Thursday, January 10, 2008

Responding to Obama's Critics

This post started out as a comment on Paul Papadeas’s comment on my previous blog post, but then it got long and I thought I ought to just throw it up on the main page. Why throw out all of this amazing writing, right? Right?

I’ve actually been wanting to write about Obama for some time now, particularly why I support him, but haven’t done so yet. Laziness, maybe. But Paul’s comment got me thinking of all the reasons I do like Obama, and why I think he’d be a fine choice for President. Also: there’s not a lot of anti-Obama stuff out in the MSM, and, helpfully, Paul’s gathered a bunch of it all in one place, so I have something to argue against, which is a pretty easy way to lay out one’s support of something. So here is a link to Paul’s comment. Scroll down; it’s the fourth one. And below is my response. So anyway, thanks Paul for starting up an Obama discussion.

So! About halfway through your comment, Paul, you provide a list of links to web pages with anti-Obama sentiments contained therein. I think the only person on your list who can reasonably be said to have laid a glove on Obama is Paul Krugman. I’ve read a few of Krugman’s columns on Obama and his main problem with Barack is that Krugman thinks Obama’s emphasis on unity between red and blue states is exactly the wrong tack to take after eight years of this awful administration. In that, I think he may have a point. There's a debate to be had there.

But as for ZNet writer and “black militant” Paul Street to accuse Obama of truth-twisting simply because Obama said, "Don't tell me I'm not coming home to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody marched. I'm here because you all sacrificed for me,” even though he was born four years before the Selma marches and six before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, is ridiculous. If Paul Street wants to deride Obama because of his too-safe "present" votes in the Illinois state legislature for example, fine, but it’s difficult to go after Obama as just another lying politician. Yes, Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, hardly a hotbed of racial unrest, and yes it was years after the Selma marches, but for Street to ignore the metaphorical point Obama was actually making about how far he’s come and why, reveals Street to be a partisan with his own agenda, and appallingly dismissive of the civil rights movement.

Looking through Paul Street's indictment of Obama I'm struck by how lazy and un-indicting it actually is. Take this:

"Around the same time that [Obama] was making historically idiotic claims about owing his existence to the Civil Rights Movement..."

If Street really means to suggest that had Martin Luther King, Abernathy, Bayard Rustin and thousands of others involved in the Civil Rights Movement NOT put pressure on the federal government to enact the Civil Rights Act, we would still be seriously considering a black man as a presidential candidate in 2008, then he just threw a sandwich board over his head that read, in big red letters, "NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY." Actually, in the 21st century, “black militant” does that pretty well all by itself.

I don't believe Street's lazy denunciation of Obama is in any way illuminating to those on the fence about Obama's candidacy.

I think you ought to give Obama a second look, Paul. I don’t think you’re being altogether fair. I have more and I’ll post it up later; I don’t want these posts to be so long that no one reads them.


nathan said...

I love Papa...but come on. Obama is WAY too "establishment" for him. After all, he's never blown up any buildings in protest and he doesn't think 9-11 was a conspiracy.


Anonymous said...

I think the comment about Obama claiming he owed his existence to the civil rights movement was referencing Obama's speech in Selma, Alabama where they commemorated the "Bloody Sunday" voting rights demonstration of 1965. He implied his parents conceived him after meeting at the march.

Obama said: "There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Ala. Don't tell me I'm not coming home to Selma, Ala."

Obama was born in 1961, and the Selma march occurred in 1965. The New York Times reported that when the senator was asked about the discrepancy later that day, he clarified: "I meant the whole civil rights movement."

Dickie Slush

blankfist said...

I have to agree with Paul on this one, Crane. I thin he's right, for the most part.

You may see the Diebold CEO as being a Bushie, but I don't. Big money Bush supporters aren't supporting him because they like the cut of his jaw. I could even imagine most don't like him, but for public appearances they want him in office to increase their unilateral financial stranglehold. I agree with Paul, because he's correct in labeling Obama and Clinton as neo-cons (or neo-liberals). I've often said there is little difference between the blues and the reds except for the face on the man (or woman).

Nearly ll of the Republican and Democrat candidates might as well be the same person with a few minor tweaks to domestic policy. They're all horrible, horrible politicians. They're all part of the Council on Foreign Relations, and they all are bankrolled. None of them would stand to do any good as our president. I can only find two Democrat candidates and one Republican I can side with in this current race: Kucinich, Paul, and Gravel. Still, I can find faults in all of them.

But, what's worse than a charade of well meaning intentions I see on the campaign trail is how little most people are capable of seeing the bigger picture. I stand against universal health care, personally, because I don't think it will work. But, I'd welcome it with open arms if it meant we could abolish the WTO or the IMF in the process. Why? Because the latter is of more political significance. I'm not for increased federal welfare or increasing federal spending on a failed "no child left behind" education policy, but I'd be more than happy to accept that if it also meant we could separate banking interest and the military industrial complex from Washington. At the end of the day, it comes down to what is a bigger priority. Do we want to end the war in Iraq? Or do we want politicians who we know (WE KNOW!) are being bankrolled to tell us we're spreading freedom and democracy across this planet? Do we want to retain our sovereignty? Or do we wish to lose it through foreign treaties disguised as trade agreements?

