Joan Walsh? Resent THIS.

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Backdrop

As some of you may know, I recently got into a little kerfuffle with Joan Walsh on the Twitterz (of all places). [The Chirpstory can be viewed on the next page of this post.]

You see, on Wednesday I wrote a rant about the looming irrelevancy of the Professional Left aka firebaggers aka Obamabashbots. It was one in a series of screeds I have written about the destructive tactics of these self-appointed leaders of the left and their firebagger minions. It was also part of a collection of screeds written by liberals of all colors, each of whom views the attack dog tactics of the Professional Left (and the resulting rancor among the Professional Left Commentariat) as damaging to not only the President, but also the country.

These screeds are penned by those who genuinely are interested in advancing liberal policies in this country, policies which will ameliorate gender inequality, extinguish racial disparities in access to healthcare, family planning services, education, raise consciousness about climate change, and beat back the plutocratic tide that threatens to drown us all. These screeds tend to be penned by bloggers who do not blog for pay and who do not blog in order to increase their advertising revenue; these are bloggers who are not attempting to leverage their seemingly self-proclaimed status as guardian of the progressive movement into television appearances on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox.

All one has to do is a simple Google search using the search terms “Joan Walsh” and “Democratic base” or “the base” and you will notice that she, like Hamsher and others, have routinely and endlessly complained that they are “hippies” being punched by Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and famously Rahm Emanuel.

Take a famous example: Fucking RetardedGate:

Rahm Emanuel made his famous “fucking retarded” comment, and the Professional Left got itself in an uproar, even though any sensible reading of Rahm’s comments could not possibly lead to the conclusion that he was referring to a couple of bloggers as being “fucking retarded,” or that he was referencing liberals as a whole as “fucking retarded.”

The friction was laid bare in August when Mr. Emanuel showed up at a weekly strategy session featuring liberal groups and White House aides. Some attendees said they were planning to air ads attacking conservative Democrats who were balking at Mr. Obama’s health-care overhaul.

“F—ing retarded,” Mr. Emanuel scolded the group, according to several participants. He warned them not to alienate lawmakers whose votes would be needed on health care and other top legislative items.

So while, Emmanuel did use the term “fucking retarded” and yes, using the term “retarded” is ableist and offensive, all the Professional Left could think about were their huwt feewings and the crumpled tissues soaked with tears of disappointment, even though they had to misrepresent the context in which the statement was made in order to include themselves among the hippies that Emanuel had so brutally punched.

Incidents like the above fomented a shift in Netroots Nation. Due to the growing sense that places like FireDogLake, Salon, and Daily Kos seemed more invested in endlessly criticizing the president than promoting a useful discussion about the ways in which liberals could advance their policy goals, people who were tired of surrounding themselves with nothing but negative commentary decided to branch off and form their own blogs. In these smaller communities, it is not considered a character flaw to express one’s support for the president. In these smaller communities, one does not have to qualify every expression of support for the president with “but I don’t agree with everything that he does.”

It is in these smaller communities that those of us who know how to walk and chew gum at the same time are able to support the president generally, while not supporting each of his policies specifically. It is in these smaller communities that people who, ironically, refuse to see everything in “black and white” are comfortable with infinite shades of gray.

Perhaps it is because of the smaller communities that have been formed over the last year that minorities who typically are ignored until we become convenient for political strategy have found our voice. As more and more people take advantage of the platform that blogging can provide, and of the communities that form in the comment sections of those blogs, more and more people are beginning to vocally express their opposition to the primarily white progressive movement which often purports to speak for all “progressives.” Indeed, in some of these communities the word “progressive” is rendered in quotation marks precisely because of the negative connotations associated with the word.

To paraphrase Justin Timberlake, we’re bringing liberal back.

Yet we, obviously, do not have the platform that the “Professional Left” does. We don’t have a voice in the base. We are shouted out of comment sections, our comments are moderated out of discussions, until all that remains are comments full of anger and irrational hatred; hatred and anger which all too frequently becomes impossible to differentiate from outright racism. We are palpably frustrated. That frustration came to a head this week.

Obama 2012

On Monday, Obama announced his reelection campaign. Twitter and Blogistan were twitterpated and generally broke into the firebagger/obot camp. The firebaggers derided the Obots as cultists; the Obots derided the firebaggers as purists. The firebaggers, presumably, continued their ruminations regarding who should run against Obama in the Democratic Primary. The Obots united behind the President and began to discuss how to hit the ground running.

Of course the Obots were met with jeers:

“Obama is going to raise a billion dollars from corporate donors. Small donors won’t make a difference this time.”

“We need to unite around policy goals, not around a cult of personality.”

And we got this from Ms. Walsh herself:

Finally, if progressives organize independently, perhaps President Obama might do something about the stunning economic inequality corroding our nation, as he woos our votes to get reelected. I still have a gut belief that Obama shares our values, and he might show us that in his second and last term. But we’re more likely to push him that way if we work to build a constituency behind policies that make this country work for everyone again, rather than flock to join a corporate juggernaut masquerading as a grass-roots movement in Obama 2012.

Thus I have other political interests and priorities beyond Obama 2012, for now. And I think I’m going to have a lot of company. [In other words, I’m a disgruntled white progressive and I’m going to try to teach Obama a lesson because he doesn’t share our values now, but maybe with our help, we can help him see the light. -ed.]

It is against this backdrop that the Twitter Race War That Never Was must be viewed.

OMG TWITTER RACE WAR LOL!!1one

Rather than make any good-faith attempt to understand POCs’ concerns about the behavior and constant anti-Obama criticisms of the professional left, Joan Walsh does exactly what all privileged people do; she dismissed out of hand the concerns of the minority, refuses to actually confront those concerns, and then when it became apparent that she’d pissed some people off, she offered platitudes to the people voicing their concerns—patronizingly maternal pats on the head coupled with a soothing “there there.”

In so doing, she ignored the words of the very people who were expressing their concern, put words in their mouth, casually dismissed them, and then accused them of race baiting. She did not for one moment make any effort to understand what her critic was trying to say. She crouched into a defensive posture and started swinging. She did not attempt to get past whatever words she found “toxic” to get to the heart of the issue, which is that POCs have felt entirely excluded from proclamations from on high about The Base.

A review of the Chirpstory (you can find it on the next page) will demonstrate that Joan Walsh’s only concern was restoring whatever loss of goodwill or integrity that the Twitter War engendered and making me and Walsh’s other critics look like angry lunatics. [Note: I realize how convenient it is for Joan to include my Twitter name in her article, because it seems to reinforce the idea that we black folk are angry and irrational. The Angry part of my name has nothing to do with race and everything to do with this bastard of a tumor that is in my brain, fucking up my hormones and lady business — nice stereotyping, though. -ed.] And, if she needed to cherry pick tweets to rehabilitate her image, then dagnabbit, that’s what she was going to do. Somebody might have called her racist. And if there’s one thing that nice white ladies hate, it’s being called racist. This is her reputation we’re talking about here!

If Joan Walsh had any sense she would have left well enough alone. I have very little sense and even I had the sense to leave well enough alone; I was poised to publish the Chirpstory (view it on the next page!) , but I decided against it. What’s the point? It would be of interest to only a handful of people. I don’t care if a few idiots on Twitter think I’m trying to make a name for myself. I have a day job, yo. I don’t need to make a name for myself.

The horse was dead. We’d beat it to death on Wednesday. Walsh reanimated that horse today; I guess that leaves me to beat it again. I assume she believed that because she has a larger platform, she would be able to absolve herself of her transgressions and be welcome into the warm open embrace of her commenters who would surely cheer her on, having been fed half the story with pretentious garnish. It would have been easier to admit two days ago that her tweet was poorly worded, to apologize for it, and to move on. But noppppe!

I’m a well-known Twitterholic, and Wednesday night I was going back and forth with my Twitter friends Andrew Jerell Jones (@sluggahjells) and Melissa Harris-Perry1 (@mharrisperry) about Melissa’s and my Wednesday “Hardball” star turn defending Planned Parenthood. Ironically, at the time, we were joking about race: @sluggahjells called Melissa and me “the best black and white female duo since”… and then he linked to this clip from Sister Act, with Maggie Smith and Whoopi Goldberg (and a gang of other nuns) singing the Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion,” that great anthem of 1970s social and racial strife. You remember: “Why? Because of the color of their skin … Run, run, run cause you sure can’t hide …”

[I’m astonished that her opening gambit is “I have a black friend.” What is it with white lefties who feel the need to trot out their black friends and colleagues as some sort of force shield against any offensive and obnoxious statements they may make as if simply knowing or having had a conversation, dinner, or a drink with a black person earns you some sort of gold star. The purpose of her first paragraph is to set herself up as a friend to black people. “I’m one of the good ones, Negro! Never fear!” -ed.]

Who knew I’d be living it shortly? [Haha. Totally. Having a handful of people criticize your stupid statement while you sit behind the safety of your monitor is the same as… as what… being Whoopi Goldberg? Being a part of 1970s social and racial strife? What the hell does this even mean? -ed.]

Kidding! #whitegirlproblems [HA! Good one. It’s always a good idea to throw a joke about how you know you’re white and that you’re only kidding except really you’re not. Racism is hilarious, isn’t it? -ed.]

What happened next was surreal, though, and led to the lovely Atlantic Wire headline “Joan Walsh Sparks Twitter Brawl Over Obama and Race.” In the middle of that really fun Twitter stream, out of the blue, [Imagine that! Getting a twitter message from one of your readers out of the blue! It’s not like Twitter isn’t one big morass of people yelling shit out of the blue. It’s not like you have expressed your concern about staying in touch what with all the various social networking platforms out there. No! You were just having a good time with your black friend and some reader rudely interrupted you! -ed.] I got these messages:

truthrose1
@joanwalsh read your article, I resent white progressives who pretend they are the base of Dem party and ignore AA’s, we are even

truthrose1
@joanwalsh PBO is not your lap dog, thank god Gibbs called out the liars in the progressive media, u have done nothing but act like baggers

truthrose1
@joanwalsh the divisive ones are the racist ex libertarian, ex repub, ex green, fake Dems who want PBO to fail. The real base supports PBO

She was referring to my article “Wisconsin, Obama and the Democrats’ future.” It was the second of two pieces in two days in which I explained why, despite my criticisms of the president’s centrism, I thought a primary challenge from the left was destructive.

Now here is Walsh’s first sleight of hand comes in to play. She received these messages out of the blue, you see. And yes, the three tweets when, taken out of context, certainly seem rabid.

I wonder what happens if you put the tweets in their proper context, you know, in the order they were tweeted. Suddenly Joan isn’t the victim of some angry race-baiter. Indeed she becomes just like so many other privileged people who are uncomfortable examining their own biases or their own language and why that language is perceived by people of color to be offensive.

truthrose1
@joanwalsh read your article, I resent white progressives who pretend they are the base of Dem party and ignore AA’s, we are even

truthrose1
@joanwalsh PBO is not your lap dog, thank god Gibbs called out the liars in the progressive media, u have done nothing but act like baggers

joanwalsh
@truthrose1 Not saying white progressives are THE base; opposite. But I resent African Americans who say THEY are THE BASE. Wrong.

truthrose1
@joanwalsh white progressive voices use the term “the base” carelessly that is my point

truthrose1
@joanwalsh AA’s are not the entire base, however, white progressive voices ignore us and act as if we don’t exist

joanwalsh
@truthrose1 No, I don’t. That’s insanely unfair. Talk to a person, not your stereotypes. Please. Tiresome, really.

truthrose1
@joanwalsh history will show how the so called “progressive” wing of the Dem party was a toxic and deceitful bunch of back stabbers.

joanwalsh
@truthrose1 You’re toxic, I’m sorry. Jesus. Get some help.

Paints a different picture, doesn’t it? Not the picture of some angry black person barging in and ruining her fun twitter party. You see truthrose tries to explain her concerns to Walsh – namely that white progressive voices ignore black people and act as if we don’t exist. (I have repeatedly voiced that same concern.) Walsh’s response – were she at all interested in unity, as she later claims to be – should have been “I don’t think that I do that. Can you explain?” Or, if Walsh was “off-the-clock” she should have ignored the tweet until a further time when she could address it appropriately. She could have started an open thread on her blog and actually gotten her hands dirty in the comment section.

These would have been perfect ways to open up a useful dialogue about the way black folks have felt excluded from The Base. But instead of doing that, she gets defensive: “I don’t do that.” She reflexively plays “the race card” — “talk to a person, not your stereotypes” — all the while implying that it is truthrose who is playing that card. And then the coup de grâce — just to show how disinterested she really is in having this discussion: – it’s so tiresome. Really.

Privilege Has its Privileges

Walsh deftly dismissed truthrose without ever having to respond to her. Truthrose is being unfair. She’s angry. She’s toxic. It’s as if Walsh fell out of the Privileged Tree and hit every derailing branch on the way down. (The extremely useful Derailing for Dummies: Making Discrimination Easier site does a wonderful job summarizing these derailing techniques.) She hits the “You’re Too Angry” branch:

This one is particularly effective because it really pushes home a sense of futility and hopelessness to the Marginalised Person™. Remember they should never get the impression they can win one of these arguments, because you should be consistently implying that there was never anything to argue over to begin with.

If you’ve been following the steps correctly so far, by this point any reasonable person is going to be feeling pretty angry. This anger could lead to them being more aggressive and abrasive. The Marginalised Person™ has possibly even decided that you’re simply too obnoxious to waste patience on and is venting their sense of frustration.

This is when you whip this step out!

You can use it to disregard everything they’ve said to you and just not deal with the issue, in particular ignoring your prior behaviour that led to the anger. Conventions of social conduct hold civil discourse as the ideal at all times. When people get angry, it gives you a convenient “out” without having to concede to any of their objections or acknowledge their pain.

Furthermore, with this one you can make it seem as though you were ready and willing to listen, but then they ruined it. This way you can leave them with the sense that if only they’d been a good little Marginalised Person™ and toed the line, then they may have won someone over to the cause!

It just adds a particular distaste to the whole affair that no derailing should be without!

Also, truthrose is talking to a stereotype and Walsh isn’t like that — Walsh is a person. This is the “Stop Stereotyping Me!” branch:

Personalising anything the Marginalised Person may say is a great way of distracting attention from the issue at hand, forcing the Marginalised Person to soothe your wounded feelings or sense of indignation rather than concentrating on the argument they were making.

Rather than simply listening to criticism of a group of Privileged People with respect and consideration for the Marginalised Person, you must immediately take offence and leap in to defend yourself.

For example, when queer people are crticising the tendencies of some straight people, jump in and say something like:

“Not all of us are like that – you’re prejudiced against straight people! You’re judging straight people the same way that they judge you, and it’s hateful! We need to not categorise people and make assumptions about them based on their identity! I resent feeling like I’m part of a group that oppresses you!”

– even though the criticism was very explicitly leveled at a specified behavior. (ie.:, “I don’t like straight people who do ________.”)

