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Obama and netroots

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Two posts from Peter Daou:

How a handful of liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency

Liberal bloggers are bringing down Obama, part II: It’s NOT the economy, stupid, it’s Obama’s character

It is easy in our anger over the blogs wars of 2008 and the Public Option Sparkle Pony follies to lose sight of the fact that many formerly supportive of Obama have become increasingly critical.

My sense is that these bloggers are not ready to abandon Obama or the Democrats, but many of their readers are.

In any case, the 2012 election will be very different. I seriously doubt there will be significant fundraising, or even volunteer recruitment.

No votes yet


Submitted by libbyliberal on

analysis applies to most of the cherry-picking still cronied for access well read or watched "professional" or "near professional" progressives. "lesser evilism" so seductive along with "and they just won't let Obama have his way. Not his fault!"

Chris Floyd takes on Digby and HER moral schizophrenia re Obama in this link which I think is worth a read. lizp. brought up M. Moore in this realm, too, commenting on my psy-ops blog.

Jane H. has a political not moral imagination imho. Turning on the single payer people showed no moral imagination or forest for the trees liberal horizon savvy. All that bridge-destroying contempt for the liberal "purists" while all that seductive media access to help position the trojan horse of a public option. To be allowed in the media bipartisan playground, ya gotta disenfranchise your left flank and many who weren't even far lefties just smart people who got single payer!

Glenn Greenwald is someone I turn to when I want the real law and its essence, not the amoralists trying to technically drain human decency out of the "law" to cover their ambitions and those of their cronies ... and their and their cronies' asses.

Submitted by lefttown on

Thanks for pointing us to Chris Floyd's criticism of Digby and other loyal Obama followers. I particularly liked this:

"Oh, they often shake their heads sadly or waggle their fingers sternly at some action or policy of Obama’s. They often can’t understand why he does these things – cut taxes for the rich, bail out the bankers, torture Bradley Manning, form commissions to gut Social Security, escalate and prolong the Terror War, kill hundreds of people with drone missiles, etc., etc. But nothing douses their fundamental (fundamentalist?) fervor to keep him in power and to scorn those who oppose him. Nothing keeps them from seeing themselves as his true and faithful "base," still waiting for him to return to them, despite his many betrayals."

If Jane H.'s goal was to drain her blog of left flank "purists," she has accomplished her mission, I would say.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

thanks for the lift.

You know, I once wrote a blog called "Why I Hate Oprah!" In a way it was shameless of me, I thought being shocking would bring me a few more readers ... and truth be told I couldn't hate Oprah in an emotional sense ... how could one hate Oprah -- America's teacher -- and I had tuned in to her for years and appreciated the consciousness raising she has done (my super self-helpy years which I don't regret) and was able to discount the massive marketing she launched. I did move on long ago from her viewership... but I will never be able to "hate" her but if one could hate intellectually and philosophically ... then I do hate Oprah ... BIG TIME ... she bestowed her mighty seal of approval onto Obama and that cronyism I swear gave him the presidency. At least was a MAJOR PUSH.

I'd like to say, well, Oprah got fooled, too, but she takes her cronyism seriously and to this day is still enabling Obama et al. So I do not forgive her this massive wounding of our America by helping Obama.

I used to witness her pitch bad movies on her show for her actor friends, and convince the audience they had just seen the greatest movie and they would collude with her, for her affection or maybe confused and thinking they maybe had missed something in the bad movie and what the hey they were a small part of the hipsters of Oprah's orbit, and I thought wow ... she is betraying her slavishly adoring fans by sacrificing truth for cronyism. And it showed Oprah's humanity and her vulnerability ... she was loyal .. maybe putting generosity over honesty, though not loyalty to her fans, but to her personal cronies. It showed Oprah's moral compass wasn't working at certain times, not at all.

Getting someone to lose time and the cost of a movie ticket was one thing. Getting Obama in the White House to block the restoration of America after Bush's wrecking crew, and not only is Obama wasting time and opportunity, he has escalated the wrecking with his own amoral wrecking crew even more shameless and out of the shadows in your face than Bush's. But people keep tuning in for Oprah and for Obama, eyes wide shut. And personality over character in America!

