Title via Glenn Greenwald, surprise. Yes, I think he’s going a bit overboard about Obama’s present actions as Senator … which were to be expected, and if you didn’t expect them, if you didn’t see Obama as a quintessentially political creature, you either haven’t been paying attention or joined MoveOn at too early an age.
Greenwald is a purist, not in the MoveOn sense at all, but something far more interesting. He is one of the few writers today capable of intellectually drawing out a point. Exploring its corners, filling in its history, and an intellect like that (intellect? on the web? my we have some adjusting to do) has such such an abundance of knowledge at hand. This is why it is so marvellous to read Noam Chomsky, or watch his lectures on YouTube, even if they do make me go lie down.
This intellectual capacity allows Greenwald to think in all directions, to write in critique of a standard, things as they should be … and more power to him. But a standard is something perfect, meant to be used as a guide. Else one risks using the ideal as an authoritarian stick with which to beat over the head those who vary, or fail—a stick held, as we have seen, by he who is without flaw or qualm.
Obama made deeply political decisions, just in order to run. Do you imagine that is Barack Obama the person, that we see? Or that, in a man of his intelligence, he is not operating on the basis of political ideas?
In a very fine piece in the Atlantic last year, Goodbye To All That, Andrew Sullivan wrote
Obama is deeply aware of how he comes across to whites. In a revealing passage in his first book, he recounts how, in adolescence, he defused his white mother’s fears that he was drifting into delinquency. She had marched into his room and demanded to know what was going on. He flashed her “a reassuring smile and patted her hand and told her not to worry.” This, he tells us, was “usually an effective tactic,” because people were satisfied as long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves. They were more than satisfied; they were relieved …
How manipulative—or how astute. No, the issue is not whether the candidate, especially one who stands so much for change, votes the most radical senatorial vote right now. He isn’t there to fulfill your idea of kick-ass—and anyway, you just might be wrong.
Sullivan also wrote …
And so you have Obama’s campaign for white America: courteous and smiling and with no sudden moves.
Genius. No sudden moves. Really genius. And what could be smarter than his decision to not enter the fray, ensuring that when he does speak, it’s not as just another dirtied fighter.
Politics, a candidacy, is also about trust. This is a two-way street, people. Could the man get himself elected first?
Same old story
same old act
One step up
and two steps back.