[I should have had this at the start - thanks @truthrose1 for starting it. Dear Joan Walsh: Your letter to President Obama in Salon is an all too typical example of why many of us no longer think of ourselves as "progressive" or "on the left". It's not as if we no longer care about social justice or have become enthusiasts of the Koch Brothers or even of the kind of watered down liberalism of the Democratic Leadership Club. It's just that we're neither disappointed by President Obama nor willing to put up with the peevish destructive mess that we are told represents the "progressive" and "left" point of view. There's an example of what I mean near the start of your piece. You write:
Monday was the day Obama broke a campaign promise by announcing that 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Muhammed would be tried in a military tribunal at Guantánamo.You do know, I hope, that the US Senate voted 90/6 to deny funds for closing Guantanamo? Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold voted along with Mitch McConnell on this bill. Look it up. And you probably also know about the three branches of government and that sort of stuff. So how can you not know that this is not a broken promise? The President tried to fulfill his promise despite overwhelming opposition from his own allies in Congress and the lack of any popular support or organized pressure on Congress. And he kept trying - here's a story on Attorney General Holder begging Congress to do the right thing 6 months later. The President took his campaign promise seriously and was defeated by Congress and abandoned by all the people who claimed to care deeply but never bothered to even picket their local Congressional office. Why are you attacking the President's integrity on this issue? When the legislative support is THREE Senators, two from Illinois, the tactical value of complaining to and about Obama is hard to see even if we ignore the dishonesty of blaming the wrong guy. In your very next paragraph, you tell us what "progressives" think about the President's legislative efforts and things only get worse.
a pair of articles over the last few days profiling Obama's campaign manager, former deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, created an unfortunate context for Obama's campaign launch, at least among progressives.The Nation article you cite contains this:
Sudbay says the DADT repeal passed “in spite of Messina,” and Luna agrees. “At the end of the day I’d definitely label him an impediment,” Luna says. “He was not falling on a sword to get DADT passed.”The President promised to try to get DADT repealed on the campaign trail. He reiterated that promise at the state of the union in 2010 and even said he would get it done in 2010. This was despite the failure of the Democratic congressional majorities to manage to pass the bill. And then the bill was passed - thanks to serious deal making by the President and his team. And yet "progressives" see this as a failure? Joan, falling on a sword is what people do when they have lost. That honorable Roman Brutus fell upon his sword when he lost (and a more painful death was the only alternative).
Finally, he [Brutus] spoke to Volumnius himself in Greek, reminding him of their student life, and begged him to grasp his sword with him and help him drive home the blow. And when Volumnius refused, and the rest likewise ... grasping with both hands the hilt of his naked sword, he fell upon it and died.So saith Plutarch according to the internet. But Joan, Messina and the President won. Didn't they? Why is he supposed to kill himself? We keep seeing these weird "die with your boots on, draw a line in the sand" demands from you "progressives". What's wrong with winning? Even in that ridiculous Nation article one can find a moment of sanity
Solmonese offered a different perspective, calling Messina “unquestionably one of the great unsung heroes of DADT repeal.” The two stood side by side on the Senate floor as the bill cleared the body on December 18. When the sixtieth vote came in, Solmonese said, Messina began to cry.But right after that we get the following
After it was all over, Messina touted repeal as a major victory for the administration and an example of Obama’s commitment to his base.So, if I have this right, when Obama tries to fulfill a campaign promise and is defeated (did he promise to win every battle?) that is "breaking a promise" but when he tries and succeeds that's also bad and we should sneer at his team's sad effort to cut it as a win? It's almost as if instead of applying a consistent moral outlook to a fact based analysis of the world, you have a prefabricated narrative mill that generates the same conclusion no matter what facts get put into it. And the rest of Berman's article is a shameful attack on the health care reform bill. Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton all tried desperately to pass something like this health care reform and you "progressives" have done nothing but bemoan it. Here's what Congresswoman Barbara Lee said about the health care reform bill.
Our vote tonight carries significance similar to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in that it fulfills a dream that has been elusive for far too long and for far too many Americans. “This bill is a victory not only for our constituents, but for all Americans because it will make us a stronger and healthier nation.[..] “By passing this ground breaking legislation, we have finally given the power back to the people. No longer will the insurance companies have a strangle hold on the American people and their health care.That's Congresswoman Barbara Lee from Oakland. It's not as if "progressives" want to argue with Congresswoman Lee's point of view - her point of view is invisible, it's not part of their world. All the "progressives" agree with Republicans that health care reform was a big fail. We never hear any dissent.
I was honored to witness personally President Obama signing this landmark health care reform bill into law, which is a historic victory for the American people," said Congresswoman Edwards. "I am thankful that a provision I championed to address price gouging was included in the final legislation that will hold insurance companies accountable for excessive premium increases, helping ensure affordability for working families. Passing health care reform was a long, arduous process. After six decades of failed attempts at reform, we now usher in a new era of accessible, affordable, quality health care coverage for the American people." http://donnaedwards.house.gov/...And Joan, I know you think it's offensive when anyone brings up the racial divide here, but it's mighty damn peculiar how little attention you "progressives" pay to Donna Edwards, Barbara Lee, Lisa Jackson, and Hilda Solis. Look them up because you won't have read much about them in Salon. Why is it that Robert Reich, Clinton's Labor Secretary who told Congress that NAFTA would be a blessing for the American worker, who has made a living for decades selling his vision of the service economy where manufacturing jobs are outsourced, and who opposed President Obama's rescue of the UAW and the auto industry, is a "progressive" hero while our current Secretary of Labor is invisible to progressives? It's more than a little curious. And here's something else. Since the primary election I've been told over and over by white "progressives" that black people support the President out of group loyalty. That's really offensive, patronizing, condescending and completely unacceptable. The prevalence of that claim in the progressive blogosphere is quite a remarkable thing. So Joan, you and your "progressives" can keep writing and saying progressive things like:
In 2012, Remember That The Campaigner-In-Chief Has A Pattern Of Being Loose With Words And Short On Results Sourcebut, Mr. President, I'm in and so are many of us former-progressives. We didn't leave the progressive movement, we were kicked out and that's looking more and more like a blessing. You guys can keep producing poorly researched narrative driven stories about how the President has let America down and then pointing to lack of enthusiasm among voters as if you were bystanders. And we'll be registering voters and trying to tell people to keep their eyes on the prize. See you around, or not. Oops! Forgot this: The truthteller Dear disappointed base You don't have to be white to be disappointed and bitter Memo to the alleged black intellectual class And here's this from long ago. How I left the left ( I have sometimes used an account on DKOS with that name, but this is by a completely unrelated person).
Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.