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2012 Obama fans shaping up to be worse than 2008's

Glenn Greenwald has a fine exegesis here, in which he links to Matt Browner Hamlin:

What’s remarkable to me is the extent to which any approving citation by liberals like Greenwald or Stoller of Ron Paul’s notably good positions on foreign policy and the drug war is how reflexively they get accused of supporting Ron Paul or condoning of Paul’s reprehensible racist newsletters. Greenwald goes so far as to spend eight paragraphs explaining and predicting how frequently people make tribal responses to any criticism or support of a given pol, thereby assuming statements like “Ron Paul is to the left of Obama on surveillance,” means “I support Ron Paul over Obama.” Nonetheless, that’s exactly the sort of response Greenwald received (as we see with tweets from these prominent liberal bloggers).

The mere mention of an alternative to Obama, be it a primary challenge, a third party challenge, a Republican to his left on many issues or whatever else, simply causes fits. It’s remarkable to watch, especially as it relates to positions where Obama has been unquestionably not what the Democratic Party has sold us for the last eighty years.

If Occupy Wall Street is an indication of anything, it’s that our current political and economic structures are broken. We need new solutions and I find it hard to believe that the new solutions will exist on the clean, partisan lines that currently exist. That means there are openings for trans-partisan organizing where we work with the people and organizations who agree with us on a particular issue. As Stoller notes, sorting out “the contradictions of modern liberalism” is going to be a tough process and debates like the one that is catalyzing around Ron Paul should become more common. And that’s fine by me.


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Submitted by gob on

My staunchly pro-Obama relatives (2009: he's a "great man"), after going silent for a few months, are now arguing about whether to vote for him or not. The best they have: "consider the alternative".

No wonder Obama's forces are freaking out.

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Submitted by nycweboy on

...Greenwald is on doesn't do all that much for me; I don't particularly buy all this "liberal" angst he describes when people "bring up Ron Paul." Bring him up all you like - I just think Paul's wrong about his overall theory of governance, and however appealing some of his tangential stances are, the central premise of libertarianism, in regards to an extremely weak central national government, seem entirely antithetical to the kind of political ideal on which I was raised. Greenwald's spent way too much time and energy putting himself in this position of deciding what liberalism looks like, and while I think we need some discussion of our most basic principles, no one really is in a position to serve as the gatekeeper of what constitutes progressivism. And certainly, I don't look for that from Glenn Greenwald, of almost anyone.

The point Greenwald has been endlessly trying to state and restate isn't that hard - Paul looks interesting to a wider swath of potential voters because his positions don't fit neatly into the traditional two party box; as welcome as that may be, as much as it pushes all of us to wonder about the usefulness of either box, none of it makes Ron Paul a viable candidate for anyone but a small few. And frankly, an alternative world where Ron Paul would manage to attract a majority strikes me as a far worse prospect.

The problem, I think, is that Greenwald, never mind Paul, is no brave truth teller bucking the entrenched establishment, however much he may fancy himself as rebel with a cause. His all-too-easy "they'll say I'm a Ron Paul supporter" protestations are both unnecessary and over the top, yet another way for Greenwald to defeat straw opponents with faux concerns rather than admit, honestly, that the problem with taking Ron Paul seriously is... Ron Paul. The reality is that most liberals are not looking at Ron Paul, hearing his libertarian blather and having some crisis of liberal conscience; they're hearing an occasionally interesting idea mixed in with a lot of nonsense, and dismissing it. At heart, what Greenwald seems to dislike is the American public (who, in toto, can't match his genius), and that problem is his... not ours, certainly not mine.

Submitted by Alcuin on

I entirely agree with you on Paul's theory of governance. But I think you are being too hard on Greenwald - do you expect Americans to flock to communist and socialist websites for an alternative view of the problems that plague this country? Greenwald is serving a useful function - who, other than he (and perhaps Matt Taibbi) is calling out the has-beens and useful idiots who are promoting their shriveled consciences to the American public in their "race" for the presidency? I certainly can't fault Greenwald for disliking the American public. Any public who can vote for Santorum for president doesn't rank high in respect in my book.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

is no judge of what liberals think, but I think in your 3rd paragraph you go too far. Do a search on Greenwald on Twitter and you will see a storm of hatefulness, all of which would show up on his timeline. Now he can block on those people, but each time he writes something critical of Obama, the process will repeat itself.