But of course, this can work in many different situations where Privileged behaviour is being deconstructed or criticised. Its resonance is in its lack of acknowledgement of the balance of power by suggesting that reasonable criticism of oppressive or discriminatory behaviour is equivalent to the oppressive and discriminatory behaviour itself. Remember that while the Marginalised Person’s criticism can never adversely affect your life in significant ways, you must rank the discrimination they face – which does significantly affect them – as equal to the discomfort of your wounded feelings, to demonstrate how highly you rank yourself and how lowly you rank them.

And finally, truthrose and the others who retweeted Walsh’s dumbassery were interested in getting riled up because it’s fun, you see? This is the “You’re Just Looking for Reasons to be Offended Because You Like It” branch:

You really need to make sure the Marginalised Person knows you consider their issues to be completely trivial. It’s insensitive in the extreme – it also exemplifies your lack of awareness and empathy.

By demonstrating you have absolutely no concept of what a particular issue or point may mean to them both within their conversation with you and beyond it, you get to show off just how cocooned and protected in Privilege® you really are. Remember how maddening this is for a Marginalised Person™ – it’s a Privilege® they do not share and will probably never know so to witness it being so blithely owned and used to diminish their experience is bound to get their blood pumping.

But absolutely best of all, you are being obnoxious and hurtful enough to tell them outright that they enjoy facing discrimination and prejudice. Enjoy it so much, in fact, that they “look” for reasons to be hurt and offended! Wow. This one is almost breathtakingly perfect as a derailment tactic, it lacks any sort of conceivable class and humility and goes straight to smug viciousness. The very idea that anyone enjoys being hurt and discriminated against as a daily practice is so preposterous it could only be believed by a Privileged Person® who’s never really experienced or known what it’s like.

The fact is, many Marginalised People™ go out of their way to avoid these sorts of debates and confrontations because it’s such a painful and unenjoyable experience. Those you are encountering in this circumstance have likely made a conscious choice to do so, even knowing it will probably go bad. For you to spit in the face of their choice in putting themselves on the line by suggesting it’s all fun and games for them just adds a particularly piquant insult to injury.

In short, truthrose was toxic. Probably mentally ill. Walsh doen’t need to engage with a person like that. Phew! That was a close one.

Setting Straw-Men on Fire

My first reaction to the Tweet Heard ‘Round the World was “‘RESENT’ seems like a strong word.” Several times I stated that I thought I understood Walsh’s point, but that I don’t know of any black person who has claimed that black people are THE BASE (exclusively). So I read Walsh’s article, “Wisconsin, Obama and the Democrats’ Future” wherein she states that despite her criticism of the president’s centrism, she thought that a primary challenge from the left would be destructive. [Can you tell some of your nutjob friends, please? -ed.]

Progressives have many other ways to advance their agenda, and demonstrate their disapproval of the president’s record, besides backing a primary challenge to Obama….Let me be clearer about how I believe a primary challenge would hurt Democrats: I think many, maybe most [definitely most -ed.], African American Democrats would stay with Obama, and the racial tension that made 2008 painful would be radioactive this time around.
On the other hand, let me say this: I deeply resent people [what people?] who insist that white progressives who criticize Obama are deluding themselves that they’re his “base,” [you are deluding yourselves. -ed.] when his “base” is actually not white progressives, but people of color. Ishmael Reed laid out this pernicious line in December, in the New York Times [no he didn’t. -ed.], after many progressives, of every race, criticized Obama’s tax cut compromise. Reed compared “white progressives” who wanted more from Obama to spoiled children, compared with black and Latino voters “who are not used to getting it all.” I’ve been getting a similar message from some of my correspondents, and it’s depressingly divisive.

And this is where Walsh’s intellectual dishonesty is laid bare. First, notice that she does not link the Reed article. That’s a dead give-away. If someone purports to draw a quote from another source without linking that source, you can bet your sweet ass that the person is not representing the information in that source accurately.

And so it is with Walsh: Nowhere in Reed’s article does he lay out the “pernicious line” that white progressives are not the base. Nowhere. Read it for yourself. Walsh simply makes this up, presumably so she can vent about her “resentment” towards black folks and then blame us for the current fractured “progressive wing.”

Because it couldn’t be that the reason for the divisiveness — the reason that folks have flocked out of places like Salon and Daily Kos — has anything to do with her and her ilk (the Professional Left) who have endlessly criticized the President, and written about the President and his supporters with sneers firmly carved into their faces.

Oh no. It’s the black folks who want to have a voice that are causing problems.

Walsh continues:

And I stand by that. Notice that when I wrote that I “resent” people who make that case, I didn’t specify African Americans, because progressives of all races make that case. And it is depressingly divisive. I also loathe the term “professional left,” and just can’t connect with folks who compare progressives who have questions about Obama to “baggers.” So I replied the way you do in 140 characters: With shorthand:

@truthrose1 Not saying white progressives are THE base; opposite. But I resent African Americans who say THEY are THE BASE. Wrong.

Later, people I respect would say it was those four words strung together — “I resent African Americans” — that made some folks see red; they didn’t see context, let alone go read my article. Point taken. Someone suggested I might have written “I don’t appreciate” rather than “I resent” — but that’s 10 more characters! If I got a mulligan, I’d go with: I resent anyone saying African Americans alone are THE base. Or something. But it’s Twitter, that’s how it goes.

Get it? She “loathes” the term “Professional Left” (which was coined precisely to describe persons like Joan Walsh), and “can’t connect with folks who compare progressives who have questeions about Obama to ‘baggers.” You see what she does there? First, she ignores the message because it contains language she doesn’t like, and rather than state that: “Hey, I really want to talk to you about this, but can we do it without the name-calling? Let’s drop the Obot/firebagger crap and try to figure out what’s at the root of this division,” she fired off a shorthand reply. (Certainly, she has no problem calling the Tea Party “teabaggers” because teabaggers are racist and not her.)

Further, she claims that her tweet was shorthand. Please. As a self-described Twitterholic, she knows damn well about such things as Twitlonger, or writing tweets in multiple parts, or, you know — not responding. Moreover, her attempt casually to dismiss Twitter as something silly and immature with the @s and the shortened words (despite the fact that she is (as I am) a Twittering fool and neither of us (as far as I can tell) tweet in text speak) is disingenuous, especially given that contributors on her blog have lauded Twitter as the dawn of new social media, and that she has been tweeting for at least two years.

And finally, notice how she slips in the bit about “progressives who have questions about Obama,” the implication being that we “Obots” don’t have questions about the president or his policies. We are blind followers. Zombies. Unquestioning idiots. Off the cliff like lemmings, we go!

So after she has set this false backdrop to her offensive tweet, she finally tells how she Averted a Twitter Race Brawl LOL when cooler heads prevailed — people who weren’t riled up agreed with her — despite the fact that NO ONE DISAGREED WITH HER IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE HER “BLACK PEOPLE CLAIM THEY ARE EXCLUSIVELY THE BASE” CLAIM WAS A LOAD OF CRAP.

People were retweeting things I said that they found offensive, trying to rile others up, but gradually, others came in, not riled, but with insight:

ReasonVsFear

@AngryBlackLady @joanwalsh @Johnswilson1 @cindyloveseric @truthrose1 Agreed. The base is all of us. Even when we disagree. :)

And I replied:

@ReasonVsFear @AngryBlackLady @Johnswilson1 @cindyloveseric @truthrose1 Thank you, that was my point, made more elegantly by you! Good night

Whew! Race riot averted. I’m leaving out a lot of stuff because…it went on for hours and it makes Twitter look insane, all those @s and shortened words, when I think Twitter is awesome, even after all this. Also: I feel bad calling out one Twitter person, but those Tweets touched off an explosion as well as the Atlantic Wire piece; plus, I’m leaving out people whose narcissism and divisiveness would only be further inflamed by direct attention here [I wonder who those “people” are. -ed.].

Everything seemed right in the world again until someone started it up Thursday morning. I’m not going to reprise it, the Atlantic Wire does it just fine. Here is my answer, in more than 140 characters:

[read the rest here]

Say It Loud!

Joan Walsh is a privileged person. There is nothing wrong with being a privileged person. The trick is to recognize one’s privilege, wrestle with it (it’s uncomfortable, I know) and then try to move forward in a constructive way. Joan Walsh did the exact opposite of that, both in her Twitter responses and in her post.

I am extremely troubled by her dismissal of Twitter as an Unserious Mode of Political Discourse. Her response to truthrose’s explanation as to why she believes black folks have been more vocal as of late is steeped in privilege:

truthrose1

The only place AA’s can speak the truth/have a voice is on Twitter, welcome to what is called push back from AA’s

joanwalsh
@truthrose1 Good night, life is too short for race baiting!

Really, Joan? When truthrose explains to you her belief that the only place black people can speak the truth and have a voice is on Twitter, and tries to engage you on Twitter in a discussion about the marginalization of black voices, you dismiss it as race-baiting. Life is too short. Mouthy black folks are the worst.

I had no intention of getting into this any further. After initial hostilities, I attempted to understand her point. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Aside from an admittedly snarky tweet about white progressives being unable to elect their preferred candidate without us, I tweeted an “amen” in response to her kumbayah tweet; I threw in an amusing Third Bass video (after multiple Twitter cries of “I’m the base! No I am!”); and passed her a virtual peace pipe.

I was ready to drop it even though she failed to produce any evidence that there were any black people laying exclusive claim to THE BASE crown. I felt that I had made my point and that there was no reason to pile on any further.

But she wouldn’t let it go. In her mind, my attempts to engage her were themselves divisive. Indeed, it is Twitter discussions like that described in this post which are the reason that Conservatives are kicking our ass. It’s so tiresome and depressingly destructive. It’s much easier if we all let Walsh and her ilk tell us who the progressive base is after systematically excluding us from proclamations of who the base is. See how it works? We shouldn’t be complaining. We should just show up and vote when we’re supposed to and leave the thinking to the adults.

Having to read and divert your attention to POC concerns really does assail the white sensibilities, doesn’t it? Why, even bringing up such concerns is race-baiting. And heavens to Betsy, if a black person shows anger or resentment at being ignored, you should just dismiss them as toxic and insane and congratulate yourself for having averted a race riot lol. Those black folks sure are angry. Bitter. Not to be listened to. Incapable of rational discussion.

I’m done.

Joan Walsh and the people she publishes, most notably Glenn Greenwald, feel that it is their important journalistic responsibility to constantly criticize and critique Obama from a self-appointed position of speaking for progressives. Greenwald does not even identify himself as a Democrat, though Walsh appears to.

But when people, in this case people of color, who are part of the most cohesively loyal of Democratic constituencies push back against either of them, or dare to suggest that their relentlessly negative commentary about Obama is damaging to him and to the Democratic Party’s efforts to hold back the rabid, frothing monsters of the GOP who are hellbent on implementing a theocratic fascist state, we are either slimed as Obama cultists, called stupid, docile or insufficiently intelligent to grasp their superior knowledge, or dismissed because we sound angry when we speak back to them.

I guess I should thank her for recognizing – in more than 140 characters – that black people have been “the most loyal and long-suffering Democrats, and they are key to the base.” Indeed, one could replace the word “Democrats” with the words “people living in America.” I would caution her, however, to remember that fact, the next time she writes another post about “the administration’s persistent impulse to insult the most loyal Democrats.”

Sure, Biden and Obama have been telling these folks to stop whining. But you know what? So have the “most loyal and long-suffering Democrats.” Check out W.E.E. See You, The Reid Report, The People’s View, Zandar versus Stupid, and The Only Adult in the Room. Non-“long-suffering” Democrats are also pissed off: Eclectablog, Rump Roast, and Extreme Liberal’s Blog.

It seems to me that Walsh views black people as part of the base for strategic political purposes, when it’s time to crunch the numbers and figure out where the votes are coming from. (Data is very important to privileged people and the balance of Walsh’s post is a testament to that. She entirely ignores the actual issue raised, which is POC feelings of exclusion from proclamations regarding “insulting the base,” and lays out a bunch of statistics about voting blocs to buttress her case. It is convenient to do so, because the alternative — actually listening to what multiple POCs are saying — is uncomfortable.)

We count too. We are active during the interim years between congressional and national elections, and with new social media platforms, we have been able to find one another and band together.

There are many of us who do not have the luxury of blogging for pay, so we squeeze in time to blog during our personal time. And it is disheartening that despite our efforts to amplify POC voices in the online progressive community, people like Walsh view it as divisive and narcissistic. I haven’t foregone sleeping more than 5-6 hours a night because it is my dream to “incite race riots on Twitter” (which, really? We black folks can’t have a discussion without it turning into some sort of looting/riot bonanza?) I have foregone sleeping because I recognize the importance of this moment. (Take a hint: J/K jokes about race wars are jokes that white folks can’t make. Full stop. Minority membership has its privileges.)

It seems obvious that Walsh felt it necessary to whitewash the events that lead to the Twitter debacle, so that she could demonstrate to her (probably) predominantly white readership how disorderly we black folks are because she has no intention of doing any self-reflection about the issues raised, and small blogs like this one are cropping up because we feel we’ve been kicked out of The Progressives’ He-Man Obama Hater’s Club.

We are pushing back, and we will be pushing back for the next 18 months.

A wise man once said: When the shit goes down, you better be ready.”

I’m ready. Are you?

1 I want to express that I have nothing but the utmost respect for Melissa Harris-Perry. I’m so sure she’s fretting about it, but still.

[I’ve made various small edits since this post was published. None are, in my view, of much import. In the words of Bill O’Reilly, “Fuck it! We’ll do it live!” -ABL]


[cross-posted here at ABLC. i’m checking comments there. i’ll drop in here… eventually… i guess. -ABLxx]






183 replies
  1. 1
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    @ Angry Black Malady
    .
    .
    This just in –

    WASHINGTON — Everyone knows that liberals and balloonbaggers butt heads (aka ABL) when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.

    Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the balloonbagger “brain” is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study on Thursday in Current Biology.

    “We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater balloonbaggerism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala,” the study said.
    .
    .

  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    You know I just love you ABL. I thank you for actually outlining all of this and how it went down. Joan Walsh went all in with her Miss Anneisms against trose, who was speaking a little truth. I found Walsh’s response to be offensive and just an example of everything trose was talking about.

    I’m glad you’re here, ABL. I’m glad I get to read a little truth from my corner of the world as an educated, involved Black woman.

    Of course, I’ve never forgotten how Walsh’s Salon called then Presidential Candidate Barack Obama

    UPPITY.

    I don’t mean they used 10 words that mean UPPITY.

    Salon used UPPITY about Barack Obama.

    That’s all I ever needed to know.

    trose was just being UPPITY against Miss Joan.

  3. 3
    CaliCat says:

    It’s been a long time coming. Thank you, ABL! This needed to be said.

    Ms. Walsh, it’s time for you to get a fucking clue!

  4. 4
    oondioline says:

    Sorry, you’re fucking retarded.

    This song-and-dance is tired. Why are you here again?

