Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Frankly, what did they expect?

I wanted to add this as an update to my last post on the subject, but it made enough of it's own point that I figured it merited it's own post. The relationship between the netroots and Barack Obama has become increasingly difficult to explain to those who haven't seen the whole primary process unfold on the liberal blogs, but this Glenn Greenwald piece "On Progressive Criticisms of Obama's Cabinet" describes the failures of the online left better than anything I've seen:

So many progressives were misled about what Obama is and what he believes. But it wasn't Obama who misled them. It was their own desires, their eagerness to see what they wanted to see rather than what reality offered.

Early on in the primary cycle, Markos Moultisas -- in a post I recall vividly though can't find -- wisely urged that progressives refrain from endorsing or supporting any of the Democratic candidates unless they work for that support, make promises and concessions important to the progressive agenda, etc., lest progressives' support end up being taken for granted. But that advice was largely ignored. For whatever reasons, highly influential progressive factions committed themselves early, loyally and enthusiastically to Obama even though he never even courted that support, let alone made commitments to secure it.

That may have been perfectly justified -- by pragmatic calculations regarding electability, by excitement over his personality and charisma, by the belief that he was comparatively superior to the alternatives. Still, the fact remains that progressives, throughout the year, largely lent Obama their loyal support in exchange for very little.
That just about nails it. I understand all of those calculations and other forms of choosing a candidate, but when you take people's stated positions and advisers out of the picture, you really can't act surprised when he starts picking people strikingly similar to those who advised him and chooses people who believe in his stated policies.

My only objection to Greenwald's point was covered in my previous post, where I believe his foreign policy team doesn't match at all with the world view that he campaigned on. But for the majority of these complaints, he is spot on. The complaining was one thing, but defining silence on important appointments and the non-nonsensical defending of some of these moves is really shocking.


  1. Exactly. First people were silent because they wanted him to win. Now they are silent because? I don't find any of the conventional answers to that satisfying, and some are downright delusional.

  2. As long as he un-fucks our environmental policy. Please, oh please Obama, at least that.