Saturday, May 29, 2010

Obama Let Me Down

Ok, it happened.  I finally feel betrayed by Obama.  Not betrayed in the sense that he did anything against me, but betrayed in that his people pulled a politically boneheaded move that made no sense.  I can accept disagreements on policy, but once Obama starts royally screwing the politics, I get worried.

I speak, of course, of the news that they seriously tried to get Sestak out of Arlen Specter's hair.  What a mistake.  Now, I don't know enough about Sestak to know if he's a better guy for the job than Specter.  Presumably, that'd be the case, based upon Specter's record, but I never really looked into him and tend to avoid the polemic "my enemy's enemy is my friend" reasoning too many progressives indulge in (eg, Ned Lamont).  But where I really LIKED Sestak was that he forced Specter to actually be a Democrat, and not just in name.

As it was, I suspect that Specter figured he'd have the D vote locked-up because of the label, and could continue to be a moderate-conservative in order to move in on Toomey's territory.  But with Sestak in the race, he'd actually have to act like a Democrat to even get the nomination, and since his status as a recent Republican cast serious doubts on that, he'd really have to look like a team player if he wanted to win. 

And so whether or not Sestak won, his presence in the race would surely be an improvement for us.  And I naturally assumed that the Obama people would fully have realized that and would continue to support Specter publicly, but would do little to actually help him.  After all, their fortunes were hardly aligned, so the harder things got for Specter, the better things got for Obama.

Not What I Thought

And now we learn that the Obama people apparently wanted Sestak out of the way and I...I don't know what to say.  This just seems dumb, for many reasons.  And I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe this was part of some specific deal with Specter, in order to get his support on something, and maybe they even knew that Sestak would turn it down. 

But even THAT doesn't make much sense.  If they wanted to help Specter, they could still do so while keeping Sestak in.  But once Sestak was out of the race, it'd take all the pressure off Specter and he'd most certainly have moved to the right.  After all, it was in Specter's best interests to not have to act like a Democrat if he thought he'd already get the Democratic vote.  You're supposed to try to steal votes from your opponent; not secure votes you already have.

And so, now, I can't help but think that maybe the Obama people really didn't know what they were doing on this.  And if they got this wrong, what else might they be getting wrong?  And who knows, maybe there's some big piece of this that I'm not seeing, and it really is hard to know what's going on with people you don't even really know.  But still, I had assumed they knew how to best take advantage of the Specter situation, and it turns out, they almost blew it.  It's one thing for them to pretend to support Specter publicly, but privately supporting him?  In a way they wouldn't even want anyone to know about?  I find that troubling. 

So you've been put on notice, Obama Administration.  Doctor Biobrain will be watching you a little more closely from now on.  Not that this will do any good, as I have about as much influence on Obama as a Monday morning quarterback has on the activities of a real quarterback on Sunday morning.  But still, this makes me somehow feel better to imagine I have some influence on anything, so that's what I'm going to continue to do.


mahakal said...

For once you are disappointed Obama is not duplicitous? Wow, man.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Well, that's not the REASON I'm disappointed, but I suppose it is the case that I was hoping they'd have been playing Specter on this.

I have no problem with lies, if lies give us better results. That's what politics are for.

mahakal said...

So what you're saying is you're duplicitous, I guess.

I prefer the straightforward approach, which can be wrong or mistaken, but at least when a disagreement exists it is based in reality.

Doctor Biobrain said...

If that's what it takes to get what we need, so be it. Whatever works.

Of course, I should add that I'm never duplicitous here, as it wouldn't benefit me in the least. And the main point is to never lie to yourself. If a lie is required, that's fine, just as long as you know what the truth really is.

Some people just want to be lied to, and I don't consider it my responsibility to deny them that.

mahakal said...

Some people might like to be lied to, but I don't, and when I perceive that someone lies to me without concern, I disregard that person's credibility as a matter of course.

What I appreciate about Barack Obama is his relative candor.

mahakal said...

