Monday, November 5, 2012

Thomas Frank is not happy with President Obama

Frank is a real liberal-- not the faux, partisan sort you see a lot more often. If you're read him in Harpers the past few months, you can tell that he is profoundly disappointed with President Obama and the divorce between the promise and the reality.

The hopers of 2008 set the bar impossibly high. Their candidate turned out to be a lobbyist-bound, bank-coddling centrist of the usual variety...The only honest way for progressives to assess the experience of these past four years is by coming unflinchingly to terms with our own futility and irrelevance. We reached a historical turning point in 2008, all right. We just didn't make the turn...

The only necessities that really mattered to this man-above-the-fray were the usual political ones: the need to get 50% plus one, and the need to reassure big money and big pharma and big prestige that they had nothing to fear from him...To those holy ends, everything else was secondary. Those who subscribed to the Great Man theory of Barack Obama were, ironically, the ones whose voices were most completely ignored...

Obama and his allies trudge onward, in a meritocratic world of their own, taking no notice of what is said and thought outside the palace gates...In some ways, they are as detached and remote as the Bush people at their theocratic worst. For me this has been the most disheartening realization of all.

Here are excerpts from his October column (with comments/replies):

[Some]thing the president likes to say--or liked to say, back in the days when his administration was new and "hope" hadn't started to stink yet--was that "we should be looking forward and not backwards." More recently, he has argued that we should not "relitigate the past."

--> Frank notes that this translates to largely continuing Bush's foreign and banking policies. I would add that it apparently doesn't include blaming Bush.

And yet, in the great electoral contest that has now commenced in earnest, it is Barack Obama the would-be socialist dictator who stands on trial.

--> So is it funny or sad that the other side (including Frank) seems to see Bush and Romney as some sort of free market ideologues? 

The president is a man whose every instinct is conciliatory.  He is not merely a casual seeker of bipartisan  consensus; he is an intellectually committed believer in it. He simply cannot imagine a dispute in which one antagonist is right and the other is wrong. No, there is always something honorable about both sides, some concession to be made by each. His presidency has been one long quest for a "grand bargain"...

--> Not really-- and not more than Bush (to his detriment, IMO). 

How have conservatives transformed this born compromiser into the Red Menace? Well, there is the
fact that Obama is a politician of unusual plumage.

--> Kinda like talking about how dumb and yokel Bush was?

Now, it is permissible in American political life to watch movies about the plucky doings of such beaten-down people. You may even pretend to have their interests at heart, especially if you're proposing to "empower" them with enterprise zones or school vouchers.

--> Frank and most of the Dems would rather question motives of the reformers/Progressives and kick the poor in the pants. 

I used to wonder how long it would take Obama to switch on his inner FDR and start grappling with the nation's problems the way they obviously needed to be grappled with. The years passed, and I finally realized that this was never going to happen. Then a different possibility started to dawn on me: Maybe a second New Deal is precisely what Obama was here to prevent. Maybe that was the hope all along.

--> ouch...that's the sound of a statist's heart being broken. 


At November 14, 2012 at 10:36 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

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