Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Obama Derangement Syndrome And The Curse Of Interesting Times

I received this Huffington Post blog in my e-mail the other day, a friend of mine had forwarded it to me. Some of it might be a bit overstated, but I agree with it in all material respects. I’ve read similar ideas in more scholarly sources, but this one really hammers it home, in partisan style.

That’s the point, “partisan.” There are two sides to this argument, but they are so far removed from one another that the middle ground has disappeared altogether. You can skim the HuffPost blog, but please check my additional comments below:

Obama Will Triumph -- So Will America
By Frank Schaeffer

Before he'd served even one year President Obama lost the support
of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of
the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and
ideological backgrounds -- including this white, straight, 57-year-
old, former religious right wing agitator, now progressive writer
and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader)
this unlikely Obama supporter -- are sticking with our President.
Why?-- because he is succeeding.
We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of
him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

Obama's steady supporters will be proved right. Obama's critics
will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged
at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst.

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe , the Second
World War and the Depression has any president faced more
adversity. Not since the Civil War has any president led a more
bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial
integration has any president faced a more consistently short-
sighted and willfully ignorant opposition - from both the right
and left.

As the President's poll numbers have fallen so has his support from
some on the left that were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago;
all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all
over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the
2008 election.

The left's lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling "prophecy"--
snipe at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall and
then pretend you didn't have anything to do with it!

Here is what Obama faced when he took office-- none of which was
his fault:

# An ideologically divided country to the point that America was
really two countries

# Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that
was unnecessary and immoral

# The worst economic crisis since the depression

# America 's standing in the world at the lowest point in history

# A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture
of prisoners of war

# A health care system in free fall

# An educational system in free fall

# A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions
(about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done

# An impasse between culture warriors from the right and left

# A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally
irresponsible Bush administration.

And those were only some of the problems sitting on the
President's desk!

"Help" from the Right?

What did the Republicans and the religious right, libertarians and
half-baked conspiracy theorists -- that is what the Republicans
were reduced to by the time Obama took office -- do to "help" our
new president (and our country) succeed? They claimed that he
wasn't a real American, didn't have an American birth certificate,
wasn't born here, was secretly a Muslim, was white-hating "racist",
was secretly a communist, was actually the Anti-Christ, (!) and was
a reincarnation of Hitler and wanted "death panels" to kill the

They not-so-subtly called for his assassination through the not-so-
subtle use of vile signs held at their rallies and even a bumper
sticker quoting Psalm 109:8. They organized "tea parties" to sound
off against imagined insults and all government in general and
gathered to howl at the moon. They were led by insurance industry
lobbyists and deranged (but well financed) "commentators" from
Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh.

The utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with the
utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a president who
was trying to actually do something about the poor, the
environment, to diminish the number of abortions through
compassionate programs to help women and to care for the sick! And
in Congress the Republican leadership only knew one word: "No!"

In other words the reactionary white, rube, uneducated, crazy
American far right,combined with the educated but obtuse
neoconservative war mongers, religious right shills for big
business, libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold bug, gun-loving
crazies, child-molesting acquiescent "bishops", frontier loons and
evangelical gay-hating flakes found one thing to briefly unite
them: their desire to stop an uppity black man from succeeding at
all costs!

"Help" from the Left?

What did the left do to help their newly elected president? Some of
them excoriated the President because they disagreed with the bad
choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan
that he'd inherited from the worst president in modern history!

Others stood up and bravely proclaimed that the President's
economic policies had "failed" before the President even instituted
them! Others said that since all gay rights battles had not been
fully won within virtually minutes of the President taking office,
they'd been "betrayed"! (Never mind that Obama's vocal support to
the gay community is stronger than any other president's has been.
Never mind that he signed a new hate crimes law!)

Those that had stood in transfixed legions weeping with beatific
emotion on election night turned into an angry mob saying how
"disappointed" they were that they'd not all immediately been
translated to heaven the moment Obama stepped into the White House!
Where was the "change"? Contrary to their expectations they were
still mere mortals!

And the legion of young new supporters was too busy texting to pay
attention for longer than a nanosecond. "Governing"?! What the hell
does that word, uh, like mean?"

The President's critics left and right all had one thing in common:
impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history (let alone
reality) thrown in for good measure. Then of course there were the
white, snide know-it-all commentators/talking heads who just
couldn't imagine that maybe, just maybe they weren't as smart as
they thought they were and certainly not as smart as their
president. He hadn't consulted them, had he? So he must be wrong!

The Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their idea of reality
rather than reality defining their ideas-say, about what is
possible in one year in office after the hand that the President
had been dealt by fate, or to be exact by the American idiot nation
that voted Bush into office. twice!

Meanwhile back in the reality-based community - in just 12 short
months -- President Obama:

#Continued to draw down the misbegotten war in Iraq
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of several bad choices
regarding the war in Afghanistan
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Gave a major precedent-setting speech supporting gay rights
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Restored America 's image around the globe
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Banned torture of American prisoners
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of the American economy
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort
to halt global warming
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stood up for educational reform
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Won a Nobel peace prize
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Moved the trial of terrorists back into the American judicial
system of checks and balances
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Did what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost
impossible process of health care reform that 7 presidents had
failed to even begin
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Responded to hatred from the right and left with measured good
humor and patience
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of job losses
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and
dangerous far right opposition that included the sort of disgusting
people that show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and
carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the "blood of
tyrants" needing to "water the tree of liberty".
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Showed that he could not only make the tough military choices but
explain and defend them brilliantly
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

Other than those "disappointing" accomplishments -- IN ONE YEAR --
President Obama "failed"! Other than that he didn't "live up to

Who actually has failed...

