Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Judging Obama

Amazing.  There are still progressives who denounce Obama for being center-right.  That's so 2010.  And it's all posited in a reality in which politics isn't real and Obama can do anything he wants, but doesn't.  Which is why these people prefer the Kabuki Theater Theory of Politics, in which politics is a big conspiracy and they're only pretending to fight each other; all evidence to the contrary.

For example, Obama promised in 2008 that he'd close Gitmo.  He didn't close Gitmo, therefore he's a liar.  Now first off, only a child would think a campaign promise is a guarantee.  I mean, how can a politician guarantee that they can pass something?  They can't.  What they're promising isn't that this WILL happen, but that they're going to push for it.  Sure, that's not what they say, but again, we're all grownups and are supposed to understand how this works.

Now, when a politician says something they have no plan to pass, or that they can't possibly pass because they're promising too much (eg, Romney's plan on everything), then they're lying.  But that's really no better than a politician who doesn't say they're planning something hugely controversial, and then spring it on voters after the election (eg, just about every Republican, including Scott Walker and Rick Scott).  And yet we're to believe that a politician who says they'll do something, and tries to do it but is stopped is a total ingrate unworthy of our support.

But again, grownups are supposed to know better, and if anything, maybe we should stop asking politicians to promise things they can't guarantee.  And I'd be fine with that, if only because I understand that that's how it works anyway.

Democracy as Shitfest

Long story short, this is what I responded to a friend's friend on Facebook.

The problem is that you can't judge Obama's political leanings by what he's done. We're gauging ourselves based upon a theoretical perfect-world scenario of what we'd do if we were king. Yet we don't allow Obama to use his perfect-world scenario, as his perfect-world scenario would have surely included universal healthcare, bigger stimulus, better jobs plans, a big cut in defense, and closing Gitmo. And I know that because he's a pragmatic man and those are the things that would help him best.

And we could also use Obama's public statements to judge him, which aren't going to be as good as his perfect-world scenario because they are tempered for political reasons; but which are still fairly liberal. Yet his critics deny him that, and insist that we judge him based upon what he accomplished. And that's fair enough, I suppose. But those things all include compromises that we don't need to make in our perfect-world scenario; and are therefore not compatible with how we judge ourselves. And rather than using his demands at the negotiating table to judge what he wanted, we're using the end result of the negotiations; which are weighed heavily for conservatives, for reasons that are mostly out of Obama's control. Does he *want* to negotiate with conservatives? No, he's forced to because this is a democracy and thems are the rules.

And this is like me judging your political beliefs by putting you in a room with two Republicans who both insist you're an evil fool; and you're not allowed to leave the room until you all come up with an agreement on what to do. Does that agreement represent you? No, it was a stupid compromise based upon a ridiculous situation. Same for Obama. He shouldn't have to be negotiating with these dangerous fools, but he is.

And so our standards shouldn't be what we would have done. It's what would have happened without Obama. And if it wasn't for Obama, we might be talking about what a letdown Hillary was or Howard Dean, or how bad President McCain is. Because that's the reality. This is a democracy and that means that your crazy uncle gets a say in how things happen. And that's for the best. While I wish our crazy uncles weren't so crazy, we're stuck dealing with them and trying to pass any policies that all sides can agree on. That's what democracy is: A shitfest where all the shit needs to be eaten, and we're all trying to eat as little as possible.

If anything, this just means we can't really know what Obama's political leanings are, because we'll never know if he's lying or not. But I'm fine with that too. Just as long as his critics on the left realize that too. They keep telling us what he really thinks since before he took office, and I've yet to understand what psychic they're listening to.

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