  5. 5
    Sly says:

    But… but… but… Cornell West said some unkind words about Obama. Isn’t he, like, the king of black people, or something?

  6. 6
    Bob Loblaw says:

    the looming irrelevancy of the Professional Left aka firebaggers aka Obamabashbots.

    That would be just tragic. What would you do without your silly names like “Obamabashbots” to amuse yourself with? Your entire oeuvre would be kaput.

    Also, nobody could possibly bear to read all that. I refuse to believe it.

  7. 7

    truthrose1
    @joanwalsh PBO is not your lap dog, thank god Gibbs called out the liars in the progressive media, u have done nothing but act like baggers

    yeah jeez why did she get defensive there how strange really odd

  8. 8
    Yutsano says:

    @Bob Loblaw: I did. And I found it interesting. And you may feel free to politely go fuck yourself.

  9. 9
    oondioline says:

    Be careful, everyone. Criticism of Obama here guarantees the black vote won’t turn out in November 2012.

    Just watch what you say.

  10. 10
    Linda Binda says:

    Isn’t Joan Walsh an erstwhile PUMA, anyways?

    She’s easily the worst thing that has happened to Salon in years. The whole place would be better off were she to make her book-writing sabbatical permanent; get someone to run the place who wants to run it as an actual liberal magazine rather than as a failed Huffington Post clone that’s actually older than HP.

  11. 11
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Yutsano:

    You found it interesting that there exists strained racial relations in this country? Really?

    I’ll be on the lookout for those “new black politics,” though. 2010 would seem to indicate that they’re a crock of shit. They no more exist than “new Democratic politics” or “new progressive politics” or “new anything politics.” Everything is as it was.

    Democrats don’t have a base. If they did, they wouldn’t have to plead for somebody, anybody to bother voting for them every two years.

  12. 12
    micah616 says:

    @oondioline: Talk about proving ABL’s point.

  13. 13
    AkaDad says:

    After 2 years, I would have thought Hilary! supporters would have gotten over it, but they’re stilled pissed off. It’s sad.

    :D

  14. 14
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    I think that there are a bunch of people on the left who don’t understand what being the party’s base actually means. It means, first and foremost, that you are reliable voters in all circumstances. It means that, even if you spend your first 50 years as a large part of the base continually disappointed that the party hasn’t had a presidential nominee that is from your group, you still go and pull the lever.

    Threatening to withhold your vote every time you are unhappy is not, and never will be, the strategy for a party considering you to be its base. It wants and needs someone that’s reliable. The folks who claim that the only way they can get the party to move in their direction is to make those threats have read just enough idiotic business guru books on negotiation to be dangerous. They don’t understand that the negotiation method they have read about is useful in some circumstances, but not others. It’s like listening to the wingnuts who took Econ 101 and don’t seem to realize that there are upper division courses in the discipline in order to explain all of the times that the 101 answer is wrong.

    Look, if you feel like you need to abandon the Democratic Party because it’s too centrist for you to support, do so. If you really think that they are just Republican lite and ethically can’t stay with them any longer, it’s what you should do. But understand that statements about doing so in and of themselves mean that you aren’t the base.

    You may wish you were. It may stroke your ego to think that you are. But you aren’t. The groups that show up reliably are, not the ones that will wander off and vote for Ralph Nader in a close election.

  15. 15
    superfly says:

    tiresome projection.

  16. 16
    Yutsano says:

    @Bob Loblaw: Ummm…what? Your response is non sequitur territory.

  17. 17
    wasabi gasp says:

    What kind of manifesto doesn’t have an animated gif?

  18. 18
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Yutsano:

    @Bob Loblaw: Ummm…what? Your response is non sequitur territory.

    You were expecting change?

  19. 19
    Yutsano says:

    @wasabi gasp: Hey cut her some slack she’s running on a tight budget. That and I bet FYWP would get massive indigestion if she tried.

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): I read that and thought you meant the permabanned troll. But I do expect at least an answer that has SOMETHING to do directly with hat I wrote, even if my response was pretty much pure mockery.

    ETA: wifey doesn’t like these threads. I find them revealing. Privilege is easier to confront when it can be identified.

  20. 20
    CaliCat says:

    @Linda Binda:

    Isn’t Joan Walsh an erstwhile PUMA, anyways? She’s easily the worst thing that has happened to Salon in years.

    Thisthisthis and more this.

  21. 21
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Yutsano: I read them because I’m angry enough to be considered an honorary black person.

  22. 22
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Yutsano:

    In what way was it possibly a non-sequitur?

    Democrats don’t have a base. Not black people. Not white people. Not young people. Not anybody. Republicans have a base. Democrats just end up with everybody else.

    If black people wanted to prove their import, there were elections in 2009 and 2010 that they whiffed on. If white progressives wanted to prove their import, there were elections in 2009 and 2010 that they whiffed on. Same for young people. Same for union people. Same for latinos. Same for women. Same for everybody.

    Nobody gets to call themselves the base while their party is getting the shit kicked out of them (everywhere except for CA, MA, VT, and I don’t know, HI) for the last two years to low to mediocre turnout.

    All of this bickering is petty masturbation.

  23. 23
    Mark S. says:

    @Yutsano:

    I forgot all about change. God he was a fucking annoying troll. I can’t remember exactly what got him banned.

  24. 24
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    Nobody gets to call themselves the base while their party is getting the shit kicked out of them (everywhere except for CA, MA, VT, and I don’t know, HI) for the last two years to low to mediocre turnout.

    Except that this is flat out wrong. Democratic turnout in 2010 was actually above expectations for a midterm election. It isn’t that people didn’t turn out. It’s that it’s fairly easy to scare the fuck out of a bunch of ignorant, crazy people and get them to turn out in what are absurdly high numbers for an off-year.

  25. 25
    AxelFoley says:

    @oondioline:

    Sorry, you’re fucking retarded.
    This song-and-dance is tired. Why are you here again?

    You talking to ABL or Uncle Clarence?

  26. 26
    AxelFoley says:

    @oondioline:

    Be careful, everyone. Criticism of Obama here guarantees the black vote won’t turn out in November 2012.
    Just watch what you say.

    Ok, I know now you’re another douchebag.

    Go eat a dick.

  27. 27
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    I would like to point out that it’s amusing that the person going by the handle Angry Black Lady (regardless of the source of the anger) is the front pager that consistently manages to cross out large chunks of her posts. I’m not laughing at you, ABL, because lord knows I do things like that all the time. It’s just fitting.

    I have an image, likely inaccurate but I’m holding on to it dammit, of you hunched over your keyboard, composing your posts by banging away with nothing but your index fingers in a mad flurry. I can laugh at that, because I actually manage to get one middle finger into my typing along with the indexes.

  28. 28
    Suck It Up! says:

    Yeah. pretty much. And we already see that dismissal here in this thread. Joan Walsh and the others need to get out more because they do tend to dismiss those outside of their blog/pundit/twitter circles.

    Also, I’d rather leave the politics to Obama because the people offering up advice are not credible in any way.

  29. 29
    Beulahmo says:

    @oondioline, I’m going to be blunt because I think you’re devoid of empathy anyway, so it probably won’t matter to you. You are a social misfit. What ABL is talking about is beyond your grasp, since it requires an understanding of appropriate social interactions among the other humans around you. This is a post and thread you’ll be wasting your time (and everyone else’s) on.

    There are other perfectly good posts and threads here at BJ. Why don’t you go visit one of those?

  30. 30
    Yutsano says:

    @AxelFoley: They shall indeed make themselves known in time. All we have to do is stand back and let them reveal themselves.

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): My privilege (yes I do haz it) I work on every day. It helps that I am exposed to minorities in my workplace that I interact with every day. But even without that I would still have to work at it.

    @Mark S.: I ferget now, but I think it had something to do with ABL. Maybe someone else remembers.

  31. 31
    Vibrant Pantload, fka Studly Pantload says:

    @Yutsano: @Yutsano:

    Just wanted to point out that if you’re fucking (either yourself of others) politely, you’re doing it wrong.

    Ahem.

    As y’all were.

    (Sorry, it’s too late for me to be a serious cat.)

  32. 32
    Linda Binda says:

    @CaliCat:

    I have a blogworthy two-page rant in my head dedicated to detailing just how much Joan Walsh sucks as the head editor of Salon, but I didn’t want to write it out in this thread. It might have derailed things, and it probably would’ve scared people. XD

  33. 33
    Yutsano says:

    @Vibrant Pantload, fka Studly Pantload: So noted. And yes I have done both the grunge fuck and the revenge fuck before.

    @Beulahmo: I’mma thinking if you have to ask the question…then again Bob has been known for his moments of needing a podiatrist/otolaryngoloist before

  34. 34
    Beulahmo says:

    @Loblaw

    “Nobody gets to call themselves the base while their party is getting the shit kicked out of them…”

    What does that even mean? Are YOU even paying attention while you’re typing this shit out?

  35. 35
    Karen says:

    @CaliCat: actually she’s not. she defended obama against the charge that he made sexist remarks at one point during the primaries and lobbed grenades at Hillary campaign for their racially tinged attacks, especially on Rev. Wright. In fact she rooted for him especially in her gazillion appearances on Hardball which was on all the time where i worked.

    Joan Walsh was definitely NOT a PUMA. And i say this as someone who who hates Joan Walsh. But i would never go so far as to taint her with the label of PUMA.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    You might want to look at some exit polls before you decide that the problem was that Democrats didn’t show up. They showed up in pretty much the same numbers as 2006 (which was an unusually large midterm), but old white people swarmed the polls in even bigger numbers, most likely thanks to Crossroads/Karl Rove’s direct mail “Obama is going to take away your Medicare!” campaign.

  37. 37
    Mister Papercut says:

    Much as a good rhetorical smacking of Joan Walsh about the neck and head would bring some light into my otherwise shitty day, looks like I picked the wrong post for light before-bed reading.

    But I’m sure a Joan Walsh takedown will be just as sweet tomorrow. Looks like I’ll just be cracking open my Glenn Beck-brand End Of The World Rations earlier than I thought.

  38. 38

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): i don’t know what you mean about crossing out. someone else mentioned it to me as well. am i not seeing something you’re seeing?

    (aside from the dreadful writing, of course, which i’m sure the pie lovers are pieing on about.)

    ETA: i don’t have a pie filter installed. i like to see the comments i ignore. or maybe that’s what they want you to think.

    +3
    ETA 2.0: this comment sounded far more hostile than i intended it, mr. tissue!

  39. 39
    SRW1 says:

    Sigh, ABL I love your comments here, but this is the kind of stuff that drives me to despair.

    In times when the crazy is ante portas, I think its OK to bicker and make clear where there are differences. But pulling out knives and cutting each other up is helping only the enemy.

    I am not familiar with the details of the spat between you and JW, so this is not meant to assign blame to you.

    And I will say that cooperating with an opponent that carries the plague and openly wants to infect you (looking at you Jane Hamsher) is an automatic disqualifier in my book. Which is why the irreplacable TBogg is pretty much the only FDLer I still read regularly.

  40. 40
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Angry Black Lady: In my browser, everything from the second paragraph in the first blockquote after the heading Setting Straw-Men on Fire through half of the next paragraph outside the quote is crossed out. It’s something I’ve noticed in posts of yours before. If it doesn’t show up on your screen, that may be why you don’t realize it.

    Or maybe I just need to have a drink, and it will go away.

    Edit: Responding to your edit, then it’s a damned good thing I never saw the first version, isn’t it? I mean, I wouldn’t want to see you hostile. You might be worse than Corner Stone or something.

  41. 41
    Crusty Dem says:

    I was going to credit Walsh for at least getting rid of the sub-execrable Camille Paglia, but she didn’t even manage that.

    Fer fucks sake, if you can’t get rid of her, you shouldn’t be an editor.

  42. 42
    Yutsano says:

    @Angry Black Lady: From what I understand you can’t pie a front pager. And I don’t see a long strrikethrough although I think I may know the source if other folks are:

    On the other hand, let me say this: I deeply resent people [what people? ed.] who insist that white progressives who criticize Obama are deluding themselves that they’re his “base,”

    Just a theory if you wanna try adjusting something on your side.

  43. 43
    Church Lady says:

    Maybe Joan will hire ABL to blog for Salon, cuz this was a Greenwald length screed.

  44. 44
    socratic_me says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): Count me as among those who don’t understand this comment at all.

    I think that there are a bunch of people on the left who don’t understand what being the party’s base actually means. It means, first and foremost, that you are reliable voters in all circumstances. It means that, even if you spend your first 50 years as a large part of the base continually disappointed that the party hasn’t had a presidential nominee that is from your group, you still go and pull the lever.
    .
    Threatening to withhold your vote every time you are unhappy is not, and never will be, the strategy for a party considering you to be its base.

    Isn’t that exactly what the Republican base does with frightening regularity? And doesn’t it seem to work in getting them what they want? How am I supposed to make sense of a theory that ignores the base of the only party that actually seems to have a coherent base?

  45. 45
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @socratic_me:

    Isn’t that exactly what the Republican base does with frightening regularity?

    Not really. Some of them do, but I doubt that they are the ones really considered the base. The ones that count are the ones that run primary challenges but then reliably show up at the polls even when that fails.

    They’ve never had an experience like the left did in 2000. Ross Perot wasn’t a phenomenon of their base, and John Anderson didn’t sink anything except maybe Jimmy Carter.

  46. 46
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    You’re making my point for me.

    Everything is as it was. That’s what I said.

    The Democrats were facing down disaster, and nobody rose to the occasion. Millions of 2008 “base” voters (whoever they’re supposed to be) did nothing. There was no new paradigm. No new Obama coalition. It was just another midterm, except for all those agitated white people. Who aren’t anybody’s base. That’s why they control elections, because the base can’t pull 50%+1 nationwide. And I do consider it to be low to mediocre turnout. I don’t care if this country is messed up when it comes to voting, standards shouldn’t be lowered. The control of Congress is more important than the President, and yet 50 million fewer people vote for it.

    The Democratic base isn’t racially defined, or defined by class or income. It’s a hodgepodge. It’s whoever can be counted on to show up every time. Not once in four years. A black voter, or a college voter, or a poor voter who only shows up intermittently isn’t the base. The base is defined by activity, not potential.

  47. 47
    Starfish says:

    @socratic_me: No. I am confused by who you think the base is, and I would like you to give some examples of Republicans doing this.

    There are only two examples that I can think of.

    The Republican Congresscritters threaten to withhold their votes if they do not get their way, but ultimately they vote with everyone else. Until recently, you did not have many Republican Congresscritters declaring that as President, they would like their feefees to be respected other than the two “centrist” co-Presidents from Maine. But these are Congresscritters and not really the base.

    The only other people that fit into this category are the single issue abortion voters. Religious people would probably be happier among the Democrats if the athiests quit making so much fun of them, and Republicans did not repeatedly scare them into believing that by electing Democrats we would all have forced abortions on Tuesdays.