And the hate is not limited to Greenwald. Joan Walsh catches it because she publishes Greenwald. Chris Hayes catches it each time he has Greenwald on his program, so does Olbermann and Uygur. This is a concerted effort to intimidate Greenwald, and failing that, isolate him. It takes a good deal of spine to stand up to that.

Submitted by lambert on

Greenwald is exactly "a brave truth teller against the establishment" because:

1. He's telling the truth* and

2. Getting targeted by Obama fans and operatives as a result.

NOTE * Isn't it telling that after all the horseshit the OFB shovelled in 2008 about Obama being the anti-war candidate, that when they're confronted with a genuine** anti-war candidate, they have no real play but "Look! Over there!"

NOTE ** For some definition of "genuine." Personally, I think Paul is the 2012 version of hopey change, just from the right, and if he does in fact bring the troops home, that will only be to turn the US into a garrison state faster than otherwise. But perhaps I'm too cynical.

wanderindiana's picture
Submitted by wanderindiana on

Oh no, Glenn Greenwald, the current system is far from broken. The system is strong and getting stronger every day. For whom the system is strong, for whom it exists, that is the question.

Now, in the case of Ron Paul, the draw is not the ideology or policy positions of the man. Rather, it is the dream of the broken system. It is the ache for revolution, and the thought of a man not beholden to either Republicans or Democrats plugged into the system brings hope of real change.

The liberal drawn to Ron Paul does not believe in the man but believes that the man just might gum up the machine enough that it might indeed break.

tom allen's picture
Submitted by tom allen on

"the current system is far from broken" -- sounds like what they were saying before the stock market crashed in 1929. Now the Euro's about to collapse in Europe, and with it presumably the stock market will take another nosedive as well.

A hollow tree still looks strong and healthy until one last gust of wind topples it. :-(

Submitted by Alcuin on

"The liberal drawn to Ron Paul does not believe in the man but believes that the man just might gum up the machine enough that it might indeed break."


wanderindiana's picture
Submitted by wanderindiana on being promoted with an ad saying, "The system's not broken... it's FIXED."

Just sayin'.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

TINA - There Is No Alternative is the cry of neo-liberals and neo cons. We have "Pat and Mike, They look alike" in presidential candidates. It is inverted totalitarianism. Anybody that brings up alternatives to empire like the Occupy movement or Paul or Nader are marginalized and called "crazy" or "crackpots" or "dirty hippies" or eventually "terrorists".

I am reading Jerry Fresia's book "Toward an American Revolution" that Alcuin suggested. It has been this way since the first "settlers" came and stole stuff. The elites called mechanics and farmers "rude" and "the mob" who should be ruled by their betters.

Stoller points out that wars were started primarily for bankers' and merchants' interests and always have been. The biggest war presidents were Democrats. There should be some soul searching going on, says Stoller, Greenwald, Taibbi and a few others, but few want to stir the pot or look for all the other alternatives out there like co-operatives like Mondragon and practicing a more gifting economic model.

Degrading Greenwald is not useful. It is trying to herd us all into the veal pen. I won't go willingly.

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

and I've blasted the "boyz(Stoller, Greenwald and the like)" on Paul. They need to quit saying Paul is good on civil liberties, he's not.

Part of civil liberties includes rights such as the right to be free from discrimination or to make your own life choices(like marriage or reproduction.) Ron Paul sucks on that.

Furthermore if you are supporting and putting forward Paul's positions then yes, you are supporting his candidacy(You don't have to promise to vote for someone to provide support for their views). They'd be better served to actually support a candidate that actually did match their views like Anderson or Stein. Instead they've decided that Ron Paul should take up all the oxygen in the room. Why? My guess is this is part 2 of their super duper plan to support the candidate that promises to end war. Good grief, do they even know that Paul is on record as calling the President impotent in regards to actually declaring war(it's in Congress' hands.) So what does a President Paul exactly do if Congress declares war on Iran? Based on his own words, he'd have to support their decision.

