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Another writer has compared Obama to Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush?  Somehow the suggestion is that a favorable comparison to them is worth something?

So the suggestion is that:

  • Obama is better than Ford, the President that pardoned Nixon and began a tradition of unaccountability for the wealthy, connected and privileged
  • Obama is better than Carter, who presided over the first "misery index," the protracted Iran hostage situation, and was demolished by a far-right wing ideologue in the 1980 elections, largely because he was seen as feckless, ineffective and incompetent
  • Obama is better than Reagan, who decimated the Fairness Doctrine, gave us supply side economics, ignored the AIDS crisis, put his boot to the throat of labor, sold off huge acreage of formerly protected national lands, and kicked off the revival of faith-based market-worshiping Rayndian economic policy
  • Obama is better than Bush, who continued Reagan's work, trumped up an unnecessary war in Iraq, and was otherwise corrupt, incompetent and slimy (remember the Iran-Contra pardons?)
  • Obama is better than Clinton (at least here you give us something to argue about), who deregulated the markets (repeal of Glass-Seagall) and telecom, and Sister Souljah'd the liberal base at every turn, while introducing the world to triangulation (and Dick Morris)
  • Obama is better than Bush the Younger.  Uhm, yeah.

That diary, whether the author knew it or not, is a classic demonstration of damnation by faint praise.  Moreover, in taking such an approach, the diary borders on being intellectually dishonest.  I'm pretty certain that wasn't the intent, but what it does is praise a President that should be - and in fact has asked to be - held accountable.  Unwarranted praise in lieu of warranted criticism is dishonest.

  • Praise while Obama continues wars of aggression is intellectually dishonest.
  • Praise while Obama rolls back women's reproductive rights is intellectually dishonest.
  • Praise while Obama  rewards corrupt corporations by supporting retroactive immunity and citing the states secret privilege in order to frustrate the justice is intellectually dishonest.
  • Praise while Obama prosecutes whistleblowers with extreme and unwarranted prejudice is intellectually dishonest.
  • Praise while Obama cuddles up to corrupt bankers and the financial sector, even providing them with a defense (the "many of the immoral things they did were not illegal" argument he made), is intellectually dishonest.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't vote for Obama.  I'm not saying that any of the previous holders of the office were any better, or any worse.

What I'm saying is that if you consider yourself a liberal or progressive, it's not your damned job to be a cheerleader.  More is expected from you.  Sure...  Feel free to praise the actions he's taken that advance the liberal agenda.  But if liberals and progressives are ever again going to be relevant to American politics, we can't stop being liberal or progressive because "our guy" happens to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  

The truth of the matter is that President Obama, in many, many ways, has advanced conservative policies.  Moreover, for millions of Americans, especially young Americans that voted for him with every expectation that their hopes would be fulfilled and serious change (in the form of a break with his predecessor's policies) was imminent...  Well...  Even MTV had to change their slogan from "Choose or lose" because so many viewers told them that they had chosen, but they are still losing.

The truth of the matter is that President Obama had people dancing it the streets when we learned that he had been elected.  No other President that I'm aware of ever had that kind of support.  His inauguration brought millions of people to Washington DC.  He had an incredible opportunity unlike any President before, at least since Roosevelt.  And he squandered it.

A whole new generation of voters has likely become cynical:  "It doesn't matter who I vote for.  Wars go on, Wall Street gets bailed out while I get sold out, bankers continue to reap windfall bonuses (let alone salaries), nothing is done to curtail global warming or other major environmental problems (even the Coast Guard is used to chase documentary film makers off Gulf Coast beaches after the BP oil spill), and civil liberties...  heh.  How 'bout some pepper spray for that?"

The truth of the matter is that President Obama and his failings have done great harm to the progressive/liberal brand.  He had a chance to demonstrate it's effectiveness; he instead chose to govern as a conservadem (at best).  Today, I'm not sure if I know a single person who would say that their life is better today than it was when Obama took office.  I know for sure that the number of people who would say the opposite is vastly larger.  And he will be blamed.  And because he is widely perceived to be liberal or progressive, liberals and progressives will carry that burden.

For that reason alone, it is critically important for liberals and progressives to distance themselves from this President.  Do what you must in the voting booth, but let's not celebrate victories we know to be Pyrrhic.

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