idea that has arrisen recently that says “we must keep in lockstep with our leader” on the conservative, neo-con, side that we are seemingly cptured by and makes the left look disorganized.

    We must be careful not to be captured by this narrative and buy into the rhetoric and comfortable thinking that we must be like them or we are wrong.

    Our strength is ‘criticism’ in the classic sense of the word.

    • PocketWatch says:

      I think I expressed myself poorly.

      I take pride in the fact that lefties tend to analyze and criticize and generally are rambunctious. Good healthy debate and criticism is the stuff of better decisions and outcomes.

      My point was and is that the right discovered with Bush that being in total lockstep, even though they may have privately disagreed, has power and makes them appear strong and ‘manly’ in the politcal sense. Look at how Congress did everything Bush wanted all through his first 6 years. Can anyone say “rubber stamp?”

      Now, the right in Congress votes in lockstep for the same reason. It gives them power.

      But there is a meme afoot that says the left must do the same…. why are we weak and so ‘womanly’ to let ourselves argue and dissent among ourselves? Be strong! Fight! Unite! Corral your people and act ‘en block!’

      If we buy into that meme that is a part of the discussion and it becomes the assumptive role of a political party or movement, we have lost.

      Nuance is lost, ideas are buried, progress becomes stultfication.

      Anyway, I belong to no organized political party, I am a Progressive!

    • bzb says:

      Hey PW, I agree with your comment but the left is somewhat disorganized because you have your blue dogs who are left but aren’t progressive and then you have your progressive’s who aren’t blue dogs.

      And I know there are a lot of Hillary supporters out there who absolutely dislike Obama.

      How do you bridge that gap into making it a whole without being too subjective?

    • ghsts says:

      Your wisdom is sound advice to all.

    • escribacat says:

      There is a vast difference between “keeping in lockstep” and endlessly bashing him for every little appointment or line item in a bill or remark from one of his cabinet. There will always be something you can find that you don’t like … but when the purists and yellow journalists out there spend so much time and energy hunting those things down and blaring them out in hyperbole and giant red letters, then what the is that really about? I think it has a lot to do with a human characteristic that makes some people get satisfaction from the process of endlessly complaining or disagreeing or finding fault or second guessing or just plain whining. That is the atmosphere that rose up at Huffington Post well over a year ago when AH decided to start slanting the headlines and stories against the president — no matter what he said or did.

      • Sabreen60 says:

        I really agree with you. Unfortunately, many at HP would not read the articles. In too many instances the Headlines were merely to garner clicks and bring out the negativity and the trolls. I don’t know how many times I witnessed knee-jerk reactions only to witness the same folks having to eat crow.

    • KQuark says:

      I agree and the problem is too many people have forgot the second half of your main statement.

      “Criticize when necessary and praise when able.”

    • Chernynkaya says:

      We are not anywhere even CLOSE to lockstep. We’re Dems! We make herding cats seem like a breeze. :-)

    • DawgBone says:

      Absolutely!

      I criticize Obama all the time, but I will certainly vote for him in 2012, if the choice is between him and some Republican.

    • ADONAI says:

      I think it’s not that Democrats aren’t organized.

      They just aren’t as quick to swallow their principles, to “tow the party line”

      As many Republicans are. Exchanging their pride for some quick brownie points with Party leadership.

      • Artist50 says:

        It goes back to Reagan commandment to never criticize another Republican. They adhere to that rule and we don’t -- with the recent exception of some criticism of Palin.

  11. whatsthatsound says:

    I completely agree with this post! I have criticized this president often, but also acknowledged his effectiveness and his many successes, and his approach to the situation in Egypt is most assuredly that. I like what lynettema wrote as well: his core principle is reasonableness. That sums it up perfectly, I feel.

  12. jdmn17 says:

    Well, I think I am just going to say it. I think we (and POTUS) are getting jobbed by the MSM, both right and left, and to be honest even the centrists. I know it is their job to report sensationalism and create controversy and dialog. At least I think that’s what they intended -- or does everything they do have a ratings agenda? -- but what happened was a perfect storm. They polarized the country by reaching into our deepest fears and prejudices. The ratings grew but they didn’t see or care to acknowledge the vitriol brewing behind it and because the ratings grew they just kept ramping up the volume. How many times have we heard any commentator take a step back and say -- “Wow, this is so wrong”? Hardly ever. Who can we name easily? Olberman stepped back and to his credit for unknown reasons I’ve heard Shep Smith call people out. But most of the time the interviewers sit liked stones and let the most egregiously incorrect statements stand without challenge or in other cases simply take it on themselves to report outrageous distortions or lies. And the public, increasingly less read and knowledgeable laps it up and it becomes fact -- facts that pulls us apart further rather than seek to unite. We somehow need to get at that. Our country is teetering more than we can even admit most days. The vitriol directed at POTUS is wrong. Yes, he’s let us down in some ways but in other ways he’s held the ship steady and seems to be slowly righting it, even though the wind from his enemies continues to blow. We will never know what he might have accomplished if he hadn’t been stonewalled by a senate more focused on destroying his Presidency than working to solve the problems of the people who elected them. But that a whole ‘nother story.

  13. lynettema says:

    I recognize some of the names I used to see on HP. Hello!

  14. lynettema says:

    The Age of Obtuseness
    Caru On February -- 11 -- 2011
    “I’m tired of it. The Obama bashing.”

    I have been saying this for a year. Liberals need to stop with the “President Obama is caving on his core principals” diatribe. His core principle is in being reasonable. President Obama has taken the big ticket progressive issue about as far as he can go. The left snipes at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall and then pretend they didn’t have any part in that. Unless we get perfect progressivism from the President, they grouse. Perfectionism is the enemy of creation. “Pefectionism attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.” Voltaire

    • escribacat says:

      Great line, Lynette — “Perfectionism is the enemy of creation.” I have seen so many people paralyzed because of their perfectionism. They can’t try anything new or do anything that challenges them because they won’t be doing it perfectly. So they just sit around whining instead of actually achieving anything.


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