  48. 48
    sukabi says:

    @socratic_me: comparing apples and oranges… authoritarians (conservatives) use different parts of their brains.. they are ruled by fear, so fear works for them … they use it against their base (Karl Rove tactics) and their base uses it back (threats to stay home)

    if you take a look at the independents / democrats / liberals / progressives their response to “scare tactics” or fear is to take their balls and go home, with a big “Fuck You” on the way out… it makes it a bit more difficult to manage… however, if the self-professed leaders of the party / movements would do something besides hand wringing and bickering and actually start laying out some core principals and start organizing then we’d get somewhere…

  49. 49
    CaliCat says:

    @Linda Binda:

    I have a blogworthy two-page rant in my head. dedicated to detailing just how much Joan Walsh sucks

    She’s done nothing but pander to the Greenwaldians (when she’s not sucking up to Chris Mathews) since Mr.Obama became president. And yes, She’s all PUMA.

  50. 50
    NR says:

    Sorry, but I’m done with Obama. I’m just absolutely fucking done.

    Wealth is still streaming from the middle class to the rich. None of the excesses from the Bush administration have been cleaned up. None of the big-money influence channels have done anything but grow under Obama.

    The healthcare bill is a travesty that hugely increases the power of the insurance companies, and puts everyone in America on the hook for funding CEO bonuses and corporate profits. Its passage has destroyed any chance of meaningful health care reform for at least a generation.

    Obama never met a rich conservative he wouldn’t kneel to, and he never meet a poor progressive who he wouldn’t kick to win favor with his rich friends.

    The country was beyond ready to clean up the mess that the Bush administration left behind. And it was Obama who stopped that from happening. Not the Republicans. Obama.

    And I’m sorry, but while “Sarah Palin would be worse” may get my vote in 2012, it doesn’t get Obama one fucking ounce of credit for riding one of the most important swings of power in history into the presidency, and then pissing that all away. And that has nothing to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with the content of his character.

  51. 51
    Sleeper says:

    In other words, I’m a disgruntled white progressive and I’m going to try to teach Obama a lesson because he doesn’t share our values now, but maybe with our help, we can help him see the light.

    So what’s wrong with that? Why wouldn’t you, or me, or anyone following politics, want to influence politicians to do more of what you like and less of what you don’t like? It’s one thing to say “I think that is a stupid/terrible/dangerous tactic because of A, B and C.” That’s a conversation worth having. But most of us out here in the wastelands have no power and no influence. I’m someone who’s been increasingly frustrated and disgusted over the past 2 years with the paltry results this Administration has achieved (and that’s how I see them, and others can disagree if they like, we’ll agree to disagree). I don’t have any leverage against Obama except withholding support and voicing displeasure (as miniscule as even that leverage is). And even that’s going to get ignored. The Left, what I define as the Left (and my definition is all that matters to me, same as everyone else), is going to get sidelined and ignored for the most part. A few half-victories here and there, perhaps. We’re only relevant if we make ourselves a pain in the ass to the sensible centrists who currently run the party and who will continue to run it for the foreseeable future. Voicing displeasure and demanding more is the only thing we can do, in the vain hope that at some point, when the leaders of the party are scrambling for every vote they can get, they might make some concessions and pay some lip service to the things important to us. I don’t hold out hope of every seeing a President who shares most of my values in the White House, but a few Congresspeople here and there might win tight races and make their voices be heard later down the road.

    You’re telling us…well, I’m not entirely sure what the point of this was. We should shut up? We’re endangering the President’s chances (and are therefore objectively pro-Tea Party) because of our blog comments? You’ll still let us participate, but it’s necessary for us to concede that your side is more important? If the “firebaggers” (which I guess I am, though I don’t read FDL and find Glenn Greenwald a chore to read) are so irrelevant, then why does your side waste so much energy denouncing us? Promote your guy, make the case for him. And people on my side should criticize his actions when they feel the need to – his actions, not the man himself, and not his supporters. And let whoever makes the better arguments win. This personal infighting is so goddamned tiresome.

  52. 52
    CaliCat says:

    @NR:

    Sorry, but I’m done with Obama. I’m just absolutely fucking done.

    Awesome. Who gives a shit?

  53. 53
    Uriel says:

    @NR:

    Sorry, but I’m done with Obama. I’m just absolutely fucking done.

    And I’m sure children across this great nation are weeping real tears of sorrow and dismay at that devastating news flash.

  54. 54
    Pat says:

    Well! After all of that I wonder if Bradley Manning was stripped of his garments again last night while being accused of nothing.

    I cannot get past the President’s bland response that he accepts without question the reassurances by the Pentagon that Bradley Manning is being treated humanely.

    So Democrats, let’s go on and on and on about how the privileged white liberal progressive people have it out for Obama-Bush.

    I, on the other hand (not being a privileged white lady), will thank the goddesses again today that my son is losing his house, rather than his mind, because he may or may not have embarrassed some State Department people that nobody would know who they were if they fell over them!

    I know, I know, priorities. Got to get our house in order. Straighten that privileged white lady’s ass first, and then move on to blindly re-elect Obama, no questions asked!

  55. 55
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Pat: Do you mean accused of nothing except for the multiple felonies that he’s been charged with in court? Bradley Manning may be being treated in an abusive way, although the stories on that become kind of muddled once you listen to anyone other than his attorneys. Let’s not pretend that he isn’t accused of anything.

  56. 56
    Uriel says:

    @Pat: See, here’s the thing: after reading the name Bradley Manning all day, every day, for weeks, inserted into topics that are in no way related to him, over and over and over-

    The constant garment rending over his lack of garments to rend begins to look more like a cheap rhetorical device than it does an actual sorce of legitamate concern. But YMMV, I suppose.

  57. 57

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): i don’t know if i fixed it. i see it in safari, but not on firefox or chrome.

    how bizarre.

  58. 58
    Lysana says:

    Isn’t it just charming how posts about race and derailment inevitably demonstrate derailing tactics in the comments?

    And ABL, if I ever need an attorney, I want one just like you.

  59. 59
    ciaran says:

    were black folks completely behind bill clinton to? or is it just cause obama is black? genuine question!

    personally it seems to me that it cant but be a good thing for democratic voters to hold obama’s feet to the fire cause its self evident that he’s doesnt give a f’ck for what ye think, unlike the republican party.

  60. 60
    Uriel says:

    @CaliCat: OK, yours is better. More succinct, and such.

  61. 61
    Lysana says:

    @NR:

    Sorry, but I’m done with Obama. I’m just absolutely fucking done.

    Whining begins in 5… 4… 3… 2…

    Wealth is still streaming from the middle class to the rich.

    And the Magic Negro failed to fix this in two years! ZOMG! He’s not Morgan Freeman!

    None of the excesses from the Bush administration have been cleaned up. None of the big-money influence channels have done anything but grow under Obama.

    The lobbyist limitation laws didn’t turn Washington into a voter’s paradise overnight! Obama isn’t even Eddie Murphy!

    The healthcare bill is a travesty that hugely increases the power of the insurance companies, and puts everyone in America on the hook for funding CEO bonuses and corporate profits. Its passage has destroyed any chance of meaningful health care reform for at least a generation.

    And now we get to where he can’t even manage to be Tyler Perry. Shucky-darn.

    Obama never met a rich conservative he wouldn’t kneel to, and he never meet a poor progressive who he wouldn’t kick to win favor with his rich friends.

    This is where we enter the parallel dimension in which Obama didn’t keep a single campaign promise and wears hobnailed boots just for the puppies who aren’t Bo.

    The country was beyond ready to clean up the mess that the Bush administration left behind. And it was Obama who stopped that from happening. Not the Republicans. Obama.

    Because it was really just a simple matter of waving his magic wand and making it all go away.

    And I’m sorry, but while “Sarah Palin would be worse” may get my vote in 2012, it doesn’t get Obama one fucking ounce of credit for riding one of the most important swings of power in history into the presidency, and then pissing that all away. And that has nothing to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with the content of his character.

    Actually, Sparky, it has everything to do with the fact you’re a whiny little shit-for-brains who thinks it’s cute to firebag this blog. Well, go light your head and lie down on Jane Hamsher’s porch, OK? It’ll do more good than what you just tried to do here.

  62. 62

    i dunno, i think anyone who is “done” with obama, or wants to argue that i am the base, but…or wants to kick someone out of the base….

    really ought to go to consevative dominated blogerterias and see how one of their circle jerks works, and even dig into the comments to see how a wingnut commentariat feels, particularly on the base worthiness of democrats based gender,sexuality, race etc…

    in general it takes the top of those fistfights(no guns! no knives!)to see the issue zoomed out to where you can see what people who really really disagree think.

    i have to deal with cons all day every day. this don’t seem like nothing…though i will say jane hamsher reminds a couple of old people i was once visiting of a lady who does those accident injury, need a lawyer ads?

    but they know nothing about her, she just happened to be on the tv when i walked in, and they asked if it was the same lady. i said i don’t think so, and feigned ignorance.

  63. 63
    Uriel says:

    @ciaran: Probalby want to look into a new keyboard there, kiddo- the ‘M’ key doesn’t seem to be registering at all, and the ‘l’ key is outputting ‘i’s. Could cause some confusion.

  64. 64
    Sly says:

    @socratic_me:

    Isn’t that exactly what the Republican base does with frightening regularity?

    The Republican base isn’t some geographically and socially ill-defined amorphous blob of random people on the internet.

  65. 65
    Sleeper says:

    @Lysana:

    Because it was really just a simple matter of waving his magic wand and making it all go away.

    To some of us, it doesn’t look like he’s even started the process. Or he hasn’t done enough. To you, I gather that he has. “Waving a magic wand” is the most tiresome Obama straw man argument around. Let’s argue about the positions each of us actually hold, rather than deliberately misstating each other’s opinions.

  66. 66
    Haiwei says:

    Obama had a false theory of how he’d move a useful agenda. He thought he’d outflank Republicans with his charm and constant appeals to bipartisanship, and even co-opt their “better ideas.” After all, this seemed to work from the other direction for Reagan.

    In execution in modern times, though, his voice seems to be absent or maybe just drowned out. So he’s easily portrayed as a socialist in the media, even while surrendering way too much on substance – among ourselves I think we can admit it: the healthcare reform bill is a mother-fucking travesty, financial reform was a mother-fucking joke, and Obama’s record on civil liberties is appalling. These failures have already cost us dearly, in terms of lost opportunity and blow-back from both directions (frenzied teahadists and disaffected youth voters – the degree of their retreat in the Scott Brown special election in Massachusetts was nothing short of astonishing).

    And the worst is probably yet to come. Our opportunity to address global warming is dead. We will have a dysfunctional housing market and lingering mortgage mess dragging down the economy for another decade. Another financial meltdown is inevitable. And Obama will likely lose in 2012 to a GOP half-wit: his electoral college map is falling apart, and even after the lunacy of Wisconsin and Boehnerism, Republicans still lead Dems in the Congressional generic ballot.

    In sum, the Obama administration has been a colossal failure. His prospective re-defined coalition of traditional democratic constituencies and energized youth voters is already disintegrated.

    The fault lies not in his critics, but in himself.

  67. 67
    hhex65 says:

    Looks like Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild has a posse.

  68. 68
    ciaran says:

    @Uriel:
    no comprende! have i misspelled something?

  69. 69
    the farmer says:

    #66 Haiwei – April 9, 2011 | 5:42 am. In execution in modern times, though, his voice seems to be absent or maybe just drowned out. So he’s easily portrayed as a socialist in the media, even while surrendering way too much on substance – among ourselves I think we can admit it:

    Haiwei, I think we can admit that you are the same kind of so called leftist voice that recklessly helped surrender power to the Nazis in Weimar Germany in 1932. Eventhough in modern times you still can’t figure out how something like that actually happened.

    *

  70. 70
    anon says:

    Lifting the Veil:
    Barack Obama and the failure of capitalist ‘democracy’

    http://vimeo.com/20355767

  71. 71
    Linda Binda says:

    @Haiwei: So.. uh, what do we do about it all, then?

    Unlike many here, I don’t quite care enough to have any strong feelings towards those who criticize Obama. Um, yeah, Obama sucks, so, uh, who’s the guy to replace him? :P What do you wanna do to fix this?

    I’m getting tired of being asked by the naysayers to essentially slit my wrists and give up on life every time something ideal doesn’t occur in the news. It’s not healthy. It’s not constructive.

    Last time I looked at the Talking Points Memo Congressional Generic Ballot, it moved at least half a point in the Democrats’ direction since last week, but I guess I’m supposed to jump off a cliff now, because what, Obama spoke some Republican speak?

    Like it or not, at least the Gallup polls say that there are about twice as many people willing to identify as Conservative as there are Liberal in America. That means that liberals are not a frightening force to behold in this country, and frankly, by all of the Chicken Little freakouts about everything that occur on almost every thread here, and on threads of almost every blog elsewhere, where, exactly, is the Democratic machine’s incentive to be afraid?

    They don’t need us as a base, because we’re not big enough, we’re not rich enough, we don’t vote enough, we’re not politically savvy enough (downright amateur, really), and we’re too weak. We need them more than they need us. What kind of incentive can liberals give them to go more left when every time they try, they’re not rewarded for it, they’re bashed in the news media and by political opponents for it, and they’re not thanked for it? I mean, what’re some ideas that you have to make a Democratic operative pay attention to you rather than dismiss you as a whiner who doesn’t know how good he or she has it?

    There is no one else, because there is no real Left. There is only the Party. Give up and throw in the towel, and you only have the other guys who will vote for what they want, and we have more cultural wars BS. I mean, whatever. I’m in Georgia: my vote already doesn’t matter, statewide, anyways. I just want mass transit in my home county. I want a school board that isn’t run by complete careerist assholes who don’t even live in the county and run things so badly into the ground that we lose accreditation for a year. I want businesses to come back and reinvest. I want there to be more places to shop than furniture outlets, beauty supply stores, and CHAINS. I don’t want any more big companies like J.C. Penney closing up shop after having been down here for ages. I want racist jerks to quit writing my county off as one giant ghetto simply because it’s majority Democratic and majority black. I want crime to go down. I don’t like having to go to Henry County to find decent, varied places to shop. I’m a part of metro Atlanta — I ought to benefit like I would in a real city, if it weren’t for the racist fucks who’ve denied me this for so long. Just because I’m a black woman living south of the Perimeter (Morrow, Clayton County, area), it doesn’t mean I’m damaged goods.

    Frankly, I’m wondering, with all of the palpable anger at Obama out there, why can’t it apparently materialize into its own little grassroots movement. Instead, it’s a bunch of whiners on a blog kicking rocks on the ground and grumbling about how much things suck. So, what’re your solutions?

    Honestly, if you don’t live in the South, or in certain states in the Midwest (Idaho, Utah, Oklahoma), if you’re a Democrat, you still have a chance. Your vote still counts. You can quit pitching a fit and at least vote local. Obama used to be a state senator after all. Maybe some other upstart can get his or her first wind, instead. You have to build it before they come, to quote a silly movie.