The other problem with lies, of course, is that some people will believe them, and repeat them, and teach them to other people as the absolute truth. And this propagates not for a short time but passes along generations when the lies cover up truths that cannot be revealed for the harm it would do to fortunes and reputations. Lies are what corrupt everything in politics, and I want nothing to do with them.

Doctor Biobrain said...

No, I don't want to be lied to either, but some people do (even though they'll say they don't, because they're lying to themselves), and I generally don't have a problem lying to people who want to be lied to. Lies are a social lubricant which can be more helpful than the truth.

That's something I like about blogging, as I don't give a damn what anyone thinks, so I can be totally honest, and the only thing it costs me is readership. But that's totally fine with me. I write to influence people, and that wouldn't work at all if I wasn't completely honest in what I wrote. I just wish things could be so easy in the real world.

As for the Specter situation, I don't see how lying wasn't a good idea. If lying to Specter was the only way to get him to support Obama, while still allowing us to give the job to a real Democrat, and he never realized he was being lied to, then what's the problem? It gave us what we wanted, and hurt no one. I fail to see the problem here. Specter thought he could game the system by switching parties, and it ended up biting him in the ass. I still can't believe we were seriously TRYING to help him as much as we did.

Overall, there's nothing about lies which make them inherently morally worse than the truth. As with everything, you've got to take things in the big picture. Wars and lies can be used for good or evil. It's not the act that makes something immoral, but the result.

mahakal said...

I disagree diametrically with your final paragraph. Ends do not justify means, rather, the means employed determine the ends actually achieved. It may seem temporarily otherwise, but anything gained by force or deception may only be held by force or deception.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Don't ask me why, but I've been sitting on your response for quite awhile, sight unseen, always planning to respond, but never doing so. I guess I'm a weirdo that way, but I assure you, there's no real plan here.

I find there to be no truth to your comment at all. Take these two examples, which are admittedly a little silly:

A man wants to raise money for a poor black farmer, but knows that all the people in the community are bigots who hate the black farmer because he's black. So when he tells the bigots who he's raising money for, he lies and says it's for a poor white farmer; and raises enough money to help the black farmer save his farm.

Another man hates black people and tells a black farmer that he's going to raise a group of racists together and murder him. He then tells his racist friends about his intentions, they get together and kill the black man.

By your logic, the first man is bad because he's a liar, and the second man is good because he's telling the truth. That's absurd.

And yeah, you can quibble with this and say these are dumb examples, but I can think of an INFINITE number of situations in which a liar can do good and a truth-teller can do bad. And we don't decide whether someone's good or bad based upon what they did, but on what they planned to do and what they achieved. And if a liar's actions result in a good result, which is what he planned on, then the liar is good; even if he lied.

I'm not proud of it, but I tell small lies to people all the time and it makes them feel better and they like me better for it. I don't lie about important stuff, but if someone wants their ego inflated alittle, I see no harm there. I wouldn't do it if I felt they wanted the truth, but most folks don't want the truth and I think life's too short and shitty for me to bother with truth when lies make things better.

And again, maybe you can explain why I'm wrong, but if someone proudly serves me a pie that I feel is sub-par, unless they really want my honest opinion, I'll them it was a great pie. Not because I'm a liar, but because it'll make them happy. And if it makes me a bad person to make people happy, well, then I guess I'm a bad person. But for me, making people feel shitty is a far worse offense than lying.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Oh, and I also take exception with your mention of things "gained by force." In America, as with all other countries, we use force to make people pay taxes and obey the law. If you don't pay taxes, we'll take the money from you. And if you fight it enough, you can end up in jail.

Yet, I can't imagine how you can say it's bad that we do this. We use force to make people do the right thing, and we can only hold these things by using force. But all the same, there's nothing immoral about it.

Morality is based upon the outcome, the means. The same action can be moral or immoral, depending upon why that action was taken. Sending someone to jail for murder is moral, while sending them to jail for political beliefs is immoral. Same action; different outcomes; different morality.