...are the Americans that can't see the beginning of a miracle of
national rebirth right under their jaded noses. Who failed are the
smart ass ideologues of the left and right who began rooting for
this President to fail so that they could be proved right in their
dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers
behind our obscenely dumb news cycles that have turned "news" into
just more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted
infantile country.

Here's the good news: President Obama is succeeding without the
help of his lefty "supporters" or hate-filled Republican detractors!

The Future Looks Good

After Obama has served two full terms, (and he will), after his
wisdom in moving deliberately and cautiously with great subtlety on
all fronts -- with a canny and calculating eye to the possible
succeeds, (it will), after the economy is booming and new industries
are burgeoning, (they will be), after the doomsayers are all proved
not just wrong but silly: let the record show that not all
Americans were panicked into thinking the sky was falling.

Just because we didn't get everything we wanted in the first short
and fraught year Obama was in office not all of us gave up. Some of
us stayed the course. And we will be proved right.


I forwarded this e-mail to my entire list, the first time that I have ever taken that action. I feel strongly that President Obama has not gotten a decent break from the American electorate. “Not a real American?” “Not a Christian?” “A far-left ideologue?” “No birth certificate?” Poh-leez, those are nightmares that some people really need to wake up from. He’s not perfect, I’m not on that team either, but he is clearly a decent man who is trying his best to perform well in a difficult job. And he's doing a pretty good job.

Here’s a response that I got after sending out the post:

I rally do not know what happened to that fun loving kid we all liked. Perhaps reading swill like this trite nonsense has turned you into a different person . It's a shame Freddy, but I think our friendship is ended and it has ended right now. I wish you well and perhaps one day you will open your eyes., Please drop me from your mailing list, as I have dropped you"

This was from a guy that I have known since I was fourteen or so. We re-connected on the Internet a few years ago and since then we have enjoyed a pleasant, mutually supportive relationship that included an agreement to disagree on political matters. Just the idea that someone would express such positive opinions about President Obama, and not pull any punches in condemning the rabid, let’s face it, rabid anti-Obama crowd, was enough to make him abandon his friend. I still love the guy, and I hope that at some point he settles down and we can go on with our friendship.

This is all interesting stuff, as in “the curse of living in interesting times.”


nanute said...

Fred: Living in "interesting times" to say the least. We are living through a period of Alice in Wonderland/ Orwellian proportions. Up is down, black is white, the Mad Hatter is appearing on FOX news on a daily basis The plutocrats have nearly destroyed the US economy, and we're told it is all because of a liberal/progressive ideology.

Meanwhile, the dumbing down of the electorate has bought in and elected a new crop of modern day "Know Nothings" that has convinced themselves that we need to make the poor and middle class suffer more for the excesses of unrestrained "capitalism." Less regulation and tax breaks for the richest 1% is the bromide that will make us the envy of the world. Again. Just yesterday, Rush Limbaugh told his audience that the Native Americans scammed the settlers out of Manhattan Island, and that the lessons learned from the Indians was a failed experiment in, I shit you not, Socialism. Anyway, a belated Happy Thanksgiving.

It's a good thing you didn't send this to your friends: If the link doesn't work, just google "A Thanksgiving Prayer by William F. Burroughs.

Anonymous said...

Y'gotta choose sides, Dad. Hopefully your friend will come around. Same as the Reverend Jeremiah Wright scandal. People took him as a loon without hesitation. Too many reactionary chicken heads being egged on by reactionary right-wing media whores.

Anonymous said...

I am so looking forward to the next year as I'm sure President Obama will prevail. Keep the faith!

fred c said...

From my e-mail list, I only got one angry response; from this posting, I've gotten none. I have the most reality-based readership in America! Thanks, you're the greatest.

fred c said...

Dear Anon: nope, not him.

Rory Cripps said...

OK,Fred,a couple of questions and believe me, I'm not trying to be argumentative here. I'm just one of those dumbed down ignoramuses and "know-nothings" that's simply trying to become educated and learn the difference between black and white and up and down. Now where did I hear that kind of talk before . . . hmm . . . sounds like something I would say about the PC crowd! :)

Why do people put so much faith in certain politicians? For that matter, why do people even believe anything that a politician says? Do only smart people and those in the know put their faith in politicians such as Obama and those that don't are simply idiots?

What is so appealing about Obama as opposed to any other president? Is it because he's black, or young, or is it simply because he's not a Republican? Is it because of his policies? Is it because he's brilliant? Because of his job performance? Because he's a likable guy? Because he's read his Saul Alinsky? Because he's a cool cat?

I read the Obama piece that you emailed and obviously the writer (whose father I used to listen to on WABC) has a great deal of admiration for Obama along with a great deal of contempt for those that simply don't share his rosy view of Obama. Really no different from the contempt that he accuses those who don't subscribe to Obama's politics and ideology of holding. The question is who's right and who's wrong? Or is there even a right and a wrong when it comes to who's occupying the White House?

There are many people out there that feel that Obama is not doing a good job and at the same they don't hate him. But they're not idiots, nor are they racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic/right-wing extremist/hate-mongering/religious fanatics and so on and so forth.