  72. 72
    Donut says:

    ABL – thank you for a thought-provoking post. I have two kids under age five, so I wind up missing most of these Inter-tubez kerfuffles. That’s not a bad thing, I’m feeling.

    I’m still mulling over what you’re saying, and in general I agree with a lot of your criticisms of white progressives.

    I also think that there is a long-standing difficulty in finding productive ways to criticize a Democratic for a lot of progressives (regardless of ethnicity or racial ID).

    The fact that a lot of the criticisms of the current president mirror, in the deeper subtext, those of the Clinton administration that is pretty telling. Clinton was accused of selling out progressives and doing policy at the expense of the poor and coddling Republicans, and yadda yadda yadda. It was constant in the 1990s. The specific issues, from my vantage point, are different but the criticisms are really striking in similarity. So there is that to consider. Some of what might seem like racially-tinged bomb-throwing from certain progressive quarters really may just be (in part) a product of the fact that progressives in the post WWII era and beyond have pretty consistently eaten their own, regardless of who the Democratic president is. I’m not in any way trying to discount what you’ve said about white progressives in positions of privilege, but I also think historical perspective is important (sue me, I majored in history and African American studies).

    Anyway, in general, the thing about all of this back and forth among people who are, let’s be honest, all privileged enough to be able to communicate with each other on blogs is that it ends up doing nothing to move the President to act one way or another.

    Really, the man gives not one shit about what most of us are saying about him on blogs. He’s looking for what will move the approval rating needle from 46%, 47% to a minimum of 50.1% in the states where he can gain enough electoral votes to win re-election.

    So anything you see President Obama doing right now is geared not towards most of you reading this blog. Seriously.
    He doesn’t give a shit. Accept it.

    He’s looking to get enough people to the polls and pulling the lever in very specific places. Florida. North Carolina. Indiana. Ohio. Michigan. Pennsylvania.

    If you’re not a “swing” voter in one of these states – you don’t really matter to Obama right now. And the Davids – Plouffe and Axelrod – don’t care if you’re pissed at Joan Walsh. They are concerned with “optics” – and that means the President, vis-a-vis domestic politics – will be seen doing lots of things that will (they hope) motivate swing voters to the polls in 2012.

    That, much more than anything else, explains Barack Obama’s domestic policy choices, and why tax cuts for the wealthy were extended, and why GITMO is staying open, and even to a lesser extent why Bradley Manning is being treated like a pieces of shit.

    Y’all are kidding yourselves if you think anything else motivates an American politician. “hat’s gonna get me to 50.1% and keep me in power?” is really all any of them care about. They are fucking politicians!

    Barack Obama is no different. Sure, he’s a black dude; sure, his background gives him a different perspective than any other president we’ve had; sure, I think in his heart he really is bleeding librul soshulist blue blood – but none of that matters too much at the end of the day. He’s still politician, which means he’s gonna pander for votes in the places where it counts the most so he can keep his position of power.

    My 2 cents. I’m done.

  73. 73
    the farmer says:

    Barack Obama and the failure of capitalist ‘democracy’

    I’m a Ted Kennedy capitalist.

    *

  74. 74
    oondioline says:

    Black people who criticize Obama are race traitors.

    Man, that’s pretty fucked up, even for ABL.

  75. 75
    Admiral_Komack says:

    Thank you, ABL.
    Joan Walsh is a PUMA.
    Joan Walsh is full of shit.
    Carry on.

  76. 76
    Captain Howdy says:

    Nowhere in Reed’s article does he lay out the “pernicious line” that white progressives are not the base.

    This is thin sauce, ABL. You’re accusing Walsh of “intellectual dishonesty” because Reed doesn’t make the specific claim that all progressive whites are excluded from “the base”?

    Reed most definitely does accuse (unnamed) “white progressives” of deluding themselves that they are the only part of PBO’s base. Which is a pretty stupid accusation, and yeah: a pernicious line.

    I’m not a Joan Walsh fan, gawd knows (if anything, I’m an ABL fan). But this is just semantic nitpickery, in my grotesquely prideful opinion.

  77. 77
    kay says:

    This was interesting, ABL. It’s a different perspective. I read the whole thing.
    I do have a question, though. Why do “we” (liberals) fight the notion of a professional Left so angrily?
    I know Gibbs was obnoxious, but that phrase is true, is it not? There are people on the internet that do this for a living. True! It’s not “evidence” that they’re corrupted or captured. It’s just fact.
    There IS a professional Left, which makes sense, because there’s a professional Right. What’s bad about admitting that, and what’s so bad about folding that knowledge into the mix when reading or relying on something?
    Why fight something that is so obviously true?
    I would submit that there is also an internet “Village”. Coming from outside, it’s obviously true. That’s why you read things like “Glenn, who I usually agree with….” or “Jane, who is a friend to progressives”..or “The always perceptive Digby…”
    That’s natural and normal too. That’s how people are. They make connections with other people, they develop relationships: they have a history. The internet developed a “Village”, and it includes its own conventional wisdom, which is why you see themes and topics adopted in near-lockstep.
    Pretending that we’re all just coldly calculating and considering each statement and person in some kind of sterile vault of “fact” is just silly, and obviously not true, to the reader.
    I’d embrace professional Left, because there’s nothing wrong with making money at writing or running a PAC or whatever, and that FACT has to be folded into the mix, and own up to a version of the “Village” that exists on the internet.
    Both things are true, and denying them damages credibility.

  78. 78
    kay says:

    @<a href="#comment-2521470Bob Loblaw:

    Democrats don’t have a base. Not black people. Not white people. Not young people. Not anybody. Republicans have a base. Democrats just end up with everybody else.

    This sounds really edgy and unique, but it’s nonsense. If you gave me a 2 hour deadline, I could compile a list of names of the Democratic base in this county that would be nearly dead-on.
    It’s a 50/30 R/D county, with “independents” in the middle, and I could give you a list of the 30% that constitute the Democratic base. I compile the list every two years.
    Obama swung the county 20 points in ’08. Base plus 20= 50. Independents voted for him. I met them. I talked to them. I made up lists on legal pads. It wasn’t rocket science.
    I think what we’re really saying is he didn’t EXPAND the base, and that’s a legitimate point (or, disappointment, depending on your level of expectation), in the sense of is he “politically transformational” but I have to tell you, Clinton didn’t either.
    I knew the 20% of independents or whatever we’re calling “soft” Obama voters in this county were not the base, and I knew they’d swing the other way, at a moments notice, because they always do. Young voters were and are, as usual, unreliable. It’s almost their defining characteristic.

  79. 79
    anon says:

    @the farmer:
    Hi.

    It’s counter-propaganda in video form, a Lessig-style mash-up of many sources that you may have seen before but which take on a certain weight when compiled and edited as they are here.

    Watch it, see what you think.

    From the video:
    “‘Hope’? How dare that word be used and distorted the way the ‘Obama brand’ has used it and distorted it.”
    –Larry Pinkney

    But of course it’s not just Obama, it’s a whole system. That’s what the video is about – clarity about reality as a foundation for real hope.

    I find it much more compelling than ABL’s views as expressed in the post here. (I often enjoy and appreciate her writing, however, I just don’t agree with this post.)

  80. 80
    Captain Howdy says:

    @kay:

    How is “the base” defined? What is it exactly? The more I think about it, the less it seems to mean anything tangible, but you seem like the right person to ask.

  81. 81
    sherifffruitfly says:

    Pure pro-ness.

  82. 82
    kay says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    Here,they’re the 30% (this is a conservative county) who reliably vote for “the Democrat”. They also self-identify as Democrats. They can get more specific, ie: “I’m a liberal Democrat” but the key word there is “Democrat”. Of that group, some are what we call “active” meaning they donate, attend meetings and such, canvass, etc.
    I know who they are because we (very occasionally) run a local candidate, and we can guarantee that candidate 30%. It’s also a rural county, so we’re only talking about 30k people, total. Sadly, that’s ALL we can guarantee them :)

    This is measured locally, of course, but in a real and practical sense “local” is all that matters, because a national election is just adding up various “locals”.

    So, “my” Democratic base would be different than “ABL’s” Democratic base. I believe she lives in California, so maybe different mix.

    I am not a professional, this is just my experience, so give that as much or as little cred as you fit.

  83. 83
    lawguy says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): The base is only the base as long as they vote democratic no matter who runs? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so silly in my life. I think the tecnical term is door mat.

  84. 84
    kay says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    Swinging a huge group of basically sporadically interested people(which Obama did here) is one victory he can claim, absolutely.

    The next (and perhaps much harder thing) would be keeping them, right?

    Clinton couldn’t do it. He didn’t create a new group of reliable Democratic voters. They swung back. I don’t know if Obama can do it, either.

    I should say I don’t have much to offer on “independents”. In my personal opinion, people who say they “vote for the man” are really talking about perceptions of personality or “character”, and not issues. If you drill down a little, turns out they just LIKE certain candidates, God knows why or why not. People are complex creatures :)

  85. 85
    Captain Howdy says:

    @kay:

    So a “base” is just the demographic that will reliably vote a certain way?

    “…they donate, attend meetings and such, canvass, etc.”

    To me that suggests there is nothing specific in there to describe a paradigm or world-view. I.e., a working-class cafeteria Catholic might be part of the same base as an ageing stoner, just for examples.

    But a single-issue voter — an ardent pro-choicer, e.g. — seems the most likely candidate to be part of a base.

  86. 86
    kay says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    But a single-issue voter—an ardent pro-choicer, e.g.—seems the most likely candidate to be part of a base.

    Hah! I think you hit on the big conundrum. That may be true for Republicans, but I think the reverse is true for Democrats.
    Democrats as a group of voters and as candidates and leaders, are much more ideologically diverse than Republicans.
    How that plays out is like this: “I’m anti-abortion, but the fact that I’m a Democrat trumps that issue”.
    Nearly half of our local Democrats profess to be anti-abortion. They are. I believe them. Yet ALL of them vote for the Democratic candidate in Presidential elections, and no democratic candidate at the Presidential level is anti-abortion.
    Do you see what I’m getting at? Their identification as “Democrats” makes single issues LESS important, not more. They’re trading off.
    I hear things like “I didn’t like what he did on taxes, but I like that he tried so hard on health care”.

  87. 87
    Captain Howdy says:

    Democrats as a group of voters and as candidates and leaders, are much more ideologically diverse than Republicans.

    Quite, but this suggests there is at least some truth to Bob Loblaw’s observation that “Democrats don’t have a base.” Or at least, if I understand you correctly, Dems don’t rally around an issue (or even set of issues). Rather, they — the Dem base — are more likely to be influenced by group identity.

  88. 88
    kay says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    I think what you’re really asking is “what is a Democrat” and there are so many answers to why people identify as democrats that I think you’d have to answer it county by county.
    The critics who say “Democrats” don’t have a consistent set of ideals or Truths are RIGHT, IMO. That’s TRUE. It’s a valid point. It’s a problem.
    I just don’t know if that’s because of our leaders or because of our voters (our odd, patched-together ‘majority’).
    I don’t know which came first, or who followed and who led or where we were going :)

  89. 89
    kay says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    There is a base, though. Here, it’s 30% of voters. They have names and addresses. They exist. They always vote for the Democrat. They’ll freely admit this. They decided, at some point, that “the Democrat” was the better bet.

  90. 90
    kay says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    I have to work now, so I’m going.

    Enjoyed talking with you, and hope I didn’t just muddle things further.

  91. 91

    @Bob Loblaw: Bingo.

    Also, too — firedog who?

    I stopped reading Kos and Firedoglake back during the Bush administration because, even then, it was clear that different opinions would not be tolerated.

  92. 92
    Peggy says:

    Take a hint: J/K jokes about race wars are jokes that white folks can’t make. Full stop.

    Hasn’t every white liberal realized this since the 60’s?
    I guess not.
    These people also seem to have missed the meaning of the Black Power movement (which happened about 45 years ago).

    Signed, Old White Lady

  93. 93
    quickly says:

    hey abl, I was wondering if you could let us know the top 5 issues that you are most dissatisfied with Obama on, just so I know what I’m allowed to take issue with. just give me a list of anything you might feel a little less than fucking ecstatic about his performance. is there anything at all you can mention?

  94. 94
    Dan says:

    Hi ABL. To Walsh’s original point, I think one of the reasons some on the left are talking about organizing independently of the Obama re-election campaign is because of stuff like this. Not sure what it’s like in LA, but right now there’s a direct frontal assault on the rights of workers to collectively bargain in Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere in the midwest. It’s a huge fight, it’s happening right now, and candidate Obama said he’d stand shoulder to shoulder with us if what is happening right now, happened.

    Now, I understand he’s got a bunch of feces hurling Republicans in DC trying to destroy the government. He isn’t off clearing brush in Crawford – he’s got a lot on his plate. Fair enough. But you don’t say shit like that unless you mean it, unless your word is your bond, unless you plan to stand by it come hell or high water.

    You can’t blame folks for noticing he’s not doing what he said he would on this one, or for thinking “well we better take up this fight and not worry about any national Democrats rolling up their sleeves and pitching in.” So, you know, lots of luck getting the re-election bid up and running, but we’re over here manning the barricades at the moment. Your efforts and our efforts will complement each other, but for some of us our time and energy are already spoken for.

    And incidentally, about a century ago Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” We’re a fractious bunch, we criticize our own and we air our dirty laundry. We always have. It’s the Republicans who fall into line. I think a willingness to call out our leaders, even all the way to the top, is a strength and not a weakness. If criticism from the base sapped the vitality of a party the Democrats wouldn’t have survived the 1800s.

  95. 95
    WereBear says:

    @quickly: You are missing the point.

    You can go ahead and decide “you” would have handled things differently, and once “you” are President, we’ll sit back and analyze how you did.

    But until then, it’s just Monday morning quarterbacking, because you aren’t the President, are you?

    What Presidentin’ reminds me the most of is small town meetings. Because that’s all it is, and if you haven’t been to one, you don’t know diddly.

    There’s the group who wants one unreasonable thing and they don’t have a prayer of getting it while the sun shines, but that’s what they want and that’s all there is to it.

    There’s the big group who just wants to complain. About every single thing that comes under discussion. Because this makes them feel competent and on top of things. And this is the only way to make them feel like that.

    There’s the group who is so tired of all the other groups being giant aholes they want to give up and go home.

    And there’s the small core who keep their eyes on what they know has to happen and just grind away at it. Because it’s the only way something gets done.

    See, this is something parents should learn pretty quick; children are the opposite of efficiency. We spend our entire adulthood figuring out the quickest way from A to B, but children haven’t learned that and they don’t want to.

    Politics is full of children. We have to drag them along and work around and through them and suffer through their crap.

    Is there a better system? Not until that third of the population who never grows up… grows up.

  96. 96
    Donut says:

    In case anyone cares, I just want to be clear that I was trying say above, at least in subtext, but which probably didn’t come through clear in the actual text, that I think ABL’s criticism of Walsh’s reaction (and others, incl Hamsher, et al) to her and others is perfectly reasonable and valid.

