Isaac Chotiner, of the The New Republic (I know, I know), has written a piece criticizing President Obama for speaking to the American public as if we are children. Now, I don't necessarily buy that line of attack, and all that implies about Obama's supposed narcissism. But I do think Chotiner was right on with this:
It's also, again, the condescension. We know there are other sides to the issue. We know the issue is complex. We know there are slippery slope arguments about drug legalization. But either he doesn't think that we know these things or, more damningly, he must remind us that he knows them, too.The quote above gets to the heart of my own discontent with Obama and his presidency. He is so cocksure that he thinking things through, that often we don't know what he thinks. Be clear! I couldn't even read the entire New Yorker story because, quite frankly, I'm sick of him. "Well, there is position A, but don't forget about position B and issue A.1. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah." What do YOU really believe on pot legalization Mr. President? And, more importantly, what are you going to do, on the federal level, to combat the racist application of the laws concerning weed possession? And, a tip, don't employ the straw men arguments of prohibition proponents. It's perfectly okay to think things through and give great speeches, but we want, no we need, action and not just on weed legalization, but immigration, the criminal justice system, income inequality, stagnant wages, the environment and so on. You promised in 2008 that this would be the time where the oceans stopped rising. What happened?
The reason he does this, I would argue, is that he is more interested in telling us how he thinks than what he thinks.
This explain both sides of the card gets Obama in trouble occasionally, which is what happened last summer when he uttered these foolish words at the commemorative ceremony for the March on Washington:
Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse- making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination.The idea that black people are somehow responsible for the lack of racial cohesion is, of course, absurd. But that sure didn't stop Obama was spewing the rubbish. The President does this because he either has no core, justice oriented, convictions (specifically and most disturbingly on race) and he's trying to hide a moderate Republican agenda OR he merely, along with being President, enjoys being the dispassionate, non ideological observer who has no dog in these fights.
Either way he is not the progressive leader we need during these trying times.