Submitted by lambert on

... to support a candidate.

Imagine that each candidate holds a portfolio of positions. Candidate A holds positions P1, P2, P3, Candidate B holds positions P1, P4, P5.

How would we pressure Candidate B to adopt P2 except by saying that we were in favor of it?

UPDATE Good point on Anderson and Stein. But I don't know who they are, and I do try to keep track. Links?

Submitted by Alcuin on

Rocky Anderson

Jill Stein

Not a lot, but it will get you started. I don't think Anderson has much of a chance unless he links up with the Green Party and even then, there isn't much chance of either of them making much of a dent in the political discourse of this country. But principles do count for something! Better than voting for the Droner.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

reference to Ron Paul, and they usually are -- because Ron Paul and his positions have nothing at all to do with those critiques, nor can they have anything to do with them.

Injecting Ron Paul into the discussion of what is wrong with the Democrats in power and their exercise of power (which is what Stoller, et al have done) is basically an irrelevant distraction.

The "injected matter" itself becomes the focus of attention.

So this whole story becomes one about "Ron Paul," whether or not Stoller, et al, claim they're "really" discussing some other topic: the hypocrisy, black hearts and blind loyalties of Obama supporters, eg.

If they really wanted to make that point, they could easily do it without reference to Paul -- and could do it far more effectively, in my view. But so what? They want to get everyone talking about "Ron Paul" -- and that's what they've succeeded in doing. Happy dance!

Accusations of blind loyalty (and denunciation of it) are routine in our political climate. The Other Guy always has blindly loyal followers. Always. It doesn't matter who the Other Guy is, his or her followers are always characterized as dupes and rubes and fools, tribalists being led by con artists, yadda yadda. These accusations may or may nor be accurate, but they are essentially worthless because they apply equally well to all candidates and their followers in the eyes of every other candidate and their followers.

These accusations don't have any effect at all on changing the political climate and curbing the excesses and misuses of Power. In fact, they ultimately reinforce the status quo and help generate a condition of helplessness among the electorate.

"Ron Paul" is not going to change things.

Submitted by lambert on

You write:

The "injected matter" itself becomes the focus of attention.

"becomes" showing lack of agency, eh?

My reading of both Stoller and Greenwald's post is that it's not RP that's the discussion, but rather the odd, or not so odd fact, that the issues of war and executive power that RP raises ought to be "liberal" issues, but aren't. RP is the only (perceived) anti-war candidate in the race? How did that happen?

The agents who made that argument "become" a discussion of RP vs. Obama are Obama's supporters, not Stoller and Greenwald.

Now, I take your point, and agree with it, that such "becoming" was inevitable. But first, there's the simple question of fact: RP, at least as a matter of perception, wants to end the empire, and no other candidate does. Shouldn't that rather remarkable fact be remarked upon? Second, without the RP hook, the discussion doesn't scale out as it did. If the perfect critique isn't read, what's the point in making it?

I think that Cwaltz makes the same point you do, asking (I paraphrase) "Why RP and not Anderson and Stein?" To which I'd respond "And your post on that is where?" Same deal with Stoller: Better this post than silence, no?

UPDATE Tweaked the headline and the lead.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

So people are covering the Republican primaries and caucuses. There are debates where the candidates are stating their positions. Do these primaries include the Green Party and Justice Party? If so, are they being ignored? It's kind of like the Occupy movement. How do you get attention for a discussion on wealth inequality and the whole screwed up capitalist system? Not by waiting for some candidate to mention it.

Green Justice needs to Occupy somewhere.

I, for one as stated before, am pleased that Stoller opened up the can of worms that the Bourbon Democrats have always been war mongering elitists with little interest in the common man. It's a myth. I'm a little miffed at myself for buying into it for so long. But now I am wide awake.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

It is vital that they stay out of it and above it. What I meant is that Stein and Anderson should take a cue from the movement and physically occupy the debates until they are allowed to also have their voices heard on MSM. They should not appeal to Occupy. They should instead go for civil disobedience if they are not allowed into the national election process.