Someone very dear to me this week reamed me, in his gentle but tough-loving way, for disturbingly hating Obama more than Bush and calling out struggling Americans like him as good Germans. I gulped since I assumed he was more on my page than not. I said, maybe I do hate Obama more. Maybe because more people don't get him, and so many people got the evil of Bush. And I think we are all Good Germans. Myself included. And we need to turn that around.

I do think as a blogger, and what he was responding to, I need to rein in my righteous stridency (h/t to Paul Street and JuliaWilliams et al.) but with my loved one, I felt awed, since I thought he got it, the immensity of the Obama con. It jarred me and I am still jarred. why corrente and other obama calling out sites are so important, precious, as harbors for the marginalized people of conscience and awareness.

Obama is king collector of benefits of the doubt. He out-teflons Reagan.

Once you cross the line into clarity there is no going back re Obama. And I am glad I am on this side of the moral divide. And more and more I see the wisdom of the old Kevin McCarthy movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Let yourself drift into the "sleep" state, via cronyism and denial, and you have lost your own compass.

Obama has led so many to the wrong side of history.

There will be justice and recognition I do believe. May it be sooner rather than later. And our ripples are significant and making a difference to be sure. Though it is a bumpy ride at times for messengers. Ask Bradley Manning.

Submitted by lefttown on

It sounds like your dear friend--like my sisters, brothers, and others I know--don't, as you wrote, "feel the immensity of the Obama con." Maybe they don't study the issues with the intensity that many of us on the far left do? Personally, I don't feel a bit bad that my anger--and all the feelings associated with it--towards Obama is much more intense than my anger was for Bush. After all, Bush did not tell the country that he understood how wounded and afraid we were and that under his leadership, we would be able to heal and feel confident once again....only to stick his knife deeper into our wounds and grind us even further under his boot once he was elected. I feel great animosity towards Obama, because he took advantage of people's vulnerability and their fragile trust in order to get elected, and then he stomped on that trust with his lies and his betrayals and continues to do so. Maybe people just can't bear to grasp the full extent of Obama's treachery, I don't know.
Years ago, my sisters, my friends (and, heck, my eighty-six-year-old mother) watched Oprah every day. I think Oprah made women feel they were part of one big sisterhood. Am I right? I didn't watch her. Do you see any comparison between Oprah and her followers and the followers of bloggers who practice mild-mannered activism today? Maybe I'm stretching it.
Unlike many others, I'm a big fan of anger. Anger is what gets me going, it allows me to cut through the mind-numbing bullshit propaganda our so-called leaders spew every day, and it is cleansing. In my opinion, anger doesn't lead to violence: pent-up feelings of frustration and helplessness are what lead to violence. I don't feel taking over politicians' offices (what Chris Hedges recommends), angrily marching, and getting in the faces of politicans are violent actions.
I, too, believe there will be justice, though, and however that will be accomplished, I think there will be a turnaround sooner rather than later. I want my loved ones to know peace in my lifetime.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Casts those who got it right on facts and policy as irrational.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

I've no problem admitting I'm angry. And I like to think I'm angry for very good reasons. Anger is not always irrational- and it is always honest.

How did that old bumper sticker go? "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." It still applies. That we can justify our anger makes it so much the better, because in that case it most certainly is not irrational.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Here, anger is said to make us "lose sight of" the supposedly meaningful criticism of Obama from big bloggers. That is, our vision is clouded by our troubling anger, however well-earned it may or may not be.

IMHO, what's being lost sight of here is that shallow-enders are part of the problem. Giving too much credence to criticism that regularly ends in reluction is a more likely vision problem.

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Submitted by nycweboy on

Handful of Liberal Bloggers... strikes me as the description of what's out there to read, these days. Where are all these liberal blogs? I can count on one hand, right now, the bloggers I am going to, regularly, for anything remotely interesting or compelling when it comes to liberal politics. And that's not counting Glenn Greenwald.

