14 October 2009

Mission statement I can get behind

(1) If Obama takes action or makes a decision that you think is good and constructive, say so and give him credit
(2) If Obama takes action or makes a decision that you think is bad, wrong and/or destructive, say so and criticize him for it
(3) If there were things you claimed to find so horrible and wrong when Bush did them (indefinite detention, denial of habeas corpus, renditions, state secrets, endless wars, military commissions, compulsive secrecy), and Obama does them, apply the same standards. As Bob Herbert put it rather simply: "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House."
(4) If there are ongoing debates about policy, agitate for the outcome you think is best rather than the one the White House wants, where those two are different. If there are policies you think should be adopted that aren't, complain about that, critique it, and find ways to maximize pressure.
(5) Don't personalize political leaders and be driven by emotional attachments to them one way or the other. They're nothing more than public servants -- an extremely powerful one in the case of the President -- who should be assessed based exclusively on their actions.
(6) If anything, when it comes to the most powerful political official on the planet, it's best to err on the side of excessive checks and criticism rather than excessive deference and trust. Presidents have no shortage of people and institutions loyally devoted to their message and agenda.


I have had a number of problems with the sudden appearance of conservatives as budget hawks, anti-war advocates (or at least, anti-Afghan war, but still pro-Iran war), and other various intonations that get splattered around the political landscape as though they were well-meant and intentioned. They're not. They're false prophets because they ignored all this bullshit when Bush did it or when Reagan did it or when Palin does it or whoever their hero de jour happens to be. Obama's already adopted some Reaganesque positions on things like nuclear arms reductions and torture, totally ignored by the right who cannot conceive of their champion idol being anything but "illiberal". There are people who called this sort of activity out at the time. They're mostly called libertarians, and to some extent, liberals. The problem now seems to be that there's no shortage of people who are critical because they have a cause to be (but don't understand their cause, which is that they lost the election, and not much else was really lost) and who deserve to be silenced because they're idiots. And there's no shortage of people who deserve to be silenced in support because they're not like the "disciples of Obama". They're like worshipers instead. There has to be room for people in the middle to talk without being shouted over, and down, by these two sides. It would help if they could ignore one another for example and just shout amongst themselves, like Faux news does or maybe MSNBC does (I don't watch either, but Faux ends up on Stewart's docket far more often, and it seems to be for good reasons). Basically, I don't think it is too much to ask for people who want to express an opinion to use a consistent ideology to do it.

At least we'll know where they are coming from instead of trying to figure out the various cults and the directions they will lead their sheep.
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