    The thing I’m not sure of is where I come down in the conversation progressives are having regarding how best to criticize Obama.

    I completely agree that Walsh, Hamsher and Greenwald can sometimes come across as condescending privileged assholes. No doubt about it. But I also think there is some tendency by more pragmatic types to dismiss as whining or even, gulp, as privileged bitching, what are actually perfectly valid criticisms that the “white progressive left” makes of Obama. Some non-white lefties make the same criticisms. So I dunno…a lot it perhaps comes down more to style than substance. Make of that what you will. The manner in which something is said counts for a lot, and that applies to everyone. I’m not making some mushy plea for civility, but sometimes the messenger taints the message. Blah blah blah. I don’t know if I’m making any sense, but there you go.

  97. 97

    […] said, American racial politics is pretty messed up. FWIW, I think everyone involved in this is kind of being dickish to each other. Joan Walsh was hamfisted and insensitive, but she’s […]

  98. 98
    Freddie says:

    This is utter bullshit.

  99. 99
    Freddie says:

    President Obama has asserted that he has the right to have American citizens assassinated with no due process and no judicial review whatsoever. Wrap your fucking mind around that one for a little while if you can. And choosing to walk away from that makes me unprincipled?

  100. 100
    quickly says:

    @ werebear: so because I’m not the president I shouldn’t have in my mind certain policy prescriptions and actually say them out loud? do I get to have my own ideas every 4 years at least or not until the term limit comes? Or maybe only when a republican’s in office? Did you use this “the president knows things that you and I could not possibly understand so just shutup” argument during the last administration?

    and then this?

    “And there’s the small core who keep their eyes on what they know has to happen and just grind away at it. Because it’s the only way something gets done.

    See, this is something parents should learn pretty quick; children are the opposite of efficiency. We spend our entire adulthood figuring out the quickest way from A to B, but children haven’t learned that and they don’t want to.

    Politics is full of children. We have to drag them along and work around and through them and suffer through their crap.

    Is there a better system? Not until that third of the population who never grows up… grows up.”

    I’m assuming you’re the clear eyed realist and the people criticizing while still fundamentally supporting his presidency are the children. Correct? Yes, you’ve glimpsed the hard truths alright.

  101. 101
    WereBear says:

    @quickly: I’m not saying anything you are attributing to me. And you can say what you want, all you want; so do I. Because that is a precious right of being an American.

    But while I do criticize the President, I also consider the constraints on his behavior. He has a batshit-insane House and a bloated lazy Senate, as well as the completely whacko 27% who think he is a Kenyan Moozlim secret agent and a bunch of swing voters who are the teenagers of politics; they swing with their emotions and their caffeine content.

    If you can explain how he can wrest what you want while working with such materials, and stay President through the next election, I’m all ears. Because I do want him to stay President; I believe President McCain and VP Palin would be a science fiction nightmare I’d rather not actually live.

    Those were the two choices.

  102. 102
    La Caterina says:

    Black folks ARE the base. I am white, and I have only been involved in ONE Dem campaign in my 52 years of kvetching about Republicans. Last weekend I attended a $75 a plate brunch attended by HUNDREDS of black Dems in my congressional district- not even an election year, but the base is quietly doing what it has always done, which is to support its Dem House member.

  103. 103
    sk says:

    @Donut: At least Greenwald has been a victim of US policy …

    That said, Obama has blinked when the GOP stared him down … not in every case, but in a lot – including last night. Not as egregious (or as optional) as his cave on everything civil liberties, but a concession that starving poor people is ok.

  104. 104
    Jason says:

    Sorry, this article just got this page taken off my RSS feed.

    Obama has been a dismal president, a coward who refuses to fight for basically anything. The “Firebaggers” problem is that they don’t go far enough.

    Obama should have had a primary opponent announced already.

    How many Republican policies does he have to enact before you come to your senses? How many tax breaks does he have to allow to continue? How many Republican budgets does he have to have? How many times does he have to make deals with large corporations to sell out on every principal he ran on before you wake up?

    Your opinion horrifies me, and I’ll not be back.

  105. 105
    quickly says:

    @werebear

    I absolutely agree. I only criticize when it seems like there is something different that he could have done differently, irrespective of congress. National security and military coming immediately to mind.

    I just really get nuts when individuals who are presently criticizing Obama and who were making the same principled critiques of Bush are accused of all kinds of malfeasance and questionable motives. Someone like Greenwald is a perfect example. He has been against the steady erosion of privacy, against the increasingly opaque view we have into government, pro-whistle blower, a passionate and intelligent voice on civil liberties. He applies the same standards to Obama as he did to Bush as far as I can tell – no more no less – and gets pilloried by ABL and several commenters. Why? Were they similarly outraged when he critiqued Bush? Do they actually think that the various civil liberties abuses he details courtesy of the Obama administration are of lesser importance? Not as grave?

    Thanks for your tempered response by the way, probably more than my response deserved.

  106. 106
    gogol's wife says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    My thoughts exactly. Why isn’t this clear to everyone?

  107. 107

    How were we supposed to take Rahm’s comment, if it wasn’t an insult? Please, enlighten us.

  108. 108

    I think that there are a bunch of people on the left who don’t understand what being the party’s base actually means. It means, first and foremost, that you are reliable voters in all circumstances.

    What a great way to be totally irrelevant. “No matter what you do, party, I will support you! Whether you do what I want or not, you will have my vote!” Then a year later: “Oh my GOD, I can’t believe they didn’t do what I wanted! ! ! Why is that?”

  109. 109
    WereBear says:

    @quickly: I actually agree with you; I wanted a Bright Line drawn to clearly delineate what We Think as opposed to What They Don’tThink. I’m not as happy about that state of affairs as I could be.

    I don’t find the “Assassinate a US Citizen” issue as red hot as others do; a declared terrorist has kinda renounced their citizenship, no matter where they were born; they have joined Terrorist Nation, and are now criminals, self-declared.

    @Master of Karate and Friendship: Well, you know, ingroup and outgroup criticisms are two different beasts.

    If you don’t like the trend, work to change it! NOT voting is about as effective as holding your breath. Ever since I’ve been alive, mumbtley mumble years now, and it has always seemed to be that the Democrat is the lesser of any two political evils.

    If that makes me a loyal Democrat, so be it.

  110. 110

    I do not know what a “firebagger” is and I’m not sure I want to.

    I do think the circular firing squad is grossly counterproductive. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a Lefty criticizing President Obama, after all, back when Bush was president many of us criticized the Republicans for their cult-like allegiance to Bush despite his many failings. We called them hypocrites when they stayed silent as he ran up the debt, took away civil liberties, entered into a costly war of choice while using the troops as photo props. I don’t think that kind of hypocritical unfailing allegiance is something the left should emulate, especially when Obama himself said he wanted our criticism.

    Having said that, there’s criticism and then there’s self-destruction. I have to think that some of the most vocal anti-Obamaites are people who are so far to the left that they never really supported the President or the Democratic Party to begin with. I’m talking some of the Greens and the Naderites and those PUMAs who were never Democrats to begin with bur rather Republicans all along. I think a lot of the split within the left — the people talking about primarying Obama and sitting out the election and the rest — are people egged on by the right which sees an opportunity in a fractured opposition. There’s strength in our unity and as long as the Republicans are imploding into Teanut and social conservative and fiscal conservative and racist factions, I think we should seize the day and bring in big victories in 2012. Let’s show these people what a real mandate looks like.

    That’s just my .02.

  111. 111
    taylormattd says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

    You are 100% correct, please, please keep it up ABL.

  112. 112
    Captain Howdy says:

    @ Kay

    Enjoyed talking with you, and hope I didn’t just muddle things further.

    No, not muddled (and I too enjoyed) but I want to be clear that I wasn’t really asking what it means to be a Dem. I meant “base” (left or right).

    Tissue Thin wrote “It means, first and foremost, that you are reliable voters in all circumstances.”

    That is pretty much what you were saying too, Kay. In your example, the 30% who always vote Dem. On the other side, 25% of the electorate ALWAYS approved of Bush. I would say that identifies them as the base (the Big Monkey’s joke about rich people being his base notwithstanding). They would have approved of Bush even he proposed policies that directly contradicted their deepest convictions (as he did, with a ginormous expansion of gov’t).

    To be part of a “base” — red or blue — is a terrible thing. And if it’s true that the base is defined by their certain (and servile) reliability to vote a certain way, then it makes no sense to say that so-and-so “panders to his base.” There is absolutely no reason to pander if you can count on their votes no matter what you do.

  113. 113
    different church-lady says:

    @kay:

    I know Gibbs was obnoxious, but that phrase is true, is it not? There are people on the internet that do this for a living. (snip)
    There IS a professional Left, which makes sense, because there’s a professional Right. (snip)
    I would submit that there is also an internet “Village”.

    When Gibbs hurled his bon motte, I immediately took it that he was talking about internet and cable news pundits who were nominally “left,” — the people you describe as the internet “village” — and very much not boots-on-the-ground organizers.

    Just as immediately a lot of the very people he was railing against started deliberately conflating the two. They want people to believe they have the power to make Obama’s “base” simply vanish, when, in fact, they weren’t even part of his base to begin with.

    So when you say there’s a professional left and there’s also a village in Left Blogistan, I think, “Well, those are actually different names for the same thing.”

    The reason for the deliberate conflation is a standard issue tactic to shore up weak arguments: the appeal to authority. What’s on offer is never merely the opinion of the pundit, it’s always a description of what the “larger world” believes. They can never say, “I think you’re being a sissy, Obama,” they have to say “You’ve betrayed everyone who voted for you and they’ll stop loving you.” Spouses pull this shit on each other in bad relationships all the time: “You’re an idiot — everyone thinks so.”

  114. 114
    Riggsveda says:

    Good job cutting loose all the thoughtful, genuinely concerned electorate who had faith in Obama and watched that faith betrayed by bullshit excuses over time. Nothing says “Please hear my side of it” like continuous ad hominem rants against those who you want to listen.

    And minorities who are continually ignored? How about American Indians? When is the last time I read extended, repeated, and heartfelt posts on Balloon Juice about the wrongs they experience daily?

    When he was elected, against all seeming odds, Obama was given a chance to put into practice all the ideals he constantly professed on the campaign trail. And we know he won’t get everything he wanted….but that could be understandable if one could point to even one extended fight he put up for any of those ideals. Instead, he has thrown one after another of those ideals under the bus, (to use a popular trope) and each time has tried to spin it to appear he has fought the good fight, and that the result has been “historic”, if not the outcome he had devoutly to be wished. The poor, the homeless, the forgotten, the people on the edge or in the deep oubliettes Bush created and Obama codified—do you really expect these teeming masses to step back and say, “It’s OK, Obama gave it his best shot.” No. Because he didn’t, and every day people hurt and die because of his decisions to play the odds instead of fighting for what is right, and what his own campaign promises made clear.

    Game is over. He is not the person I thought I was voting for, and that is not my fault.

  115. 115
    different church-lady says:

    @Master of Karate and Friendship: It was an insult to a very specific group of people who were considering a very specific tactic.

    It was not an insult to the entire left, professional or not.

    It’s really not that hard to figure out. But there are lots of people out there who are very interested in discouraging you from doing so.

  116. 116
    Uloborus says:

    First, I really found this post interesting, ABL. Thank you. My reaction has always been that while I think you’re too eager to blame things on race, that’s a tiny detail because you’re excellent at pointing out ratfuckers and exactly how they’re doing it. But reading this makes me feel that I should simply drop the race question, because I HAVEN’T been there and it’s too easy for me to dismiss what I would never be in a position to see.

    @quickly:
    I actually dislike many of these people for (very close to) the reason you say. Their rant does not change with the circumstances. If you improve things, they’re just as angry and refuse to see it. Their sole interest is in finding something, anything to complain about and if necessary to distort a nothing into a cataclysm. I find that to be nihilism, not principle. I’m afraid I put Glenn at the top of the list. Not just because he’s a hardcore libertarian and it doesn’t matter who’s in charge or what they’re doing, the government is always evil. I dislike him because he’s tremendously dishonest and leaves out information that he has no reason not to know – that his readers are trusting him as a lawyer to know – which might invalidate his opinion. He doesn’t argue against them, he just plain pretends they don’t exist. These people don’t seem principled to me. That they continue to complain about exactly the same things is as good or better an argument that they’re obsessive complainers.

  117. 117
    Angry Lurker says:

    This post wins the prize for most self-involved internet communication ever. Quite an achievement!

  118. 118
    Uloborus says:

    @Southern Beale:
    I think you have an excellent point, but the problem is that the self-destructive extreme claim to be the merely critical, and to be quite honest they’ve spread an enormous number of lies by doing so. There is no way to tell them the nihilist from the person ready to debate the good or bad of an issue except by how they debate, by which point you’re already furious. This leads to a whole lot of semantic confusion, as you’re seeing!

  119. 119
    bobbyp says:

    The Democratic base? That used to be union members…until the unions all jumped ship in 1972…so I guess the base is the base, unless of course it’s not. Buy nay, let us still blame Nader for Gore’s poor campaign in 2000.

    The Democratic base? That used to be union members…until the Democratic Party bought into the deregulation free market mantra bs of the Wall Street Journal, and actively assisted with the destruction of the union movement in this country.

    And now it comes to this….we don’t need a Left. Fuck the Left, you’re nothing but a bunch of stupid idealistic whiners who don’t know shit….but please, please, please, stop criticizing us….and please, please, please…send us money and votes because we can’t win without you…but just to be sure you get the message…you’re fucking useless and don’t count for shit….but please please please send money and votes.

    I think that about sums it up.

  120. 120
    JR in WV says:

    @NR:

    It’s hard for me to disagree with anything in this post, as I agree with a lot of it.

    My biggest pain is that no one who planned, executed, and profited from the fire-ball our economy became just before Obama took office has been indicted, much less jailed. They could balance the budget just by confiscating the stolen money the Wall Street buggers took out of the American economy.

    I think every one of those buggers whould be in jail w/o bail awaiting trial for the multiple felonies they committed. Fraud, theft, there needed to be a special prosecutor appointed on day 2 (after Day 1 hangovers faded) with a budget large enough to combat all the white-show lawyers in NYC.

    RICO the buggers until they have nothing left to confiscate, and then call it a good day’s work.

    But I still have to vote Democratic, the alternative is to horrid to even contemplate.

  121. 121
    hildebrand says:

    A simple question (one that never seems to get answered) – who would the left actually like to see primary President Obama? Ok, we get it, you don’t think he has done a good job, that is a position that can be argued – but who would you put up that would actually be a legitimate candidate that could a)beat him in the primaries, b)defeat the Republicans in the general. Symbolic candidates or those willing to settle for symbolic victories need not apply. This person has to be able to win and govern.

  122. 122
    bobbyp says:

    @121: Simple answer…primarying Obama is pretty stupid. A third party doesn’t seem to be in the cards, and would be a very long term project. Frankly, I’m stumped.