I'll tell you who I think will win this years election: Clinton. Crane, by your comments, you seem to think Diebold is beholden to the Republican party, but I think that's grossly misinterpreting them. They're supporting the neo-cons and special interests, and of the recent decades that has been Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and Dubya. Next will be Hillary Clinton, I think. But, it doesn't matter. These rich, rich men have stolen our country from us, and they've pitted us against each other using the MSM and the two party system. To hedge their bets, they've used their influence to get shills into the candidacy.

I wonder who Nathan is voting for this year? Maybe Chiang Kai-shek?

blankfist said...

I have a wireless keyboard and it doesn't like to transmit every keystroke, so I apologize for the misspellings.

blankfist said...

One more thing:

I like this guy. A LOT!

nathan said...

Jesus Christ. Heath, you sound like a cult member. I love it!

What is it about Ron Paul, that makes all of his supporters sound like automatons?

Anonymous said...

Crane - I truly appreciate you taking this seriosuly.

However, a few things before we proceed. Yes, I am to the left, left of Obama and the Clintons. I can't stand them because they have hijacked the Democratic party and turned it into a party for Big Business. My last post about neoliberalism and regarding Clinton's policies prove my point.

You might be for those policies - that is not my argument. My argument is against the marketing scheme promlugated by Obama and HLC handlers that they are for "progressive" change and that they support the worker against the power of the owner. It is as simple as that. Based on the evidence - they just don't. Outside of the Green Party and Peace and Freedom Party (which rarely make a dent in the election cycle) - there is no party in this country supporting progressive values. I am here to puncture the balloon of myth. Obama is a recycled and new and improved Clinton. He or HLC will be bad for workers and bad for the future of this country.

Of course, Republicans are horrible - and more extreme - so what to do?

You should truly READ all of the posts by Paul Street and Glen Ford. They are older, experienced and have fought at the front lines, from the grass roots level (black panthers, etc) of the class war from the black perspective. They cannot stand a brother who tries to make himself "safe" for the white man by pretending that RACE DOESN'T MATTER. IT DOES. And it always will as long as you have capitalist exploitation, as long as blacks don't receive reparations for slavery, as long as black communities crumble (watch NEW ORLEANS rebuilding now and what is happening to these poor people's homes).

Moreover, Obama's yearning for "hope" and to transcend divisiveness smacks of a fascist 3rd way - one that forgets the great historic strife between workers and owners.

Obama is the antitode to this strife. The Elite/Establishment class are licking their lips.


Anonymous said...

Here is Obama's voting record since he has been in the Senate.

Of course, I judge someone by their actions, not what they have to say. Obama's feel good oratory skills are great for a Spielberg film - but his policies leave much to be desired.

Let's review:

First off let's see how many crucial votes he missed -

**I've noticed he avoids voting for "controversial legislation".


1) Vote 207: On the Cloture Motion: DID NOT VOTE TO CENSOR ATTNY GEN GONZALES

2) Vote 147: H R 1591:
House and Senate conferees approved this legislation providing $124.2 billion primarily for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and setting benchmarks and a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but President Bush vetoed the bill on May 1.

** Now, as a Progressive - I would have fought to cut funding completely for the war. Of course, most DLC dems capitulated and voted for it.

3) Vote 262: H R 6061: H.R. 6061; Secure Fence Act of 2006

4) Vote 181: S 2766: This amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill would have set a firm deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. - VOTED NO ON THIS!

5)Vote 29: H R 3199: Reauthorized a slightly modified version of the 2001 USA Patriot Act. - YES ON THIS.

6) Vote 9: S 5: Sought to curtail the ability of plaintiffs to file class-action lawsuits against corporations by making cases that were filed in multiple states the responsibility of federal courts. VOTED YES ON THIS.

7) Vote 213: H R 6: Offered tax breaks and incentives in what supporters said was an effort to spur oil and gas companies to provide innovative wasy to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, conserve resources and reduce pollution. VOTED YES - his big giveaway to energy companies. Yes, big business prevails!

To be fair, here are some of votes that I liked and was surprised.

Vote 259: S 3930: S. 3930 As Amended; Military Commissions Act of 2006 - VOTED NO!

Vote 229: On the Cloture Motion: Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consider H.R.5970; Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006 - VOTED NO on this.

Vote 44: S 256: Made it harder for people to erase debt by declaring bankruptcy. - VOTED NO.

Vote 170: S 1307: Established a free trade zone between the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; a separate agreement with the Dominican Republican was also included in the measure. VOTED NO



Anonymous said...

Here is where Obama voted against the Dems on key issues.

- Paul

Anonymous said...

Here is the voting record of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

A true progressive.

Notice the stark differences.


Gretchen said...

Sanders rocks. It's because he's from VERMONT. Actually, I think he's originally from NY, but we forgive him that.