I'd love to see some useful, coordinated discussions of the Obama Presidency that offer solid, substantive critiques from the left. In general... they're just not there. To the extent that they are, it's more marginal sites. The reality, right now, is that most Democrats aren't looking for, and generally won't find, a lot of writing which challenges the liberal status quo. And that status quo is backing President Obama as the best, possibly only defense against further right wing gains. There was a point, somewhere in 2006-7, when it seemed like there was a lot of energy to make the blogosphere a real locus of lefty progressive ideas and action. Much of that energy and sense of purpose, I'm convinced, was corrupted by the Obama team's strategy of harnessing bloggy energy to their own end - namely, the President's election, and little more. Since 2008, I've seen consolidation within the lefty blog establishment, a mainstreaming of establishment voices, and a deeply weakened progressive contingent. I'd love to be wrong... but tell me, where are there more than a "handful of liberal bloggers"?

Submitted by lambert on

... because, after all, who would make them visible? The press? The Ds? The access bloggers? As we saw in the single payer fight, the goal of all those entities is to marginalize the left, either through censorship and suppression or "roach motel" co-optation tactics.

That means, like almost everything else these days, that there are no numbers on what's most interesting, because the numbers aren't collected.

FWIW, I'm amazed at how many creative and left/unaffiiated blogs there are out there that are about the size of Corrente -- rounding up ;-) 3K per day. 3000 is not a big number, but say there are 10,000 with 3000: That's a 3,000,000 readership. Not huge, but if the readers are opinion leaders, important.

I take as a proxy for the size of the left the 13% of the population that thinks Obamacare isn't liberal enough; about the same size as the tea party backers, though oddly, or not, given no voice anywhere. I'm guessing that blogs like Corrente are supporting that 13% with a readership guesstimate as above.

In any case, there's no point complaining that others aren't doing what you want. If you don't think Corrente offers a "substantive critique" then do your due diligence and find one that does; they're out there if you look. And if you don't find what you want, write it yourself. It's a big blogosphere.

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Submitted by nycweboy on

As I wrote my first comment, I contemplated how it might seem dismissive or reductive about the work of Corrente... and I regret leaving anything like that impression, because I think you do a lot of good work raising the visibility of lefty ideas and action (even when I disagree with some of what's expressed... I think the arguing is essential), and promoting the other work of smaller blogs, myself included, and I'm very appreciative of that. I agree with you - "be the change you want to see"; we need more of it.

But when we talk about a "handful of lefty bloggers" I think it's fair to ask... how are we going to build this small, fractured energy into something more? This cannot be all there is, or all there can be. And if, as you point out, we can't count on mainstream press, "access bloggers" or others... what can we do amongst ourselves? That's the challenge I think we're facing, and I freely admit to being part of the problem. But I'd like to be part of a solution, and at least, I think the pressure's on to keep looking for more.

Submitted by lambert on

... However, I think that the strategic issue for the left is decapitation. The silence of danps on this point is beginning to speak volumes.

An almost instant consequence of the kind of visibility you're looking for would be decapitation. So, I do know I'm sounding faithy on this, but if the only way to play the hand is to assume the cards fall a certain way, and there's no evidence they don't.....

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Submitted by DCblogger on

to be liberal bloggers. If you don't watch TV, if you don't read the establsihment press, you don't realize how liberal they are.

Because it took me so long to leave the Democratic party, because it was a huge wrench when it happened, I understand people who are not ready to take that step.

Besides, I am currently reading about the 80 years war and I see too many similarities between Corrente and the Dutch Calvinists. You know what they say about the Dutch, one Dutchman a theologian, two Dutchmen a church, and three Dutchmen a schism. That is kind of like Corrente. It is part of its charm, but it gets in the way of coalition building. Too much Egmont, not enough Willem van Oranje.

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Submitted by BDBlue on

I can make an argument for working within the party. The issue Floyd raises is not that they never criticize Obama, they do. His issue is that even as they recognize his complete moral failure, they still root for him. That's the part of Digby's post he's criticizing. That she recognizes that Obama believes he has the power to assassinate Americans and still essentially thinks he's on the left's side and a great guy. When Bush did these things they called for his impeachment, when Obama does them, it's "subconscious" or "because he has to".