    Here’s one for you: How many of your core principles are you willing to sacrifice in the name of political expediency?

    Now you may reply that is an unfair question. I get that.

    Try answering this one instead….

    You know if Gibbs and Obama simply ignored the Left, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The real question as I see it is this: Why are we having this conversation? If the “professional left” is so irrelevant, why all the spilled ink? If the “voters” can so be swayed by the whining of the professional left, then why do elected Democrats so routinely ignore them?

  123. 123
    Nanette says:

    What a mess, ABL. I caught little hints here and there of the “resent” thing, but had no idea what it was about. I don’t read Salon and, like Rikyrah, whenever I think of Joan Walsh I think of the “Uppity” label she put on the article in Salon about then Senator Obama. From what I can remember the article itself had nothing at all to do with that — using that word in the title was a conscious editorial decision on her part.

    Anyway, I’m so tired of some “progressives.” I hear that word now as one near-constant high-pitched whine. Call me a pinkocommieliberal any day — but do not call me a “progressive” lol.

    I had a few tell me that all the ranting and whining was about “moving the Overton Window to the left”… which makes me think that some have absolutely no clue at all what the “Overton Window” is, or how the whole thing works. They apparently saw the Republicans have great success by constantly attacking Democrats, pretty much ignoring Republicans, and constantly berating the Democratic party, its leaders and any policy accomplishments. And, so, they’ve apparently decided to attempt to replicate that success — only, you know, without switching the characters and targets around. Sigh.

    I’ve found no way at all to penetrate the miasma of butt hurt, daily disappointment, daily moaning about that disappointment, daily moaning about how terrible Democrats and Obama are, frequent moaning about how they — THEY! them poor little put-upon selves! – might have to actually do something to change things because they are so tired of waiting for Obama to finally do it (I admit a laugh a lot at this one.) So, now I mostly ignore all that and try to see which ones are at least committing to working locally to elect liberal politicians or to promote liberal legislation, or even promote Democratic school board members, or to get people out to vote. I think the top of the ticket can take care of itself, for the most part.

    If any particular “progressives” are too “disappointed” even for that, forget them.

  124. 124
    Wilson Heath says:

    Okay, I gave up reading this. No dog in the fight.

    Except Joan is fucking retarded. Well, no. That would be an insult to the retarded. She is a fucking child. No; I’ve met many children with more sophisticated modes of reason. Hmm. She’s fucking Joan Walsh.

    I gave up on Salon because she was such a moron during the ’08 primaries. People who don’t understand that the perfect is the enemy of the good don’t understand that they’re the fucking reason that we can’t get either.

    (And “the worse the better” is a strategy for Trotskyites. Look at how that worked out for Leon.)

  125. 125
    eemom says:

    @Jason:

    Your opinion horrifies me, and I’ll not be back.

    Don’t let the door hit your prissy little ass on the way out.

    Fucking drama queen.

  126. 126
    wmd says:

    I’m not a POC.

    Nice exposition.

    There is another one to be written on how to take the valid criticisms of Obama and make them constructive. Bagram, Guantanamo, whistle-blowing, etc bad Obama administration policies do deserve to have light directed at them, and work done to change the policies.

    The heat generated by Hamsher, Greenwald, etc increases the internecine rancor amongst the left. It does little more than faintly illuminate the bad policy, and as for solutions I’ve seen very little.

  127. 127
    different church-lady says:

    @bobbyp:

    If the “professional left” is so irrelevant, why all the spilled ink?

    They are neither irrelevant, nor as powerful as they themselves think.

    Why are these things so hard for people to figure out?

  128. 128
    quickly says:

    @Uloborus

    “Not just because he’s a hardcore libertarian and it doesn’t matter who’s in charge or what they’re doing, the government is always evil.”

    Well, I think I would put him in the “hardcore civil libertatarian” set, which in my opinion is a good thing.

    “That they continue to complain about exactly the same things is as good or better an argument that they’re obsessive complainers.”

    Or that they feel that the exact issues they were complaining about before under a different administration have not been adequately addressed and in fact continue in much the same way. The “principled” part of that kind of critique is that it gets made regardless of who is doing it. This is not an Obama=Bush critique and let’s all primary with a Nader or a Bloomberg (god help us if that happened), just that something like the treatment of the release of classified cables, the leaker who was responsible, and what this says about the future of a free press, are all a concern regardless of political affiliation.

    “I dislike him because he’s tremendously dishonest and leaves out information that he has no reason not to know – that his readers are trusting him as a lawyer to know – which might invalidate his opinion.”

    Can you give an example? I don’t doubt that he might sometimes argue that things are more clear than is actually the case, but what are you referring to?

  129. 129
    Donut says:

    @sk:

    I’m not disagreeing with you.

    My biggest disappointment with Obama, personally, is that he rarely uses the bully pulpit available to him as president. He advocates in public for very little. He’s followed through on some generally safe campaign promises, fought for a few tough ones, and left a lot more hanging. He really can, at times, come off as lacking a core set of beliefs, and I am frustrated with him constantly (while I also applaud his victories). Note I am saying he can come off that way, not that he is lacking core beliefs. I don’t know that it’s true or not. Anyone who says they do ought to be making a fortune reading minds.

    But having studied a lot of presidents, I also know that what these guys believe in personally, and what policies they pursue (or are even willing to consider pursuing) often diverge wildly. Again, ALL presidents make dozens of calculations on a regular basis that have a lot to do with retaining their power, and not much to do with what they actually believe in, or even still, what is really good for the greatest number of Americans.

    Any of you who are still shocked by that reality are either under age 30 or still need to grow up and accept that ideal political systems exist on paper only.

    And again, generally I think Obama is basically a librul soshulist at heart; and coming back to the Clinton comparison, I think he shares being a prog/liberal at heart with Clinton – which is why both of their presidencies are/were extremely hard for true progressives who are normal people and not politicians, to swallow.

    In their core, both guys are typical working class Democrats. BUT – another thing they have in common is neither man would/will spend his political capital pursuing a broad left or even center-left agenda. I voted for both in primaries and in generals, and I hoped both would hold to their campaigns as populist progressives. Instead, they tacked straight up the middle or went center right. Shocking? Hell no. But as a consequence, they both will go down in the books as two-term presidents.

    Like it or not, that’s the reality. Most Americans don’t come down hard right or hard left – they kinda like centrism, in case you haven’t noticed.

  130. 130
    eemom says:

    @Wilson Heath:

    All you have to know about Joan Walsh is that she hired Camille Paglia. End of fucking story.

    She’s just a slightly more evolved version of Jane Hamsher. A Jane Hamsher who graduated Finishing School, if you will.

  131. 131
    bobbyp says:

    “(And “the worse the better” is a strategy for Trotskyites. Look at how that worked out for Leon.)”

    Well actually, it was Stalin who led the worker left off the precipice in 1932 by declaring the Social Democrats the enemy, not the nazis.

    I take it in your mind Trotsky is some kind of stand in for Ralph Nader? History..meet farce.

  132. 132
    different church-lady says:

    @Donut: JOHN: put this guy/gal on the masthead, stat!

  133. 133
    hildebrand says:

    @bobbyp: Is it a fair question? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Nonetheless, here is a fair answer: I am willing to give up a not insignificant amount if it means that we are at least crawling in the correct direction. This certainly doesn’t mean I like it, but until a real alternative (someone that can get elected and actually govern) I will vote for the person who can at least move in the general direction of my ideals. Because I know that if I don’t, well, it will all move, with great haste, completely opposite of my ideals.

    Is this a great place to be? Nope, and I won’t even begin to claim that it is, but it is certainly better than the alternative. Realistically, what choice do we really have? So, I will vote for Obama, and keep sending my letters chock filled with constructive criticism. I have received both form and individualized letters. The individualized letters usually thank me for my constructive questions and musings. I think that is the key to understanding the Obama administration frustration with the ‘Professional Left’.

    The problem with some on the left is that they can’t quite work out how to be critical in a constructive manner. They attack the President with a glee all too eerily reminiscent of the Republicans. They don’t provide realistic criticism or anything remotely like a plan that can actually be implemented. They don’t have to like Obama, or even his policies, but they can certainly find ways to work with the President. The Hamshers (and many others)of the world simply are unwilling to do this.

    Governing isn’t sexy or fun – it is a drag and a slog, and I am grateful that Obama realizes that the game must be played to insure if not the best possible solution, at least the least worst possible solution. That doesn’t get many people up to their feet cheering but it is ultimately a good thing.

    A final thought – why is it that we do not have any decent surrogates for Obama who are willing to be the attack dog? That said, I am thrilled with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz leading the DNC, that should help a bit.

  134. 134
    bobbyp says:

    “They are neither irrelevant, nor as powerful as they themselves think.”

    Ah so. Enlightenment. So they are powerless in their relevancy? Thanks for clearing that up.

  135. 135
  136. 136
    bobbyp says:

    Hildebrand,

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    “…if it means that we are at least crawling in the correct direction.”

    That’s the rub. Look. I have what is generally considered to be a good democratic Senator…Patty Murray. She supports big bucks for defense (think Boeing); she follows the script (war, “free trade”, etc.; Suprisingly, she supports estate tax “reform” (i.e., lowering them). What’s not to like?

    No you may call this crawling. It is. But really, when we all wind up in the dystopian free market paradise that our political “left” and “right” essentially share, well, to me shrill criticism is not only positive, it strikes me as mandatory.

    Now. Back to IOZ.

    Regards.

  137. 137
    Nanette says:

    @wmd:

    There is another one to be written on how to take the valid criticisms of Obama and make them constructive. Bagram, Guantanamo, whistle-blowing, etc bad Obama administration policies do deserve to have light directed at them, and work done to change the policies.

    Absolutely. Lost in all the heat and hair-on-fire and shouting is just that — no solutions offered, no discussion of policy, how to work to make changes, how to both spread light on egregious policy, and figure out what to do about it. There are so many discussions to be had — but the atmosphere is just not conducive to that, most times.

    That sort of talk, though — measured, steady, actually progressive in that it seeks progress and so on — does not draw eyeballs, and therefore does not bring revenue. And it absolutely doesn’t satisfy the people who want Obama to make like Shaft, or that guy in Snakes on a Plane.

    (many generalizations above, not everyone feels the same, so on, caveat, caveat. Though, of course, I think some lose site of the fact that many “progressive” sites are businesses. And they do what businesses do, and what they need (or want) to do to make money. Not make policy.)

  138. 138
    different church-lady says:

    @bobbyp: your incapacity to think outside of a binary state is not my problem.

  139. 139
    virag says:

    if obama was only as conservative as say, nixon, then the thoughtful left would have much less problem with him. so many fools made themselves believe obama was so much more than he is–so much better than he is–and now it’s only right and natural that they feel disenchanted.

  140. 140
    Tonal Crow says:

    ABL: How much does Cole pay you to post this tripe?

  141. 141
    oondioline says:

    @eemom:

    Don’t let the door hit your prissy little ass on the way out.

    Gooooooooooooooooooooooood, that guy was so white. Amirite or amirite?

  142. 142
    delphi_ote says:

    I believe the expression is TL;DR

  143. 143
    Angry Lurker says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    For the sake of his bank account, let’s hope he doesn’t pay her by the word…

  144. 144
    Karen says:

    Several things ABL:

    1. Am I allowed to say that being disabled, bisexual and Jewish has made me feel marginalized so I can empathize? If being reminded every minute that I’m looked at as an invisible non person I can only imagine what AA’s go through.

    2. Birtherism didn’t start in the GOP or even in the Tea Party. Birtherism was started by PUMA. Democrats. I’ll never forgive them for that.

    3. I’m not an Obot but I’m a pragmatist so I can understand the balancing act President Obama has to juggle. I also understand that he’s a guinea pig of sorts. He’s in a trap because if he gets nasty like the far left Dems demand then he’s suddenly the Angry Black Man. Besides he’s a compromiser who would rather reach a consensus. He’s not Bill Clinton and thank goodness for that.

    4. I knew that when POB was elected, the Joan Walshes, Jane Hamshers and Glen Greenwalds of the far left Dems would punish Obama for winning and would tear everything he does to shreds. They’re the Tiger Woman where nothing her child does is ever good enough if it’s not perfect. And we all know that the only thing that IS good enough for them is if Obama is impeached, loses the candidacy for the Democratic party or…let’s say…if he was removed from office in a permanent way the only tears they’d share would be tears of joy.

    The PUMA scum are the Tea Party of the Democratic party and until they realize what they’re doing, the Dems will lose everything in 2012. But then they can, as Jane Hamsher said, become stronger because they’re the underdog.

  145. 145
    bobbyp says:

    @138. Yes. Politics is like quantum physics…just too damned subtle for my simple tastes. Do let us know when Schroedinger’s cat dies.

  146. 146
    Ecks says:

    Only read about half of this before glazing over, so I may be missing important parts of what happened, but to my non-invested-in-either side eyes it LOOKS quite a lot like two people shouting and calling each other names and making accusations, and then one of them sniffing and saying “you’re supposed to be bigger than that.”

    Again, I’m not following it at all closely, so this may not be at all fair, but reading those tweets back and forth, that’s a lot of what it looks

    NEITHER side does a great job of the “hey, let’s calm down and look at the evidence and listen carefully to each other” part.

  147. 147
    oondioline says:

    @Ecks: See, what you don’t understand is that in a draw, the black person always wins.

  148. 148
    NR says:

    @Lysana: Go ahead and drink your Koolaid if it makes you happy. I’m not having any.

  149. 149
    cxs says:

    I thought this was a fantastic piece and find some of the paths taken in the comments very illuminating. ABL, under the acid levity and snark, did a careful job of identifying a phenomenon and using Joan Walsh’s reaction to criticism to try and explain where the fissures arise, how they are exacerbated and suggesting different approaches for moving forward. Many commenters engage and consider the underlying analysis, then you have the people who dismiss it as navel gazing, race baiting or an attempt to stifle their criticism of Obama.

    I think it’s striking how few of the latter realize that Obama is merely an example of the white progressive privilege/base problem, not the be all end all of the problem. The roots lie much deeper and have been present for decades/centuries. Certainly the “progressive” blogosphere has been dealing with this for years. I guess maybe they do realize, they just don’t care.

  150. 150
    Dr. Squid says:

    @oondioline: Did you read the whole thing before coming up with that? Or did you not bother?

    Either way proves you’re a fucking moron.

  151. 151
    Dr. Squid says:

    @oondioline: OK, so you are a racist.

    Good night, fuckhead. Enjoy your little tea party.

  152. 152
    Wolfdaughter says:

    I read Joan’s post in yesterday’s Salon. I thought it was actually fairly well-balanced. I’m sorry that she and ABL are now at odds because I think both do good work.

    Keep in mind that Joan IS a voice for the left, and she does manage to get on the talk shows and be heard by people who don’t hang out in the blogosphere. Given the ratio of Repubs who get on vs. Dems, or rightwingers as opposed to leftwingers, we need Joan’s voice since she does get heard.