And that's already more energy than I wish to use for this awful primary period.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

You write:

the issues of war and executive power that RP raises ought to be "liberal" issues, but aren't.

and it is simply false on several levels. War and executive power overreach are very definitely "liberal" issues and have been heavily featured and read far more widely than Ron Paul's critiques of similar issues for many years. In fact, they are fundamentals of leftist criticism of Power; not just of Obama and Democrats. The Left is imbued and immersed in it.

Ron Paul and his ilk are irrelevant to that discussion. Their perspective on those issues (among others) is at best tangential.

On the other hand, injecting RP into the discussion is a surefire way to raise a ruckus and generate thousands upon thousands of Ron Paul Flame War posts, which is exactly what's happened -- despite all the pious protestation of Stoller, et al, that no such of a thing was intended. Of course it was intended! They knew it would happen, and that's why they did it.

Ron Paul has nothing to do with the liberal critique of war and empire and the imperial presidency, nothing, as he'd be the first to tell you. His positions have no bearing on what the left and liberals are concerned with. They arrive at similar conclusions from different premises.

The thousands and thousands of mutually accusatory comments which have resulted from the Stoller, et al, posts featuring Ron Paul haven't moved the political discussion at all, at least not that I can see. The leftist/liberal/progressive critiques of Power and its abuses are still as valid and as accessible as they ever were, and Ron Paul's position is still irrelevant to them.

What's happened is that thousands of people have read and responded to positions and critiques of Ron Paul; genuine left/liberal critiques of Power are swamped under the circumstances.

In fact, the argument can be made that Stoller's incendiary piece and the others in that vein are worse than silence because they transform what are actually pretty mainstream attitudes toward war, empire, and the imperial presidency into the fringe beliefs of the wackiest Republican in the Clown Car.

Submitted by Alcuin on

If opposition to war, empire and the imperial presidency "are actually pretty mainstream attitudes", then why do we keep electing politicians who are war-mongers, empire-builders, and boosters of the imperial presidency? I'd reply to that question by saying that opposition to war, empire and the imperial presidency are not mainstream beliefs and they never have been. What is mainstream is a belief in individualism and American Exceptionalism, and those beliefs undergird support for war-mongers, empire-builders and imperial presidents. Yes, the Left has always opposed those beliefs, but there has never been a Left to amount to anything in American history. The reason Ron Paul has had such a rabid following for so many years is because he appeals to those fundamental American beliefs: individualism and the ability to get ahead, despite all obstacles. That, after all, is what empire-building is all about, isn't it? And how far from hero worship, which is absolutely American to the core, is an imperial presidency?

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Submitted by Aeryl on

Opposition to war and empire is a mainstream American attitude, we keep electing war-mongering empire builders because that's all that's on offer, because that's what the elite wants, and our structures are designed to ensure that what the elite want, the elite gets.

Americans support socialized medicine, progressive taxes and job spending. We don't get these things because those with power don't want them, so the politicians aren't doing them.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

Our elections -- especially at the federal level -- are simulacrums; what the People want or oppose is beside the point.

Federal elections, especially for the Presidency, are tightly controlled and managed and have been for a very long time. Ask any third party candidate, they will tell you.

Opposition to war and empire and the imperial presidency are widespread, typically (though not always) majority positions, and such opposition is fully mainstream -- you can't get much more mainstream.

But strangely, the people we elect -- no matter who they are or from which party -- tend to fight against these mainstream positions to support war and empire and so forth.

That's not so much a problem of the electorate -- who do their best under the circumstances -- as it is of the political and electoral system that does its best to prevent the People from actually having a voice in their government. You don't get a vote -- or a veto -- on policy at the federal level. You do get to choose between personalities, though, so that's a plus, right?

There's a reason for it. It's not simply that the elites want it that way (though they do) or that money is so corrupting (though it is); it is built in to our electoral system, our winner take all system -- a system that neither major party has any interest in changing.

Submitted by Alcuin on

Jerry Fresia, in Towards an American Revolution: the Constitution & Other Illusions explains the points you made in your last paragraph very well. If "opposition to war and empire" are so widespread, then why was I the only person in my high school class who opposed the Vietnam War? Sorry, I just don't agree with your take on that, but I agree with everything else you wrote.

Submitted by Alcuin on

There is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative...