When I read Digby's blog, I get whiplash. There will be a post that recognizes what a complete failure the national Democrats are. And then it's like she has to make amends and follow it up with something about how crazy Donald Trump is.* And then there's the inevitable post advising Obama of how he can accomplish some liberal goal which he's shown time and again he doesn't have or how he can better position himself for 2012. The same is true for Firedoglake and any number of other access blogs.

And there are easy ways for them to acknowledge the suckitude of the current national Dems and stay in the Democratic Party. They could, for example, throw Obama over and outright oppose him for the nomination and/or re-election on the grounds he's too conservative, while working to take back the House. Frankly, I don't even consider myself a Democrat anymore and even I think it's critical the Dems take the House. Because the only hope we have of slowing down the conservative train isn't re-electing Obama. Obama (with no more elections) + GOP Congress isn't going to be much different than Romney with GOP Congress. The best hope of throwing a wrench into the bipartisan march to hell is a Democratic House (they'll still sell us out, but they are further left than any other part of the three branches of Govt).

Or for that matter, I'd actually be much more forgiving, if they simply supported Obama on a straight "lesser evil" standard. That's a legitimate reason to support Obama, IMO, even if I'm done with doing that. But they don't. As Floyd points out, the most disturbing part is that it's not simply a "lesser evil" support for Obama, they still believe that Obama is a good guy when the overwhelming evidence is that he isn't. And that's what I blame them for - continuing to give Obama moral cover even as they recognize at times the very awfulness of many of the things he's done.

On a final note, I'll add that you can't possibly build a movement without something to offer the American public. Until the left develops a message beyond "vote Democratic in November", no one is going to listen to us. Not the Democrats. Not most Americans. Because most Americans have already sussed out that both parties are corrupt and not on their side. The unions are already figuring this out and trying to capitalize on it. In addition to the firefighters abandoning national politics, Trumka is also threatening to redirect monies away from the Democratic Party structure. Now, I'll believe Trumka abandons the Dems when I see it, but it's interesting. Labor may be waking up and realizing it does best when it's got it's own movement and organizing, not when it's just an arm of the Democrats. Hopefully others will follow. If they do, it may - in fact - be a way to take back the Democratic Party. But even if that doesn't work, it's a way of actually trying to move the conversation left, instead of just agreeing to move it right at a slower pace.

* The Trump stuff to me is a great tell. Donald Trump is not going to be the next President of the United States. He's not even going to be the GOP nominee. That so many progressive blogs spend so much time on him just goes to show that they aren't interested in moving the Democratic Party left, they're interested in painting the Dems as the sane alternative to the GOP.

NOTE - one great tell about what the progressive blogs care about was the healthcare debate. There was no reason to censor single payer except that Obama didn't like it. It also showed, IMO, how politically tone deaf they are. Medicare for All would be a much easier sell to the public. They either didn't recognize that or cared more about what was the easier sell to Democratic consultants and party donors.

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Submitted by madamab on

I could not possibly agree with this more.

The issue Floyd raises is not that they never criticize Obama, they do. His issue is that even as they recognize his complete moral failure, they still root for him.

I wish these "progressives" would have the intellectual honesty to ask themselves, "What if a Republican did [fill in amoral Obama policy here]? How would I write about it then?"

Alas, they know which Party butters their bread. Therefore, the Dems are always on the side of the angels.

nycweboy's picture
Submitted by nycweboy on

I agree, BD Blue, your comment nails a lot of what's frustrating me, especially this:

On a final note, I'll add that you can't possibly build a movement without something to offer the American public. Until the left develops a message beyond "vote Democratic in November", no one is going to listen to us. Not the Democrats. Not most Americans. Because most Americans have already sussed out that both parties are corrupt and not on their side. The unions are already figuring this out and trying to capitalize on it. In addition to the firefighters abandoning national politics, Trumka is also threatening to redirect monies away from the Democratic Party structure. Now, I'll believe Trumka abandons the Dems when I see it, but it's interesting. Labor may be waking up and realizing it does best when it's got it's own movement and organizing, not when it's just an arm of the Democrats. Hopefully others will follow. If they do, it may - in fact - be a way to take back the Democratic Party. But even if that doesn't work, it's a way of actually trying to move the conversation left, instead of just agreeing to move it right at a slower pace.

nycweboy's picture
Submitted by nycweboy on

I just went back to Fire Dog Lake, as I do semi-regularly, to reassess if it's the home of this mysterious "left" I hear about so much.... and, yet again, I find myself baffled. Minor issues, hopeless tangents... is this really all we have to offer? Along with a lot of atuff about books and music (mainly older rock) that just don't interest me in the least? I like Hamsher well enough, and I agree with her much of the time - though I think generally giving her the lead role as a lefty critic of healthcare reform turned out very badly - but neither her blogging, nor FDL generally, inspire or interest me enough to keep coming back and fighting through their "my FDL" layering.