    DO criticize her, though. In my experience, she is willing to listen.

    Like many of you, I’m disappointed in much of what has happened since Obama took the helm. His instinct is to conciliate and compromise, and he’s dealing with rabid pitbulls. (Actually, I shouldn’t insult pitbulls because they are generally by nature sweet dogs and have to be pushed into rabidity).

    But try to have a little perspective. He has done some good things, and won’t overcome a 30-year-in-the-making shipwreck easily, while having to work with clinically insane people aka Republicans.

    Here’s what I’m doing. I inherited a small amount of money, so I can afford to throw small amounts in support of candidates who stand for progressive values. I got a call from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee yesterday. I told the guy that I will NOT donate money to the DCCC per se, or the DNC or the DLC, but will instead donate money to individual Democrats. I don’t want a cent of my money going to Blue Dogs.

    Before you flame me–I am NOT advocating that you donate if you don’t have any to spare. I have significant health problems which preclude my going door to door, for instance. I participated in phoning people to remind them to vote in 2008 but I’m not sure I’ll do that this time, as I was besieged by phone calls in fall ’08, not just from the Dems, but robocalls, and the charities didn’t let up a bit. I suspect that making phone calls may becoming counterproductive.

    I also volunteered to drive people to the polls on Election Day.

    We’ve got two alternatives here to do any longterm meaningful change. 1) Form a viable third party. 2) Hold noses, support Dems, but withhold $$ support from Blue Dogs, and let the national committees and the pols know that we will support only those who refuse to take money from banks, big industry, etc. We can also write letters, make phone calls, send emails, attend meetings, get ourselves elected to precinct committees and school boards and work our way up the political ladders, etc.

    Forming a third party is needed but it takes time. It’s not gonna happen by 2012. So we really need to work on the second alternative.

    Organizing doesn’t come easily to a lot of us. It comes more easily to linear thinkers who focus like lasers on single hobby horses. We’ve got a tremendous hill to climb, with no pet media on our side except the left blogosphere.

    Withholding the vote is counterproductive. Look at what’s happening now in WI and elsewhere in the Midwest. Because of the Tea Partiers, in order to keep the government going at all, some ugly compromises had to be made.

    Think about it, if we could just defeat the Tea Baggers currently in the House in 2012, that would already make a significant difference. If we sit on our hands, that won’t happen.

  153. 153
    MJ says:

    Hey BJ’ers,

    I don’t have much time to comment these days, (what with my trying to get a job and all) but I just wanted to pop in here to thank ABL for taking the time to write this and attempt to give us a fuller version of the story than was being bandied about in Salon, Atlantic Wire and in the Twitersphere.

    While Joan Walsh’s initial commentary was relatively harmless. However, I thought that the dismissive way in which she responded to some rough, but valid, pushback was pretty instructive.

    It sheds light on a bigger disconnect between folks like Joan Walsh who the MSM goes to for the base’s opinions about the President, and rank and file Democrats of all ethnicities who are tired of having their opinions being overlooked because they don’t have the same level of access to the big media outlets.

    The frustration for rank and file black Democrats, who follow national politics (much more closely than anyone in the progressive or mainstream media imagines) is that our opinions about the President’s performance -positive or otherwise- don’t seem to “really count” unless we are willing to rend our garments and make grand statements on NPR about how much the President has sold us out and “betrayed the true progressive spirit of MLK Jr.” by making a tough decision in a classic prisoner’s dilemma format. (Mind you, many people have forgotten, how much shit Dr. MLK Jr. got for being too pragmatic and a handkerchief head, “yassa massa” negro accommodationist by folks of all hues who were on his political left.)

    It also amazes me how much of a disconnect there is between people who analyze the president’s policies from a distance and repeatedly claim that he has betrayed his base, and people who are living with his policies on the ground and are damn grateful that he refuses to allow folks in his base to be thrown under the bus for loftier political considerations.

    For instance, many of my friends and family members in the MD/VA/DC area work for the federal gov’t or companies with fed contracts. The recession had hit them really hard and So they were terrified about the damage that a federal shutdown would have had on their ability to take care of themselves and their family.

    Last night, they were rejoicing that the President and Harry Reid were able to save them from economic disaster. And this morning, they were dumbfounded to then turn on the TV and see a bunch of progressive Democrats line up to slam the President for doing what was necessary to keep their @sses out of debtor’s prison.

  154. 154
    AxelFoley says:

    @NR:

    Sorry, but I’m done with Obama. I’m just absolutely fucking done.

    Bitch, you were never with Obama, so STFU with that bullshit.

  155. 155
    Resident Firebagger says:

    I probably would be pissed if I actually read this. But then, I find UILOBL (Utterly Insane and Likely Overcaffeinated Black Lady) a simply exhausting read.

    Going back to bed now…

  156. 156
    AxelFoley says:

    @ciaran:

    were black folks completely behind bill clinton to? or is it just cause obama is black? genuine question!

    Um, yeah. When all that shit with Monica went down, who did Clinton run to first? Yeah, he went to the black church for support. And black folks had his back.

  157. 157
    AxelFoley says:

    @Freddie:

    President Obama has asserted that he has the right to have American citizens assassinated with no due process and no judicial review whatsoever. Wrap your fucking mind around that one for a little while if you can. And choosing to walk away from that makes me unprincipled?

    So, when was this, asshole?

  158. 158
    AxelFoley says:

    @sk:

    That said, Obama has blinked when the GOP stared him down … not in every case, but in a lot – including last night. Not as egregious (or as optional) as his cave on everything civil liberties, but a concession that starving poor people is ok

    Ok, so the GOP caved and Obama got what he wanted in the first place, but you say he blinked?

    GTFOH with that bullshit.

  159. 159
    AxelFoley says:

    @Jason:

    Sorry, this article just got this page taken off my RSS feed.
    Obama has been a dismal president, a coward who refuses to fight for basically anything. The “Firebaggers” problem is that they don’t go far enough.
    Obama should have had a primary opponent announced already.
    How many Republican policies does he have to enact before you come to your senses? How many tax breaks does he have to allow to continue? How many Republican budgets does he have to have? How many times does he have to make deals with large corporations to sell out on every principal he ran on before you wake up?
    Your opinion horrifies me, and I’ll not be back.

    Bye.

    Lol, if Obama’s been dismal, I’d like to see what you think of as successful.

  160. 160
  161. 161
    Corner Stone says:

    @Karen: God bless you kid.

  162. 162
    Corner Stone says:

    @AxelFoley: al-awlaki.
    Asshole

  163. 163
    eemom says:

    @AxelFoley:

    he’s talking about some guy in Yemen. It’s been argued about here before. More pious bullshit from the purity brigade, imo.

  164. 164
    Corner Stone says:

    @Lysana:

    And ABL, if I ever need an attorney, I want one just like you.

    It’s obvious you’ve never needed an attorney.

  165. 165
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    not really directed at ABL and/or Joan Walsh in particular, because they have thousands of fellow offenders, but Twitter is masturbatory/narcistic crap.

  166. 166
    Angry Lurker says:

    @AxelFoley:

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=obama+can.....d&l=1

    PS– I’m actually more an ‘Obot’ than a ‘firebagger’ but his record on civil liberties is really pretty bad…

  167. 167
    AxelFoley says:

    @Resident Firebagger:

    Going back to bed now…

    Yeah, take your ass to sleep.

  168. 168
    Bob Loblaw says:

    Man, AxelFoley is just like so hardcore and stuff. Putting in quite a performance here.

  169. 169
    NR says:

    @AxelFoley: Wrong. I voted for Obama in the primary as well as the general. I donated money and knocked on doors for him. He has lost me through his actions in office, and despite what little pissants like you might think, I’m not the only one.

  170. 170
    Will says:

    @Freddie:

    President Obama has asserted that he has the right to have American citizens assassinated with no due process and no judicial review whatsoever.

    Nope. Just one guy. Plotting terrorist attacks against Americans. From Yemen. Hiding in a place in which he cannot be arrested, given “due process”, or “judicial review”. Last I checked, the president does have some kind of responsibility to defend American citizens from attacks committed against them.

  171. 171
    Dan says:

    @Nanette:

    So, now I mostly ignore all that and try to see which ones are at least committing to working locally to elect liberal politicians or to promote liberal legislation, or even promote Democratic school board members, or to get people out to vote. I think the top of the ticket can take care of itself, for the most part.

    You win the thread.

  172. 172
    oondioline says:

    @Dr. Squid: Hey, I’m not the one throwing around words like “race traitor,” fucker.

  173. 173
    uptown says:

    Who gives a flying F?

    Obama is doing exactly what he wants to do. Fortunately for him, the right has gone nuts and he will get 4 more years. Maybe he’ll then move to the left, maybe not. But I reserve the right to complain about anybody in the government, as much as I want to; even if it upsets ABL.

  174. 174
    oondioline says:

    @uptown: You’re obviously a racist.

  175. 175
    Nora Carrington says:

    @Will:

    Last I checked, the president does have some kind of responsibility to defend American citizens from attacks committed against them.

    No, he doesn’t. His duty is to defend and protect The Constitution, not Americans.

    There is a difference.

    Why can’t it be both? These piss fights drive me crazy. I’m a working class Democrat, first and foremost. I’m also so far to the left of anybody in public life except for possibly Sanders I’ll never vote for a President who represents my views.

    I’ll vote for Obama again because he will be the Democratic Party nominee. I think running somebody to the left of him in the primary is strategically a bad idea: 1968, 1980 [h/t Ishmael Reed from Book TV last weekend]. I also think that pretending that Obama is in fact defending and protecting The Constitution, when he clearly is not in several instances, or pretending that his rhetoric — nevermind his performance — since elected matches the promises made is delusional.

    One can be fiercely critical of many of the positions he’s taken, choices he’s made, negotiations he’s handled less then adroitly, without falling victim to the Nadarite apostasy that “there’s no difference between the parties,” or “he’s just as bad as Bush,” or other truly stupid ideas.

    I believe there is room for reasonable people — mostly no one who shows up here on either side of this, frankly — to have a reasoned and informed debate about and difference of opinion on exactly how much room to maneuver Obama had in January 2009. To measure the gap between the rhetoric on which he campaigned and his actions and inactions after he was elected (I don’t think it’s a reasonable opinion to say there’s none; I think there are reasonable differences to be found in analysis of kind/subject/degree). To discuss the relative culpabilities of Obama, Democrats in Congress, Democrats in the states and Democrats.

    But this never ending bullshit where mostly women (anyone else noticed this?) whip out their tits to precisely calibrate who’s got the most progressive cred, who’s “racist,” whether or not the “R” word ever gets used — when we’ve got plenty of CSA idolaters to contend with — who’s a True Believer and who’s a Traitor (to what?) is, at the end of the day, simply pathetic.

  176. 176
    Ruckus says:

    @Linda Binda:

    Couldn’t agree more. Very nicely stated as well.

  177. 177
    tkogrumpy says:

    @Will: Ah, there is no such thing as a just one guy law.

  178. 178
    tkogrumpy says:

    @Nora Carrington: Do you, Nora, mind if I second this.

  179. 179
    Will says:

    “A senior Administration official said that between a hundred and two hundred hard-core Al Qaeda fighters are in Yemen, and that hundreds of Yemenis provide them with support. Along with Pakistan’s tribal areas and Somalia, Yemen is now considered one of the most likely places from which Al Qaeda could mount an attack on America. Two recent failed plots appear to have originated with Al Qaeda members in Yemen: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to set off an in-flight bomb, on Christmas Day, 2009, and the loading of explosive printer cartridges onto America-bound cargo planes, in October, 2010. U.S. officials say that they have linked Abdulmutallab to Anwar-al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric who is now the most prominent spokesperson for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Last spring, President Obama authorized the killing of Awlaki, who is believed to be hiding in Yemen.”

    –Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, April 2011.

    In this kind of extremely difficult situation, I simply disagree that the high ground is to allow some maniac living in a cliff in Yemen to organize and launch all of the attacks he wants onto American soil, so long as we don’t violate his constitutional rights. And maybe I’m an asshole for thinking that way, but I haven’t seen your explanation for why that state of affairs should either be dealt with differently than above, or accepted.

  180. 180
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    Electing a non-white President was the worst thing to happen to the predominately melanin-challenged “Professional Left”, because it proves that the country doesn’t need Old White Money to lead it into a more enlightened future.

    We need to do it again, some more.

  181. 181
    kc says:

    I realize how convenient it is for Joan to include my Twitter name in her article, because it seems to reinforce the idea that we black folk are angry and irrational.

    Tell me this is a joke.

  182. 182
    Chris says:

    First, in the interest of full disclosure, I did NOT vote for Obama. I voted for the other POC candidate with a way better progressive platform, Cynthia McKinney. Nor do I support the overwhelming tilt of this presidency in terms of policy and practice.

    But no-one, and certainly not white liberals, should be surprised by the Obama administration’s policies, given his early embrace by the DLC (there were reasons for this, after all) and his willingness to build his first ‘break’ in Chicago politics at the expense of one of Illinois’ truly outstanding legislators, African American state senator Alice Palmer. (There were other early indicators, like his campaign with Daley’s blessing against Black representative Bobby Rush, his twisted ‘anti-war’ speech in Chicago that wasn’t particularly anti-war, his support for gay marriage which he subsequently abandoned, et al, but you get my drift).

    That said, this blog entry is possibly the sharpest, most cogent, brilliantly laid out tear-downs of white supremacy and white skin privilege on the part of select members of the liberal ‘left’ I’ve read in, like, forever. Might be worth noting the intrinsic and incipient racism in a lot of white liberals’ initial support for Obama, as well, given that he was framed by more than a of these same folks as a candidate of color we could ‘get behind’, being ‘well-spoken’, ‘Harvard-educated’ and whatnot. People may recall the two obviously deeply moved white women holding a prominent sign at the Obama victory rally in Grant Park that said “We have overcome.” Uh, no. But incipient white supremacists who also happen to self-identify as ‘progressive’ MIGHT ‘overcome’ a little more quickly, thereby getting their/our boots off the necks of people of color in this nation, with this kind of sharp analysis of privilege.

    Then maybe we can have a conversation about more artful tactics and strategies that actually advance a progressive political agenda that includes POC as equal partners at the table, instead of the kind of tokenism and dismissiveness that pervades so much white liberal handwringing today. I’m just sayin’…

  183. 183
    Ishmael Reed says:

    angry black lady is right! no where in my Times Oped did
    i say that African Americans were Obama’s base. atlantic
    wire in what amounted to an intellectual para medic
    intervention declared jw the winner ( a hometown decision);
    in my opinion the tweeters and bloggers who responded
    to the controversy showed that anybody with a laptop
    can challenge monied opinion.also what kind of progressive
    is jw? she agreed with stanley crouch that the albany jury
    that aquitted the cops who shot diallo did right. my latest
    novel is “Juice!” writing in the sfchronicle a neo con
    reviewer says i have gone “too far.” miss laura miller of
    salon says i’m “rowdy.”

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