Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The view from under the bus

Since I was young, I've understood that our national political discourse is stupid, fearful, and fundamentally rightist. Forty years on, I've had to revise this view: it's irredeemably stupid, fearful, and right-driven.



At 1:00 PM, April 30, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. I'll vote for Obama if he gets the nomination, but I'll be damned if I listen or read any more praise directed his way than I have to. He and the NYT have lined up together to tell all of us who think the US is guilty of terrorism that we're not part of respectable society.

I'd call it betrayal, except I never thought he was on the right side of that issue to begin with. Wright might have thought so.

Donald Johnson

At 5:31 PM, April 30, 2008, Blogger Nell said...

Thanks for fighting the good fight in comment sections. I just can't talk about it, because it feels as if the subject just makes everyone involved stupider and angrier than they were before. And hard as it is to imagine being more disgusted with people who should be allies, I'm sure it's possible.

At 8:49 AM, May 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry if I'm pushing this--ignore this if you want. I'm working through my disgust and trying to get past part of it.

I think there's a psychological difficulty in trying to work within the mainstream (because one has to be pragmatic and do what is possible) and holding on to the fact that this country is guilty of massive injustices and that both Democrats and Republicans are part of the problem. To be pragmatic, you have to suppress whatever you may know about the bipartisan nature of the problem and support hypocritical "progressive" Presidential candidates and eventually you may internalize the pragmatism, so that it's the rabble rousers who cause your furious indignation because they endanger the chances of the imperfect compromiser, not the compromiser who tells stunning lies about massive human rights violations. Then you end up idealizing the compromiser. Not that everyone goes all the way down this path, but that seems to be the logical end.

It's not totally irrational if you think Obama is the best hope for stopping a war with Iran and you have to support him for this reason or because of many other issues. I just wish people who feel this way could hold on to both sides of the question--how do we manage to be pragmatic without giving a pass to someone when they tell enormous lies about matters of real consequence? (Obama on Israel's behavior, for instance). Why is the outrage limited to people on the margins when they say stupid things?

I'd argue this at ObiWi, but I feel a real aversion to even reading their posts, even though the bulk of them are probably good, so I'm in no position to lecture others on my views of rational behavior.


At 11:55 AM, May 08, 2008, Blogger janinsanfran said...

I just want to thank both of you, Nell and Donald, for all the times I've run across your comments elsewhere in which you are trying to hold together the contradictory realities that Donald describes in his last. I inhabit that dissonant world with you as I hope shows in my occasional interpolations.

Awhile back I almost wrote a post saying that, at least if Hillary won, the leftish world would get over its enthusiasm sooner. Obama's a smart one; I hope to see him elected; but the permanent struggle to reign in empire and achieve some social equity will only get more confusing and harder in the early phase of an Obama presidency.

That is, it will take folks awhile to notice that he doesn't deliver.

Do remember 1992 though. I don't know if this happened to you, but after 8 years of Reagan and 4 of Bush I, I knew lots of otherwise sensible people who gave Bill Clinton a pass for a long time. Habits of circling the wagons around any Democrat will die hard. Obama will be both better and worse.

Cheers to all.

At 6:29 PM, May 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer Obama to Clinton on foreign policy, not that he's so great. On domestic issues she might be slightly better. Overall I prefer him, at least in my calmer moods.

Obama, by the way, knows that what Wright says about US foreign policy is similar to what Martin Luther King said at Riverside Church in 1967. He mentions this in this Fox News transcript the day before the Monday press conference that Wright had.


Which is both encouraging and discouraging simultaneously. He knows that US foreign policy is often immoral and he knows that what Wright said about this is the same as what King said, and he therefore knows that it's not true that every American would find Wright's comments on that subject outrageous. I hope Wright is right about his former friend, and that Obama is bullsh****** to win white votes, but I'm not overly optimistic.


At 4:04 PM, May 11, 2008, Blogger Nell said...

asThanks, Jan, and thanks, Donald. Straddling the pragmatic electoral and social change worlds pretty much guarantees groin injury at some point.. ;> (sorry; watching a lot of hockey lately)

Donald, now's not the time to head back to ObWi; the main posts are hopelessly mired in the trivial, and the comment threads are full of Obama-Clinton backbiting.

Even TPM manages to note events in Lebanon...

At 10:55 AM, May 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If ObiWi does want to stick to politics, maybe they could discuss issues like this--

Obama distances himself from Rob Malley

What's interesting is that some progressives think Obama secretly agrees with them on the I/P conflict, and some in AIPAC are supposedly afraid this might be true and Obama is doing everything he can to alleviate the fears of AIPAC. If it turns out he does want to try talking to Hamas once he is in office, his credibility will go straight down the toilet.


At 4:56 PM, May 31, 2008, Blogger Mimi said...

I wonder how people can delude themselves enough to think a black man will be elected president. Don't you understand the depth of prejudice in this country? I live in a nice, ordinary, middle-class white community and I can tell you there is no chance at all for Obama to win. My neighbors are reasonably well-educated, some religious, some not, and they all have reasons of all kinds to oppose him--it's never his color, of course, but they'll "never" vote for him.
I hope, hope, HOPE I get this prediction shoved down my throat, but I'm afraid that won't happen. We'll have McCain and endless war--there's just no way a populace that could accept, even champion, George Bush, will suddenly turn. Oh, sure, I'll vote for him--even work for him--and so will those who comment here. Sorry, but we're not representative.

At 11:57 PM, May 31, 2008, Blogger Nell said...

You're right that the people who comment here aren't representative of a majority of U.S. voters, or even of a majority of Democrats. This is a left-wing blog.

But I think you're way too pessismistic about the fall election. Friendly bet: check back here on November 5, and if you're right you'll get to guest post. If you're wrong we'll all just clink glasses (virtually) in comments... ;>


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