And for whatever reason, Digby just does very little for me. A lot of it is that site's design.

I guess for me, it comes to this: I don't see a lot of cohesion on the left side of the internet, and much of what seemed hopeful and revolutionary has been quickly coopted, bought out, or killed. What's left, as good as it can be at times, seems fractured, stymied, and somewhat impotent. I don't mean to disrespect or dismiss anyone's serious efforts, be they Corrente's or mine own or others. But something just isn't happening. And I'm not sure equating it to the Dutch Reformation quite makes that point, or gives us a way out.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

and most days I think of Corrente as 16th century Basel Switzerland, the place you went when Calvin excommunicated you or the Spanish Inquisition came after you, depending upon the area you were fleeing.

Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

I have yet to experience a united left on any issue in my lifetime. Maybe Vietnam, but I was born in '65, so I can't say.

The teabaggers (14 percenters) appear to be united on several points... very simple points. Yes they have FOX, they have Koch and Christian and corporate money, they even have a lot of senators and congrescritters who take them seriously. Why even the D president seems to take them more seriously than his left flank.... If the left would simply take on a small platform (without apology) in very simple terms.. we might be able to have an effect. Meanwhile we remain divided we remain diluted.

Thanks BD for the link on Trumpka, I believe big labor folding like a cheap lawn chair on SP was what killed any chance of unity from the veal pen. Considering big labor even folded on the feckless PO, it does not bode well to give them serious consideration. That said, if labor actually leaves the D party... i might very well pack my bag and help them for a few years. They still have a boatload of money, but they need to expand their base support far beyond their membership... killing bad trade agreements, health care for all (lowering their HC costs too), tripling the minimum wage, even coming up with a plan to turn much of their base MIC employees into green energy employees would be huge, for example. These seem to be no brainers to begin to accomplish broader appreciation of what big labor could mean even for those who aren't direct members, but would be direct voters, candidates, activists.. Playing defense all the time, especially when so much offense is desperately needed cannot stand.

All of which would require clear lines in the sand with D' and R'ss... away from D's and R's. While there are none, we advocate, we leave by example.

O' who?

Kathryn's picture
Submitted by Kathryn on

Geneo's post on non-violence (that was brought forward again recently) was so good... but I think that one part that was missing was about the nature of anger.

Anger comes at its very base from failed expectations. So, with Obama, oh yeah, there's some failed expectations there. The trouble with anger, if we are going to apply principles of non-violence -- is that anger is violence. And it harms the individual who is angry first as self-violence. So anger, or outrage, or righteous indignation -- all fall outside the category of non-violence. The key is to reroute the expectations of self. And one of the things that I loved about Corrente [after giving up on "liberal" blogs in general] was that Lambert just kept hammering on "Obama is a conservative" and "No Wars, Soak the Rich, Medicare for All" etc, and so also many commenters and posters as well. This is the redirection of expectations, and from that comes positive force. This was Gandhi walking to the sea to make salt, or creating and wearing homespun. This is the redirected energy, taking the despair and anger into the positive; that makes a movement... NOT a coalition.

In a "coalition" Progressives (or whatever we are now) will always be asked to submit to compromise, to the "lesser evil." And I think that this movement needs to stand on principle and create the energy in that direction. So screw compromise -- maybe in Nov 2012 I'll end up having to pull Dem for president, but up to that last second, I will write, and think, and organize, and energize on my principles -- and I am finding some excitement and some thrill in being that particular underdog. Outnumbered, out-shrilled, and ridiculed -- but you know, when you take an outsider stand, that will always be the case. Maybe if enough of us speak up on principles the "liberal bloggers" will have to engage in these conversations. Maybe. But the comments are not running as positive for Obama on those blogs as they have in the past, it feels like (and I find this amusing) change is happening.