Lambert got it right in his post:

"The mere mention of an alternative to Obama, be it a primary challenge, a third party challenge, a Republican to his left on many issues or whatever else, simply causes fits. It’s remarkable to watch, especially as it relates to positions where Obama has been unquestionably not what the Democratic Party has sold us for the last eighty years."

Writing that "that's all that is on offer" and "that's what the elite wants" is so defeatist. I used to be a liberal - I am no longer. Liberals are enablers for corporate capitalism and must be exposed - Ron Paul is doing an excellent job of that. Stand up for what you believe in and don't vote for anyone who doesn't believe what you believe in. If there is no one to vote for, then work to promote someone who does share your beliefs. Don't vote for war-mongers, empire builders, and boosters of the imperial presidency.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

in the U.S. ever except for a time when anarchist communists and anarchist syndicalists (emphasis on trade unionism) were making headway in the union movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. So popular were they becoming that the PTB needed to ratchet up some of that American exceptionalism patriotic war fervor to get us involved in WWI which managed to "decrease the surplus population", as Scrooge would say, invite a flu epidemic, and squelch the workers movements.

I don't consider the Progressive movement really the "left". They are primarily interested in reforming the system, not looking for alternatives like worker run workplaces and other forms of co-operatives. In Europe they have had more success. But now I look to South America to see if they can come up with something more workable than right libertarianism or neo-liberalism.

It is interesting that both early anarchists (left libertarians) believed in individualism (freedom to be me) and communism at once. The difference between them and right libertarians is that of private property. Not coincidentally, many early left libertarians were gay. They wanted to be free to be themselves and not be subject to imprisonment for being "different". Read Oscar Wilde's "The Soul of Man Under Socialism" written right before he was jailed for 2 years for having an affair with a man. Anarchists are also interested in less and more meaningful work. Utopian, yes. But there is an difference between vision and a dream.

I find private property a burden. At the same time, I love getting in a car and blasting down the road in a new pair of shoes. None of this is easy. All of us are going to have to give up stuff and put some of our wants on hold.

Honesty will help.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

was a Republican-Corporatist-Rightist means to thwart the rise of Democratic-Populism in this country, and it's been very successful. Most of the early Progressives were Republicans and a major point of the Progressive Movement was to beat down the Populists and the Socialists and whatnot, the rising Left at the end of the 19th Century and of course to keep power out of the hands of Democrats.

Democrats adopted Progressivism under the second Roosevelt -- for better or worse. Democrats have never been much of a leftist/liberal party in any case, and I think they have always been more comfortable as the "conservative" party in contrast to Republican "radicalism."

You're right that the genuine Left in this country is small -- essentially all but non-existent as a political force. You do not find very many genuine Leftists in office anywhere in the country. Yet strangely, wide swaths of the American People agree with Leftist positions on the issues. But they can't get true Leftists elected.

Part of the reason why is that our political and electoral system operates to all but prohibit any but a "conservative" and a "radical" party. A genuine People's Party (which would tend to be strongly Leftist, anti-war, anti-empire) doesn't fit except on the fringe.

So. That's where it will sit.

Submitted by Alcuin on

I got ignored by the people at the New Progressive Alliance (a splinter group that got started on FDL) for dissing the Progressive Era - it is so wonderful to be in the company of people here who don't think I'm crazy when I claim that the Progressive Era was not progressive! It was a pleasure to read your and ChePasa's comments.

Submitted by Alcuin on

I don't have the time to read the Wilde link tonight - will do tomorrow (my day off!!). Thanks for the link, even if it does need to be fixed!

Submitted by lambert on

... but when I Googled for Jill Stein posts at Corrente over the last month, I found exactly two hits, one on the 19th of December, and the other on the 21st. On both days, I was out of commission due to RL issues, so I missed both posts. Repetition is the key to getting the word out.

So there's no point complaining about lack of publicity unless the publicity is done. (I mean, why am I the one adding Stein's State of the Union response to the Calendar?)

Corrente has been very friendly to emergent party candidates in the past. The tools are here. The platform is here. Use them!

NOTE This is really a response to this set of comments at NC, but I don't really like to post "Come on over!" posts (except at the sort of site that's already banned me).