Here in NJ there are a lot of liberal folks grumbling about the administration and I finally figured out that I have to turn their objections around into, "ok, what do you want to do about this?" And they sort of perk up a little, and the answer splits between "f**k 'em all, I'm not voting and let the crazy destroy everything and maybe we can do it better when we rebuild" and "well, who can we promote in the primaries that would be a message to the Dems that would scare the crap out of them?" That last one kind of makes everyone do the "bwahahahaha" thing, too. And it is starting to be a whole lot more fun on the GOTV front and entertainingly positive. Screw the lesser evil. I am not "in."


Submitted by lambert on

Which is interesting.

* * *

On another note, I'm glad we're making a little difference. I note that the "Obama is a conservative" riff comes from VastLeft and the 9-word platform from danps, A lot of times I'm the bass player maintaining the pulse and not the lead.....

* * *

I think that anger is the inevitable outcome of injustice, but we need to let that feeling pass through us and not hold on to it and get stuck in it. Injustice is another matter, though. "No justice, no peace," to quote Obama's biggest fan, Al Sharpton.

Kathryn's picture
Submitted by Kathryn on

...Justice ALWAYS looks back.

Which if nobody else has said it, it was what I said when the ridicules "let's look forward" crap came out about the banksters.

[Thanks for giving credit where it's due, I haven't been here long enough to track them back.]


Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

develop a platform.. we take the next steps... without apology.

One act I really enjoyed participating in was when Edwards campaign at one point and MoveOn at a couple of other points in pre/primary days developed an ad... let us see it and then chip in to air it. IIRC, before MoveOn quit doing it, they quit showing us the ad they wanted to air first... which lowered my willingness to blindly contribute. Tax the rich ads alone would be great fun... in print or video. A few hundred to few thousand folk with twenty bucks goes a long way quickly on cable.

As a matter of fact I'm going to email Robert Greenwald who is correctly ramping up calls to get out of Afghanistan now to consider doing this.

Edit: Done

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I think that's just who we are - if we were the sort of people who want to fall in behind a leader, we'd probably be conservatives. We tend to be the ones who question things, and we're usually the folks who celebrate individuality and doing one's own thing. Cooperation is a more complicated thing than just doing whatever the lead ape says, as most people are reminded any time they try to arrange a group outing to a movie.

Frankly, it's hard to think how the Democrats would make us more divided than we are naturally.

The upside of that trait, though, is that people who choose to do a particular thing will probably be more committed to that cause than a group of followers, who tend to be more committed to leaders.

So, if it's who we are, we should probably embrace it and learn to make it a strength.

I'm probably belaboring the obvious again, but it's what I do...

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

movement and women's lib movement in the late 60's, I have to say that it was the MOVEMENT, the coordination of all kinds of groups, women, elderly (Grey Panthers), Black Panthers, students, veterans, etc., a wide and rowdy mix of the American public that came together, and PUSHED the Dem party leftward. (The draft DID have a tremendous influence, but the anti-war movement's strength was in its unifying cohesion, based, I would venture to say on the principle of war being wrong.) It has been noted recently that the anti-war movement and protests have declined in strength and numbers because there's a Dem POTUS, and recently a D majority (lost, I wonder why?..heh) so the immorality of war, the judgement against wanton murder and killing for imperium has been blunted by the D operatives, the party machine, who sell "practicality" and "lesser evilism" (look, over there....), as a justification for their manipulation of their followers. And it saddens me that the D "captives" sell their souls to give elected officials the opportunity to kill, maim, torture, lie, wage war, execute, steal, enrich corrupt government contractors, and create a political, economic, moral, and legal morass that serves as a black hole for the anti-war, anti-imperialist, and anti-austerian left. It has nothing to do with "herding cats" and everything to do with the corporatization of what once was a populist party.

Submitted by lambert on

I know, for me, when I try in-person local contact (as opposed to committee work and strategizing) I feel anger rise quite rapidly, and it makes me not very effective. Hence my emphasis on controlling it.